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Race Driving Fundamentals: Simulators

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00:00 - Simulators are something that a lot of people are still very unsure of, questioning whether or not they're helpful and worthwhile investing in as a tool to improve their driving.
00:09 10 years ago this may have been a valid question but these days simulators are so good that they absolutely can make a difference.
00:18 It should also come as no surprise that those who are usually on the podium at a real racetrack are often just as quite on a simulator.
00:26 Like anything though the more money you spend on a sim setup, the better the experience becomes.
00:31 We just need to understand that while more money isn't necessarily going to make us seconds faster per lap, it does tend to help with improving our consistency and accuracy which is just as important.
00:43 Before we dive deeper into the world of sim racing, it's important to understand that it's never going to feel the same as a real world track experience no matter how much cash we pour into it.
00:52 That's going to equal frustration initially as we spin and crash every other lap wondering how the sim is ever going to help.
01:00 The best thing to do at this point is to persevere for a while until you get the hang of it.
01:05 When compared to real life racing, sim racing requires us to use different sensors to feel and understand the car so translating between the two can take some time.
01:16 Normally we're used to feeling a car through the seat and through G forces but on a sim, we have to rely more on feel through the steering wheel and the sound of the car.
01:25 This is going to take a little while to get used to but once you break through that barrier and can drive on the sim quickly and consistently, this is where the substantial gains to be found in sim racing can translate to the real world.
01:38 This process of getting used to sim racing isn't going to take 5 minutes.
01:42 A decent couple of months are going to be required of perseverance to properly bridge the gap between real world and sim world driving.
01:50 One of the big improvements in sim racing in recent years has been the accuracy of the tracks.
01:54 These days a lot of locations are fully laser scanned and this means that they're exactly the same as their real world counterparts down to the inch.
02:03 This helps sim racing transform from a bit of fun into a great tool to learn a track and improve our performance.
02:10 Not only are the corners exactly to scale but we also get the correct undulations, the correct effects of braking uphill and downhill, correct cambers and also the correct heights of curbs and bumps.
02:23 While laser scanned tracks are the holy grail of learning the intricacies of a track via a simulator, don't discount tracks that are visually modelled via video, satellite and photo references either.
02:34 While they don't really help with the finer details, they're still a very useful tool for learning a track in its basic form.
02:42 I say basic form because the corners will still be very similarly shaped to the real deal and that's going to help us learn simple race lines at the very least.
02:51 So that simulator track's covered, but what about the cars and the actual driving experience? Again once the bridge between reality and sim has been gapped in our brains thanks to some decent hours put in behind the wheel of a sim, there's a lot that can be learned.
03:06 A great thing to keep in mind when focusing on improving our driving here is to treat it all like the real world as much as possible so let's get it out of our heads that it's only a game with a reset button and think of it as if we're on the track in real life.
03:21 We need to consider the same factors we normally would in the real world like cold tyres, how the car is handing and what adjustments in technique will help with speed.
03:30 If you can successfully do this, you'll notice your frame of mind becomes very similar to how it would be on a real racetrack.
03:37 The sim driving experience is getting so good that the virtual racecars behave exactly as they would in the real world, especially when we start thinking about technique and how that relates to the traction circle.
03:50 The only difference is how we sense the car breaking these traction limits.
03:54 On the sim it's felt through a combination of steering feedback and tyre sound, whereas in the real world we'll be feeling it though a combination of steering feedback and G forces.
04:04 So while yes we're never going to get that precise feeling of a car in motion that we get through the driver's seat, the beauty of it is no matter how you feel the traction limits, the same input techniques are required to work with them and in turn go faster on the track.
04:19 This makes for a great learning tool and the next time we hit the track in the real world, the advantages should be obvious.
04:26 Sim racing is also great for other reasons outside of just driving skill and track knowledge.
04:31 Firstly it can really help improve our mental focus.
04:35 If you've ever used a simulator before and taken it seriously, you'll know that if you do enough laps you'll end up just as mentally drained as you would in the real world.
04:44 Using a sim is also a good way to work on our setup skills because just like a real car there's a whole world of setup changes available in all serious simulator software.
04:54 The developers have put huge amount of time into ensuring that any setup change made to a virtual car will have the correct effect on how the car behaves just as it would in the real world and this makes it really useful for drivers who are wanting to better understand the setup side of their cars.
05:11 Sim racing also allows us to grow accustomed to using data thanks to software that has been developed specifically to record all of our sim telemetry.
05:20 This data can then be loaded into data analysis programs like MoTeC's i2 just like we would in the real world.
05:26 The software allows us to then look over the data and find places to improve.
05:30 Don't worry if you don't really understand how to read this data properly because we're going to be looking into exactly that in the next module.
05:38 When it all boils down, a simulator is the perfect place to learn all of these things at home so that when we do hit the track in the real world we don't end up spending every last minute fumbling around trying to figure it all out.
05:50 Track time is super valuable so why not learn in a cheaper and less stressful environment when we can take all of the time we need to figure these things out without worrying about the maintenance or damage bill when it goes wrong.

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