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Too much “hidden simulation” bad for F1 – Todt

2018 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt is concerned the rising use of simulators means much Formula 1 development is hidden away from fans.

The rising use of driver-in-the-loop simulators has coincided with increased restrictions on in-season testing. Teams increasingly use dedicated simulator drivers to develop their cars during race weekends based on live data from the track.

Todt is concerned by the effect this has had on F1. “Things are changing, sometimes for the good, sometimes less good,” he said in an interview with Sky.

“I feel that cars are too reliable. I feel [there’s] too much happening that you don’t see. Simulation, drivers simulating race circuit in the factory during the race weekend or any other period without any limitation.

“In a way I miss sometimes the past. I miss private testing, everybody was complaining it’s too much private testing. At least you could see what was happening.

“Probably it was too much but now I think it’s too much hidden simulation in the factory. Clearly sometimes modernity is good but it should be also a bit more controlled.”

While F1 teams are allowed to make extensive use of the data from their cars, championships such as NASCAR regulate it much more tightly. On a visit to the F1 paddock at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, seven-times NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said he was impressed by the extent of data use in Formula 1.

“The amount of data we can pull off our cars is virtually a throttle, brake and steering trace,” said Johnson in response to a question from RaceFans. “We feel pretty fortunate to have that recently.

“So behind the scenes we have many tools and resources that are used in F1. We just can’t close the loop at the track and stream data off the car and utilise those tools as much as we’d like.

“To see it in full action – and I only understand it on a surface level what’s going on – it’s really impressive to see what F1 has going on and it also leads me to understand why budgets caps can be necessary in the sport as well.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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  • 41 comments on “Too much “hidden simulation” bad for F1 – Todt”

    1. I feel that cars are too reliable.

      Good point! I disagree but I think I know what he wants; Todt wants to have more unpredictability impacting the race and championship.
      If the sprinklers don’t work then maybe FIA can issue yellow and red cards (drive through and black flags) for drivers who are cruising too much and don’t try to squeeze the last bit of performance out of their car and skills cabinet ;)

      1. @coldfly, the thing is, it seems that fans only want unpredictability arising from unreliability to impact the championship when it happens to drivers other than their favourite.

        1. LOL, nicely said :-)

          1. I had the sense there is still a fair amount of unreliability as it is, but as to that contributing to unpredictability I prefer to await the 2021 regs that should have cars much more able to follow and make passing attempts. Also make the teams a little more equivalent by using caps and giving lesser teams more of the pie. Isn’t Liberty’s focus to do that? Shouldn’t we soon have unpredictability from having more drivers able to potentially win races each weekend, not just the usual suspects? Top drivers less able to just get ahead and then use their dirty air to control the pace? Less able to just dial it down and cruise home?

        2. No. F1 fans want unpredictability because the order is too often set in stone, not everyone is a fanboy like you. Go watch indycar and you will see why there is complaints in f1, its not a close completion in any way or form, which is frustrating for sports fans.

        3. Yeah basicallh

    2. I feel that cars are too reliable

      First the FIA sets reliability as a target for the PU manufacturers, and then when six of the ten teams benefit from the stellar reliability of 2 PU manufacturers, the FIA head complains about too much reliability.

      I miss private testing

      Seriously? All this talk about improving fairness, and you miss the single greatest factor that helped rich teams dominate?

      Ferrari – who were previously the epitome of using unlimited testing on their private track have finally delivered a championship-contending car even with the current aero and other restrictions in place – something I didn’t expect them to do. Mercedes got their stuff right back in 2014 itself. Instead of applauding them for their respective successes within the goalposts the FIA defined, Todt now goes and has a moan.

      That said, the points about data gathering are all good and valid points. I’d previously mentioned that teams should not be allowed to gather any data during FP sessions, but must only be given speed/timing data from the FIA sensors. Maybe this could even be extended to the qualy and race sessions.

      And yes, the PUs are complex beasts that need managing, but let PU manufacturers put in a warning light to the driver for them to figure out, and not have telemetry that let’s the pit wall tell the driver to cool the left/right side of the car. And a shutdown/limp-home mode to cover off any catastrophic damage, instead of allowing tactical retirements (“we saw something concerning in the data”).

      1. @phylyp, I’m not sure that your ideas are necessarily that good, as I suspect that all you will do is instead push the teams to acquire that information from indirect sources rather than direct sources.

        Equally, it seems rather extreme to go to the point of saying “no data gathering at all” – it seems a bit of an overreaction to try and revert the sport back to a level of technology not seen since the 1920s (Auto Union were already using mechanical onboard telemetry systems as far back as the early 1930s).

