Is eSports the new grassroots of motorsport?
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 May 2018   |  8:13 am GMT  |  95 comments

All the F1 champions of the last thirty years have come up through the ranks from karting, but as the cost of competing moves further out of reach of many, eSports is beginning to emerge as a funnel for the next generation of drivers.

F1 had a successful roll out of its eSports programme in 2017, while McLaren also scouted talent through their Worlds Fastest Gamer competition, which landed the winner Rudy van Buren a role as official simulator driver.

In a new video from the Safe is Fast series, McLaren boss Zak Brown says that he now sees eSports as the next way for aspiring, young drivers to get into motorsport.

“I think eSports is now going to be the grassroots form of motor racing,” says Brown. “Simulation is a good inexpensive way relative to other forms of motor racing to look at driver talent.”

Getting to Formula 1 is the ultimate goal for young drivers, but what do the teams look for?

Brown says he looks for raw speed in a driver over race craft. “You can teach some race craft, but it’s hard to coach speed in a driver – either they have it or they don’t.”

He also revealed that McLaren starts to look for future drivers in Formula 3, just like they did with test and reserve driver Lando Norris.

“We definitely have people on our race team paying attention to the different junior formulas,” says Brown. “We don’t get drivers too young because we want to see them develop, but at Formula 3 we start deciding who we want to get on the McLaren payroll.”

The last film in the Safe is Fast series featured Fernando Alonso giving advice to young drivers, which had fantastic take up on the JA on F1 platform and lots of feedback from fans.

What do you think about Zak Brown’s advice? Which one is the most valuable? Leave your comments in the section below

Featured Innovation
technical innovation from tata COMMUNICATIONS
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

Freek Schothorst, iRacing champion, was signed as a sim driver by McLaren, and actually made his single-seater debut in the SMP Formula 4 North European Zone championship (an FIA F4 series) and finished on the podium twice in his debut weekend.


My first instinct was a flat ‘no’. I’ve tried watching eRacing and, as much as I enjoy the games themselves watching strangers play does nothing for me. However, I also don’t understand the appeal of all those people who talk into a camera and put it on YouTube but there’s clearly a massive audience who do get it. Maybe the same is true of eSports?

The more I’ve thought about Zac’s comments, the more I think it might just happen. One of motorsport’s biggest problems is its very high barriers to entry. You need a fair chunk of change and considerable mechanical expertise to go two-stroke karting competitively, and the bills just get bigger from there. There simply must be a lot of kids out there who have the talent to excel in motorsport, but not the means or connections. eSports provides a potential avenue for them, because participation costs so little.

I could see eSports and motorsports working synergistically to open up grids to a more diverse range of young talent. If eSports audiences continue to grow, it’s going to spit out talented (albeit raw) drivers with a built-in fanbase and substantial sponsor appeal. That could provide a launchpad for a career in motorsports proper and certain teams might want to specialise in developing these kids.

I’ve kept a weather eye on Jann Mardenborough’s career since he won GT Academy in 2011. He followed up a very promising first season in British GT with a disappointing attempt at Euro F3 and then two patchy years in GP3, with some great highs but a lot of lows. He’s continued in Super GT since then with similarly patchy results. I suspect moving from eRacing to tin tops is easier than going to open wheel, but Jann’s career gives a sense of what’s possible. He clearly does have the talent to be a professional racing driver, but struggles for consistency because he hasn’t had a typical racing driver’s on-track education. That’s something that could be improved if this sort of thing becomes more commonplace, but I have a feeling that if someone with a Lewis/Max level of talent emerged in eSports, the industry is capable of getting them into F1.


e sport racing is intriguing.

Did watch a few races on Motorsports TV.

Really got into it.

But its abit like scalextrics once the car comes of track it goes goes abit flat.

Watched abit of Drone racing now thats amazing. Cannot believe the hand eye cordination required for such a crazy competition. Assume thats where the future Drone Pilots for the armed services will come from. The Royal Geek Tech Regiment assembled.


