As the last rays of sun bathe Yas Marina on Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it's a chilly winter midday in Brackley as F1 Racing enters the Mercedes F1 facility. For its newly announced reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, it's merely another shift in the simulator that will play an essential role in Mercedes' race effort.
Only the sign outside distinguishes the simulator building from those around it. Upstairs there's a swathe of grey carpet, grey sofas, and three rows of desks with computer screens and intercoms.
These will not all be occupied today; normal simulator procedure only requires three or so personnel. It's only when the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are in the sim that this room attracts a full house of trackside engineers and a delegation from the Brixworth engine facility.