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Practice makes perfect?


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#1 benjiwengy

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 18:35

Here's a question some of you knowledgeable lot might have an opinion on. In most sports that require hand/eye co-ordination i.e snooker, golf or tennis, top sports men and women practice for many hours each day to improve their performance. From what I can see the only practice F1 drivers get is the limited out of season testing and race weekends. Surely this doesn't seem enough to optimise their performance levels. I found that playing racing simulators I only got really good with lots and lots of time. If I was an F1 driver I'd be looking to be spending as much time behind the wheel of high performance race cars as possible. As this doesn't appear to be the case, I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts why not? As they say, practice makes perfect.

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#2 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 18:40

I think because above a certain level of competency, you are specialising in a particular vehicle. So bombing around in an F3 car isn't going to help Michael Schumacher get a better grip on his Grand Prix car.

Of course when he was making his comeback, he did GP2 testing at Jerez to reacquaint himself with everything and begin building the rapport with his engineers.

But ultimately, testing is so restricted in all series, where would you drive?

I know in the US championships a lot of the guys did karting. Though Indycars seemed for a time to behave like giant shifter karts so maybe there was something to be gained by keeping yourself sharp but I think mainly it was for fitness.

And don't forget the better F1 teams have high end simulators so the drivers are getting plenty of behind the wheel time we aren't aware of.



#3 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 19:28

the better F1 teams have high end simulators so the drivers are getting plenty of behind the wheel time we aren't aware of.


Do they simulate the G forces though? And the vibrations, and the wind buffeting, and the noise.....

I don't think you can properly simulate driving an F1 car any more than you can simulate playing in the NFL.

That said, it's certainly better than nothing...

#4 jatwarks

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 11:54

I think it's a combination of simulators (& games consoles?) for co-ordination and purpose-built gym machines for required strength & fitness.

Given the ultra high-tech nature of F1 I suspect that the top teams build their own combined testing/training simulators, using weights & hydraulic rams to simulate g-forces, and monitored to the nth degree!

Rotating a cockpit simulator around its 3 axes could simulate the g-forces of accelerating, braking & cornering, but only up to 1g.

A centrifuge (or fairground waltzer) might be useful, in extremis!

There again, with a GP every couple of weeks, pre-season conditioning in the gym and testing is probably enough.

#5 munks

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 14:02

Do they simulate the G forces though? And the vibrations, and the wind buffeting, and the noise.....


Not really (maybe some of the vibration modes and noise), but they do use force feedback steering wheels with strong enough motors to simulate the real torques that the F1 drivers have to fight on the steering wheel - up to around 50Nm. For reference, one can compare this to the consumer-level force feedback steering wheels that probably don't exceed 5Nm for both cost and liability reasons.

Given the ultra high-tech nature of F1 I suspect that the top teams build their own combined testing/training simulators, using weights & hydraulic rams to simulate g-forces, and monitored to the nth degree!

Rotating a cockpit simulator around its 3 axes could simulate the g-forces of accelerating, braking & cornering, but only up to 1g.


Rotating the entire simulator and using Earth's gravity as 'pseudo G forces' tends to disorient real drivers, or even make them nauseous. Instead, the high-end motion simulators primarily shift the tub around to simulate the *onset* of acceleration forces (for example, jerking backwards when the driver hits the brakes, or a sudden yaw to simulate the back end stepping out). Most drivers prefer these motion cues over some fake representation of sustained G-forces, which as you point out couldn't easily approach the actual forces they experience anyway.

#6 Canuck

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 19:06

You can only simulate the onset of accelerations (and decelerations) because, as Greg kindly educated us, the body doesn't sense acceleration, only rate of change in acceleration. I think.

#7 Tony Matthews

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 20:51

...as Greg kindly educated us, the body doesn't sense acceleration, only rate of change in acceleration. I think.

I think I'd sense a continuous, unchanging 5g in a centrifuge.

#8 Slowinfastout

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 20:55

Not alot of Gs but lots of fun!



#9 Tony Matthews

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 21:24

Not alot of Gs but lots of fun!

I'd love one of those! I saw one at the Autosport Racing Car Show, 2008, but I had briefly forgotten it. I like the way the whole thing, base and all, dances across the floor at the end!

#10 Greg Locock

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 01:43

You can only simulate the onset of accelerations (and decelerations) because, as Greg kindly educated us, the body doesn't sense acceleration, only rate of change in acceleration. I think.


Not quite but mostly true.

