Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, Yas Marina, 2018

Hartley and Wehrlein join four-man Ferrari F1 simulator team

2019 F1 season

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Ferrari has confirmed Brendon Hartley and Pascal Wehrlein will be part of its Formula 1 simulator programme in 2019.

Hartley, 29, joins the team from Toro Rosso, who cut him from their race team line-up at the end of last season. He arrives in the place of Daniil Kvyat, who has returned to Toro Rosso for the 2019 season.

Ferrari also lost Antonio Giovinazzi from its simulator team at the end of last season after he secured a race drive with Sauber. Former Sauber and Manor driver Wehrlein, who was previously part of Mercedes’ junior driver programme, will combine his new Ferrari simulator duties with his Formula E campaign for the Mahindra team.

Antonio Fuoco, a former Ferrari Driver Academy member who is now a consultant to the programme, will also join the simulator team alongside long-time simulator driver Davide Rigon.

“Our team has taken on four undoubtedly talented drivers, who possess innate feeling, with a strong understanding of race cars and tracks,” said team principal Mattia Binotto. “These are exactly the qualities required in the skilful role of driving in a simulator, one of the vital pieces of equipment in the Formula 1 of today.”

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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...

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34 comments on “Hartley and Wehrlein join four-man Ferrari F1 simulator team”

  1. I think one of the reasons behind Ferrari dominance in the early 2000s was the amount of testing they were able to carry on. Nowadays, testing is shrunk to the bone: seeing a 4 drivers lineup for the sim sounds a lot like a possible answer to that limitation. Hours at the sim are not limited, so it looks like Ferrari is scaling up on that. The CEO already said they’re going to increase expenditure this year, this is probably part of that plan.

  2. So there was some truth in the rumors this whole time after all, LOL.

  3. , Brendan Hartley’s dad confirms.

  4. Both men have inside information on how the Mercedes and Honda power units work.

    1. interesting perspective, question is, how much info do they have, and how much info do they understand.
      driveability though will be a point where they can soundly work won compared to the others (they also had that same level of insight with Renault whem Kvyat was their test driver)

    2. this is the way I’m looking at too: Ferrari got themselves 2 good measuring sticks in other to prepare for their main rivals next year. of course, nothing is guaranteed but it seems like a very smart move…

      1. *in order

  5. Seeing Hartley land this role makes me quite happy!

    Ferrari do need to take a good hard look at themselves, though – are they implying that TR rejects are the only ones they can get? Or is Ferrari nothing but a finishing school for TR drivers? ;-)

    1. What??? Ferrari have werhlein too, just because they used kvyat and now Hartley you got that?? Did you miss that kvyat is back at torro rosso?

      1. Did you miss that kvyat is back at torro rosso?

        Hence my finishing school comment, kpcart :)
        Also, that entire paragraph was meant humorously, it looks like you interpreted it seriously.

        1. @phylyp and we can add Jean-Eric Vergne to the list from 2015-16, straight from Toro Rosso too, no matter how humorously or seriously we tackle the subject : ) So I guess Albon should consider taking up an Italian language course soon? : )

          1. @andrewt – good one :)

  6. I have got a feeling on Brendon Hartley that he has similar qualities as Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa had in the last decade. Not among the fastest drivers, but they had technical knowledge which held them in testing positions for a long time.

    Of course nowadays testing is done mainly with simulators rather than on track, and I have no experience to comment how helpful feedback is when running is done in simulator.

  7. The fact that Ferrari are willing to hire drivers of the calibre of Hartley and Wehrlein shows how much benefit they believe they got out of Kvyat and Giovinazzi last season. From what I understand, the sim drivers do a lot of work between practice sessions and overnight on race weekends to try sort out any issues with the car, so the team places a lot of faith in them and their technical skill set. Kvyat has also shown that it is possible to impress in this role and get your F1 seat back (though admittedly in unique circumstances), so this may be a good move for both drivers.

    1. The fact that Ferrari are willing to hire drivers of the calibre of Hartley and Wehrlein shows how much benefit they believe they got out of Kvyat and Giovinazzi last season.

      Nice point, @geemac

  8. Does anyone know how much money f1 teams are spending on simulators? Add 4 drivers probably on high saleries, would it be better to ban simulators in turn for say 10-20 days extra real world testing?

    1. I’m not one of the people in the know, but it’s not hard to imagine that the salaries of simulator drivers (plus the cost of keeping a top-notch simulator up-to-date) fall short of the cost of a single day of on-track testing, not to mention 10-20 days …

      1. When you are correlating the data to real world, It must cost millions for it to actually make sense, other ways its just a video game. . A single track day testing isn’t that expensive, just cost of tyres and fuel and test engine.

