Edoardo Mortara is hoping that simulator experience will help him get up to speed on his debut at the Valencia street circuit in this weekend's seventh round of the 2009 GP2 Championship.
The 5.419km track features a staggering 25 corners and, with vast swathes of run-off, provides a unique mix between a street track and permanent race circuit.
“I've never been here but I've done some laps in the simulator,” confirmed the Telmex Arden driver, who starts the weekend joint twelfth in the standings with Davide Valsecchi. “I don't really have a proper idea of the track yet though. It is something in between a street circuit and a normal circuit because you've got walls and at the same time you've got kerbs, so you want to try and get close to the kerbs but not the walls.
“It felt good on the simulator because you can memorise the corners. There are a lot of corners at this track and it's pretty long, and if you've never seen it before of course it's going to be difficult. But if you've done some laps in the simulator you know where it's going and that helps a driver to adapt to the conditions with a proper car.”
Despite the virtual laps, Arden chief engineer Mick Cook expects Mortara and team-mate Sergio Perez to face a tough challenge.
“I think it will be quite a difficult weekend because neither of our drivers have been to this track before, whereas most of their rivals were here last year. It's also a long circuit so learning it will be a big challenge initially,” he said.
“We've got data from last year, which we didn't have in 2008 as it was our first time at the track, so that will help. Edo's been on the simulator so that will help too, but there's no substitute for actually driving the circuit. The only problem is that you do get a lot of traffic and very few clear laps so that makes it difficult.
“The first race will be two laps shorter this year than last season, but we benefitted from the lead guys dropping out last year so we'd have liked it to have stayed the same distance. All the races have been on the limit on fuel more or less, so it'll bring it in line with the others.”