When Michael Schumacher climbs into his Ferrari for the next Formula One race, his engine will have been over the racecourse many times already — in simulation.
The Ferrari race team is using computer-aided simulation at drivetrain consultant AVL’s dynamometer laboratory in Graz, Austria, to prepare for specific tracks. During the two weeks before each race the engines are tuned using a new program: VSM Dynamic Real Time Vehicle Simulation Model.
The program was specially developed by Ferrari and AVL. The test has become particularly important now that electronic aids such as anti skid-, traction- and launch-control have been outlawed in Formula One racing.
Using the program, engines and drivetrains come fully and precisely tuned for individual track peculiarities so that no time is lost on the track making technical preparations.
Paolo Martinelli, head of Ferrari’s sports powertrain section, and Peter Schoeggl, a powertrain expert at AVL, reported on the system at the recent Vienna International Engine Symposium.
All racetrack factors are precisely simulated, including road grip on a wide variety of surfaces — on straights and in curves and on wet and dry tracks. The simulation accounts for wind resistance, tire resilience, cornering capacity and other influences. The program automatically tunes the torque level for the race engines.
Starting in mid-July at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Formula One drivers must control traction themselves. Drivers will have to guard against rear-wheel slip caused by pressing the throttle too hard.
The AVL-Ferrari program sees that the engine reacts smoothly to the pressure
of the driver’s toe on the pedal and gives the driver a chance to
keep the car’s enormous torque under control.
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