Of course it’s not the same thing… However, I just don’t see how I’m ever going to be able to afford to drive a real F1 Mercedes on a real track anytime soon, so I’m resigned to F1 2017 on the Playstation…


Something I just thought about: while I don’t think sims can replace the real thing, I do think they have a role in teaching people the basics about racing – similar to how a flight simulator can teach a student the basics of flying.

Much in the same way that air forces the world over use simulators to select potential candidates, could sims be somehow used by the FIA, or other governering bodies, to weed out drivers who have no business being on a top tier Motorsport grid.

Perhaps, simulator work could have shown is that Grosjean had a spatial awareness problem before he nearly killed a few drivers. Perhaps simulator work could have identified Pastor Maldonado as a rolling catatrosphe before he caused millions upon millions of dollars worth of damage.

Has anyone ever looked into Max’s online racing record? Is he known for being a clean, respectful driver while racing other people online? Or is he constantly involved in crashes online? Perhaps a pattern could have been identified before jumping out the window and labelling him a future WDC.

I’m not making an argument for sims and games to replace the real thing…but maybe they could be used to set some thresholds, so that the quality of the real thing gets better over time.


Such a filter would probably have AS, MS, SV picked out as drivers with a higher risk for crashing too. They are not known for “clean” driving, as you know.


Thanks for that article, James. Interesting read.

I’d love to have started my racing sim fascination a little earlier in life (and had some talent) as, while at this point the living room sims are really no match for the infinite variables you’d be faced with in a real life situation, the likes of GT Academy have shown that if you’re good enough, you can make the leap from the couch to the cockpit, successfully. There’s still no substitute for a wealth of wheel to wheel experience.


What did it for me was the eSport driver who 3-D printed his own F1 car !


James, next time you do an article about eSports and sim racing, would it be possible for you to get an interview with Jann Mardenborough? I think he could really shed some light on what exactly translates from console to the real thing.


Let me tell you all about how it is like the real thing.

Think playing a mountain biking game on PS4.

Then hit a single track never having been on a bike. See how all that training works out for you. Oh watch out…here comes some air!

You’re in B.C. Twitch, right? The carnage you see at the bottom of Blackcomb end of day of downhill? Multiply it tenfold with all these virtual trained MTBers! Honestly, I’d watch that. I’d even allow for knowing how to ride a 2 wheeler. 🙂

There is no physics in play. I once early on in my riding hit my GSXRs brakes too hard and the bike stood on the front wheel for a second. It was a moment I wasn’t prepared for. Thank goodness I didn’t panic. The power of those brakes sure as hell surprised me that day. You care to imagine what F1 braking feels like? Now do you want to imagine how much pressing X and Y on a controller is going to prepare for what to do next as you’re feeling that braking?


Sebee, that’s not a good example, the mountain biking, or the F1 car.

I’m not saying a sim can prepare someone to go from zero racing experience to driving an F1 car. That’s rediculous.

That’s like saying train a pilot on a sim, then put him in an F22 the first time he flies a real plane.

Sims can very well be used to enhance training that drivers get on a real track. Whether it’s practicing Heal Toe techniques, trail braking, as well as how to race wheel to wheel against other competitors. It’s much cheaper to put someone in a sim the first time they go wheel to wheel, than to do it for real and end up with a few thousand in repair bills.

Think about pilots in the military – the pinnacle of aviation. For every hour they spend in the air, they spend 2-3 hours in a sim. There’s no reason the aspects of flying that transfer from sim to real life, can’t also be applied to piloting a race car.


All this drive to efficiency is the reason why racing is becoming so frikken boring.

It may be cheaper to put a guy in a racing simulator, but it’s more entertaining to watch him learn and develop for real.

There is a real shortcoming in racing and it is the ability to participate.

