If you have never used a simulator before it will take a bit of time to get used to it. If you are a regular sufferer of motion sickness, be prepared that using the simulator might give you the same feeling. All is not lost though, prepare for your session by eating lightly and taking travel sickness pills throughout the day. Some drivers experience a sense of nausea as the visual cues tell your brain that you are travelling quickly, but your inner ears disagree. By reducing the projected image size within the simulator this feeling can be minimised. Some simulator users wear also acupunture wristbands or watches during their session, but take heart that for a vast majority of people this feeling will pass after 20-30 minutes.
Do your homework
Many of our customers use a simulator to learn a new track. Study any available onboard footage on YouTube just before your session, or use the BPS archive upon arrival. If your team has raced there in previous seasons, ask to see some video or a data trace of a good lap. You will get up to speed in the simulator even quicker and be able to make the most of your session. Data is also useful for the simulator technicians; by studying the traces the car model can be fine tuned to your individual car set up.
Work as you do at the track
If you work well with your engineer or regularly use a driver coach, encourage them to join you at your simulator session. If you share your car with other drivers, share your session. Whilst you will always have a BPS simulator technician with you in your session who will be able coach you, there is benefit in treating your simulator time in exactly the same manner as a test day at a track.
Don’t spend the whole session chasing a lap time
This is a common problem, particularly with young driver who feel they have something to prove. But posting the fastest ever lap in the simulator won’t score you championship points, and as each session is confidential, it won’t get you a multi-million contract with the team of your dreams. Use your time to try different techniques and lines. Try some wet running. Look for consistency across each runs – this is particularly important for our endurance customers. The advantage of one fast lap can easily be lost If the following 10 are sloppy.
Don’t cut corners
At BPS we don’t run our simulator sessions with “damage on”. This means if you spin the car, run through the gravel, or go head first into the wall, you can keep on driving. The first reason for this is to make sure you get the maximum about of laps in – particularly important for circuit familiarisation sessions. The second reason is to make it very obvious where the time can be found or lost in driving techniques. The car always leaves with the same amount of fuel and the same level of tyre grip, so the only difference must be down to what the driver is doing between two runs (subject to no set up changes being made). The disadvantage of this lack of damage is there is no penalty for running over high kerbs and pushing over the limit where in reality you would hurt your car. Although this might give you a fast lap time on the simulator, it isn’t true to life and won’t prepare you for the race.
Many of our drivers start working on a couple of corners at a time, then once they have found a quick and consistent approach to those, they can move on to another pair, and another pair, and so on (there are a lot of pairs at somewhere like the Nordschliefe!). It is then a case of “joining the dots” between all the sections you know. Trying to tackle a whole circuit at once can be overwhelming for even the top drivers.
Use the data
Each simulator uses a motorsport data logging system and analysis package, alongside live telemetry, sector timing and video playback. Any data recorded during your session can be taken away to study between that day and race day to keep what you’ve learn fresh in your mind. Make plenty of notes on the track maps we provide and pack them into your race bag. Your learning doesn’t have to end when you leave the simulator.