Simulator practice, everybody has heard about it.
There are the professionals, training with fancy eight digit something worth of machinery, while others sit in front of small screens in a windowless and untidy cellar room.
Thanks to modern technologies, the software for racing simulation has been improved a thousand times, which makes it so attractive for not only small town wannabes, but also professional race car drivers and their teams.
“So what is this all about? Why is everyone doing this?”
To answer this question, we need to dive into the history of simulation. Simulation is a very essential part of modern technologies. Before you actually build something, you run a simulation. Easier said than done, but for today’s overview, this simplification is ok. So, where did that start? It started in the automotive industry. A development process for a complete car is really expensive and time consuming. Therefore, they were looking for a way to save money and time at the same time, and the result is, you already figured it out, to simulate something. Generally speaking, you can have simple simulations where you define a standard and ignore certain factors like the wind, or the temperature, or whatever, that would be there in real life, or very difficult simulations, in which you implement basically everything you got. Wind, temperature, weather, grip, surfaces, and so on. In the past, those “difficult” simulations were not really difficult, but the computers just needed literally ages to complete them. With modern technology, this has been changed. Simulations can be running so fast, that it is really saving you a lot of money and time. But back to our “Sim racing”.
In the past, this was most of the time used for getting to know a certain track, or track layout. You can roll up and down the track, look at the corners, try different lines, which will help the real professionals, because they will not lose track time in the real car. But after a while and as already mentioned, the software got that fare, that nowadays, the simulation can be as realistic as the real world.
What can you practice on the simulator today?
- Track layouts
- Different lines
- Car setups
- Dog fights
- High pressure situations
- Night driving
- Different weather conditions
- Constant race pace
- Go over the limit without losing much money
- Improve your skills
- Get an understanding for setup changes and how this affects the car
- Deal with traffic
- Get in the car and be quick on the point
- Get more racing time
Of course, we will talk about each and every point of that list, but not today and not in one episode, therefore, stick to this series, if you want to know more!
“How can you compare your simulator setup with the real world?”
My simulator setup consists of a gaming PC, three screens and the driving equipment, like the steering wheel, the shifter and the pedals. I get feedback from both, the steering wheel and the pedals, therefore, you can feel what the car is doing in your hands and in your feet, you can see what is going on the screen and you can listen to the sounds. The essential point, that I am missing are the g-forces. Because of the lack of this important feature, the realism cannot be improved much further and evens out at around 95 %. What does that mean? This means, that after quite some time in one particular car ( 10 – 50 hours ), you can compensate the missing g-forces with all the other inputs you get, like your visual and acoustical senses. Of course, the so called force feedback, that I get from the steering wheel and the pedals is helping here a lot, which in the end makes it quite a good balance between input (money) and output (simulation of racing at home).
Therefore, if you know what you are doing, you can use the simulator to become a better driver. On track and off track. Or to put it in another way, if you want to become good in racing, you need to practice as much as possible! And what better way to do this, than on your home simulator? Normally, you are hours away from the next track. You need to pack your stuff, get in a car, drive there, pay a lot, practice on the track and drive home afterwards or on the next day. If you have a simulator at home, the advantages are obvious! Just start the computer, put on your shoes, fasten your seatbelts and here we go!
See you next time!
Engineer, Motorsport Enthusiast, becoming an Entrepreneur, Author and just different