Simracer Non-Real-Life Problems
Simracing, compared to Real Racing, has the disadvantage of missing a ton of feedback on your mind and body:
- G-Forces do not exist
- Your field of wiew (FOV) is severly limited
There are more disadvantages in terms of teamwork, depending on the Sim:
- You may not have a race engineer / strategist
- You may not have a spotter, or not a good one
- You may not be able to talk
Ok, you actually could have a race engineer, spotter and a plugin that enables you to have voice control. But that’s often not the default.
In this post, I will concentrate on information about compensating for the lack of G-Force.
Vibrations are a consequence of gravitational forces and the inertial mass of things. Likewise, you have a harder time figuring out the race track’s slope.
In Real Life, you can often feel on the wheel when your grip breaks down. For example, consider you enter a corner. You crank the wheel, feel vibrations. And beyond a certain point, the vibrations stop and the feeling becomes “flat”. Now you know one of two things:
- You exceeded the optimal turn in
- You entered the corner too fast
I haven’t observed this effect much in Simracing so far. Here and there, there’s a slight “loss of vibration”, but it’s not as intense as in Real Life. However, one technique to feel this effect better is to go Slow Hands and Smooth. If you drive like a Need For Speed Junkie, cranking wheels insanely, you will simply miss the optimal turn-in strength.
If there is no such feeling at all, you must compensate by Trial-And-Error. Spin a few laps until you feel comfortable. Now, try to apply less turn-in and watch your time delta. Three things can happen:
- The delta is unchanged
- Your delta becomes better
- Your delta becomes worse
If the delta is unchanged: Congratulations, you just decreased tyre wear, which is a good thing (except when you need to warm up tyres). If the delta becomes better: Win-Win. Less tyre wear, better lap time. Your delta becomes worse: Now that’s something you don’t like. Only do this to save your tyres.
Repeat the process as long as the delta does not worsen.
Next, do the opposite: Crank the wheel more. Again, the same three things can happen. The difference to loosening your turn-in though is that usually, you will now scrub more tyre.
If you know you can get an advantage in the race by saving tyres, you want to think about whether to cranking it more.
Unfortunately, there is not much more you can do about the lack of wheel-vibrations and in-turn-falloff. Except, of course, reading your simulation’s manual and forum posts and trying to improve your FFB settings.
The track’s slope is an important factor when optimizing your racing line, especially when you need to respond dynamically during a race. You can also see the lack of slope feeling when watching races on television: Monaco and Spa are tracks with quite heavy slope and elevation changes, but it’s almost impossible to tell that from the TV-cameras, or even more severe from on-board cameras.
While you can see in Eau Rouge (at Spa, of course) that there’s a wall building up, you can neither tell the heaviness of that wall, nor whether that wall of concrete is pointing to the sky or just pointing horizontally (it could be that it’s just the track section before Eau Rouge is pointing heavily downwards).
It’s also impossible to just tell from the horizon or sky, because you cannot see the horizon in corners like Eau Rouge.
When just hotlapping, you can solve for the lack of slope feeling simply by Trial-and-Error again. You simply go as fast as you can, then trial-and-error, and see if there’s improvement. In my experience, you don’t really know how long you are going to brake, you simply go by your braking point, and whether your braking is 1 second or 1.3 seconds goes unnoticed.
When in race, elevation changes can be more critical, because you will need to forfeit your ideal line many times, and suddenly your braking zone shortens or extends, possibly resulting in catastrophic race failure.
There are two way to solve for that problem:
- Be conservative on slopy tracks when changing lines, i.e. brake a little earlier (and then trust your instinct to adjust the braking pressure in real time)
- Test out different lines in practice. Drive all the lap on the right side. Then all on the left side. Practice suddenly cranking your wheel on possible passing zones. Then, you will be prepared.
There is not much more you can do, except modding your simulation. For iRacing, look for “Motion Cockpit View” and give it a serious look. It wasn’t for me, but many report more consistency in their driving.
You often can feel banking on the wheel when the FFB becomes heavier (= car is pushed down by centrifugal forces) or lighter (= car becomes lighter). Lighter feeling means your car unsettles and loses grip earlier.
You can also usually tell whether a corner is banking outwards (reduced grip) or inwards (increased grip) by just seeing it.
All in all, your banking-sensors are good enough in simracing. The rest is driving technique.
Pot Holes and Bumps unsettle the balance of your car, and they can sometimes even decrease your speed slightly (when your dampers are ill-configured and your car’s floor rubs bumps).
In many simulations, bumps are not relevant because not implemented. iRacing, however, simulates them physically (but not visually), so they are relevant.
However, I found them not to be a too huge problem, because, simply spoken, most race tracks are in good condition, with a handful of exceptions. For example, Iowa speedway is really bumpy, and you can clearly observe that from TV broadcasts already.
All aside, what do simulations and hardware do for those: Shake the screen and punch your FFB wheel. I found this good enough; every such bump will instinctively alert you to be careful and be prepared to lessen your brake pressure if you lose grip.
Don’t be too afraid of those factors. It’s good to know them in order to optimize your racing preparations, but don’t frown upon them, because they are the same for everyone. Just be better prepared, and also be prepared for those not well prepared.
See you on track.
- 2019-04-09: fixed formatting
- 2019-04-18: fix typos
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