Playing racing games can be helpful for young drivers when it comes to learning track layouts they’ve never raced on before. Sure, proper simulators do this best, but racing games offer a more accessible way of getting to know the corners and flow of a race circuit.
Looking at games like F1 2016, the graphics and visuals of modern racing titles are pretty impressive. It goes down to the minor details like marker boards, trees and landmarks. These can all be used as reference points for drivers to start braking or cornering. Firing up a racing game or sim is a good way of getting familiar with these reference points.
Lucas Ordonez is a previous GT Academy winner and is now a fully-fledged racing driver. He explained to The Independent:
“Gran Turismo is a practical learning and training tool as well as a game. And even now, as a real racing-car driver I still use it prepare for races and sharpen my reaction speeds, just as Formula One drivers do. For example it’s great to help me familiarise myself with tracks, corners, when and where I need to brake and when I need to hit the accelerator.”
This is an interesting one, best proved by young F1 hotshot Max Verstappen. During his rookie F1 season he joined a simracing team and competed against some of the best online racers in the world. But he also used it to perfect his overtaking skills, he’s been quoted saying:
“It’s always good because you know how much space you have. Also on sim racing, sometimes you go a bit too far and you know that you can’t do it. I think it helps me. I mean I did it for Spa and I did it again for Monza and two times it worked on the real track. The overtake I did on Nasr, I did exactly the same in the sim again.”
Unsurprisingly race track corners can be taken in a variety of ways and exploring these different lines is an important part of gaining ground and cutting lap times. Racing games and sims give drivers opportunities to try these out before heading to a race weekend.
The winter months are pretty boring for racing drivers and fans alike. There aren’t many ways for drivers to keep sharp between seasons (for example, karting and the rare few winter championships that take place). But gaming is another one. It keeps the competitive mentality going and, for the reasons above, is probably quite useful – it also means you don’t have to go outside in the cold too!
Here’s what Verstappen previously told Red Bull about his gaming and sim racing (although he has a much better gaming setup than most):
“Well, mainly for me it’s fun to see where I am compared to them in the virtual racing world. It’s good fun, they are very competitive and we share setup thoughts and I try to give them some advice as well. It works out perfectly.”