Aug.21 (GMM) Renault does not possess one of the best driver simulators in F1, but the team's Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet are arguably now the best-prepared drivers ahead of this weekend's European grand prix at Valencia.
It emerges that Spaniard Alonso, who once derisively referred to Renault's own sim as a "Playstation", recently booked a full day at the wheel of what is said to be the best custom motor racing simulator in the world -- the one run by former Benetton technical chief Nick Wirth.For some time, it has been known that Wirth Research's facility is used frequently by at least two unknown F1 teams.It emerges that Brazilian rookie Piquet has sat at the controls on a number of occasions.Located in Bicester (UK), it is similar to a flight simulator, delivering every bump and corner to its users from circuits modelled by GPS with realistic visuals.The Spanish sports newspaper Marca said the cost of the simulator to customers is 7500 euros per day."The correlation between the simulation and reality is more than 95 per cent, depending on how much data we have," Wirth, who owned the Simtek F1 team in the mid-90s, said.Like Renault, BMW-Sauber, Toyota and Force India also do not boast leading simulators. Honda's Jenson Button said he learned the new Valencia layout on the team's Brackley machine."You're not getting the complete feeling of the car but you are gaining understanding of the distances and the braking points, so it's very useful," he said.McLaren and Williams lead the way in terms of F1 teams' simulators, and Red Bull's is also said to be quite good, while Ferrari is working on installing what has been described as a "next generation" of simulators at its Maranello factory.