It’s not easy. It’s expensive. So in this push to put race viewing behind paywalls, here is this idea that playing a racing video game with a controller or even a steering wheel is going to prepare you for the real deal and draw audiences in. All in an attempt to keep racing relevant and try to bring in the younger audience.

I don’t think it’s working. Although I have highlighted number of times how automation, engine modes, software is making it easier for drivers. We’ve also seen studies give drivers 10% or potentially less contribution to the current fielded package – meaning cars are F1 race cars are moving toward ease of use and video game like software control. I think they better be very careful with that strategy of trying to use video games or ‘eSports’ sims to draw youth in. Why? Well, just the other day I read this:

“Consider this fact: almost a million people watched the 2016 Audi 24 Hours of Le Forza, an e-sports race held concurrently with that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race. By contrast, only about 300,000 US viewers tuned in to the start of that race on Fox, with maybe only 50,000 watching the dramatic conclusion.”

Yeah…the youth will watch what they can participate in and get value from. And this path from Formula 1 on PS4 to Sky F1 paid TV package is not only uncertain, but loaded with potential to consume current audiences into the esports versions of itself. Clearly there is already data to make that point.


Sebee, I agree that there is entertainment to be found in watching someone learn on the fly, especially in something as extreme as driving a powerful race car on the limit.

However, we’re talking about driving a race car here, not riding a skateboard. Crashing a race car is way more expensive than crashing a skateboard – which has the effect of completely cutting off a massive portion of the population, any of whom could potentially be exceptional drivers, given the chance.

Just being able to show up st a kart track means your from a certain minimum demographic, and from certain parts of the world. Were I live in central BC, there is zero karting facilities – therefor making it basically impossible for a youth from central BC to get involved in racing, even if hey the natural skill and desire.

Sims and games can help remidy this issue. I’m not saying every new driver MUST come through sim racing, but it’s an alternate avenue for kids in the age 5-15 range. If a kid can show that they’re good on a sim, then perhaps it opens doors to get support to go do the real thing, whether it’s karting, or F4, or Ginettas, or something similar.

Personally, I’m not too big on eSports as a spectator sport. To me that’s kind of lame – and this coming from someone who actually watches other people play video games on TwitchTV. But when I’m watching people stream, I’m watching to learn, not to be enterained. And if I want to learn about racing, I’d rather watch the real thing.

As far as numbers of people tuning into WEC, those numbers are sketchy, because of how shite wec coverage is. I have the WEC app, I payed $6.99 for the Spa package…only to find out the race is geo locked in Canada. They let me buy the package before telling me it was locked.

I also have motortrend on Demand, but it only shows live coverage of WEC, nothing archived.

So, I’ve payed nearly $10 to watch the 6hrs of Spa, and I either need to watch it on a pirate site, or wait 6-12 months to watch it on YouTube.

Yet I can tune into any eSports race on TwitchTV with zero issues.


‘All the F1 champions of the last thirty years have come up through the ranks from karting’….

Damon Hill didnt

And Alain Prost only took up karting at age of 15


Given the choice between an F1 driver who started in Karts, and one who started using simulators, I know which one I’d put my money on.

The clue is in the fist paragraph of this article. eSports is being considered as an option because karting is too expensive. NOT because they’re equally effective.


I dunno if my post will show up @jim but I completely agree. A simulator just can’t replicate what really happens like G forces.

There is no substitute for the real thing. Maybe if a team has someone good on a simulator it can help car setup but doesn’t mean they can drive.

Its like a real gunfight. The other guy is shooting back. So good against a machine doesn’t mean good against the living.


Perhaps eSports could be the solution to prevent overweighted kids. The consoles in gaming halls should take age, height and weight of the kid in the calculations and a 100kg kid will have no chance to win. Except it visits the Sony sponsored body-building studio one floor upstairs.

But then Nintendo has this nice hack and slay first person game where real life weight and height have big advantages. End of SimRacing because the Nintendo gaming hall is sponsored by McDonalds who have their restaurant upstairs.

