At a time when racing games pride themselves on being real simulations, we interviewed some real racers who love virtual tracks. Training, learning, driving pleasure, they willingly spend behind the screen to practice their profession, but they are not necessarily attracted to the same titles as the general public, and not necessarily sweet words for Gran Turismo 7, F1 or Forza Motorsport.
Racing games for Xbox and PlayStation
Real driving simulator! Since the PS1 era, the Gran Turismo series has prided itself on being a real racing sim. Evolving along with the performance of the PlayStation consoles, both the physics engine and controls have greatly improved over the years, integrating many reality parameters and offering more advanced driving compatibility than ever. And all this while maintaining the driving assistance system. so as not to lose its main goal: the public.
So games like Gran Turismo 7, Forza Motorsport 7 or even F1 22 should make a big difference today between an audience of newbies playing with a controller, sometimes younger players discovering the practice, and more seasoned hobbyists using a pedal and steering wheel. . And out it is necessary to attract a wider range of playersin order to get them to play together in a multiplayer game, necessarily generate some compromises both in the rules of racing and in the very requirement of practice, namely in driving their vehicle.
Simulations for real pilots with Assetto Corsa Competizione
However, at the same time, more advanced simulations, more rigorous in terms of physical models, were able to develop and find an audience of connoisseurs. We can name Assetto Corsa, his Competizione version, as well as iRacing, Raceroom, RFactor 2 or even AutoMobilista.. Virtual racing enthusiasts, real Sunday racers and even pros use these games to explore real tracks, work on their curves, their braking, often while driving a car they own in real life. Different approach, different level requirementnever achieving the slightest equivalence between reality and virtual reality, these games are now considered real tools for improving driving in reality.
So, we went to the Paul Ricard du Castellet circuit on the occasion of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe in ask real professional car drivers in the GT3 and GT4 category, about their use of these racing games, which allow them to one day make a difference on the real track. A good opportunity to see their journey, the bridges between simulation and reality, the names they used and use today, and finally the equipment they have in their hands to play or train.
QuickGabi: GT4 driver and streamer on Twitch
Gabriela Zhilkova stable driver Drago Racing Team ZVO since the beginning of the year, after a year with Team Zakspeed. She is also a Twitch streamer under the name QuickGabi. At 26 years old, this true pro rider is making a series of laps across Europe, on tracks she often discovers for the first time at the start of a competitive weekend. So we asked her how she trains.
On weekends we don’t have much time for training, at best two or three free training sessions before qualifying. Therefore, most of the time before the arrival I train on the simulator at home. This is very useful if we need to go to a track where we have never been before. For example, here at Le Castellet I was able to do hundreds of laps to learn different corners. And that’s even what I do in front of a familiar track, because in any case it’s a good workout.
Obviously we wanted to know what games or modeling software she was using:
It depends on the schemes because not all of them are available everywhere. So I switch from iRacing to Raceroom or Assetto Corsa. I’m always looking for the most realistic game possible, both in terms of the track and how the car behaves. Gran Turismo, I played it on PS1 when I was in kindergarten. But no, this is not a simulator per se. It’s not something that helps you drive better on the track. Sometimes I play it with my friends with a controller, but I don’t really see it as a training aid.
Gabriela Yilkova plays on VRS DirectForce, Cube Controls steering wheel and Heusinkveld crankset. You can find it directly
on his Twitch channel
where she regularly streams her races and in-game workouts, though she is not yet as fast in virtual as she is on the real track, by her personal admission. For those who are interested and not afraid of English, You can find the interview in full here.
Arthur Rougier: esports and real racing in GT3
Emil Frey Racing Team Driver for Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, Arthur Rougier has been mixing virtual and real racing from the very beginning. This weekend at the Fanatec eSport GT Pro Series event at Le Castellet, Arthur finished 3rd in the Pro class, earning 3 bonus points that count towards the GT3 Championship. Virtual Modeling Specialist who talks about his journey, his relationship with simulators, the simulators he uses and the equipment that comes with them in this video in French.
I played Formula 1 first, so it was more of a game than a simulation, on an entry-level simulator. I started like this when I was 12 years old. And at the same time, I started my real life sports career, and I quickly discovered that there was a way to connect them in a way that was positive in both directions.
