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Zooming In: Getting Real with the Simulator

In this exciting second episode, see how we incorporate virtual reality into our real-world race training, in the highly advanced TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Race Simulator.

Formula E is the newest sensation in motorsports. So, you’d expect it to be the most innovative too. And you would not be disappointed. Formula E, like no other racing class, bridges the gap between physical and digital, thrilling competitors and fans alike. In the Race Simulator, we take technology to a whole new level. Malte Huneke, Technical Project Leader in the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team, gives us the low-down:

Before we get into the driver’s seat, Malte emphasises, we need to understand WHY Simulator racing is so important: There’s simply not enough time to practise on a real track.

During the race season Formula E events don’t offer much driving time; there are just two short practice sessions followed by qualifying before the main race! The fluid nature of Formula E also rules out practising on established tracks outside of race fixtures – take last season’s six-race finale in Berlin for example, where the circuit at Tempelhof featured three different track configurations across the event.

So, for driver, engineers and machine, the Simulator offers the only alternative; the best environment to get ready for the next race. Here drivers can get a taste of the track, or at least anticipate what it might be like. For the engineers it’s a critical opportunity to fine-tune software to channel maximum energy efficiency into exhilarating performance. And finally, for the car itself, the simulation helps define setup parameters, such as suspension and steering response.

The computers at the heart of the Simulator are programmed to monitor, record and anticipate how the car would behave physically and they model the track and the car to realistically interact when driven. The cockpit is a full-scale replica, complete with all the equipment found in our real 99X Electric Formula E car. This is mounted on a moving platform that mimics acceleration response and physical rotation, for example, when cornering. Finally, there is the control room where all the engineers are working with the data in real time. They can talk to the driver and control the situation.

Part of the thrill of Formula E is, you never know what to expect. Putting drivers through unexpected situations is an essential part of the preparation. At random, commands are generated to, for example, call a red or yellow flag. In an instant, it can bring on bad weather (which the simulator reflects as reduced on-track visibility on the screen as well as slippery handling). The driver, together with his race engineer, must adapt on the spot to cope with the situation.

When it comes to getting the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team race-ready, there’s no question that the Simulator is as chock-full of surprises as the sport itself. For more insights into the remarkable technology behind Formula E, be sure to stay tuned for the next episode of Zooming In.