        1. Yeah, that’s a fair counter argument, it’s a bit Luddite in its approach :-)

          Let’s flip it the other way around – make any data gathered public to all teams. Pure data in itself should not reveal any IP/designs (but can offer hints), and offers the tantalizing prospect that any data a team deems worthy of gathering can be picked apart by a competitor.

      2. @phylyp
        I’d just like to remove live telemetry to the garage, let them collect it when the car is in the pits. It would make the engineer’s job a bit more interesting than looking at a bunch of graphs and telling the driver when something turns red. Most of the important information is available on their dash anyway.

        For testing and development I really don’t care what the teams use, let them go at it.

    3. GtisBetter (@)
      2nd December 2018, 10:09

      This guy… anyway, I think real life testing should be according to the standing in the constructors championchip the year before. Have a couple of tests with all teams and the one that was last gets more hours then the one that comes in first.

      1. Makes sense but, more often, the team that was last can’t afford to go testing. So you end up with no testing.

      2. I’ve been banging on about this for a couple of years @passingisoverrated.
        One of the things I really like in the NFL is that the least successful teams get the first pick of the most outstanding college players. It levels the playing field considerably.
        That’s not quite applicable to F1, but it would be prefectly possible to allow more pre-season testing to the least successful teams from the previouse season (or new teams) and less to the more successful.
        Quite how you structure it – 1 day only for the WCC winning team and 10 days for last team or whatever – doesn’t really matter. What’s more important is to establish the idea that the least successful in one season should have an advantage in the next season in order to level the playing field.

    4. I miss private testing

      Surely simulators are modern day private testing. I don’t see them broadcasting the sim runs, nor did they broadcast private testing. No one knew what went on then either. That’s why it was private!

      The only thing we knew was how often they tested, but even then some tests were kept secret.

      At least now the small teams can afford to run simulators rather than before when they couldn’t afford to test.

      1. But if it mimics real testing, then real testing is better for everyone, and can be viewed by others and not just 10 people in a factory. Also the drivers can test with real body sensations like g forces and temperature.

      2. @eurobrun

        Surely simulators are modern day private testing. I don’t see them broadcasting the sim runs, nor did they broadcast private testing. No one knew what went on then either. That’s why it was private!

        That’s exactly what I thought. At least the test sessions we have now are open, 10 years ago we had multiple teams testing at different tracks on the same day, all of it behind closed doors. Huge cost for no real gain to the sport. It was ‘real-world simulation’, if you like.

    5. FIA- we can’t have private testing, it’s unfair.
      Teams- start simulations instead
      FIA- :o

      FIA- we need more reliability, the engines can’t be seen as disposables. You can only use 3 components per year!
      Teams- Increase reliability so much that they can take the longest season in F1 only with 3 PU components, without hardly any penalties, reducing DNF and unpredictability
      FIA- :o

      1. My face exactly @johnmilk

    6. Am I the only one who read that as “hidden stimulation” and thought it sounded a little… Risqué? Lol

      1. @drmouse – you see exactly what you want to see ;-)

      2. . . . not until you pointed it out @drmouse Dirty thing.

    7. Simple, limit simulation just like CFD hours are limited.

      Seems odd to ask for more unreliability with the current penalties with grid drops for component use beyond allocation. It just makes component use a strategy element instead of an honest goal with stacking penalties for one race to allow for more used components to be swapped around in future races. It’s just silly.

    8. You get what you reward. If the FIA wants more unreliability than it should reward drivers for blowing up their PU during the race (as opposed to handing out grid penalties to a driver that is already punished by the DNF). Hulkenbergs engine failure in Austria should be worth a point or two.

      1. It’s hilarious! But so true. So to speak there could be a hidden patch on every circuito (that may change from places) and gives the first driver to come over an instant DNF, right? Something like an invisible Mario Kart power-down (reverse of a power-up).

      2. You get what you reward. If the FIA wants more unreliability than it should reward drivers for blowing up their PU during the race

        That’s a good point. If you encourage manufacturers to supply teams with more powerful but less reliable engines then surely the teams will race with the less reliable but more powerful engines. Unreliability in itself is a hindrance, but unreliability in the search for a more powerful engine should be encouraged. For this to work it would mean a team with an engine that blew up was more powerful than the previous version by a certain margin, e.g. 1%, should escape the grid penalties. But how do you know that an engine, e.g. Ferrari 2018A or Honda 2018A is actually less powerful than Ferrari 2018B or Honda 2018B. Ultimately this sort of scenario requires reliable analysis of engine performance, and if that doesn’t happen then the conclusions can’t be reliable either.