Face it:

Even the best SimRacer will have no chance to become a real driver if he is too tall or heavy. Dependant on country this may exclude up to 80% of all NORMAL weight and height boys.

How many Watusis will have a chance to become a F1 racer just because they are too tall?


Racing rewards skill, bravery and fitness. E-racing only skill, and even that only to an extent given less physical connection to what the car is doing. Get it wrong in a race and you’re in a tyre barrier, with serious injury risk. In a sim, just hit reset. Not the same thing.

While sims could be a complimentary product to wide audience, it would be wrong IMO to use this as a reason to not invest in real grassroots motorsport


The Philatelist – a new Grassroots in Motorsports?

There is a famous postage stamp from Italy with Phil Hill in the shark-nose Ferrari.

There must be some philatelists who specializes in motor racing stamp collecting.


If F1 does not seek out new technology and encourage new fans to get involved it will end up a niche sport for rich old men run on private tracks with no spectators. all this talk of going back to V12s and V10s is silly. trying to block out new technology is just ridicules.

I’m glad to see that F1 is moving ahead, the Ecclestone days are gone and F1 needs to move on if it is to survive.


Novelty by itself is not a sound criterion for determining whether a technology should be pursued or not. With regards to power units in racing cars, a much more important criteria are cost, complexity and weight. And these PUs fail on all three counts. Therefore I don’t se what they should get a free pass just because of their perceived novelty.


Is it possible that PUs may have served their purpose? We already see them in RD vehicles so maybe the racing stage of their development is mainly complete? Also I don’t see PUs as a “novelty” but as a stepping stone.

Getting back to Esports.

I wonder what happened to the people who in the late 50s who said Rock & roll was devils music had to go! Then in the 80s IBM and some others said desktop computers would never catch on.


John: I do know a little something about marketing. There are thousands of case studies that show that when a company introduces a product that that the consumers don’t really want they have to fight an uphill struggle to sell it, and that’s what has been happening with Prius tech.

I also know that when Honda released the Prius they could not sell it at all. Why? Because they forgot to put the “hybrid” badge on the cars. Once they badged thes cars as hybrid they started selling. It turns out that Prius tech is is merely a virtue signalling accessory.

Given that fact I would suggest simply putting v10s back into f1 cars (v10s can easily outperform Prius tech at a fraction of the cost anyway) and simply badging them as “hybrid”. Same result, but less expensive and more spectacular.


JohnH… You’ve got it backwards. It’s not up to the manufacturers to tell consumers what they should want. The consumer wants what he wants, and it’s up to the manufacturer to deliver that.

The “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” philosophy is fine as long as the manufacturer is selling something that the consumer genuinely wants.

The problem with this electric Prius nonsense is that it’s all smoke and mirrors and no amount of winning on Sunday is going to change that.

Therefore I’m not buying on Sunday, and I’m definitely not buying on Monday. And I’m far, far from being the only one.


It’s not up to the manufacturers to tell consumers what they should want. The consumer wants what he wants, and it’s up to the manufacturer to deliver that.

I’m guessing you don’t work in the advertising/marketing business. Their is no where enough room to list the products that are totally useless but we are told and believe we absolutely can’t live with out them. These products gross tens of billions in turnover each year.

The problem with this electric Prius nonsense is that it’s all smoke and mirrors and no amount of winning on Sunday is going to change that.

You need to move away from the Prius it’s a bloody awful car and not representative of what is here and what is coming further down the track.

Some that are here now:

Lexus LS 600h

Infiniti Q70 Hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid

BMW i8

Porsche 918 Spyder

McLaren P1

Ferrari LaFerrari

These cars are here now and are delivering on their promise. The tech is getting better and will become available in bread and butter cars.

I understand you have made up your mind so I will end by saying lets wait and see. 🙂


A stepping stone to what? Electric? That’s even older than ICE, and it still doesn’t work properly in 2018.

