Two papers describe an innovative joint simulation and experimental activity, established in order to evaluate a CAE approach for tool design optimization in sheet metal forming. The first target is to assess the CAE validity with respect to sheet behavior modelling, influence of holding and restraining conditions (including drawbeads), and the reproduction by simulation of local sheet elongations and thickness. A stretch drawn autobody component is taken as the practical application for this evaluation (Pre-Industrial Case).This Part 1 paper describes the simulation methodology and codes. It assesses different issues on material characterization, friction between sheet and tools, and drawbead restraining. In particular, strain rate effects and drawbead modelling are shown to have significant relevance.