Will the next F1 star be a sim racer?

sim racer.jpg
How long will it take to see a sim racer in Formula 1?

If this question was asked 10 years ago (maybe less), most people would say this would never happen. They would say it would have been the same as someone taking the leap from playing FIFA to the Premiership in the UK, or becoming a martial artist because they played Mortal Kombat.

Sim racing is different, it has evolved, hardware has improved, and real-world drivers actively take part in sim racing. The gap between real world driving and sim racing is getting smaller and perhaps one day there won’t be a gap at all.

We all know how drivers get into Formula 1. These days, being a talented driver isn’t enough - you need contacts, financial backing, sponsorships, and a lot of luck.

Currently F1 is an elitist sport and yes this is how it all started too, the pinnacle of motorsport was a place for rich playboys - but there was a brief time where drivers could make it if they had the talent. Perhaps sim racing is a window of opportunity for raw talent to make it back to F1?

It may no longer be a question; will we ever see a sim racer become an F1 driver? Maybe this is inevitable. Yes the younger generation of drivers have all taken part in sim racing actively for years, but could someone be discovered as a future star from sim racing alone?

Over recent years there have been countless examples of drivers taking the leap from driving in their bedroom, to driving a real car. Typically this happens as a result of a competition or a sim racer/content creator has become famous enough for a racing team to see an opportunity.

The potential of a sim racer in F1 could be happening right now. F1 teams could be looking at the sim racing world right now, looking for fresh talent. Sim racing is way more accessible than karting, which is typically where F1 drivers start out. Karting is expensive and requires a huge commitment from a family to finance such a hobby. Whilst it’s difficult to know how many children are karting around the world, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that they are more children and young teens playing racing games and taking part in sim racing. Which means the pool for potential talent is far greater.

It would be safe to assume that F1 scouts have at the very least looked at a number of potential drivers. I wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that the likes of Max Verstappen may have mentioned a few names to look out for during his time in sim racing.

Even if F1 drivers who are taking part in sim racing aren’t nudging the odd scout to look at different drivers, surely these teams must see the potential. Maybe this is why they invest so heavily in their esports teams, maybe they already have names in mind, maybe they’ve been grooming the next F1 star - who’s ready and waiting in the wings to jump right in.

How long do you believe it will take for a sim racer to make it to F1?
About author
Damian Reed
PC geek, gamer, content creator, and passionate sim racer.
I live life a 1/4 mile at a time, it takes me ages to get anywhere!

Comments

Max had his dad as advantage, otherwise he would not have driven F1.
That a real driver plays a game for fun and commercial purposes, is totally different than a gamer thinking he is as good as a real driver. Watch 30 minuted Imsa Daytona 24 for Iracing and the real race. Its an insult to real world racers to compare a game with reality. You all are playing games...
 
Max had his dad as advantage, otherwise he would not have driven F1.
That a real driver plays a game for fun and commercial purposes, is totally different than a gamer thinking he is as good as a real driver. Watch 30 minuted Imsa Daytona 24 for Iracing and the real race. Its an insult to real world racers to compare a game with reality. You all are playing games...
The principles of going fast in both are the same if the sim is good enough. The physical reality is different.

95% of sim racers could probably not get fit enough for a start. Then you've got the problem of speed in game vs speed in reality. I've had my ZX6R flat out and it's pretty fast, nowhere near F1 fast though. Some people won't have a head for real world speed. There's no fear in sim racing. Shaving time has no real world consequences.
 
Answering the headline: Well, we already have even multiple F1 world champions that have done casual simracing, and another that is a very active hardcore simracer. The difference is that back in 1996 when Villeneuve came to F1 people laughed when he said that he had used F1 games to learn the tracks, if we had had a Verstappen by then doing hardcore simracing and being as open about it as he is he would had been ridiculed and considered childish.