The PUs in their F1 guise are completely irrelevant in terms of roadcar applications and hybrids had already found their way into roadcars years before F1.

The only purpose f1 serves is a marketing channel for Prius tech, nothing more.


A stepping stone to what? Electric? That’s even older than ICE, and it still doesn’t work properly in 2018.

Well actually Electric motors have always been far more efficient than ICE. It’s only been the delivery of the fuel that been the issue. Now the tech is catching up so we are in a period of change.

The PUs in their F1 guise are completely irrelevant in terms of roadcar applications

I think you may be missing the point, and no one is suggesting that we grab a PU out of a Merc F1 and put it into an corolla. But much of the tech will make it’s way into RD vehicles.

The only purpose f1 serves is a marketing channel for Prius tech, nothing more.

Um yeah maybe. The major manufactures have been involved in F! since day one. For them it’s aways been marketing tool. But that’s the point of motor racing to prove the product.

Win on Sunday sell on Monday.


I was wicked cool at Prince of Persia in the past. That means that I’d win every sword fight going. Oh, what, really – my arm was chopped off? That didn’t happen when I was in my living room on my Sega Master System.


Prince of Persia does not mimic the mechanics of sword fighting. Sim racing does mimic the mechanics of driving a car exactly.


The mechanics perhaps, the g forces, the seat of the pants feel, the fitness level required, the environmental effects, no. Not unless you’ve got serious cash to splash on a full motion sim and at that point you may as well go karting.

That’s not to say that the tech won’t become available to replicate that in the future (at an affordable price), but it’s a while off…


I believe it was Indycar driver Scott Goodyear who said the only way to make electronic games realistic is to have a man stand behind the player with a sledgehammer. When the player crashed, the man would strike him between the shoulder blades with the sledgehammer.


SimRacing has moved on considerably in recent years. It’s no longer considered some young spotty Xbox/Playstation culture thing and shouldn’t be dismissed with sweeping uneducated comments.

Just look at where the Pros use it for practice with a highly competitive structured racing (Verstappen is just one example). Also look up in Youtube how much sim racing hardware has advanced with the likes of OSW, Bodnar and Accuforce steering wheels.


Maybe im just old.. but as someone who has spent many many hours playing race sims with a full cockpit setup, and someone who has spent many years driving cars, its ridiculous to imply it translates. Maybe when the home sim technology advances to the level the teams use it might be taken seriously, but for now it is not even close to the sensation or skill required of real driving.


Of course it translates. I leaned to heel-and-toe in a racing sim. In addition you can practice your racing lines, braking points, brake modulation, and throttle sensitivity. Plus it helps you develop more general skills such as the ability to concentrate for long periods of time.

More and more racing schools are now employing racing sims to familiarise students with the track and to give them a handle on the fundamentals.


You can do all that sure but there is no substitute for the real thing.

Do simulators make you feel the forces of a crash? No you can just hit reset. They are very important but there is no substitute for doing it for real.


The idea that sim racing wasn’t a valid lead in should have been shattered when Jann Mardenborough won in British GT on his seventh racing start. His experience before that being the GT Academy competition and it’s driver development program.


Pilots learn in a simulator, so do sailors, submariners, astronauts, even train drivers. Nintey percent of learning how to control any vehicle is understanding the principals by which it operates and then practicing the controls until they can be used instinctively. I don’t see what makes motor racing any different, particularly when drivers with that exact background are already in NASCAR, Sports Cars and junior open wheel formulas. Within the next ten years F1 will have drivers who list E-Sports on their resume, it’s simply a matter of time.


An example of this is Monster Energy NASCAR Cup rookie William Byron, who started in eSports (iRacing leagues) and earned his way to an entry-level Legend Car, then earning club level races before rapidly rising through the developmental touring levels before becoming a premiership rookie. Rick Schweiger’s comments as Byron won a second-tier title last year (“Started racing on a computer”) allowed fans to see how the iRacing model that is used by many worked.

