Wirth: Sim sickness can be overcome

Drivers like Michael Schumacher should have little problem in overcoming the motion sickness problems they face when using Formula 1 simulators

Wirth: Sim sickness can be overcome

That is the view of Virgin Racing technical director Nick Wirth, who has spent years working on developing high-tech simulation technology at his own facility in Banbury.

Those efforts have left him convinced that there is a generational issue at stake - with younger racers more used to working in simulators because they have been brought up playing computer games.

But Wirth thinks that even older drivers like Schumacher, whose brains struggle to deal with the experience of simulators, can get over the difficulties they have.

"The younger guys are more used to video games," explained Wirth. "They are more used to video games - even playing things like Call of Duty where, if you hit the stick to strafe and rotate around, they are not going to be sick.

"They are used to it and their brain is completely programmed. When my son jumps in the [F1] simulator every so often, he is fine - so it is a generational thing.

"I am sure Michael didn't play many video games when he was younger, but from what we have seen, I am sure he will be able to overcome his motion sickness."

Wirth says that motion sickness in simulators is caused by an evolutionary response in the brain - which started as a protection mechanism against eating the wrong foods.

"The guy who has been the most influential in the development of our simulators is David Brabham, and he is the same age as me," said Wirth. "He is absolutely fantastic on it, but he definitely suffered from motion sickness to start with.

"Motion sickness is a fascinating topic, and it fundamentally has its roots in our evolutionary history. Motion sickness comes from the fact that your brain is continually comparing what your eyes can see with what your inner ear says.

"When our ancestors used to pick berries up off the ground, if they ate something that was dangerous, which would make them ill, then one of the manifestations of being poisoned is to feel giddy - like if you have too much alcohol, which is a form of poisoning, and you lose your sense of balance.

"Losing your sense of balance gives you a disconnect between your visual and your inner ear and your body goes, 'I've lost my connection between inner ear and vision, I must have been poisoned, get it out.' And that is why you are sick.

"So that is why when you are reading a book in the car, you look at something still and your inner ear feels acceleration so your brain goes, hang on a sec, that doesn't feel right. That is the evolutionary basis of motion sickness."

Wirth says that Brabham initially had huge problems in getting used to the simulators, but now has fully overcome the issues he had.

"It is a matter of training," added Wirth. "David used to get out of the simulator after 10 laps and have his head between his lap for two hours, and he would go home white.

"But we improved the motion, we understood what it was, and now we can't get him out of the damn thing when he comes in."

shares
comments
Alonso: Passing just as hard in 2011
Previous article

Alonso: Passing just as hard in 2011

Next article

Rosberg still upbeat on Mercedes form

Rosberg still upbeat on Mercedes form
Load comments
How Ferrari gained a new edge over McLaren in the best-of-the-rest F1 2021 battle Plus

How Ferrari gained a new edge over McLaren in the best-of-the-rest F1 2021 battle

Supremacy in the McLaren vs Ferrari fight over third place in the constructors’ championship has ebbed and flowed between the two teams so far in the 2021 Formula 1 season. But for several key reasons, right now it seems the advantage has swung decisively back to the Scuderia and McLaren knows it.

The 70s US superteam that tried and failed to crack F1 Plus

The 70s US superteam that tried and failed to crack F1

Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing was briefly one of the biggest names on the US motorsports scene, but its ambition outstripped its resources. STUART CODLING relates the story of a Formula 1 campaign cut off in its prime

Formula 1
Oct 26, 2021
The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory Plus

The key details that boosted Red Bull and held back Hamilton in Verstappen’s USA victory

As the 2021 Formula 1 title battle winds towards its climax, the United States GP added another thrilling act in the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen battle. Although Hamilton aced the start, Verstappen and Red Bull took the initiative with strategy and were richly rewarded, despite Mercedes' best efforts as the race went down to the wire

Formula 1
Oct 25, 2021
US Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

US Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a baking hot afternoon at the returning Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 drivers were tested to their limits. As the pressure on the title contending squads reaches an ever-greater level of intensity, the foremost challengers again showed their class, but were outshone by a standout drive from the upper midfield

Formula 1
Oct 25, 2021
Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement Plus

Why F1's misunderstood party animal will thrive in retirement

Three years on from Kimi Raikkonen's last Grand Prix victory at Austin, he is now six races away from ending the longest Formula 1 career in history. His friend and former Ice1 Racing rally team PR man ANTHONY PEACOCK explains why there’s nobody quite like the 2007 world champion and why F1 will miss him (but he won’t miss it)

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021
How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

Formula 1
Oct 23, 2021