Nowadays we have top drivers taking part in hardcore simracing events competitively and some of them advocating for us. Max and Lando are hardcore simracers, Bottas was one hardcore simracer once, Kimi likes AC, Leclerc does ACC from time to time, Sainz does gran turismo races, so we already have simracer F1 stars.

Answering about a simracer Jumping from a PC directly to a F1 with no motorsport previous experience?, that is never going to happen. No simracing championship is ever going to grant a single point towards a superlicence. A driver jumping from simracing to formula renault or regional F4 after only some testing on karts to acclimatize him to g-forces and the feeling of a real car?, maybe.

But the FIA is never going to allow to jump an inexperienced driver into a ultra-high performance car and put into potential risk the lifes of other drivers and stewards, and allowing themselves to be subjected to potential legal liabilities if a driver that had not competed before ends up having an accident killing himself or others, it would also be a political and PR nightmare.

The FIA didn't even allowed 9 times WRC champion Sebastien Loeb to get a superlicense despite: his huge experience in all kind of appalling conditions and terrain surfaces, had previously finished 2nd overall on LeMans 24h, raced some races in GT cars and having done a successful, uneventful and competitive F1 test day and having fulfilled all the requirements needed to be granted a superlicence at that time.

He was denied a superlicense because the FIA didn't considered him experienced enough for F1, a simracer is going to need to escalate at least the single seater ladder to earn the superlicense points needed to reach F1. A simracer has no chance to skip all the karting and single seater formation years and jump just into a F1 seat, at best he could skip the karting experience.
 
Not unless motorsport changes drastically in how it works. It's all a money game, not a merit game.

It is true for 85% of the drivers.

For the top 15%, the Verstappen level types, they can get to the top without having to spent a fortune.

But being fast is not enough, you need to be a phenomenon.
 
Any F1 driver can be at least a very good sim racer, a very tiny percentage of very good sim racers could possibly be a f1 driver.

In sim racing you just have to care about the “technique”, there is virtually zero mental, physical and emotional pressure.
It’s like comparing throwing shots all alone at the gym at a fixed target vs throwing the game deciding shot at the last second of the Superbowl, while you are running in a full stadium, exhausted, half injured, and a couple of 120kg killers hunting you down.
 
Answering the headline: Well, we already have even multiple F1 world champions that have done casual simracing, and another that is a very active hardcore simracer. The difference is that back in 1996 when Villeneuve came to F1 people laughed when he said that he had used F1 games to learn the tracks, if we had had a Verstappen by then doing hardcore simracing and being as open about it as he is he would had been ridiculed and considered childish.

Nowadays we have top drivers taking part in hardcore simracing events competitively and some of them advocating for us. Max and Lando are hardcore simracers, Bottas was one hardcore simracer once, Kimi likes AC, Leclerc does ACC from time to time, Sainz does gran turismo races, so we already have simracer F1 stars.

Answering about a simracer Jumping from a PC directly to a F1 with no motorsport previous experience?, that is never going to happen. No simracing championship is ever going to grant a single point towards a superlicence. A driver jumping from simracing to formula renault or regional F4 after only some testing on karts to acclimatize him to g-forces and the feeling of a real car?, maybe.

But the FIA is never going to allow to jump an inexperienced driver into a ultra-high performance car and put into potential risk the lifes of other drivers and stewards, and allowing themselves to be subjected to potential legal liabilities if a driver that had not competed before ends up having an accident killing himself or others, it would also be a political and PR nightmare.

The FIA didn't even allowed 9 times WRC champion Sebastien Loeb to get a superlicense despite: his huge experience in all kind of appalling conditions and terrain surfaces, had previously finished 2nd overall on LeMans 24h, raced some races in GT cars and having done a successful, uneventful and competitive F1 test day and having fulfilled all the requirements needed to be granted a superlicence at that time.

He was denied a superlicense because the FIA didn't considered him experienced enough for F1, a simracer is going to need to escalate at least the single seater ladder to earn the superlicense points needed to reach F1. A simracer has no chance to skip all the karting and single seater formation years and jump just into a F1 seat, at best he could skip the karting experience.
I think you're missing the point.

