Modern sim racing has become incredibly realistic and although F1 has been a little slow on the uptake of the potential of eSports, things finally seem to be on the move. McLaren is even running a competition for a gamer to get a job with the team!
This isn’t something that’s been lost on F1s owners, and Ross Brawn said that racing sims could be used to trial not only new sporting regulations, but even technical regulations, as modern sims are so realistic that they can accurately model things like aerodynamics.
Ross Brawn thinks this is an untapped area which F1 should be exploring, and speaking at F1 Live in London he said:
“Where we are looking at improving the racing in the future, there is a huge community of eRacers out there through whom we could potentially put different environments and different changes to the way we race. We can get them to tell us whether the racing has improved or not.
“In the eRacing community, if we change the aero property of the cars and that is fed into their community, does that create a better race or not from their experience?”
Although for some the idea of using games to help out with future regulations might seem a bit weird, many of the simulators the teams use are derived from tech first implemented in the gaming industry and are highly accurate. Brawn added:
“It is not that far removed from the simulators the real teams use. A lot of the F1 teams use software generated from the games industry to give a more realistic environment for their driver simulators. There is scope in that area as well, which we are exploring.”
Brawn also said F1 is looking at setting up a live F1 game, where people can compete in a virtual race that happens at the same time as an actual Grand Prix to see how they stack up against the real teams and drivers.
“One of the things we will be taking a serious look at is eRacing engaging with the race itself. So how do we create the environment where we have a live event going on and the fans are racing their cars in that race. So, for example, a safety car is called and they have to react in their environment to that. The potential for that is huge.”
Awesome. Where do we sign up?!
Part of the reason for all this is because Brawn wants to know what type of racing people actually find exciting in the first place, so that when it comes to changing the rules they actually have something to work towards. He said:
“At the moment we are trying to understand what makes a good race: what is it that makes a great race,” he said. “It is not just overtaking. You can have a great race without overtaking. If you have two cars fighting each other for the majority of the race, there may not be overtaking but there can be a great race. The proximity of those cars is something which is a factor in making a great race. We are mining all the information that exists in F1 to start to build a vision of what makes great racing, and what makes great on track action, and which tracks consistently produce great races.”
It’s fantastic to not only see the sport embracing new methods to progress, but also looking at how it can engage the fans in the whole process. Using games to test new rules is an interesting (if unusual) path, and if it helps us avoid things like elimination qualifying then it can only be a good thing!