So we asked him what he used his machine for today:
The simulator is already being used to study new circuits. Today it is a key element for any driver. It saves a lot of time and even on a track I don’t know, in three or four laps I can do three-tenths of what I can do best at the end of the weekend. And it saves a lot of time for the teams when the rider is ready quickly and therefore optimizes the weekend as much as possible.
What simulations are used to prepare for races?
According to plans and requests. I also race in the simulation so I adapt to the championship I’m in, like the Assetto Corsa Competizione for the GT World Challenge eSport. My favorite game feel is probably iRacing, with a community system to play online, it’s really cool. I also raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans virtual race with RFactor 2. These are the 3 programs I use depending on the available tracks.
More accessible games like Gran Turismo, Forza, F1, do you still play these games?
Not at all. I’ve always played F1, the series that I like, when it was “not serious” for me, when it was fun. I also had Gran Turismo 5 on PS3. And since then I haven’t played it at all. For me it will be more games. In terms of realism, it loses a little compared to the three platforms I mentioned.
Arthur Rougier trains on an aluminum extrusion machine with a large curved screen, a set of Heusinkveld pedals, a Simucube base and a Cube Controls steering wheel. If his computer and hardware were quickly set up and configured with the help of the community, Arthur spends a lot of time setting up his virtual car.. For him, this is one of the most important keys to achieving good results in the race.
Raffaele Marciello: the fastest in esports, just like in GT3
Raffaele Marsiello flagship of the Akkodis ASP team, current leader of the Fanatec GT World Challenge championship in his Mercedes-AMG GT3. He also won the esports event that day, taking first place in the Pro category, giving his team 5 points in addition to the 24 points scored in the real race. This simulator specialist started in real life at the age of 3 in karting, and passed the F1 Ferrari, Sauber teams respectively as a tester and 3rd driver. Size, which explains here its connection to simulation.
I started playing Gran Turismo 1 when I was 3-4 years old. I consider myself a nerd, I love technology, I build my own PCs, and although I don’t have much time because I have to practice to be fast, I’m generally into video games.
When asked what role simulation plays in his current job, Raffaele says much the same as our two previous pilots, except that he doesn’t really need it:
Modeling is now a pleasure because I have the opportunity to drive a car very often. But this is a great tool for young drivers to not feel the car, but to properly use the brakes and the like. It’s not a real car, it doesn’t look like speed, but it’s a good tool to understand how a car behaves in general.
And for the simulations he uses or appreciates, the same references are cited, but with a slightly different opinion:
In GT3 – Assetto Corsa Competizione. I don’t really like the behavior of iRacing in GT3. I really like Assetto Corsa Competizione. I also have a platform with Gran Turismo 7, Podium steering wheel from Fanatec. GT7 is great, a good game to start with, a childhood memory for me that I use for car collecting fun. Don’t take it too seriously, but it’s also a very good game with impressive graphics.
For his PC setup, Raffaele uses an aluminum cab with 4 screens., RTX 3090 based PC and Simucube based setup. He also has a PS5 rig with Fanatec’s Racing Wheel F1.
You can find his full interview on Youtube
but be warned, it is completely in English without subtitles.
Assetto Corsa, iRacing, Raceroom, new sim racing champions
Finally, it appears from these interviews that specialized platforms for simulating car behavior are more useful for professional drivers or hobbyists than more open games like Gran Turismo 7 or Forza Motorsport 7. They and even the F1 series are considered more like games for those drivers looking for the pure realism that they find in games like Assetto Corsa Competizione, iRacing or Raceroom, a good tool to work on your knowledge of the track, braking and even, to a lesser extent, your settings.
But each of them admitted to holding such bestsellers as Gran Turismo 1 or Formula One. for when they were children, or still today, and enjoyed or still enjoy running. What justifies the compromises these games make for the general public? Maybe for beginners, fans of fast racing, car collectors. Certainly less for simracers equipped with a steering wheel, a cockpit and which, with the arrival of Assetto Corsa Competizione on the latest generation consoles and many iRacing or Raceroom developments, touch the new frontiers offered the most advanced car simulators that everyone can now play.