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Michael Schumacher hit by illness in Mercedes simulator

Michael Schumacher
Schumacher has added simulator sickness to his lingering neck problem

By Sarah Holt

Michael Schumacher has to combat bouts of sickness when preparing for grands prix in the Mercedes simulator.

The 42-year-old was regularly beaten by his team-mate Nico Rosberg in 2010 but Mercedes say Schumacher's limited time in the simulator was not to blame.

Mercedes explained: "Throughout his career, Michael from time to time has been susceptible to simulator sickness.

"It hasn't adversely affected Michael's race preparation or competitiveness with regard to his team-mate."

Since the testing allowance was reduced to 15,000km in 2009 and a ban on in-season testing introduced, the majority of Formula 1 teams have increasingly relied on simulators to prepare for race weekends.

Mark Webber inside Red Bull's simulator

Teams are secretive about their simulators but they typically consist of a replica cockpit which is raised on a moving, hydraulic platform in front of multiple screens.

The drivers use simulators to familiarise themselves with the circuits, tyre behaviour and to try out different car set-ups.

Schumacher struggled on his return to F1 after a three-year hiatus but Mercedes say the seven-time world champion's aversion to simulators has not affected his ability to recapture his best form.

"[Simulator sickness] has affected the length of time that he can spend on a simulator," the team added.

"This is a relatively common occurrence for many people in all fields of simulator activity including military, aircraft and racing cars.

"The simulator is one of a number of tools which drivers use to prepare for the race weekend [but] Michael has not been disadvantaged as together with his engineers he has made his simulation work effective."

Mercedes are building a new simulator which team boss Ross Brawn believes will be hugely beneficial to easing Schumacher's problems, however it will not be fully operational until 2012.

Mercedes added: "The situation has been exacerbated by the level of our current simulator technology.

"For many reasons, we have invested in higher quality and more realistic simulation equipment which will be completed and available for our drivers shortly."

Both Mercedes drivers are expected to get back behind the wheel of an F1 car during the first pre-season test in Valencia next week.

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see also
Schumacher 'to continue driving'
10 Oct 10 |  Formula 1
Why Schumacher has lost it
28 Sep 10 |  Formula 1

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