F1 wants to use eSports racers to trial new sporting regulations

F1’s rulemakers are planning to use drivers from its eSports series to trial any major changes to the sporting regulations, to ensure they work as planned before being introduced.

Speaking at Autosport International, F1 technical consultant Pat Symonds said the idea is part of plans to make sure new rules in the future don’t have unintended negative consequences on the sport, by putting them through the same evidence-based simulations as his technical team used to refine 2021’s new aerodynamic regulations.

“We’re working a lot with simulation. We’ve produced what I think is a world-first in an overtaking simulation, but we found a problem with it in that [the AI driver] is too good.

“So what we want to do now is use the physics of those simulations but put real drivers in a virtual environment, racing against each other, so we can see whether these changes to the sporting regulations are good. What I’m hoping…is that we’ll use some of our elite gaming racers from our eSports series to test out some of our ideas.”

Ferrari Media

One of the ideas Symonds said F1 were keen to test out in simulation was alternative grid formations, while sprint races to determine grid position could also be trialled in this way despite teams rejecting early proposals for this last year.

Symonds also said that F1 is using technology to analyse viewers’ responses to races, to better understand which areas of the sporting regulations actually need addressing:

“We have people wired up while they’re watching races and we look at their galvanic skin response, we look at their emotions. By looking at all these various research areas, we can really start to build a picture of what makes good racing.”

Symonds: 2021 regulations helped by 2009 “mistakes”

F1 technical consultant Pat Symonds has said that he has remembered the mistakes he made in designing the 2009 regulations to ensure the new 2021 rules work as planned.

Symonds was part of the Overtaking Working Group set up by F1 to design the 2009 regulations overhaul, while at the same time being in charge of engineering for the Renault F1 team.

As well as Symonds, the OWG also included input from Rory Byrne and Paddy Lowe, who were still part of Ferrari and McLaren at the time.

Speaking at Autosport International on Thursday, Symonds said he has learnt from the mistakes the 2009 OWG made and has used his experience to avoid a repeat with the 2021 regulations:

“2009’s very interesting because…myself, Rory Byrne, Paddy Lowe and the late Charlie Whiting, we formed an Overtaking Working Group and looked at producing the regulations for 2009. But at the same time, I was trying to win races and win championships. And it’s quite interesting because we did leave loopholes in there.

“The great thing is, you do learn from your mistakes. I think it’s absolutely fundamental we had [an] independent group, because if you work in a team you’re paid to win races, you’re paid to exploit performance, you’re paid to find those loopholes in the rules. It’s really unfair to expect the teams to look above that and look at what’s good for the sport.”

Symonds added that the aerodynamic group behind the 2021 regulations is currently working to close off any loopholes with the 2021 regulations by trying to add downforce to a car in the same way a working F1 team would, and analysing what developments have a negative effect on the wake of the car.