Two JA on F1 readers got the chance to experience a 3 hour in-depth driving session on a real state of the art driving simulator today with coaching from Darren Turner, who has over 10 years experience of F1 simulator design.
Turner is an experienced racer and F1 test driver who now runs Base Performance Simulators in Banbury. He has become an expert on F1 simulators in particular. He did the initial development work on the McLaren simulator from 1999 to 2006 and has worked with two other F1 teams developing their simulators.
Our two competition winners, Joe Consiglio and Sean Craddock, had both driven computer games before and Joe had a lot of experience of racing R Factor games at home, but nothing prepared them for the huge step up to a real racing simulator.
Starting out on a Formula Renault sim, they progressed through F3 to a current GP2 car, on a model tested earlier this week at BPS by one of the leading GP2 drivers. And they did really well; Joe in particular did a 1m 39.1s lap, only 4/10ths slower than Darren Turner around Silverstone GP circuit.
“It was a totally fantastic experience. It is totally different from what I feel at home,” said Joe. “The forces you feel through the wheel and the mental concentration is another step. I’m used to doing a 90 minute race every Thursday night. But even doing a 10 lap run around Silverstone in a GP2 car, I couldn’t believe how mentally tiring it was. I was just thinking ‘Don’t make a mistake!’
“It gives you a much better idea of what these racing drivers are going through and it’s been a fantastic insight into what drivers have to concentrate on.
“Darren did a baseline time, we then went out for a run and then studied the telemetry with him, so he could show us where we were losing time, which was especially in braking. We were doing what road car drivers do, which is to brake progressively rather than the other way round, braking really hard initially and then releasing the brake.”
Sean agreed, “Darren’s a really good coach. He’s really good at telling you what needs to be done. It’s great you can compare your lap times and see where you’re gaining and losing time. I’ve only played a few video games. This is miles away from that. When you come here you really feel you can put the car where you want it. I’m addicted! I want to stay here!
“The surprise was how difficult it is. I lost concentration over my 10 lap run at the end and just couldn’t improve, I hit a cliff.”
Darren was very impressed with our JA on F1 readers, “They both did a fantastic job,” he said. “Joe does some online gaming with R Factor, but his feeling for what’s going on was good. He was only 4/10ths slower than me, which is fantastic.
“The GP2 is a lively car, I’ve gone a few tenths quicker but you could see he’s got good reflexes and he could deal with the oversteer, it’s a pointy car which one of the GP2 drivers was working on earlier this week.”
Turner believes that the “I’ve got ten years experience now of developing simulators, working with McLaren on developing their sim, I realised that there was a gap in the market for sims for young drivers and gentlemen drivers to get more track time. They can go out and practice their sport. It’s only in the last couple of years that there have been simulators that are at a decent level so you can use them as a tool.
“Now sims are only going to get more and more integral to our sport as the software and hardware improves and get closer to reality.”