MERCEDES GP looking forward to inaugural Indian GP

Race Preview Feature 17: Simulating New CircuitsThe Formula One drivers will only turn a wheel for the first time at theBuddh International Circuit on Friday morning. But although thosepractice laps will mark the beginning of a new learning process, theteams and drivers are far from starting from zero when they actuallytake to the track. Preparations for the race have been underway fornearly a year - and by race day, around one million simulations of therace will already have been completed.When did the team's first preparations begin for the inaugural IndianGrand Prix?The process of preparing for a new race begins with the logisticalchallenges rather than the technical ones. The team's travel departmentconducted a recce of the local area in December 2010, and made hotelreservations shortly afterwards. The logistics crew generally make avisit around nine months ahead of the race, in order to plan the layoutof the garage, access routes and storage areas. In terms of technicalpreparations, these begin with architects' plans of the circuit. Theelevation and camber provided on these are used to construct a basictrack map for virtual simulation, around six weeks before the event.This map is gradually improved as more information becomes availablefrom the FIA and the circuit. In recent years, circuits have only beencompleted very shortly before the first race weekend - and the same istrue for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix - which means the team cannotmake a digitised map of the track. Set-up simulations, which provide thebaseline settings for the car at the start of the opening practicesessions, are carried out the week before the event.What factors are taken into account when devising the baseline set-up?Circuit characteristics can be distinguished from a basictwo-dimensional map. Factors such as downforce levels, braking duty andg-force loadings are all a function of the circuit's geometry, and basicsimulations will provide a direction for those parameters. Initialsimulation suggests that the cars will spend around 65% of the lap atfull throttle, with the longest full throttle period of 14.5 seconds,between turns three and four. The cars will exceed 285 kph at threepoints around the lap, while the fastest corner is expected to be turn12, which is expected to be taken at 255 kph. The maximum g-loadingaround the circuit is expected to be 4.0 G, at Turns 5, 9 and 11.How is the driver-in-the-loop simulator used before the event?The basic nature of the track map means that the simulator can only beused for basic familiarisation with the circuit, because the track mapis not detailed enough to include information such as bumps and kerbswhich influence set-up tuning. The team will generally complete around100 laps (nearly two race distances) in the simulator, programmed with avariety of fuel loads and grip levels, to ensure as many possiblescenarios as possible are covered. In addition to using thedriver-in-the-loop simulator, the team conducts strategy simulations toanalyse as many race outcomes as possible. By race day, we will haveperformed around one million iterations of the potential race, which areused to inform decisions about how to approach qualifying and the raceitself.What preparation do the drivers have to do for a new circuit?Like with other circuits, they must be familiar with the KERS deploymentschedule (when KERS is deployed to the greatest performance advantagearound the circuit), the DRS zones and also the pit-entry and exitlines, for speed limiter activation and deactivation. In terms oflearning the circuit, the drivers will conduct their usual track walk onThursday to inspect it on foot, and potentially note specific signs andmarkings that they will need to be aware of when in the car. In terms oflearning the circuit, this is an ongoing process through the weekend, asgrip levels increase, and the team structures its practice programmes togive the drivers maximum time to familiarise themselves with theintricacies of the layout.Which track does the new Buddh International Circuit most resemble?The circuit has similarities to Turkey, with a long main straight and avery long, sweeping corner (Turns 10 and 11) that resembles thetriple-apex Turn Eight in Turkey. However, while Turn Eight was takenwith an average corner speed of 270 kph, in India the corners areexpected to be taken at 170 kph (Turn 10) and 210 kph (Turn 11)respectively. The lap time and speed will be very much dependent on thegrip level achieved by the Pirelli tyres on the new asphalt surface. Alap time of 1:25.000 would correspond to an average lap speed of 218kph, while a lap time of 1:30.000 would equate to an average lap speedof 205 kph.

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