    9. Worrying comments from a man in this position. He is blatantly unsuitable for the office he is holding. As long as this is the level of leadership we should all be concerned about F1s future.

    10. As I’ve said in other comments, the digital will beat F1 before eletric.
      Since the 80s/90s data flood F1, as it did with our lives, replacind the biological sensor infamously referred by Lauda.
      I think is virtually impossible to block, limit or extrincate data from F1.
      The real challenge to F1 would be to incorporate that digital aspect into the broadcast, as apparently there is more happening outside the track. Maybe mission control rooms could be integrated to the transmission.
      Graphs and spreadsheets are seldom interesting but the last two Americas Cup graphics were able to show some elements that were not evident or visible to the usual audience.
      F1 should try something like that beyond the recently suggested graphics.

      1. maiagus, the “biological sensor” was already becoming obsolete before that, as telemetry systems have been in use far before the 1980s.

        Lotus were already using mechanical telemetry systems on their cars, as were BRM, back in the early 1960s (they transferred that knowledge to other series too – for example, part of the reason why Jim Clark was so quick in the 1963 Indianapolis 500 was because Lotus carried out private tests with a car fitted with onboard telemetry systems that they could use to refine his set up in advance of the race).

        Wilson Fittipaldi has spoken in the past about how the Fittipaldi team were using electronic telemetry systems during the development of their cars in the early 1970s, and Tyrrell were using electronic telemetry in the late 1970s as well. You can find pictures of Ronnie Peterson having data downloaded from his car during a test session for Tyrrell – necessitated, in part because, although lauded for his ability, he was a fairly poor development driver – and in the late 1970s Gilles Villeneuve was often pounding round Fiorano with cars specially kitted out with onboard telemetry systems to help Ferrari develop their cars.

        Racing dave, that really isn’t how most of those drivers viewed themselves at the time, and if anything sounds more like a strange caricature. Your comments about Senna are also rather strange given that Senna was a major proponent of telemetry and often relied on it in order to improve his performances – that was one area where he gained quite a bit of an advantage on others, up until Schumacher entered the sport (who was probably the only other driver in the sport at the time who was even more data driven than Senna was).

    11. Too much data. They should restrict it. Drivers need to give the feed back. We do need to see variation – I think reliability is wrong word – having all the data breeds cobstistancy at a level that consistently brings results I.e. 4x3rd places are better than a win and 2dnf’s or 10th places. We want people to fight for wins – Senna and mansell were exciting to watch as they wanted to win above anything else. Lauda and Prost not so much as they drove for numbers.
      When Lewis is in a spot or MV at the back it’s exciting to watch – other drivers out of position tend to wait for stops and strategies to play out.

    12. The sport is dead. Whack a mole won’t fix this.

      1. I agree, but I was hoping they would let it age gracefully and die in it’s sleep instead of turning it into NASCAR of the last 15 years.

      2. Then don’t come here then. :/

      3. No, the sport isn’t dead. It dies when either individuals or corporates don’t want to invest in it. Individuals and Corporates do want to invest in F1, so it isn’t dead.

    13. Jean Todt will lead F1 to doom. They are trying to fix the wrong problem. If they even out the prize money, then everyone will be on equal footing. There are enough smart people to make all the F1 teams compete for the win. The only thing holding back this scenario ( and the ulimate desire of the FIA) is having to make a fast car enough with less than half the distribution of the top teams. They want even competition, but insist of an unfair distribution of cash. You get what you pay for.

    14. I don’t think F1 cares about distribution of cash but the teams receiving them do and make a lot of noise of leaving if they don’t get their way.

    15. Too much “hidden simulation” bad for F1

      Too much vocal Todt also bad for F1.

      However, understand his sentiment. All the private testing was bad for F1. All the private sim running is bad for F1. F1 needs to get back to its unscripted roots – Live at the Track Improv! Make 1906 great again!

    16. Another comment vanished into the ether, it really is ridiculous that drivers, team principals, etc. are quoted in full when they drop the Fbomb but if I write “No shxte Sherlock” I’m expunged.

      1. Keith should give registered members a bit more leeway, @hohum.
        Especially when he allows non-registered members to troll around (see above) at their leisure.

        1. @coldfly, thanks. Maybe my points will turn up in an editorial, it’s happened before.

    17. digitalrurouni
      3rd December 2018, 3:10

      I agree with Todt. I think the sport would gain considerably more if simulators were banned for drivers. You don’t see MotoGP riders riding simulators. Same with WRC drivers or Indy car.

    Comments are closed.