Most of the senses have a sort of high pass filter, so continuous inputs get filtered out. For balance the semicircular canals won't detect the slow change in heading as you go round a corner, whereas they will detect your head wagging side to side, which is caused by a change in the latacc.




#11 Canuck

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 02:37

I'd love one of those! I saw one at the Autosport Racing Car Show, 2008, but I had briefly forgotten it. I like the way the whole thing, base and all, dances across the floor at the end!

+1



#12 munks

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 16:59

... the body doesn't sense acceleration, only rate of change in acceleration.


Yes, jerk.

/am I too new to make a joke?

#13 Tony Matthews

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Posted 23 June 2010 - 17:30

Yes, jerk.

/am I too new to make a joke?

Of course not - go on then, I'm waiting!  ;)

#14 Bloggsworth

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 20:55

The single most important requisite for any sportsman is self-confidence, if you have that everything follows. That an F1 driver is physically suited for purpose is a given, once you've done it, you don't forget it, it's more a matter of re-aquainting yourself with the racing environment. I would put money on the fact that if you gave a Hurricane to an old Battle Of Britain pilot, assuming he was as fit as an 85 year old could be, he would have no trouble flying it, granted he couldn't chuck it around as he used to do, but he would know how.

Edited by Bloggsworth, 25 June 2010 - 20:56.


#15 Fat Boy

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 03:09

Of course not - go on then, I'm waiting! ;)


Well played.

#16 Dmitriy_Guller

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 02:08

You can only simulate the onset of accelerations (and decelerations) because, as Greg kindly educated us, the body doesn't sense acceleration, only rate of change in acceleration. I think.

Is that right? I would think that the body doesn't sense velocity, since there is no force associated with it, but it would sense acceleration.

#17 Lukin

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 03:23

Is that right? I would think that the body doesn't sense velocity, since there is no force associated with it, but it would sense acceleration.


I tend to agree. You 'feel' an acceleration on your body in the amusement park rides where it spins at constant velocity (ie constant centrepital acceleration).

I think we are more sensitive to rate of change of acceleration? I read somewhere that trains have limits for jerk when they take off for public safety and ride comfort.


#18 Lights

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 07:13

It's an interesting thought, but this shows exactly how expensive motorsport is. It's not about picking up a ball and a racket. Even as kids, they couldn't just kart whenever they wanted, it was expensive already. It's the same for everyone. Whether they would be better if they had way more practice... could be true, but then the drivers wouldn't make any mistakes in races anymore. For us spectators, it's a positive thing they don't test too much.

#19 Bloggsworth

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 09:01

There was a photograph in yesterday's paper of Wing Commander Ken Wallis, at the age of 94, flying his home-built Gyrocopter. If you don't know who he is, you may recall the Gyrocopter being flown round inside a volcano in You Only Live Twice, that was him - Mind you, he was only 50 when he did that....

Edited by Bloggsworth, 27 June 2010 - 09:02.


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#20 Tony Matthews

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 09:11

There was a photograph in yesterday's paper of Wing Commander Ken Wallis, at the age of 94, flying his home-built Gyrocopter.

:up:

#21 McGuire

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 11:34

Is that right? I would think that the body doesn't sense velocity, since there is no force associated with it, but it would sense acceleration.


You are absolutely correct.



#22 Canuck

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 15:05

Is that right? I would think that the body doesn't sense velocity, since there is no force associated with it, but it would sense acceleration.

No actually it's not. This is why the specific author I was referring to already corrected me. I'm sure certain I'm wrong now that you've also pointed it out.
This post is what was lurking in my synapses. Forgive me for not posting it sooner and not recalling it verbatim.

Edited by Canuck, 27 June 2010 - 15:08.


#23 Greg Locock

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 22:44

You are absolutely correct.


When you fall out of a perfectly good aeroplane you are accelerating at 1g. What do you sense (apart from fear)?

Nuttin.




#24 jatwarks

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 11:48

I believe design guidelines for public conveyances (buses, trains, lifts, etc) specify a maximum acceleration of 1g for comfort. When standing in a lift undergoing a constant acceleration of 1g (starting or stopping) you will 'feel' the acceleration; when the lift is travelling at constant speed you will feel no motion at all except for any bumping or rocking.

This is, of course, +/- 1g against the constant background of 1g due to gravity (weight).

If the lift cables snap, and no safety devices are in place, the lift will go into freefall, as will you and the air within it.

And you will feel no acceleration until the lift stops !!!!

