The year is almost out, and there were plenty of talking points. However, not all were noteworthy for the right reasons. Here are the three that stand out to us.
Image credit: iRacing
Whether it’s rightful injustice, or someone just salty that their preferred driver didn’t know of a particular method that could have helped them win, controversy is everywhere in simracing. Fans of esports racing like any form of sport don’t like seeing cheating or unsporting behaviour. That is, of course, unless their love or hatred of one individual or team is greater than their appreciation for sporting integrity.
Every competitor will want to get as much of an advantage as possible, but some instances see them go over the line. Whether the fault lies on their shoulders or not, it nevertheless results in conflict. So without further ado, here are three of the most controversial moments in esports racing this year.
Sim Racers Touch Grass
Of course, no list of 2022 sim racing controversies would be complete without the infamous grass-dipping scandal. For those unaware, an exploit was found in the leadup to the Spa 24 hours iRacing Special Event where if a driver placed two of the car’s tyres into the grass, it would cool the tyres down immensely.
This would result in the tyres being able to take corners at higher speeds while incurring far less tyre wear. Of course, nearly every team was doing it. The advantage was around 0.5 seconds per lap, which certainly proved advantageous over the entire 24 hours. Some people didn’t want to partake in it, including successful iRacing team URANO eSports.
The fallout from the event was immense. The community criticised iRacing for allowing such a basic exploit to go unresolved in the first place. Many also deemed the lack of deterrents beyond a measly temporary ban to be unacceptable. In response to the controversy, iRacing went too far the other way.
In the aftermath of the PESC Qualifying Series round on the Silverstone circuit, drivers got bans for merely touching a single strand of digital grass. Thankfully, the whole affair was dealt with and the drivers who got bans had theirs lifted, and hopefully something like this never happens again.
The Iceman Loses his Cool
Whilst having never won an F1 Esports championship, Frederik Rasmussen is seen by some as the greatest F1 Esports driver of all time. The Danish driver was sixth in the first edition of F1 Esports when it was the single onsite grand final made up of three races in 2017. But when the series transitioned to a 10+ race season with the teams involved, Frede has really made his mark.
In 2018 when he joined the Red Bull fold, he finished third. Then, for four straight seasons, the unfortunate Dane has finished runner-up. He would have been runner-up in 2018 too had he not elected to sit out a few races, as he was the only one to hold a candle to dominant champion Brendon Leigh. 2022 could have been very different though if not for one incident.
In the Mexico City race that he had began on pole position for, after the pitstops he dropped behind Jarno Opmeer and another Dutchman filled his mirrors, that being Thomas Ronhaar. The first year driver made a robust move past Rasmussen, and the Dane felt wronged. So, he appeared to all the world to crash into his rival on purpose.
Not only did this result in his only non-points score of the season but also a grid drop for the next race. He was running P4 behind Ronhaar at the point he made that move, and he would have earned 12 points if he had stayed there. He finished the season eight points behind eventual champion Lucas Blakeley. Had he not done that, maybe it would have ended quite differently.
iRacing Loses IndyCar
This one is still fresh in the minds of many an iRacing player. As of 1 January 2023, the IndyCar series will have an exclusive licencing agreement which means that whilst the likes of cars used in the IndyCar series will remain on the service, it’s no longer possible to race them. Whether it’s the iRacing Special Event Indy 500 or an independent competition, racing IndyCar on iRacing is now done.
There is a lot of conflicting information as this is still an ongoing affair, but in a statement from iRacing Associate Producer Greg West, it would appear any community member hoping to do their own Indy 500 will no longer be able to do it on iRacing.
The Indy 500 isn’t the first major event that iRacing has lost. The 24 hours of Le Mans iRacing Special Event was last held in 2020, one week after the first running of the 24 hours of Le Mans Virtual on rFactor 2. Now because of the partnership between ACO and Motorsport Games, Le Mans is now an event exclusively for professional drivers.
The beauty of sim racing is that anyone can do it. Removing these events and creating these barriers that exist in the real world of motorsport does nobody any favours. It’s great for the companies but us fans suffer as a result.
What are some other esports racing controversies that happened in 2022? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!