F1 eSports Pro Draft 2018 LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Red Bull Racing esports Draft picks Joni Tormala (2nd l) and Graham Carroll (l) talk on stage with Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen (r) during the F1 eSports Pro Draft 2018 on July 9, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Red Bull)

Quite a while ago it was hard to get into racing. There were two avenues if you wanted to race: 1) Be an extremely talented, world-class driver that has been training their whole life 2) Be frivolously rich and not worried about losing money. And if you didn’t fall under those two categories you’d be stuck to abiding by speed limits on city streets if you wanted to drive. In recent years the fun that is experienced in racing a real car can be near duplicated at home, for a much cheaper (but still expensive) price through Sim-Racing.

Simulation Racing Takes Racing From Pavement To Pixels

Simulation Racing, or Sim-Racing for short is the closest thing to the “real deal” that isn’t the real deal itself. So much so that professional drivers themselves have used it for practice.

Sim-Racing Gives A Way For Everyday People To Experience Racing

With the magic of computers, and the other technology that accompanies it, playing racing games online can bring the competitive aspect of racing on a track to your own home. Everyone who plays has a different budget, based on how realistic they want the experience to be. Most people would buy a wheel and pedals that can be plugged into their computer.

Budget To Race

The price range for those is huge, with some wheels going for 10x what others are worth. More die hard fans would buy chairs, gloves, or even a side panel with buttons on it. There are even more absurd setups out there, with some people taking the exterior of a race car, and putting their setup inside it for maximum realism. When you crunch the numbers you realize it certainly isn’t a cheap hobby. While being a simulation racer isn’t free, it’s a better deal than getting a car to race.

Choices For Games

More than ever now there are tons of ways to race. There are classic games like Gran Turismo and Forza that are out, but also more up and coming titles like Project Cars and iRacing that provide a distinct experience. Games like Gran Turismo and Project Cars offer an experience that is good for beginners, with tons of options in the game for racing against robots. It’s nearly impossible to dive right into multiplayer games with little racing game experience.

Playing against robots (or AI) offers a risk-free experience where you will never feel guilty for crashing into someone. A game like iRacing offers the most competitive type of gameplay. The game is completely against other people, with how you drive and your track etiquette being graded while you play. Leagues and leaderboards are a big aspect of the game, as the game doesn’t allow you to hop right into the hardest type of car or track. You start with slower and easier to control cars, facing people that are of a similar skill set than you. Once you get better, you have many pathways that slowly lead you to “the big leagues”. 

Paving a Path For Careers

The skill that it takes to play sim-racing games does have somewhat of a crossover in real life. Jann Mardenborough being an example of this. Jann joined a competition in 2011 called GT Academy. It was a gaming tournament where the winner would get a chance to race in real life on Japan’s Super GT tour. He won the tournament, and since then has carved out a profitable career in racing. He is currently still in the Super GT series, driving for one of the top teams. Gran Turismo Sport also recently held a live event at the Nurburgring during the Nurburgring 24h weekend, showcasing live racing talent. 

Everyone Wants Their Slice Of The Pie

In 2017 Formula 1 started their own Esports series, giving gamers a chance to compete in the tour’s game made by Codemasters. Starting with over 60,000 drivers, the tournament got narrowed down to 20 gamers who competed live at the Yas Marina Circuit, just days before Formula 1 had its season-ending race.

This season F1 has put even more focus on it’s gaming integration. Nine F1 teams partnered with the series to have teams within Esports, with some teaming with already established gaming companies like Vitality, who partnered with Renault. Vitality currently owns a slot in the League Of Legends European Championship Series, which held it’s finals in the Royal Arena in Denmark, a venue with a 16,000 capacity. The event reached a peak viewership of 422,170.

Earlier this month a draft was held where teams selected their lineup. While there is nothing announced about where and when races will be held, updates are expected.

Track Open 24/7

Since drivers aren’t always able to get to tracks to practice, some have turned to racing games to help. 2014 24h Le Mans winner Nicki Thiim has been a big advocate for racing games, being an avid player of iRacing when not touring the World Endurance Championship. The World Endurance Championship (WEC) is the premier endurance racing tour in the world, with 24h Le Mans being their top race every year.

The way that each person enjoys a racing game is tailored to himself. Simulation Racing can breed champions that cross over to real racing, and also accommodate the average fan.

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