Indy GP: may the best guess win…

This weekend's United States Grand Prix could provide ample fuel for the argument that a reduction or total ban on Formula 1 testing would only result in greater spending on computer simulation by the F1 teams

Indy GP: may the best guess win…

With no chance to test at Indianapolis prior to Friday's first free practice, most teams have derived their initial set-ups from exhaustive computer simulation, backed up with limited testing at a disparate selection of circuits around Europe. In effect, the winner of Sunday's race could be the team - and its engine-supplier - which got it most right back home in its design centre.

What makes Indianapolis such a challenge is that it is a circuit with two distinct halves - a high-speed section on the speedway itself, plus a slower, twisty infield section that Michael Schumacher described as more Monaco than Indy. Set-up will be a compromise, especially with F1 tyre-supplier Bridgestone pressing teams to set tyre pressures higher than usual to compensate for the stresses of the banked Turn 13.

BAR chief engineer Steve Farrell said of the new Indy GP circuit: "It puts the emphasis on on our simulation capabilities and allows the 'backroom boys' in Research and Development to come into their own and hopefully give us a headstart to the weekend.

"The characteristics of the circuit, which combines the need for higher levels of downforce on the twisty infield section with low downforce on the high-speed, banked section, means there mey be several, equally valid approaches to downforce. It will be interesting to see where teams start the weekend on chassis set-up and where they finish."

Gavin Fisher, chief designer for the Williams F1 team, adds: "[Indianapolis] boasts features that are not present at any other F1 track. Subsequently, we have had to make use of our simulation capabilities in an effort to determine the optimum set-up for the car and to ensure that we have the appropriate hardware available."

No extra testing has been scheduled over the three-day GP meeting, but the teams will be allowed two extra sets of tyres to maximise the amount of running in the time available. Nevertheless, pre-event simulation will still be key.

"I think you will see over the weekend not only who has the best car," said Honda R&D boss Takefumi Hosaka, "but also who has the best simulations! It will be very interesting."

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