Sitting in a cramped cab, young rally star Kalle Rovanperä is touring the legendary F1 track at the Belgian Spa. In reality, he is far from there at the same time - in Ostrobothnia.
Ilta-Sanomat was present when Rovanperä got acquainted with a new Finnish F1 driving simulator in the industrial area on Keksijäntie in Seinäjoki.
- It seemed good. It is definitely the coolest simulator, which I have been driving. When every part is put in order, it becomes a really great device, Rovanperä said.
The simulator, which perfectly mimics F1 driving, was designed by British engineer Andy Symonds, who moved to Seinäjoki 15 years ago. Symonds is a true simulator specialist.
- I designed probably hundreds of simulators. My first job was at a simulator company in England. It specialized in aircraft simulators, Symonds said.
Ossi Viljanen, the chairman of Seinäjoki Entrepreneurs, and Timo Nisula, Jussi Kohtala, who has been running his own karting stable for a long time, and Ossi Oikarinen, an engineer familiar to Finnish F1 fans, are also among the people working for the interesting simulator project.
Kalle Rovanperä considered the simulator successful.
Photo: Timo Aalto
The activities are made possible by the Crazy Finland Academy (CFA), which started from the discussions between Viljanen and Nisula. Tuukka Taponen and Lauri Halonen, who won the European Karting Championship last Sunday, have been chosen as the first drivers.
In summary, the basic idea of the CFA is to help the most talented Finnish drivers in their careers and enable them to have top-class internship conditions in Finland, so that the gap can be narrowed with much greater resources to foreign drivers seeking success.
F1 stable simulators cost millions of euros. The simulator built in Seinäjoki is worth about 300,000 euros.
The goals are different. For the F1 stable, the main purpose of the simulator is to make the car faster through it as well. The Seinäjoki F1 simulator is intended to help talented Finnish drivers in the rocky world of motorsport.
The idea is to build something that would help Finland to have F1 and rally stars even after Valtteri Bottas and Kalle Rovanperä.
A test day with a formula 4 car can cost tens of tons, so driving a modern F1 simulator at a daily price of around a thousand euros is certainly an attractive option. Especially when Symonds asserts that he has connections to many F1 stables.
- I currently have projects with three F1 teams. One of them is Kimi Räikkönen's stable Alfa Romeo.
The Seinäjoki simulator costs about 300,000 euros.
Photo: Timo Aalto
Symonds designed its first F1 simulator back in 2002 for use in the Williams stable. He later also became acquainted with Bottas when Nastol made a contract with Williams.
Getting from karting to small formulas and getting up is expensive and difficult. The simulator can do important groundwork in many ways, after which it is easier to get on the right tracks.
- Our simulator is able to put data about the exact team and car that the driver is going to drive later. It is very significant here, Ossi Viljanen, the father of the simulator idea, emphasized.
The driving experience of the simulator developed by Symonds has been able to bring you very close to a real F1 car. For example, there is a similar program, graphics and view as in the F1 stables.
- In F1 stable simulators, the powers are higher in the motion platform. The biggest difference comes in the software. When the F1 team buys one track there, it has been described with precision and made only for them, Viljanen reminded.
According to Viljanen, it is immediately made clear to young drivers that this is not a game.
- They must first be able to run a certain number of revolutions with smaller simulators for a certain amount of time before they can access the new device. After that, driving will follow the daily program received from the F1 stables.
In the Seinäjoki simulator tests, the most expensive is the data to be analyzed about driving. Oikarinen helps with that.
- I try to help the driver and see where those tithes and hundreds can be found, Oikarinen said.
The data analyzed by Oikarinen can be sent to F1 stables, so that they can see at an early stage which Finnish driver clearly has potential.