Pedro de la Rosa says Ferrari have to work hard to match McLaren's simulator programme

Test driver says Scuderia must close the virtual gap

By Mike Wise at Jerez.   Last Updated: 08/02/13 7:48pm

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Pedro de la Rosa has admitted that Ferrari have plenty of work to do if they are to match McLaren's simulator programme.

The Spaniard was speaking at Jerez on Friday, where he tested the Scuderia's new F138. De la Rosa was hired principally to improve their simulator and even though his day's work was cut short, the feedback he will provide after driving the real thing will still prove invaluable.

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It sounds as though, in this regard at least, Ferrari need all the help they can get. Little wonder, then, that they have wooed de la Rosa who, in between making 104 grand prix starts, served a long stint as a McLaren test driver.

As such, he is in a unique position to compare and contrast. "We need to work," de la Rosa said. "The whole point of having me here is to understand the car and help understand the simulation programme. You can imagine where we are: it's a lot of work to do. We know that; that's why they hired me.

"We are not where we want to be but I'm very comfortable with the people we have."

In this regard at least, Ferrari are playing catch up with their rivals. McLaren have a head start, having first built a simulator a decade ago and while Ferrari had one towards the end of Michael Schumacher's time at Maranello, their successes with him were built upon a foundation of relentless testing at their tracks in Fiorano and Mugello.

That work was instrumental in the five title successes Schumacher enjoyed there. However, the importance of simulators has grown exponentially since limits on testing mileage were introduced in 2009. Kimi Raikkonen - who refused to drive Ferrari's simulator - won their last title two years earlier.

De la Rosa said he was unsure whether Ferrari could close the virtual gap any time soon, but did say that they need to improve both the simulator hardware and software.

"Let's be realistic: the McLaren simulator programme started in 2003, so they are obviously a few years ahead in schedule compared to other teams," he said.

"We'll see. The whole point, as I've said is to accelerate this process. We're not sure if it will take six months, one year or two years. We just have to work flat out to catch up because there's no testing unfortunately and this is a big handicap for all the teams that don't have a very developed simulator."

De la Rosa added: "The first step has to come from the hardware, otherwise you cannot catch up with the software."

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