F1 champion Vettel takes on gamers in racing challenge
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jun 2012   |  5:29 pm GMT  |  37 comments

[Updated] World champion Sebastian Vettel is taking on some leading online driving gamers this weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

On Saturday Vettel is taking on Hakki Jr, world Trackmania champion on Gran Turismo 5, as a showcase for the Red Bull Gridsters competition. It’s quite a leap for the organisers at Goodwood, one of England’s great stately homes and the home of the Festival, a well established part of the British summer of motorsport. But this year’s theme of the Festival is “Young Guns”, so a gaming challenge certainly fits the bill.

Red Bull Gridsters aims to find “who is the fastest, most versatile racing gamer in the UK, across three different racing titles on two different platforms: Forza Motorsport 4 (XBOX 360), Gran Turismo 5 (PS3) and F1 2011 (PS3)”

Having won the qualifying rounds, the 16 finalists went head to head over this weekend, the winner, Chris Butcher, will attend the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where Vettel clinched the title in 2010 and then retired on the opening lap last season.

You can see interviews with Vettel on Saturday and Mark Webber on Sunday as well as the top 16 shootout live streamed at www.redbull.co.uk/gridsters

Meanwhile anyone interested in F1 gaming should head to F1 Online: The Game

F1 Online: The Game, from official F1 gaming partner Codemasters, combines racing gameplay with a management game.

“Players will compete in online multiplayer races across a range of game modes, including Grand Prix events, championships and a range of quick-fire challenges and time trials. Wheel-to-wheel racing comes alive across a range of custom and licensed circuits, as players use simple controls on track and become the boss of a team off it, creating a factory, build and update their own car, getting down to details likes brakes, aero and KERS.

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I’m starting to get into simracing in a big way and I can tell you that it progressed leaps and bounds since a few years ago. It’s certainly not to be laughed at any more, especially when you consider iRacing, rFactor and upcoming racers like Project CARS.

You just have to go to http://www.insidesimracing.tv/ and you’ll see just how much simracing has moved on since the days of Pole Position.


I have a full sim rig for GT5 and also have a track car (I ride a push bike to work to afford it!). Whilst GT5 is great, the tyre model simply isn’t realistic at the edge of traction/friction. However, I have found that whilst it can help you to drive, where it really helps you is how to improve your pace and how to learn tracks quickly. It makes me laugh when people say these games cannot help when F1 teams spend a fortune on simulators which are almost exactly the same! Worse, so called seasoned veterans of the club racing scene (that I speak to) who mock these games, will happily promote books that help you to drive. If written material can help you to become a better driver, and it can, how can one dismiss an activity that plays on the skills, reflexes and, if you have a wheel, muscle memory, 100% related to the task of piloting a car around a circuit? It’d be great to have lots of money and race/do a track day every week, but for the price of one set of tyres you can buy a full on rig and wheel that let you race at any time and as often as you like. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it 🙂


Sounds like a less talent-focussed attempt by Red Bull to emulate Nissan/Polyphony Digital and their GT Academy in my opinion.


My dad, younger brother and I all pick cars and tracks and compete for fastest lap. One of the main tricks is knowing each track and where to make time. I kill them on Suzuka where making the first 2 turns makes or breaks the lap. I guarantee Vettel knows each track and that gives him the edge.


Playstation and Xbox?! Are you serious?! Rfactor or Iracing would be more accurate of online racers. I actually laughed out loud at the thought that ‘trackmania’ is a hardcore racer…


Isn’t the point that this is a PR exercise, hence the masses will be more aware of popular console game #489672 than the hardcore sims?

I expect Vettel would rather race on a full simulation rather than the saccharine experience of a console toy.


“Meanwhile anyone interested in F1 gaming should head to F1 Online: The Game”

They really shouldn’t. I was in the closed beta and it’s a terrible mouse controlled overhead racer where the only way to get anywhere is to spend a huge amount of real money on upgrades and the management is thinner than a road rollered pancake.


I agree – I signed up for Codemasters F1 online over the weekend, and it is so bad, I managed just 2 races before giving up and going back to playing a proper F1 management game (F1 Manager! from 2001). So much better, even though the graphics are not up to modern standards.


One of the beauties of F1 and real motor sport in general is that all drivers are limited to the same amount of practice over the course of a race weekend. In sim racing and simulators people are free to practice in their spare time as much as they like and usually two drivers of equal ability will be separated by who is most prepared and spent the most time practicing. For this reason put Seb up against a sim racer in a new car on a new track in a new sim to both I think he’d be favourite such is his talent but put him up against a sim racer whos been practicing the track for days on end then he wouldn’t stand a chance without the same opportunity.


Isn’t this no different to the simulators they practice in? 😀 To me what they do at the factory on sims are kinda like a PlayStation game on a massive scale that’s all heh


The Playstation vs simulator argument is like comparing apples and oranges. It’s a whole different ball-game.

When you consider the amount of money F1 teams throw at their in-house simulators (due to lack of testing) it’s at an even bigger leap away from the joypad and armchair setup.


What about SHIFT 2 UNLEASHED NFS????


Heh, while not Mario Kart whilst your at it?

Tom Haythornthwaite

Does anybody know which F1 drivers are best at these games? Do they ever compete?


Rubens Barichello and Felipe Massa both race regularily online using GameStockCar (Sim based on the brazilian v8 touring car championship : http://www.game-stockcar.com.br/). You can race them if you get good enough!