#25 McGuire

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 12:39

When you fall out of a perfectly good aeroplane you are accelerating at 1g. What do you sense (apart from fear)?

Nuttin.


Skydivers don't fall at 1 g. At around 40 mph you begin to experience significant aero drag and in belly-down position you reach terminal velocity at around 120 mph. But in the moment between the throw and significant aerodynamic speed, you will experience the traditional sense of falling -- just as on a diving board, a trampoline, or falling from a ladder. At terminal velocity the sensation is similar to flying in that you are hurtling toward the earth at a constant speed: If you don't look at the ground there is no sense of falling, because you can't physically sense velocity, only acceleration. You can accelerate or decelerate by modifying your aerodynamic profile, as in formation jumping -- but what you can't do is fall at 1 g because you are not in a vacuum.


#26 SteveCanyon

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 14:41

If the lift cables snap, and no safety devices are in place, the lift will go into freefall, as will you and the air within it.

And you will feel no acceleration until the lift stops !!!!



Not strictly correct as the air in the shaft under the elevator has to flow around the sides of it, and that will slow the rate of acceleration to less than 1G, but your point is otherwise correct.

FWIW Einstein said that if you were in an elevator that was accelerating at 1G but you didn't know you were in an elevator, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and being on the surface of the Earth. No experiment where an object is dropped could show any difference.
It infers some interesting questions as to how gravity & inertia work at their most primal level.

#27 jatwarks

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 16:01

FWIW Einstein said that if you were in an elevator that was accelerating at 1G but you didn't know you were in an elevator, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between that and being on the surface of the Earth. No experiment where an object is dropped could show any difference.
It infers some interesting questions as to how gravity & inertia work at their most primal level.

A TV programme some years ago demonstrated something similar. It showed RAF pilots being tested for orientation awareness.

The pilot sat on a chair in a box that was just big enough to enclose him, and left him in complete darkness. The chair was rotated around a vertical axis that was behind the pilot's back, so that he swung round to his left or right. The rotation speed was not quick but could be varied in even steps, giving just 2 or 3 speeds.

True to theory, the pilot could not tell the difference between rotating at constant speed, in either direction, or remaining stationary. Only accelerations could be detected.

After a period in the chair, rotating at a variety of each available speed in each direction, with periods without motion, most of the pilots tested lost track of the changes in motion, and when asked by radio what their current motion was during the test, gave an incorrect answer.

#28 Bloggsworth

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 20:03

No actually it's not. This is why the specific author I was referring to already corrected me. I'm sure certain I'm wrong now that you've also pointed it out.
This post is what was lurking in my synapses. Forgive me for not posting it sooner and not recalling it verbatim.


In The Racing Driver, printed some 60 years ago, Dennis Jenkinson wrote a lot about proprioception and proprioceptors, the biological equivalent of motional and servo feedback systems - See active suspension in action on a downhill skier!

The body can and does sense velocity, which is, of course, a vector quantity. Speed is a different thing, and can be guaged by the wind in your hair, the rate at which the scenery passes. All senses are used when estimating positional change either in steady-state or accelerative modes. Proprioceptors and semicircular canals are only two of the bodies measuring instruments. Proprioceptors are natural trigonometricians, as they in real time calculate the relative position of every part of the body in relation to all others; the semi-circular canals tell us which way we are turning and how quickly, our eyes tell us which way is up in concert with pressure on parts of the body in contact with a surface - Surely that's wrong I hear you say, no say I; people trapped in snow in avalanches, suspended in snow and in the dark have no idea which way is up.

#29 McGuire

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:06

Humans are not capable of directly sensing speed or velocity. This is very easy to prove. However, humans are capable of sensing very fine accelerations. This is very simple to demonstrate as well.

#30 Bloggsworth

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 14:09

Humans are not capable of directly sensing speed or velocity. This is very easy to prove. However, humans are capable of sensing very fine accelerations. This is very simple to demonstrate as well.


So you are saying that when the wind is blowing in my face when I ride my bicycle I can't sense my speed, or when the trees rush past in my peripheral vision I can't sense my speed; or are you saying that my skin and eyes aren't part of my body?

I only ask so that when estimating a collision course when sailing, I don't rely on anything human for information as to my speed .............

Edited by Bloggsworth, 29 June 2010 - 14:10.


#31 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 14:55

I think the intent of 'directly sense' was pretty clear.

#32 Bloggsworth

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 15:27

I think the intent of 'directly sense' was pretty clear.