        1. The problem previous is that testing was limitless, with limitless amount of engines and aero testing and tyres. They went way too heavy handed with 8 days pre season testing and a few days in season. Give them 30 days a year, with limits on aero and tyre testing in there and get rid of sinlms?? I don’t know. Just thinking out loud, I could be wrong, but I think there is a serious investment going on in simulators, I just think it would be nice to know if it actually is cheaper than real testing… Testing that can have stipulations put in place so that it is cheap and not unlimited.

          1. @kpcart I don’t think you are wrong to consider this. I do think though that at this stage of investment teams have made to their simulators, they would not want to see them banned. Hand in hand with that I don’t see F1 offering up all that many more actual track test days such that they could do without their simulators. I bet the teams wouldn’t mind keeping their simulators but also having at least a handful more track days in order to confirm their stimulator findings in real-world settings on occasion, which I’m sure they already do on Fridays and Saturday mornings.

        2. A single track day testing isn’t that expensive, just cost of tyres and fuel and test engine.

          That’s where I have to disagree, even without knowing the exact figures.
          – First of all, there is no ‘just’ in the cost for these three ingredients. Tyres and fuel may add up to a small five-digit number, okay. But as soon as you need an engine, you can basically disregard that. An engine may cost anywhere from 3 to 10 million [interchangeable first-world currency in terms of ballpark figures], and that may even fall short of the true production cost. In other words: Prepare to spend even more if you’re a manufacturer.
          – Secondly, this list is far from exhaustive. If it were, the equivalent cost for running a simulator would just be the electricity bill. Wanna test more than one specification of your front wing? Wham! Do not pass Go, pay 150,000 to build one. Want brakes on your car? You know the drill: 150,000 cash. Unlike your front wing, you’re going to need a new set of those pretty much every day, even if your drivers are no clumsy bunglers and your day goes smoothly, i.e. without any overheating issues.
          Need another example for a regularly replaced part that isn’t just *there* and works without complaining? Introducing the gear box. 750,000 apiece. Designed for an MTBF of roughly 2,000 km (although they probably fall short of that), so expect to need a new one every 3-4 days of testing. If everything goes perfectly smoothly, that is.
          – Thirdly, even with that enormous bill (which assumes you had a car sitting in the garage, only waiting for you to start it up and get running), you haven’t even hit the track. You can’t just hop into the car, roll out of the garage and then floor it on the next best piece of tarmac you lay your eyes upon. That’d be nice, but it simply does not work like that.
          You need to rent a track. Exact figures are hard to come by, but seeing as the rental fee of the Bahrain International Circuit appears to be £20,000 for an evening, 50,000 squid for a full day doesn’t sound too far off. But it doesn’t stop there. You’ve only acquired the right to use a certain piece of tarmac for a given period of time. You still need to hire a small army of marshals to make sure nothing too bad can happen. And while we’re at it, you also need medical personnel, an ambulance or two, as well as a medical helicopter.
          – And finally, getting an F1 car to run isn’t a trivial task. You need staff at the track, staff to assemble the car, perform maintenance and repairs, engineers who devise a plan for the testing day and react to any changes, as well as an army of data analysts without whom vrooming around in circles would just be a pointless exercise that burns money. Lance Stroll reportedly hired a staff of 25 people (20 from Williams and 5 from Mercedes) for his private testing extravaganza in 2016. This can be considered the bare bones of what you need for testing, as he was using obsolete machinery, and therefore, there was no need to adhere to a meaningful programme that could be used to develop the car.

          Also, you need to get these people and your equipment there. You have to pay for the hotel stays. You have to feed your staff, and media representatives as well, if you want your sponsors’ logos to appear in the press.

          In other words, the cost of hitting the track with a car can quickly add up to millions for a single day of testing. When Lance Stroll travelled the world with his minimal testing crew in 2016, he reportedly had to fork out around £20,000,000 in total for circa ten days of testing. So, the ballpark figure for testing would be around 2 million per day (the realisation that testing days don’t get cheaper by the dozen is free of charge).
          Now, I can imagine that the teams are willing to invest a few million to build a worthwhile simulator. But once it’s there, it’s there. The cost of feeding it new data and keep it up to date soft- and hardware-wise is quite obviously considerably lower, and the marginal cost of using it every day is, well, marginal.

          1. Ya, and for a very loose comparison, GT5 cost around $60m over 5 years. There are some things that the actual sim needs than games like GT5 but there are even more things in GT5 that cost money that are simply not required in a one car F1 sim

          2. nase, as you note, it is not just a case of renting the circuit itself, but the cost of then staffing the facilities – costs which have to be paid directly by the teams, not by the circuit owners – and then the logistical costs of getting to the circuit with the necessary personnel and equipment. If I recall well, I believe that a figure that has been mentioned in the past is that a single day of testing at a suitable venue can be in the order of €3 million, and a large chunk of that (around €1-1.5 million) is the cost of operating the venue alone.

