During a race debrief following the Qatar Grand Prix, Mercedes' trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin explained the challenges involved when approaching new circuits. The Briton explained the work that goes on behind the scenes with simulations of the new circuits.
Explaining the challenges, Shovlin said:
“They are quite exciting for engineers because new tracks throw up new challenges, and also an opportunity. If you can arrive there better prepared than anyone else, then you have a good chance of being the best. Qatar was quite an interesting case, it came on the calendar quiet late as a replacement, so you got to move quite quickly to try and get a track-map for the simulator.”
Watch Shovlin explain the challenges of approaching new tracks in the video below (from 1:35 onwards):
Mercedes explain the importance of simulation work and its process
According to Mercedes engineers, they run anywhere from 100-1000 simulations of various setups before their drivers can experience the circuits on virtual tracks. Explaining the process behind the scenes, Shovlin said the work involves two parts: the track map for the simulators, and acquiring a trackmap for the computers.
Describing the process with the simulators and computer simulations, Shovlin said:
“Those two streams of work occur in parallel, and in the build up to the event, we are starting to create a bit of a picture of what's important in this track, how's it going to behave with the tires, how are we going to get the right car balance, what sort of wings we might want to run...so, a lot of that work is going on, and once we have got the broad setup right, we bring the race drivers in, they can then jump into the simulator, try the setup that we think is optimal and they can play around with options.”
According to Shovlin, getting the simulations correct is very important. If done correctly, they can reflect on their performance throughout the race weekend. Mercedes and other teams consider simulation work extremely important before every new race circuit or track that is added to the calendar.
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The next new track for Mercedes and other F1 teams will be the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, which will host the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from December 3-5, 2021.