But the difference between GT Academy and Byron is that Byron went from winning online to that Legend Car, they used the iRacing model where they have to learn car setups.

An eSports league where drivers must learn to set up the car with tyres, suspension, and the rest will be head over heels over pure driving simulations. Byron said in 2013 at that entry level the computer taught him car setup and it worked in real life.


It is just another tool. It can help with understanding against a machine but what about the living?


Surprised the British website hasn’t mentioned the British driver, Jann the Man. A sensational story for sure.


Hi, sorry but I have to disagree completely with you, many years ago I had a Logitech steering wheel, ps3 and played f1 games and gran turismo. Anyway my other half got me a track day in a single seater. And my brain quickly correlated the two, apart from trying to brake with the clutch at the first corner, it was a doddle and I was comfortably the fastest person out there, not because I’m special, just cause I’d spent 100 of hours playing games, and it was close enough to for me replicate what I’d learned in the games. Around the same time they were running an f1 simulator in Mk, using the McLaren software, just over a 1000 people had a go, i was 5th fastest, the guys who were running it and watching the telemetry feed, thought I was an actual racer, again just what I picked up from playing.

This must of been around10 years ago, if they were close enough then, now I’d imagine they’re a lot closer.

Unfortunately since I shattered my ankle, I no longer play, just don’t have feel anymore.


It’s getting better, I’d say elements do translate depending on the sim and the hardware you use.

You’d have to agree that if there was a kid who was good at simracing with a decent setup and you put them up against a kid with no simracing experience in a real car on a track the kid with the simracing experience would perform much better.


As someone who has played a lot of racing games for a long time, I appreciate that they are finally getting some recognition outside the gaming industry. That said, no matter how good they get, they’re no replacement for the real thing; and I don’t think online games ever will, nor should, replace true grass roots racing – namely club racing and karting.

Online racing games can be used to broaden the scope of people who are exposed to racing, they can work wonders to get young people interested in cars, car culture, racing, and racing history – but again, it’s not a replacement for the real thing.

It’s the same with a game series like Madden. It’s a great way to get a different group of people interested in football, but playing Madden is not the same as playing real football.

What racing games are good for is teaching people about race craft and wheel to wheel racing (but again, only the basics), and doing things that would not really be possible for the average person – whether that’s lapping a virtual recreation of Spa ‘68 in an old Lotus F1 car, or lapping Le Mans in a 918 hybrid. Ya, it’s not the real thing, but at least it’s a small taste. But racing is an online F4 championship is not the same as doing a real F4 championship, racing in an online MX5 cup is not the same as racing a real MX5.

I’ve been saying for years that F1, and Motorsport in general, needs to make much more effort To support and grow the grass roots level. Sure, video games can be a small part of that, but it’s got to be more than just games.

And let’s not kid ourselves, gaming isn’t exactly cheap either. A decent iRacing setup is like 5-10 grand, and you need to be a computer wiz to keep it updated.


So is they why we have immature kids driving F1 cars these days?


To revise and extend my remarks;

“Is this why we have immature kids driving F1 cars these days?”

Thanks for the opportunity to correct my sentence. This is the only way to edit my remarks that I know of; and it gives me one more entry on the quest for more yellow stars! . . . I swear at one time I had 3. And I know the quality of entry has nothing to do with it. I can even end a sentence with a preposition !


E-sports: masturbating to a picture of Pamela Anderson

Driving a race car: being in bed with Pamela Anderson

Sorry to shatter the illusions of the spotty youths who think that twiddling a pretend steering wheel makes them the next Lewis Hamilton, but its not even close to being the real thing….


To follow your line of thought, driving a f1 car is actually something a lot of people can do. Driving it fast enough to be competitive in f1 is something completely different.

