How digitalization drives performance from pit lane to shipping lane
F1 partnership update | Baden, Switzerland | Apr 18, 2023
When Lucia talks of the simulator, she is referring to a full driver-in-the-loop [DIL] system, with a mock-up of the race car’s cockpit mounted on a six-degrees-of-freedom motion platform. A test driver will drive this rig as if it was the car on track, receiving near-realistic motion cues for acceleration, braking, cornering and even engine vibrations felt through the chassis.
It is a vital engineering tool, powered by a physics model that provides as close a representation of the actual car as possible. It is so accurate that setup adjustments, such as varying spring rates or roll bar settings, can be tested in the simulator, fed with current data gathered in almost real time, and used to inform the decisions of the trackside engineers.
Having the power of the DIL simulator remotely accessible during F1 practice and qualifying sessions, in conjunction with a variety of other simulation and modelling tools, is invaluable. “If there is an issue at the track, it is communicated almost immediately to the factory,” Lucia says. “There, engineers work and do the analysis and simulation to find a solution that the track engineers can then consider, test and put in the car.”
Sauber does have considerable computing power available trackside, via its edge computing capability. But with 250Gb of data harvested during a race weekend from up to 200 sensors on each car, the remote operations room back at base, staffed with 25 engineers, is better placed to truly interrogate this information.
“The track engineers do a first pass of analysis, but their primary role is to look after the operation of the car. They cannot focus as much on the analysis,” Lucia points out. “That is why we do much of it at the factory. Time is at a premium trackside so it’s crucial we use our team in Hinwil effectively.”