Talking to CarAdvice at the Australian Formula One grand prix, Mercedes R&D validation and testing manager Jochen Haab said a computer would find it difficult to beat Formula One world champion and Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton on the track.
“That would be very hard, because it’s also based on intuition,” Haab said.
“I don’t know if even the smartest computer could beat intuition, but you could make it very competitive, I am convinced you could do that.”
Despite not being able to beat the best drivers in the world, Haab says it’s much easier to make a car go around a race track at full speed autonomously than dealing with traffic conditions that everyday driving brings.
“The good thing about F1 tracks is you don’t have so many ‘what ifs’. You have other ‘what ifs’, but not so many. You don’t have pedestrians walking around there, you have hundreds of stewards watching that. You go only one direction, no oncoming traffic and no driving even behind the guard rail.”
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that even as recently as 18 months ago a fan ran onto the race track during the Chinese grand prix.
However, his point is valid in regards to the limited requirements for making an F1 car go fast if driven by a computer. Not to mention the lack of human factors such as inconsistency and fatigue.
“You could make it go around that very [Albert Park] track, very competitively because you have all the data. You have telemetry, you put it in as input in your computer and there it is. The inputs [is the key]…”
Haab joked there might be a business case in swapping the rather well-paid F1 drivers with a computer, but that the brand isn’t interested in joining the recently announced autonomous driving race series.