His exact words were Humans are not capable of directly sensing speed or velocity - If you prick us, do we not speed? There is nothing much more direct than the wind in your face, or the scenery flashing by. If he had meant certain parts of the body, he shouldn't have generalised. To sense speed we do not use the semicircular canals or the proprioceptors, but we do use the eyes and the largest organ the body possesses, the skin....

Edited by Bloggsworth, 29 June 2010 - 15:28.


#33 McGuire

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 15:42

So you are saying that when the wind is blowing in my face when I ride my bicycle I can't sense my speed, or when the trees rush past in my peripheral vision I can't sense my speed; or are you saying that my skin and eyes aren't part of my body?

I only ask so that when estimating a collision course when sailing, I don't rely on anything human for information as to my speed .............


If I may ask: if you are traveling at 30 mph on your bicycle in a 30 mph tailwind, how do you gauge your speed by the wind in your hair?

I am only saying that our internal senses are incapable of detecting speed or velocity, only accelerations. Any inputs regarding speed come from external sensory sources -- sight, sound, tactile, etc. You know this yourself. In an airliner flying straight and level, your body has no way to physically sense if it is traveling at 300 mph, 600 mph, or sitting on the runway. You can only look out the window or try to gauge the vibration. At 500+ mph the passengers get up and walk around just as they do in the lobby. There is no sensation of speed to interpret. Everything and everyone are traveling at the same rate. But if the aircraft changes its speed or direction, your body is then subjected an acceleration and your vestibular and kinesthetic/proprioceptive senses -- your internal inertial guidance system, if you will -- can go to work.

It may seem odd that humans are incapable of directly sensing speed or velocity, only accelerations. But not really: The vestibular (the accelerometer, more or less, in our inner ear) and kinesthetic/proprioceptive (body/limb position and muscle activity) allow us to function and navigate effectively as bipeds: climb ladders free-handed; walk straight with a 2-lb bag in one hand and a 20-lb box in the other; dance the Samba de Gafieira; stride purposefully and chew gum at the same time. The sensitivity is fine enough that that automotive measures sorta fail, but just to throw out a number, better than 1/256 g. Conversely, humans have had little use for sensing speed until recently. Unaided, our top speed over the ground is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 mph. Which leads to an interesting point in social anthropology: When pursued, a human need not be faster than the predator, only faster than his slowest fellow tribesman. Thought for the day.





#34 Tony Matthews

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 16:26

...dance the Samba de Gafieira;

Speak for yourself...

#35 McGuire

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 16:57

Speak for yourself...


Or an evocative Moroccan sha'abi. Suit yourself.


#36 New Britain

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 17:47

Some of the simulators are fixed to the driver's helmet to simulate head forces.

#37 Bloggsworth

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 18:19

"I am only saying that our internal senses..."


That is a statement with which I am in entire agreement.

Going forward at 30 with a tailwind of 30 would lead to differential pressure drops on the body surface etc., etc. Our entirety is used to biologically compute what we are up to, not just the internal organs. For instance, when our bodies are in stasis we can still feel pressure.

#38 Canuck

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 04:45

Surely that's wrong I hear you say

No...no I wouldn't. I don't claim to know, only what Greg had imparted (and I remembered incorrectly).


#39 jatwarks

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 07:04

So you are saying that when the wind is blowing in my face when I ride my bicycle I can't sense my speed, or when the trees rush past in my peripheral vision I can't sense my speed; or are you saying that my skin and eyes aren't part of my body?

In my earlier post about pilot training I pointed out that the pilots were enclosed in a dark box, to remove all sensory inputs other than the direct perception of motion.

In these circumstances it is impossible to detect constant velocity.

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#40 jatwarks

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 11:28

I remember Damon Hill being interviewed a while ago (was it on Top Gear?), and he was asked what it was like to drive something as fast as a Grand Prix car.

He said that when first driving the car again in pre-season testing, after the winter break, his first thought was along the lines of "Blimey, this is quick".

Familiarity soon restored the wish to go faster though, I'm sure.

#41 Bloggsworth

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 14:55

In my earlier post about pilot training I pointed out that the pilots were enclosed in a dark box, to remove all sensory inputs other than the direct perception of motion.

In these circumstances it is impossible to detect constant velocity.


So not an artificially contrived situation then. I did say similar with regard to people trapped within an avalanche, but you generalised the body & humans, and it was this I took issue with - Glad we've got it resolved...

#42 SteveCanyon

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 06:48

I remember Damon Hill being interviewed a while ago (was it on Top Gear?), and he was asked what it was like to drive something as fast as a Grand Prix car.

