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Friday, January 22, 2010

Fancy yourself as an F1 Driver?

by John

Soon (later this year) anyone will be able to experience the thrill of driving an F1 car around Grand Prix race tracks. Well, at least a virtual drive - on your own computer, in your own home.

Sheikh Khalid on a simulator.
Winning Software.

This is not a second rate experience, however, but as realistic as it is possible to make it. The reason? The software will actually be based on the Williams 2009 F1 car, the FW31. The Silverstone and Brands Hatch circuits are already available to "drivers" with accuracy claimed to be to the millimeter. Oulton Park will shortly be added and others will follow.

iRacing means youRacing.

Williams F1, a Formula team with a commercial R&D base in Qatar (see our article Formula One in Qatar), have teamed up with iRacing.com, producers of motorsport simulation software, to produce this cutting-edge simulation product. This could potentially save lives in car-mad Qatar if Dads gave their sons this program instead of a real Ferrari or Lamborgini. Much cheaper too, as the cost is only US$12.95 plus $8 per month!

Time to put Qatar on the iRacing map

Apparently the UK has the second largest contingent of virtual racers at present and members range from professional racing drivers to those of us who have no chance of ever driving a real racing car. Now anyone can join. So come on Qatar - show us your driving prowess on line!

Compete against other drivers

Using this system, there is a race series which allows you to compete against other drivers, so testing your skills as well as enjoying the thrill of competition.

Improve your skills and progress

The system encourages members to improve their skills by working their way up to higher speeds gradually while being "penalised " for making mistakes such as "dropping" wheels off the track. (Might also help to improve Qatar driving standards!) Some members have made the transition from "sim-racing" to driving real racing cars and found that the inculcated discipline helped them in the real world.

Pro-drivers too

According to iRacing, professional racing drivers use their products to learn new circuits and for practice. [So you never know - you could find yourself up against Michael Schumacher or Jenson Button! That will certainly be my excuse if I find myself getting left miles behind...]

Going round in circles?

iRacing is a US company and as a result all the original tracks featured are ovals, as Americans seem to be able to only turn their cars in one direction. Now, however, for people who can steer both left and right, some UK tracks have been added and more F1 circuits will be added this year.

Progress to the real thing.

Some drivers have made the leap to real racing from sim-racing and it has been shown to be good preparation for the real thing. Rob Tarlton, who won last year's Phillips global promotion, said, "....sim-racing...definitely helped me develop car control. That helped in the transition to real cars". So come on guys - and gals - this could be the start of something big maybe even a chance to drive a Williams F1 car around Lusail circuit like Shiekh Khalid.

Also see: Abu Dhabi Formula One | Bahrain Formula One

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