The same goes for esports: many people compete, only a few can actually win on a high level. Unlike playing FIFA or Madden, where you are pushing buttons, top-simracers are likely to be good in real cars as well, as the skillset is the same (steer, throttle, brake). The difference is just how it comes in (g-forces, seat-of-the-pants feel). But then again, those things can be trained, as can physical condition.


@Bokito… If you think a lot of people can drive an F1 car, you may want to Google “Chris Harris Jaguar F1”. Harris is an accomplished automotive journalist who has more experience driving fast cars than most. He’s also raced endurance cars, albeit not extensively.

His test of a F1 car should be an eye-opener for the simulator brigade…


Watched the video, we see Chris Harris spin the car twice while he is out in the most difficult conditions possible with a freezing temperature. He actually not doing a bad job for the first time in the car. Give Harris some more testing and he will drive it decently quick.

Actually anyone with some money can buy a F1 experience and go drive the car on a track. Not on racing speed, but still.

We keep seeing top simulator guys being put in a real car go very quick. Google the “world fastest alien” story where Greger Huttu gets a drive in a real car and is right up there, the Atze Kerkhof story, Rudy van Buren during the race of champions beating Lando Norris, and then we are not even talking about the GT Academy which harvested some nice talent.

I agree that the vast majority of gamers will not be able to drive a F1 car quickly, with sufficent mileage, the 0.01% of the group, the best of the best, probably can.

fursty ferret

re redline, 1000% correct


But does visualising and practising being in bed with Pamela Anderson make you better in bed with Pamela Anderson in reality? That is the real question, and there is plenty of evidence that the answer is yes.


It can certainly get youngsters involved and interested in motorsport, but absolutely not is it a comparable thing to real racing. Real racing requires bravery as well as skill, e-sports have zero risk apart from a teenage tantrum if they don’t win. There are corners in karting that require large amounts of confidence to take flat out, you don’t get to reset the machine if you’ve buried your real self into a tyre barrier at 70 mph.

I’d be very sad if this reduces kids participation in real motorsport from karting upwards, they will miss a huge buzz. Like FE I’m not convinced it should be worth much of a mention on F1 websites.


No simulation can compare to the REAL thing of course. Karting, Gaming and eSports are a life style and function as propaganda to Formula 1 if taken seriously. There is always someone who is going to take ANY hobby seriously, whether simulated or the real thing. Karting is always a step to the real thing. And some people who don’t have access to Karting will play on game consoles because it’s the only thing that will satiate their love for Formula 1. Some kids will only want to immerse themselves into simulation – it’s been the underground way for a long time. It’s a fan base – who cares if they haven’t karted. And if eSports takes off big time – then more followers. Who cares if it’s not real enough for the gamers. It’s all part of the F1 “world”. Simulation can bring out certain qualities and abilities that karting as the next step can fulfil.


The buzz of my first win in in the Spec Racing Ford series felt very similar to the buzz I had when I took a real Merc AMG round a track.

In fact it was that buzz from the Merc that made me want to get into motorsport but I couldn’t afford it, so racing in iRacing with good $4k hardware was the next best thing.

It’s easy to knock something until you try it.


@PaulD – don’t forget “feel”, which you obviously get behind a screen.

The feel for the steering wheel forces and the perception of inertial forces (lateral, longitudinal and vertical + pitch, roll and yaw) through the vestibular system is an absolutely essential part of the feedback loop in managing the grip, tyre slip angles and load transfer which change dynamically based on the driver inputs. It’s particularly crucial in the transients.

No amount of playing on an Xbox is going to help you with that…


Redline….you’re correct that a sim is missing all of those sensations…

….which is part of what makes getting a feel for the limit in a sim that much more difficult. You’re operating off a fraction of your senses, yet you need to go the same speed or faster.

Obviously, there’s no consequences, so the bravery factor is nil. But if the ultimate goal is to set a lap time, then an off is an off – doesn’t matter how spectacular the crash is, the lap is ruined reglardless.

