Modern race cars feature complex high-tech systems, giving drivers more to think about behind the wheel. Is this something you enjoy in sim racing, or do you prefer a simple driver experience?
Roll bar adjustments, hybrid deployment, throttle maps, driver aids, push-to-pass, on-board diff settings. What do all these terms have in common? They are all fairly recent additions to the world of motorsport, brought about by progress in the worlds of engineering and design.
All this tech is designed to help a driver as they go through a race distance. In many cases, they help make a spectacle out of real world motorsport. But when it comes to sim racing, modern high-tech race car systems may be more polarising. In fact, as real-world cars gain more complex systems, so does sim racing.
Many enjoy managing on-board systems. Others, however, prefer to drive in the purest sense and let the car sort itself out. On what side of this debate do you stand?
High-Tech Cars in Sim Racing
As aforementioned, there is a current rise in high-tech cars in sim racing. This is due to the modern push towards electrification and progresses in engineering. But it is also down to advancements in the gaming industry allowing developers to better simulate such complex cars.
One great example would be the recent release of Reiza’s Formula HiTech racers to Automobilista 2. These models, recreating the 1992 and 1993 seasons in Formula One with their active suspension and driver aids are mind-boggling. In the Gen 2 variant, one gets access to DRS (though it was not called that back then) as well as impressive Traction Control and ABS. Whilst these are minor elements, thinking about dropping the rear at every straight potentially takes away from the mental capacity needed to actually keep the cars on track.
In a more modern sense, iRacing recently completed the 2023 line-up of IMSA GTP racers. Whilst not entirely accurate, they feature immensely intricate hybrid systems. As a general rule of thumb, one need not touch the hybrid settings. But a driver that can master the Brake Migration and Roll Bar tools will see a benefit over the course of a stint.
Ever since 2010, Formula One has been an advocate for hybrid technology in motorsport. In fact, KERS was a major part of the sport before it dropped the K in 2014. At this point, ERS became a more integral part of the power units. To keep with the times, the F1 games have since featured an Overtake button. However, rather than use it for making moves, top players seemingly build up a routine each lap. For those not quite up to speed with the game, this is a tough barrier to pass.
Finally, the rFactor 2 British Touring Cars feature the recent inclusion of hybrid systems. This provides driver with 15 seconds of additional electric boost per lap at the push of a button. Managing this in a precise way, to allow for passing opportunities can be rather strategic. But when fighting hard, forgetting to hit the button is not unheard of.
Editor’s Take – Nay
Writing this, I am sure you can figure out where I stand on the debate. In fact, before testing the new AMS2 cars, I knew that the driving experience would not be enjoyable to me. Indeed, that was the case. Sure, hitting the DRS button on straights is not much. But remembering to do so pulled me out of the experience. Forgetting to disengage the system before braking ironically pulled me out of the circuit.
Whilst I could certainly get used to driving these more complex cars, it is not something I absolutely want to learn. In fact, I would prefer not to spend my rainy Sunday afternoons reading page upon page of instruction manuals.
As a result, I am more likely to drive the Gen 1 cars that do not feature as much tech. Sure, this means I will struggle to win races, even in single player. But that is a fun experience in my book.
I have the same experience with the BTCC cars in rFactor 2. Not a fan of the 2022 and 2023 models with their hybrid tech, I stick to the 2021 cars. This does hinder the satisfaction of watching the likes of Sutton and Ingram battle it out in 2023 only to go and race them in different cars. But the experience is close enough.
Surprisingly however, I do enjoy the GTP models in iRacing. As an avid endurance fan, these are cars that get my juices flowing. But I think that the reason I can get along with their tricky systems is the frequency to which one must make adjustments.
In touring cars and open wheelers, races usually last no more than an hour and a half. Therefore, their systems are all about optimising each lap. The GTPs on the other hand may require Brake Migration adjustments towards the end of a stint. Never would one change hybrid deployment settings as frequently as in single-seaters. Therefore, the driving experience is that bit more pure.
What is your take on high-tech cars and systems in sim racing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!