He said that when first driving the car again in pre-season testing, after the winter break, his first thought was along the lines of "Blimey, this is quick".

Familiarity soon restored the wish to go faster though, I'm sure.



Indeed - I've just done a minor rebuild on my computer and have also done a re-install of Rfactor. As fate would have it, I only have a couple of tracks and the 2009 F1 series cars installed at the moment so I decided to take Mark Webbers Red Bull for a run around Lakeside. My little racer can do a 56 second lap there, but without too much practice I did a 39.8 second lap in the F1 car.
Yes I know there were no g-forces to worry about but the tricky thing was simply keeping it on the track - I found that I had to try to keep it mostly in the middle of the road and not worry too much about the lines. I'd just open out the exits of the corners a little and that's all. I'd say someone good at RF could take another couple of seconds off that time as well.
So while yes I can say a (simulated) f1 car is very quick, it must be mind-blowing to drive the real thing.

#43 cheapracer

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 07:32

He said that when first driving the car again in pre-season testing, after the winter break, his first thought was along the lines of "Blimey, this is quick".


Sounds like a bit of a setup, if you watch the film of Graham Hill driving the Cosworth V8 in the Lotus 49 (?) for the first time he says virtually the same thing when he pulls into the pits testing in 1967.


#44 McGuire

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 11:34

Here is a fun exercise people can try: next time you drive your road car, try to brake at a rate so gentle and gradual that you can't sense it. It's quite a challenge. You will feel your mass shifting in the seat with the slightest deceleration. With your backside thus calibrated -- it helps to imagine you are balancing atop a milk crate instead of reclining in an upholstered seat -- then try accelerating and cornering. Folks may be surprised at how sensitive they are in sensing accelerations, especially of automotive proportions. But on the other hand, we can also tune them out, allowing us to focus on the other things going on around us. Performance vehicle dynamics, as in the extreme forces in race cars, aircraft, etc, are out toward the far end of human sensory capability.

#45 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 12:37

Indeed - I've just done a minor rebuild on my computer and have also done a re-install of Rfactor. As fate would have it, I only have a couple of tracks and the 2009 F1 series cars installed at the moment so I decided to take Mark Webbers Red Bull for a run around Lakeside. My little racer can do a 56 second lap there, but without too much practice I did a 39.8 second lap in the F1 car.
Yes I know there were no g-forces to worry about but the tricky thing was simply keeping it on the track - I found that I had to try to keep it mostly in the middle of the road and not worry too much about the lines. I'd just open out the exits of the corners a little and that's all. I'd say someone good at RF could take another couple of seconds off that time as well.
So while yes I can say a (simulated) f1 car is very quick, it must be mind-blowing to drive the real thing.

In the real world i doubt wether you would go very far at Lakeside in an F1. It is quite bumpy and you would do it quite a deal of damage quickly. the track is too good for the cars!!

#46 SteveCanyon

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 14:00

In the real world i doubt wether you would go very far at Lakeside in an F1. It is quite bumpy and you would do it quite a deal of damage quickly. the track is too good for the cars!!


So gimme an F1 car and let me try it.;)
BTW, a Tyrrell 025 is the only F1 car I can fit into.

See you there on the 18th of this month if you're around.

#47 gruntguru

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 21:34

When you fall out of a perfectly good aeroplane you are accelerating at 1g. What do you sense (apart from fear)?

Nuttin.


Have to disagree. If you were blindfolded, earmuffed etc etc, I guarantee you would still sense the exact moment you started to fall. Our bodies are constantly subjected to 1G and the sudden transition to 0G at the start of a freefall is VERY perceptible.

#48 gruntguru

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 21:43

Here is a fun exercise people can try: next time you drive your road car, try to brake at a rate so gentle and gradual that you can't sense it. It's quite a challenge. You will feel your mass shifting in the seat with the slightest deceleration. With your backside thus calibrated -- it helps to imagine you are balancing atop a milk crate instead of reclining in an upholstered seat -- then try accelerating and cornering. Folks may be surprised at how sensitive they are in sensing accelerations, especially of automotive proportions.


My wife is much more sensitive to accelerations than me. Especially when I'm driving.

#49 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 05:17

I wonder if that's because when you're driving you are better able to anticipate changes. I know I always feel slightly uncomfortable being driven.

#50 gruntguru

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 05:56

I wonder if that's because when you're driving you are better able to anticipate changes. I know I always feel slightly uncomfortable being driven.


That must be it. ;)