Simulator use key to Ferrari’s Miami F1 preparation

Carlos Sainz

The use of the simulator has been a key resource for Ferrari as it prepares for this weekend’s inaugural Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix.

The all-new circuit offers a mix of high-speed and low-speed sections, with Yuki Tsunoda suggesting the final sector is so tight that it could cause a traffic jam during Safety Car restarts.

“The fact it is a new circuit means that simulation is even more important,” explained Enrico Sampo, Ferrari’s head of driving simulator.

“We expect the track to be quick, with some high-speed corners in the first sector as well as some rather slow ones especially in sector three.

“There are some very long straights, with three DRS zones and good opportunities for overtaking.

“In terms of car balance, it is definitely a complex circuit and it will be important to find the right compromise to suit the various corner types and to run the car efficiently down the long straights.

“We have prepared for this event going through our usual procedures, being particularly careful as we are less certain than usual about the data we have,” he added.

“That means we are having to predict a wider than usual range of conditions and problems.

“Charles [Leclerc] and Carlos [Sainz] both spent a lot of time on the simulator to learn the track and to explore the car’s possible limitations, while trying different set-up solutions to optimise car balance and lap time.”

Work in the simulator for this weekend’s race began some time ago, with baseline tyre work carried out along with testing development components.

Race drivers Leclerc and Sainz completed sessions following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix to further refine initial car set-up.

However, the team will only learn how accurate that is once cars hit the track in Miami for opening practice.

“This is when we can compare the simulator data to the actual data from the track,” Sampo said.

“With a new venue such as Miami, it’s also important to check actual track data, such as the nature of the kerbs and the presence or absence of elements that the simulator model did not foresee.

“The correlation between how the car behaves on track and in the simulator is refined over the weekend, but having a good starting point is definitely essential so that the track engineers can focus on the details.”

Ferrari currently leads the constructors’ championship, though saw its advantage over Red Bull slashed last time out.

It sits 11 points clear at the top of the teams’ competition, while Leclerc enjoys a 27-point lead over Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings.

Cars hit track in Miami for the first time at 04:30 AEST on Saturday morning.

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