Formula 1 has developed a complex “overtaking simulation” software to help the sport design tracks that will offer better and closer racing in the future, according to Pat Symonds.

The former ex-Benetton, Renault and Williams engineer was drafted in last year by F1 sporting manager Ross Brawn to help Formula 1’s technical quest to improve Grand Prix racing.

Symonds leads the Vehicle Performance working group that is exploiting simulation for the purpose of circuit design, with the application being put to work on the layout of the new Hanoi street circuit that will host next year’s Vietnam Grand Prix.

“We’ve produced what I think is the world’s first overtaking simulation,” said Symonds, speaking at the Autosport international Show in Birmingham

“It’s been extremely complex to do. To run a lap takes several hours.

“It’s a very, very complex simulation but it has a proper wake model of the cars, it looks at the surface and the tyre characteristics and all these sort of things.

“We’re now using that to design our new circuits and to look at some modifications.

“Vietnam, which is the first circuit we’ve really been involved with, I think that we have really been able to understand what it will take to make good racing there.

“I think Vietnam is going to be a superb circuit. It’s got some great features and it’s going to have some close racing at it.”

Recently, Formula E driver Lucas di Grassi, who has taken a keen interest in circuit design, promoted the idea of “variable geometry”, or corners designed to offer different racing lines, expanding trajectories and therefore overtaking opportunities for drivers.

Queried on di Grassi’s novel concept, Symonds finds the idea appealing, but insists it needs to be backed up by a fundamental analysis.

“What Lucas is saying is correct, there are many aspects to it, but again I emphasis we’ve got to have science behind it, we’ve got to have the evidence.

“I’ve heard so many theories [on] how to make cars overtake – everyone saying give them mechanical grip, you hear that one time and time again.

“The evidence is actually that in a wet race, where you’ve got less grip, you get much better racing.

“So, we’re putting the science into it now.”

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