            Now, the cost of testing for a couple of days at a single venue would be a little more cost effective, since you could then spread out some of the mobilisation and logistical costs, but you are still looking at the cost of a single short term test still costing several million at a time.

            Part of the reason why we are now in a situation where there are group tests before the season is because even the wealthiest teams were finding the cost of real world tests hard to take, and they were the ones pushing for testing to be grouped together so they could split the circuit hire and staffing costs between them.

            By comparison, the cost of purchasing the simulator hardware is fairly low – for example, a simulator from Cruden (which is used by organisations such as Prema for their Formula 2 and Formula 3 work) is quoted at £120,000. Once you’ve purchased it, you are then likely to be able to spread the cost of using that simulator over an extended period of time.

            Now, items such as licencing costs and the cost of finding staff to operate that simulator, along with the operating costs, are not as clear cut – however, it seems likely that the licencing costs would probably be in the order of a few thousand a year at most, given what most engineering software packages cost, which is comparatively cheap.

            Dragging driver costs into the matter does seem a little nebulous, meanwhile – is it necessarily that much more expensive to hire a driver for simulator testing than it is to pay that driver to drive a car around an actual circuit? Generally, the latter seems to have been regarded as more expensive than the former.

          3. Regardless of on track testing costs and making more on track days available, as @geemac stated, I would think the real benefit comes on a race weekend. They may even run 2 or 4 simulators concurrently?

            Prior to practice I imagine they would be feeding weather and track conditions into the simulators and testing outcomes based on the setup and tyre options they had available so they could better pick what they believed was the ideal setup for FP1. During FP1 they would be clarifying real world results with the simulator predictions to adjust the simulator to mimic the performance on the ground. Based on the new simulator settings they would be trying to adjust their sims to reflect expected track conditions in FP2 and then testing for the best setups, after which the whole process would start again.

            After FP2 I’d expect the sim drivers would be working in shifts for every hour until final practice and then again until qualifying and the race, possibly even during the race! With limited setup changes available after qualifying and during the race the sim work might reduce, or at least become easier for the data analysts.

            I can see why Liberty might be looking to reduce the length of weekends as the teams who can afford the most simulators, the most data analysts, the best sim drivers will have a significant advantage over the smaller teams. I could even imagine a simulator being used by a team to reverse engineer a competitor’s race weekend in order to forecast how their competitors might perform at coming races and thus giving them a benchmark to try and reach or beat.

            Compacting all practice sessions and qualifying into one day would certainly limit the effectiveness of these strategies, would have to save costs and possibly lead to a closer field?

            If simulators were banned and more test days introduced, I think this would lead to closer racing, but I love the data analysis opportunities and big data processing that must be going on with the simulators. This must have far reaching flow on implications and insights for all sorts of industries?

        3. “A single track day testing isn’t that expensive, just cost of tyres and fuel and test engine.”

          and the weeks of preparation , the catering, the hospitality, the data connections, A days testing would be a rather large chunk of budget,

  9. Hartley and Wehrlein will join racer_3, FunkyGamer555 and The_Torpedo_1998 in the current team

  10. They should’ve release the simulator as PS4 game so millions of tifosi can participate… Just saying.

  11. No excuses for not entering the eSports league now…

    1. agreed. But I do recall that F1 has been pressuring them to enter and that they seemed open to the idea. I’d be shocked if they didn’t have a team for next years event.

  12. For what its worth Airlines and aircraft manufacturers have been using simulators for years. For the vast majority of commercial pilots the first and only experience they get flying the aircraft is in a simulator. They are so realistic they pilots can log time as actual flight time. The new 787 was able to be certified with far less actual test flying than any aircraft before as it was proven on simulators. Yes there were a few hiccups but not actually relayed to the flying ability of the aircraft.
    The massive advantage to simulators is changes are largely software changes. Even from one year to another, just load up the specs of the new car, some minor modification may be required to the steering wheel etc. but they wouldn’t need to build a new one every year.
    There is also a massive time saving advantage, change the from wing specs, you probably don’t even need to stop the simulation. The cost saving of not using physical parts would be phenomenal. The main additional cost is the coding, programming and correlation checks needed.

  13. So, who is the number one reserve driver?

  14. Brendon looks tired in that shot

  15. No more G forces

  16. Wait, was Fuoco dropped by the Ferrari Academy? I didn’t know that, too bad, i liked him, i think he performed good

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