What is racing simulation ?
If you enjoy watching motorsport and play video games, you probably heard about racing simulators titles.
The video games companies decided to give it a try and make racing games titles for a more bigger audience which they don't just have good graphics, but also the cars would behave like they would do in real world, at least that is what they claim.
But you would question yourself, ok, but how the developers know how the car would behave in certain conditions? is it just based on guessing ? or is it more to it ? Is not like the developers are actually professional race drivers.
The video game company works together with professional drivers and test those titles, testing the physics of the cars and see how they behave in different weather and road conditions. Conditions like very strong wind and raining on a gravel road or asphalt or just road covered with snow or ice.
Getting feedback from professional drivers, the developers of the game can adjust the math that is behind the physics of those cars and make them behave like it should in a real world condition.
That's not the only aspect of the game the developers are testing while receiving feedback from the drivers.
They are also testing how the car would behave with certain mechanical damage to it as well, for example if the car is a Front Wheel Drive and you have a flat tire or suspension damage or even damage to the brakes or engine.
All those aspects added together, makes the game much closer to reality.
Those video games titles are now known and referred to as racing simulators.
The most known titles there are: Assetto Corsa , Dirt Rally 1 and 2.0 , Gran Turismo Sport and Gran Turismo 7 , WRC 8,9 and 10, Project Cars 1 and 2.
Each title has different levels of realism to the physics and with titles keep coming like WRC 10 after 9, they claim WRC 10 has better realism than 9, or Dirt Rally 2.0 it's more real than 1.
Each time, the developers are trying to push the limits and make the cars behave more and more closer to the real world.
Of course there is a point of where nobody can know for sure of how would actualy that specific car behave, it's just a random of events.
It depends of the car speed, driver experience and reactions, weather, road conditions and of course if the car has any damage to the mechanic.
It's all random, but they are doing their best to re-create a possible way of behaving under certain conditions.
What is it for ?
At first, it was just a simple software created for the motorsport industry to help professional drivers practice and keep in shape in between races and off season.
The pilots would train in a indoor condition, without wasting fuel, tires and building wear to the car mechanic. Saving millions of money for the race teams.
And the best part of it, the drivers can train on any track in the world from indoor, as those simulators would contain all faimous tracks around the world.
How real it actualy is ?
The only way and best way to truly benefit of those simulators is to use what is it called a professional racing rig.
A racing rig is formed by a steering wheel base , 3 pedals which is the clutch, brake and acceleration, a shifting gear and a handbrake.
The most known brands that provide those equipment are FANATEC, Thrustmaster and Logitech.
The entry level equipment would be Logitech which is for beginners who are just starting out and want to dive into the world of racing simulators and not spend too much money, but it will not provide same realism.
For those who don't mind spending a bit more, and would like to dive into racing simulators more serious than a beginner, would look at the Thrustmaster equipment which is still affordable for most of people, and provides a very good realism of the car behavior.
The Thrustmaster T300RS Force Feedback racing wheel lets gamers truly immerse themselves in the world of car racing, and hone their skills to improve their performance.
FANATEC is the brand that provides absolute realism possible for the racing simulators, but the prices are not affordable to everyone.
The prices for these equipment, are for those who are really into racing simulators and professional drivers who wants to practice in between races or off season.
In a home end-user environment, the realism of those simulators and equipment rely completely of the steering wheel base.
Through the steering wheel, the driver feels the road surface and how the car behaves.
Depending of what steering wheel the user has, he will see and feel how the wheels of the car turn and behave in certain road, weather conditions being impacted directly by the drivers driving and braking style, creating oversteer or understeer to the car. That is why is very important what kind of stearing wheel you choose to get, as it will impact how you control and feel the car behavior.
It gets as real as it can be if you own a Thrustmaster or FANATEC equipment, there is no doubt.
What am i learning from it ?
Everything. Depending on which style of Motorsport are you practicing, you learn about the car behavior and that specific racing style.
All racing styles, shares the same basic techniques you need to know and the simulators will help you learn them, through lots of practice.
If you are wondering what are those basic techniques you will learn, there are just 3 ingredients in them.
Lets say you are doing a track race, picture yourself in a car on any track you know or want.
Anyone can drive in a straight line with 130 km/h, sure, but what do you do if a left turn comes immediately and then a right turn ? Do you know how to pass those turns in one piece as quick as possible?
If you want to pass those turns, you need to learn when to start braking, how much to brake, and then when to start accelerate again and how much, while in the same time, knowing how much to turn the wheel and in some occasions in which direction.
Steering input, brake and acceleration are the main 3 key ingredients in any race styles.
Can it be used in real world ?
The answer is obvious - YES
YES, but not all the time, or not recommended in some conditions.
You can't really apply everything you learn, on a public road, all the time, like how to enter and exit two turns, as it would imply you would have to go on the incoming traffic lane which is dangerous and not recommended.
It helps you be more comfortable and knowing what to do if your car slips on water or gravel for example.
That is the beauty of these racing simulators. It's fun, it's safe, it's cheap and most important, it's real!
If you are trying to learn how to control the car in a drift, also well known as a motorsport, the simulators will help you learn that and you will be able to build what is called muscle memory and then go on a track with a real car and you will be in your own element like you would have done it for years.