No sim racer will ever jump from the sim to an F1 car direct, but sim racing could be a talent pool.
 
The principles of going fast in both are the same if the sim is good enough. The physical reality is different.

95% of sim racers could probably not get fit enough for a start. Then you've got the problem of speed in game vs speed in reality. I've had my ZX6R flat out and it's pretty fast, nowhere near F1 fast though. Some people won't have a head for real world speed. There's no fear in sim racing. Shaving time has no real world consequences.
Yup Simracing will be a "stepping stone" only, but many (who for whatever reasons couldn't get into serious Karting) will have the fitness/mental fortitude to make a go of real racing IMO.

+1 on the ZX6R...I had 3 of them and took one up to 130mph..scary as hell, holding on took extreme effort (not helped by the screen and I'm not tiny like a real bike racer!!! Acceleration was fun though 0.60 in around 3 seconds for (at the time) £6.5K!! 70mph in 1st gear....I miss my bikes!!!!
 
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90% Business, 10% Racing !!! Money is King !! Not a fantasy world we live in. Glad sim racing is getting the recognition it deserves, but still you need money sponsors and far at the bottom talent :coffee:
And you would never jump in the top seat like that, this not how it works !
 
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Of course the one thing sim racing doesn’t replicate is the g forces and the fear of hurting yourself…

However, sim racing is a much cheaper route than “real” racing. Therefore it has the potential to reach a much larger number of people. Plus, you can practice as many hours as you want!

It isn’t inconceivable that the very best sim racers could be scouted into lower formulas, say F4 then climb the ladder to F3 then F2, then…?

Having said that, I think endurance racing might be a more likely / realistic route for sim racers at the moment, considering the content in the best sims we currently have.
 
you sure someone playing GTA with a wheel in third person view while seated 3 meters from a 24" screen is the right representation for this article? :coffee:


that's basically any sport that requires specialised equipment

Not even close.
If you’re not exceptionally good and have to pay your way up to the top classes, we’re talking about millions here.
No other sport on the planet gets even in the same order of magnitude.
 
90% Business, 10% Racing !!! Money is King !! Not a fantasy world we live in. Glad sim racing is getting the recognition it deserves, but still you need money sponsors and far at the bottom talent :coffee:
And you would never jump in the top seat like that, this not how it works !
Currently.
 
Leaving the money aspect aside I still don't see how this could work.

You go from playing F1 directly to driving F1 ? Not going to happen in my opinion. I don't think one can step into F1 without going through the developement of driving at least F3 and F2. That person also has to be rather young. Any teams looking at the sim racing pool would not know about the driver they are looking at. They might find someone who is an ace on the sim but is already in his 30s. There are too many variables. Health and fitness plays a huge part. Sitting for two hours in front of your screen is a massive difference to sitting two hours in a race car, F1 or else.

And let's be honest, there are millions upon millions auf sim racers world wide. And how many in the last couple of years have become real world racers ? A dozen ? That's a microscopic sample.
 
Premium
Well... I see Max as a Simracer (and he's not the only one of his generation), since that is his favourite hobby. So, to me, this has already happened. We currently have a Simracer as F1 World Champion. :D But I understand what you mean, that someone STARTS from Simracing and goes all the way up to Formula 1. :thumbsup: I guess we'll have to see how far our Jimmer goes...
 
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Premium
One thing I am curious about when reading the article is the countless examples. Especially if you limit those to people who have started sim racing at a young age, became really good at it, and then made the jump to real racing without ever doing any karting or other real life motorsport. I think you will more commonly find a scenario where someone started karting at a young age, became really good at that, ran out of money, then went into sim racing and then made the jump back into a real car again. Happy to be proven wrong btw!
 
Funny, some wannabe ' racing gamer ' try so hard to stand out their points.

' Man, I'm faster then max but because of some blah2 this, blah2 that '
' F1 need to changes blah2 ' etc
LOL
 

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