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Transcript from video

I’m here coaching a driver who’s competing in the UK Ferrari challenge this year and actually neither of us have ever been to this circuit. I thought I’d make a quick video about how we use the simulator to prepare us for testing on a track that we’ve not been to before. Last week I used my simulator to get prepared for the testing here, I did probably 60 or 70 laps just learning the circuit in a Ferrari challenge car in Assetto Corsa and it really helped, first of all, to understand which way the circuit is going but just to get you also into the rhythm of how you find the right braking points, how you carry the minimum corner speed in. We’re going to speak to Stuart in a little moment just to see how he used the sim and how actually comparative the lap time is in the sim compared to the real world. 

So we’ve just finished the first session out on track here at Valencia, I want to talk to Stuart about how the sim has helped him improve his performance in actually learning the circuit here at Valencia. Neither of us, as I mentioned before, have been to this circuit so it’s really interesting to see how that’s helped. 

Scott: So, Stuart, you’ve done, what, 15, 20 laps now? How has the simulator prepared you for actually driving the Ferrari on the track? 

Stuart: So, first of all, circuit familiarity, to be able to get that time away from the circuit and pound round and do plenty of laps so we know which way the circuit is heading, that’s a major benefit to start off with. The software that we used is very, very close to the circuit layout, matching braking differences, speed and corner geometry so it’s very, very good indeed. 

Scott: So you’re using Assetto Corsa software, right? 

Stuart: Yeah, that’s right. 

Scott: So I downloaded this as well because I wanted to practise the circuit as well. As I mentioned, I’ve never been here to the Valencia circuit, it’s one of the few tracks that I’ve not been to. And although it’s not a scanned circuit, it is very close, all the kerbs look the same, the bumps are in the right place, so you get that feeling that you get when you’re actually driving on the circuit. So we’re going to head out, we’re going to spend the rest of the day testing here at the track and we’ll come back a little bit later to see how close we really get to the sim time versus the time in the real world. 

So we’re just at the end of the day, the end of our first test day here at Valencia. It’s actually the first test of the year for Stuart and I and we’ve done over 300 kilometres. So I just wanted to drop in with Stuart, he’s been doing the majority of the driving today and see actually how the sim feeling that you get in his simulator actually relates to the car. 

Scott: So in terms of the braking in the rotation in the car, would you say that’s pretty similar? 

Stuart: Yeah, I think it’s very, very close. Obviously, there are levels of grip and adhesion that can change throughout the day with weather conditions but I think it’s very, very close. I was running 139 eights on the sim, I’ve done 140 actually on circuit so it’s well within two-tenths of that time, which is quite close, isn’t it?  

Scott: That’s amazing. Would you say that the difference between the sim and the track, we say all the minimum corner speeds in the corners, very similar, the gears are similar, the braking points are similar?

Stuart: Yeah, the gears certainly match the corners. There’s been no difference there at all pulling out the corners and certainly the geometry of apexes and how the actual track layout is. I mean you can tell by the physical and the sim times how close it is. It’s really, really close and very, very accurate indeed. 

Scott: So one thing that we’re noticing here in the real world testing at the circuit is that the tyre wear and the way the balance changes from front to rear, the rears go off very, very quickly in the real world. So I wanted to ask Stuart about whether that actually is replicating where the tyre model is working like that in the simulation, whether it’s actually close to what we’re experiencing. 

Stuart: Yeah, so, real-world, obviously, it’s a pretty heavy car, GT car, has quite a bit of power, punishes the rears quite heavily on a twisty circuit even more so. Again, remarkably that is matched on the sim. So the sim is obviously building that into the process and on a session, you are getting that tyre drop off the same as you would physically when you’re driving the car. 

Scott: Yeah and I agree with that. I felt that experience from driving the sim as well and I mean, it just goes to show you that the sim isn’t just for learning circuits. You know, I often hear real-world drivers say, well, I just use it for learning circuits, but not much more. With working with Stuart on the sim and various other drivers, we’re discovering that actually the tyre models are so accurate now that we can work on when the balance disappears in the car as the tyres gradually degrade going through a session and also stuff on technique, on how you trail brake and building that rhythm as the driver and maximizing the performance of the car.

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