Alpine waiting on new F1 simulator
By Mat Coch
Monday 22nd May, 2023 - 3:55am
Alpine is waiting on the completion of a new F1 new simulator as it looks to bolster its on-track performances.
The Anglo-French operation finished fourth in last year’s constructors’ championship but has slipped to fifth this year courtesy of Aston Martin’s sharp improvement.
It has had a tough start to the year, with operational errors, reliability issues, and on-track clashes between its drivers.
That prompted CEO Laurent Rossi to fire a salvo at the team over the course of the Miami Grand Prix weekend.
Team principal Otmar Szafnauer was not spared in those criticisms, with Rossi warning he will not wait until the end of the year to make changes.
Szafnauer believes a fundamental weakness in the team is its simulation tools.
With those laying the foundation for every race weekend, the accuracy of those systems is critical in setting the tone for each event.
“Sometimes our simulation tools are good enough to get us close, and then we start off and we’re good; and other times not, so we’ll start off slow,” Szafnauer said.
“If you have perfect simulation tools, or close to it, then you start the weekend pretty close to your local optimal – your optimal for that race.”
Szafnauer believes what Alpine has, both in terms of technology and personnel, needs investment.
Some of that has been done, with a new simulator set to come online by the end of 2024.
“We’ve purchased a brand-new, start-of-the-art simulator that should be with us in one and a half to two years.
“We’ve hired people to help us with more accurate lap sims.
“If you can do all that work before you get to the track, you’re closer to where you’re going to end up.”
Alpine currently boasts a second-hand simulator, purchased from a rival, that is now well over a decade old.
“Our simulator is 15 or maybe 20-year-old technology,” he said.
“It’s an old McLaren one. I think we bought it about 10 or 12 years ago, but McLaren had 10 years before that.
“It’s the first simulator ever, and we have that technology.
“Things have moved on, so we need to invest. We need to invest in our tools and then we also need to invest in some areas of the business that needs some complementary know-how.
“We’re doing both of those things, it just doesn’t happen overnight; you order a simulator, two years later, you’ve got it. It takes that long to make.
“Same with people,” he added.
“You want to recruit some people that you know will help the team. Then you go talk to them and they say ‘Well, I’m on a three-year contract, now one year into it. I come in two years’.
“That’s the world of Formula 1 we live in now – the engineers that have the biggest impact on performance, they sign long-term deals.”Sign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.
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