The Laws of Physics: Why SIM Racing Can Never Be as Hard as the Real Thing


“A mini automobile crash at each nook.” That’s how Mark Webber, nine-time grand prix winner, describes the battering a driver’s physique takes on the wheel of a contemporary System 1 automobile.

Why? Physics. Take Flip 13, the primary a part of the right-left flick onto pit straight, at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the place Webber completed within the high 5 in every of his final three races there with Purple Bull Racing. Each lap he’d mash the brake pedal, making use of 275 kilos of pressure by means of his left foot for only a fraction over 2 seconds, to gradual the automobile from 210 mph to 80 mph in simply 400 toes. The speed of deceleration? About 5 g.

To your physique, that’s like driving your automobile right into a wall at 10 mph. Each lap. For 70 laps.

I thought of this as I watched the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual on MotorTrend. This digital reimagining of one of many world’s biggest motorsport occasions was deeply spectacular: 200 drivers, together with real-world System 1 champions and Le Mans winners, situated in 37 nations, and racing 50 photo-real digital automobiles on a photo-real digital reconstruction of the enduring 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe. They raced by means of a digital night time, managed digital gas consumption and digital tire degradation. And after they had a digital crash, they had been nearly out of the race.

The GTE class featured digital variations of the Chevy Corvette C7.R, the Ferrari 488GTE, the Aston Martin Vantage GTE, and Porsche’s 911 RSR. In the meantime, the LMP class automobiles had been digital representations of the French-built Oreca 07 LMP2 racer, which in actual life weighs 2,050 kilos and is powered by a 4.2-liter naturally aspirated V-Eight creating simply over 600 hp.

Overshadowed by the quicker LMP1 prototypes and never as visually differentiated because the GTEs, the real-life LMP2 automobiles have usually been regarded a supporting act at Le Mans. This yr, although, they had been the principle occasion, and completely fascinating to look at.Though the identical, the digital Orecas weren’t an identical. The software program allowed race engineers to change suspension settings, downforce ranges, and equipment ratios, similar to on the actual automobiles. For engineers used to establishing actual automobiles, this was a novel problem—they had been optimizing towards cleverly programmed software program, not the extra subtly capricious combos of ambient temperature and wind route and moisture in the actual world. Even so, it’s honest to say that by way of the equipment, the 30-car LMP discipline was essentially the most intently matched ever to begin at Le Mans.

The most important variable was due to this fact the drivers, which meant it was doable to meaningfully evaluate the efficiency of the best SIM racers against top real-world drivers. The quickest of the SIM specialists had been quicker than the quickest real-world drivers, Finnish SIM racer Aleksi Uusi-Jaakkola clocking a 3:23.672 lap late within the race, 1.9 seconds higher than the most effective lap from Fernando Alonso. However the two-time F1 world champion shouldn’t hold up his helmet simply but.

Racing is precision geometry, at warp velocity. You want intense focus and heightened situational consciousness, lightning-quick reactions and calm management, focus and confidence and dedication, ensuring your braking and steering inputs, your throttle functions, and your gear shifts are constantly at or close to the restrict whilst you place your automobile on exactly the appropriate a part of the observe. Lap after lap after lap.

Now, think about doing all that whereas pulling 6 g by means of an extended, quick sweeper, holding your breath and tensing your core like a fighter pilot, your head successfully weighing 55 kilos, your inside organs all squished to 1 facet. Or whereas braking so laborious your tear ducts secrete and splash in your visor. In the meantime, cockpit temperatures breach 130 levels and trigger you to lose as much as 9 kilos in fluids throughout a race, decreasing your mind operate by as a lot as 40 %. And do all this whereas ignoring ideas of 1’s fragile mortality ought to any motion be carried out incorrectly by a cut up second.

Don’t get me mistaken—the 24 Hours of Le Mans Digital confirmed top-level SIM racing might be attention-grabbing and interesting. But it surely’s nowhere close to as laborious as the actual factor. And by no means shall be.







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