Formula One needs a real sim game for development purposes
Image Credit: Codemasters / EA Sports

The Real Reason Formula One Needs a Sim

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There’s no denying that Formula One is lacking an out-and-out sim title. But it’s not just the fans that suffer from this gap in the market, F1 itself needs a sim game.


With Codemasters, and more recently EA, behind the franchise, the F1 games are a great success. Formula One fans get to live the life of their favourite drivers all from the comfort of their homes. But those in search of a more realistic experience often find themselves looking elsewhere for their F1 fix.

In fact, Formula One doesn’t have a dedicated sim title. Whilst fans of the sport often cry out about this near-criminal gap in the sim racing market, it’s actually Formula 1 that suffers most. Here’s why a sim racing game would benefit the championship, especially in its current period of change.

The NASCAR Model

Over the last few years, NASCAR went through a similar overhaul as Formula One with its car regulations. Akin to F1, the goal was cars that can race closer and provide a better spectacle for fans. But, when looking at the last twelve months of racing, it’s clear to see that one series achieved that goal better than the other.

Today, the NASCAR Cup Series provides exciting racing at near-enough any track it visits. By contrast, Formula One had more processional races in 2022 than exciting ones. Now, the highest level in motorsport is once again planning for its next era of race cars.

In my opinion, this vast difference is all down to how NASCAR prepared for its new era. Whilst Formula One was boasting the radical difference in race craft and the effectiveness of ground effect racers, NASCAR was getting its hands dirty with proper tests.

According to reports, the Next Gen Cup car was extensively tested using the iRacing simulator before ever seeing the light of day. NASCAR’s organisers asked iRacing to recreate its planned car in the sim and put it through as many scenarios as possible. It went pack racing on an oval, followed in the slipstream on a street track and ran on low fuel in quali-spec.

LA Coliseum track in iRacing
LA Coliseum track in iRacing. Image Credit:

The same testing took place for new tracks joining the series’ calendar in recent years. The Chicago street circuit and LA Coliseum races were both trialed in iRacing before ever being announced. It’s this extensive sim work that saved NASCAR from making mistakes when bringing forth a new era for the Cup Series.

A Sim to Save Formula One

The aforementioned period of change has been ongoing in Formula One for a few years now, and is looking set to continue until 2026. Once again, big changes are coming to the series when the engine regulations switch to a heavily electrified formula. But, what if these changes don’t address F1’s current issues? Surely if the sport follows NASCAR’s lead, the new era will hit new heights of popularity.

In fact, I can see an official simulator working wonders when trialing different aspects of the upcoming power units. From various boost modes like KERS and Attack Mode to the way in which the ICE and electric motors operate in harmony. Every intricacy of the engines can be perfected without spending time and money developing trial engines.

An F1 car decked in Audi colours, dark grey with a red base and red rims.
Audi will join Formula One in 2026. Image Credit: Codemasters/EA Sports

The use for a simulator doesn’t just affect rule changes years down the line. One of the biggest talking points race-to-race in the current era is the effectiveness of DRS. The FIA and Liberty Media could trial different DRS zone lengths and positions with a simulator to great precision. If this were the case, no more would we be talking about how powerful DRS is. Racing fans would instead get to revel in overtakes completed solely on the brakes in exciting manoeuvres.

Aspects of the sport are obviously tested in various programs. CFD simulations and wind tunnel runs allow the FIA to perfect their view of upcoming rule changes. But a fully-fledged simulator would make for a centralised testing centre. Multiple cars of different performance windows would show what a real race would look like, rather than a single car running on a straight line.

Sure, the current format of F1 game appeals to fans of the sport and brings in new attention. But a simulator would ensure that new attention remains as it would improve the real world show.

Do you agree that Formula One would benefit from a sim title just as much as fans? Let us know by sending a tweet @OverTake_gg or leave a comment down below!

A petrol head and motorsports fan since the early days, sim racing has been a passion of mine for a number of years. The perfect way to immerse myself in my true dream job; racing driver. With lots of experience jotting down words about the car industry, I am happy to share my passion for pretend race cars here on Overtake!