So in the real thing, you have all these additional senses to tell you what is going on with the car. In a sim, all you have is the feedback through the wheel, and you eyes (sometimes ears). You have to find the limit of the car using only 2.5 senses, where the real thing you’re using more like a full 4 senses to find the limit.

I’m not saying sims are more difficult that the real thing, I’m saying it’s different. Some people will excel at the real thing, others will excel on a sim. Very few will be masters of both.


Agreed, they’re nothing like comparable. What’s an F1 teams simulator like though?


@PaulD – they’re on a motion platform with hydraulic rams, but I can’t see how they would simulate sustained forces >1g … Probably enough though for the drivers to connect visual and vestibular cues to their inputs and car motion?

I can tell you that having been in Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 airline pilot training simulators, they are astonishingly realistic in their motions, to the point of being practically indistinguishable from the real thing. But of course the dynamics are very different to those of an F1 car.


Society seems to be heading in a direction where cheap, risk-free alternatives to the real thing are considered as good as the real thing.

“Let’s change the meaning of the word ‘winner’ so we can call every child a winner.”

It’s rubbish. If you have to redefine winner to make your kid a winner too, then (s)he isn’t a winner.

Just like there is not a single guarantee that a winner of an esports race is any good in real life. Maybe, maybe not.

There is a huge difference between playing a game with a toy steering wheel from the comfort of your living room for 2 hours or blasting down straights doing > 300km/h in an F1 car during a very, very hot gp. The fact that the real thing could very realistically kill you seems like a pretty big difference to me.

The fact that McLaren promoted an esports winner to their simulator, means very little. It is still a simulator, only more realistic and expensive.


Sim racing is not the real thing, and never will be. Nor is anyone arguing that it’s as good the real thing. The question is whether sim racing can be a valid entry point into Motorsport, and there is plenty of evidence that it can be. That’s all


I’m not a 100% sure, but I think Zak and I agree on something?!? (could it be?)

An eSporting GAME IS currently the only grassroots fan development that is available to Formula One!

Despite every effort and all money so far spent for the development of the virtual racing, it is a minuscule fraction of what should be going to develop this marketing program, which can be seen, without too much IQ horsepower, as a future block-buster product offering.

What, some around here might ask (based on long term trends), do you mean by that, DC?

Imagine the entire operation of a top F1 team, say, Mercedes (convenient at the moment), and what they accomplish in the context of automotive capability in having won all championships in the current era. Think of the extreme cleverness of strategic concept, the giga-cycles of thought processes (literally), attention to detail, intuition, etc.

dare we call it, ‘supreme excellence’?

Now that you have all that drive and capability in your mind, apply it to the development of software, to render virtual F1 racing, say, for a benchmark, equivalent to the best current team simulator!

But don’t stop there, that’s the starting point for the ‘supreme excellence’ in gaming.

Part of this infrastructure would include hubs connected by trunk fibre across the world, so that competitors could compete, on a level playing field*.

Now, think of world wide championships, run parallel to the tarmac-and-rubber ‘real’ racing.

Now, one last step, stay with me, imagine a realtime, virtual integration of the top virtual champions, racing with, real time, the tarmac-and-rubber racers, and full ceremonies (virtual) for the virtual racers?

Not only is this possible, for what challenges could not be overcome using the same design and development capability of a team like Mercedes F1, applied to developing the virtual racing environment(?), but I believe that the very survival of Formula One, as an ongoing interest, is dependent upon this magnitude of a radical evolution/revolution!!!

There is still the convergence with FE to contend with, but this element of the virtual environment will probably determine who the dominant party will be if/when this strategy (IMO also critical to the long term survival of F1 as an ongoing interest), is implemented.

Party on!

Ross: please contact me at your convenience; perhaps James could facilitate. – dc

* – ‘level playing field’ – as level as it can get in a ‘fixed’ world

Top Tags
SEARCH Innovation