A green and dark silver Porsche being serviced in the pit box.
Image credit: Polyphony Digital

Could Gran Turismo 7 Add Online Driver Swaps?

Gran Turismo 7

Is it possible that Gran Turismo 7 could increase the amount of players in a multiplayer lobby and add a heavily requested feature at some point in the future?

Over the weekend, the top Gran Turismo 7 players were in Amsterdam competing in the World Series Showdown live event. Also in attendance were many prominent content creators in the sim racing scene. One may have caused a bit of a stir with a video they captured.

Kireth – who has over 52,000 subscribers on YouTube – was present at the event and caught something of interest on the big screen. The organisers were setting up the lobbies for races taking place, and the max player count shown on screen was 48.

One must note that being a LAN event, it uses a special developers-only build of the game. Furthermore, never will anything near 48 cars compete in one race at those events. There are only 12 sim rigs available for use.

But for years, Gran Turismo players have begged for an increase in lobby player numbers. Could the developers realistically give the community what it wants?

Gran Turismo 7: Falling Behind

Currently in Gran Turismo 7, up to 16 players can join open multiplayer lobbies. In the competitive Sport Mode though, that can go up to as high as 20. That’s already a decent amount of players. But many of GT‘s primary market rivals are a step ahead in terms of the player count in online races.

F1 23 accommodates up to 22 players and even Forza Motorsport 7 can carry up to 24. With them being on console, understandably hardware limitations mean you won’t see the numbers accessible in PC sim racing titles.

With all this being said, and knowing full well that this is a dev-only build of the game, Gran Turismo are certainly long overdue a lobby player count increase. Although 48 players from a maximum of 20 does seem like a rather big leap, almost whiplash inducing.

But what if they increase the maximum cars on track to 24, with another slot open for a driver to take over?

Endurance Racing in GT7?

In the Gran Turismo World Series onsite events, driver swaps are a common occurrence. With the drivers being there in person, they can do long races with up to three drivers performing stints. This has been present in the onsite events since the very beginning.

Yet Polyphony have never shown any intention of adding a feature like it to the games. Even with driver swaps playing such a big part in those on-site events, in stark contrast to the online GTWS races with drivers doing it all individually.

The multiple drivers in one team may not feature in official online GTWS competition races. But a few independent leagues manage to make it work, in spite of everything stacked against them.

Despite the game not currently featuring a driver swap feature, the Gran Turismo 7 league racing community doesn’t let that deter them. There’s a creative workaround done by many leagues. With the help of Alexandre Tonini – RaceDepartment contributor and organiser for the top GT7 league IGTL – he explained the process of how they run enduros in Gran Turismo.

Currently in organised GT7 enduro events, multiple races are divided up between drivers. After the first race is run, the next race has the second driver released however many seconds ahead of the next car, according to the previous race’s results. Either that, or they combine times from all drivers across the races individually.

It’s not exactly ideal and rather inconvenient. Therefore, a proper driver swap system would be a huge weight off the shoulders of the organisers and competitors.

There is clearly a huge demand for driver swaps in Gran Turismo 7. But even so, the console limitations probably make it difficult to implement. With GT7 on PS4 and PS5, perhaps if it were to happen, it would only be available for PS5 users.

How it would Work

Assuming driver swaps do get added to the game, the question becomes how they would work. We have a good idea of how it could work with 24 cars circulating on-track and one player per car present for a handover.

For this example, let’s say it’s a team of three drivers, but only two can be in the lobby. Driver 1 starts the race and Driver 2 is in the lobby with them. Driver 2 clicks on Driver 1 in the lobby and selects ‘Request Relay’, Driver 1 manually accepts that in the MFD.

A selection of races open in the Endurance Series section of Gran Turismo 5.
On Gran Turismo 5, you could do continuous endurance races and be able to take breaks. Image credit: Polyphony Digital

Then when Driver 1 pits, the handover takes place and Driver 2 takes over. After that, to allow Driver 3 to get in, Driver 1 will leave the lobby. Driver 3 can then join and be on standby to request the relay, spectating the race in the meantime.

Long haul endurance races have been present in prior Gran Turismo games’ single player campaigns. With advancements in hardware, it’s about time online driver swaps come to the Gran Turismo series. Then, the community can finally do endurance races the way they should be.

Do you think Gran Turismo 7 will add online driver swaps? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

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