Inside Virgin Racing’s brand new simulator


For the pros, the fundamentals could even be done blindfolded. If we turned the projectors off and we said to Sam, I want you to brake for the hairpin at turn six. I think he could do that 100 times with no visual cues at all and that brake shape [on the telemetry] would look almost identical every time,” Lane says.

In a real-life situation, the driver/engineer relationship in this situation is infinitely more nuanced. Gone are the days when the simulators were primarily used for learning tracks, now the data informs what they do on race weekends.  

“I have done all my learning of a new track weeks in advance of getting there. We will spend days and days and days in the simulator. When I get there, I am not learning the circuit, I really feel like I know it very, very well,” Bird says. 

And Lane, naturally, wouldn’t be coaching his drivers on the fundamentals of braking and Bird would be less concerned with staying out of the barriers and more attuned to the requirements of the test programme. Especially in a series as technical and demanding as Formula E, where drivers have to think about energy conservation and the in-race attack mode, which gives them an extra 35kW of power for a limited time. It is, Bird says, “the fastest game of chess that you’ve ever played”.

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