Kubica is a frequent participant in the Richard Burns Rally as Francesco Troto (www.rbr-world.com). He is second in the championship now. As far as I remember he was also the Polish Champion at Colin McRae Rally a few years ago.


Current F1 drivers I don’t know but several professional drivers can be found on iRacing, I’ve raced against V8 Supercar driver Shane Van Gis for instance. Justin Wilson, Dale Earnhardt Jr and several others are members.


Tire should read title in the fourth paragraph.


I entered for this competition and I believe I would have had a good chance. Unfortunately I wasn’t picked, but James there were no “Qualifying rounds” as you seem to state in the article. 16 people were picked from video entries (About 50) and they picked the 16 who they thought were best suited to market Red Bull and sell more energy drinks. I’m certainly sure none of the 16 there are the best racing gamers out there: And even if I had been picked I would still stick to that opinion. I hope Blake Townend wins, I talked to him and he seemed like a decent bloke with a personality, unlike most of the others.


Great remark & insight, Eddie!

James, are you being careful that we all know what here is sponsored content and what not?

For example, would be great to know if you are being paid in any way for repeating sentences like:

“Meanwhile anyone interested in F1 gaming should head to F1 Online: The Game.”

As others here are mentioning, those seriously interested in racing gaming have lot of other destinations too…

Edward Hunter

Hmm…That’s rare…You must be one of 3 people I have known who can get away with calling me “Eddie”… (Or have I misheard the other two and is it actually “Eddy”?):)

Anyway, actually I stand corrected about the qualifying rounds: I mistakenly thought James was reffering to some sort of Pre-Goodwood event but these were the saturday events to half the entrants from 16 to 8.

Anyway, it was disapointing to see that Chris Butcher won: He was the expected winner anyway considering he is the co-owner and driver for his THR team in the touring pro series; because he’s part of a big, online series with live streams he gets tons of exposure. I myself am part of a small league called Ultmate F1 Racing (UF1R) which has only about 30 people involved. We race for fun, but the organising is top-notch and the admins are friendly and fair. But I had little chance because not many outside our league had heard of me.

But at least Chris’ video was decent. The runners up, the “O’Neil” brothers both used Identical videos in their entries, of them playing F1 2011 splitscreen, which just seemed a bit of a lazy way to get through; why couldn’t they have made their own entires and actually put lots of effort in, like the rest of us? But as others below have already said, it was merely a marketing excersise anyway, by the shallow and souless executives at Red Bull. Looks like I’ve just found my new, least favourite F1 team… 🙁

But the good news was that I got to take part in one of our Trackmania league races on Sunday morning instead of being at Gridsters, and I went on to win that race after a four-way battle for the lead in the first stint, which more than made up for the disapointment.


Oops, sorry about the name mistake! I must have somehow invented ‘Eddie’ when replying.

Thanks again for very interesting insight into the process. Sounds lame indeed…


Of course not. It’s just that they announced it yesterday, so it seemed appropriate in a post about gaming to mention it. Just letting people know.


I’ve raced with Blake Townend on iRacing quite a few times, he’s quick and a nice bloke too.


Just remember lads, no car respawn IRL 🙂


In GT5 they had a contest where they took the fastest player, and prepared him for LMP2 at LeMans. I think he came second in his class.

So I wonder if you could do the same for F1 drivers?


I bet Vettel gets smoked by these guys. Whole nother arena!!


Well it all depends on how much practice Seb’s had really, with all the driving aids off I wouldn’t count out Seb, his natural ability is huge probably the best in the world and plus he’s no slouch behind a simulator, he even helped design the Redbull X1 in GT5, on a level playing field with equal settings and equipment Vettel is best at everything.


Agreed, except not much of that has to do with gaming. In terms of the technique of driving it’ll be alright for him, but remember he’s used to feeling the car’s movements through his ears and his spine, not by visually seeing it on a screen.

Having said that he does quite a bit on the Red Bull sims, so I suspect he should be fine.


Seb’s strenghts lie in him having the ability to do what he does in 50 degree heat, whilst being tossed around my extreme g-forces and all at speed whilst knowing one wrong twitch of the steering wheel could have life of death consequences.

Gaming’s a different skillset. I think he’ll be good, very good even, but don’t expect him to be amongst the elite.


Gaming at a professional level is largely about reaction times and multi-tasking, things that are also key to F1.


Vettel was fairly involved in the development for the Red Bull X2010 for Gran Tourismo 5, so I think he’s got a clue.

However after participating in the GT5 Driver Academy competition a couple of years ago I can say that some of those guys are crazy good. I missed the first cut by 50 positions, and don’t see how I could go any faster.


I believe Vettel is also a gamer in what spare time he has. He demo’d Newey’s X Racer or whatever that Red Bull sponsored Newey-inspired Gran Turismo 5 hypercar was.


Only bad thing i see in this that they are using arcades. Why not take people that are good in Iracing, Live For Speed, Rfactor, NetKar-Pro?


I agree Number, the only thing is that those titles are only enjoyed by a very small minority.

As much as it pains me (iRacing nut that I am) it makes sense to ally themselves with a mainstream title such Gran Turismo from a marketing perspective, although I expect you’d find a better standard of opponent for Seb from the more hardcore online simulators like you mentioned.


Some of the live for speed guys I raced against are simply unbelievable. It is a tricky game to master.

It is an interesting challenge, but I remember JB trying out a game on some documentary a few years ago and he destroyed them.

If the games have realistic physics engines I expect SV to do well.


Gamers will eat the F1 drivers alive with a joypad, however put a gamer in an F1 car and…well… you know the rest 🙂

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