In a race he entered having no championship points whatsoever, he knew he’d have an uphill battle to face in order to keep not only his reputation alive, but also his hopes for a championship victory. Despite the fact that he had won the race here last year, he had qualified in P3 this time in an extremely competitive series of only 22 cars. No rain was in sight and the conditions were perfect as the race got under way. For 56 grueling laps, he charged on. Using every bit of mental concentration and physical fortitude, he stuck to the racing line, hit all of his points, avoided the tire marbles, stayed out of trouble and kept his soft compound tires clean of grass and other debris. In the end, he cruised home to a dominating win with a 10 second lead over P2.

Right about now, you’re probably wondering what race I’m talking about and which driver I’m referring to. Is this iRacing, Assetto Corsa, Gran Turismo 6 or some other simulator or sim-cade software?

No.

This was the 2013 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix and the driver was none other than the original Red Bull, Fernando Alonso.

How much closer to reality can we take sim-racing?

The word “simulator” is defined as:

“any device or system that simulates specific conditions or the characteristics of a real process or machine for the purposes of research or operator training.”

With many die hard sim-racers as well as professional racecar drivers turning to iRacing because of their laser scanned tracks (see how they do it here) as well as their massive collection of laser scanned cars, many of these participants are often wondering what the future holds for sim-racing. What more can you add to an already successful online racing service to make it more realistic?

“I’m simply taking a look at the possibilities for the future of online sim-racing.”

DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that these are merely opinions and I’m simply taking a look at the possibilities for the future of online sim-racing.

In the description of the F1 race above, I listed many items which are not currently found on iRacing. One of them is the various types of tires which are used in not only F1, but also categories such as V8 Supercars and Indy Cars. I’m talking about soft, hard and wet weather type tires as well as various others. Would it be possible to have that integrated into the service? Doing so would greatly mix up the race strategies of many teams and drivers. Additionally, many real races require teams to use both hard AND soft tires throughout a race. Talk about strategy.

Is your brain churning with ideas and possibilities yet?

Some would argue, however, that it would be “too much realism” for the average sim racer and that this would only cater to the die-hard fans. Others would argue that it’s technically just another setup option and if you don’t want the added realism, there’s always the fixed setup series.

The many different tire types of Formula 1.

In reference to tires, another thing which is a MUST to mention is tire marbles. Otherwise known as tire debris, this is what falls off from the tires as they eventually wear down. You can even eventually see the physical racing line outlined by the tire marbles. Driving over these marbles causes you to lose traction, grip and most importantly, speed. There are several sim type games out there which feature tire marbles such as the F1 series by Codemasters. Keeping to their brand, they also feature all of the different F1 tire types, fuel mixtures and rain.

Following that train of thought on the subject of rain, iRacing moved us one step closer with the addition of fog on the track. This added feature allows drivers to experience which it’s like to race with limited visibility. However, real fog creates condensation as it’s simply a collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. It could be argued that if a driver hits a wet patch of grass, they would momentarily lose grip due to wet tires, correct? How insane would it be to participate in a close 45 minute (or in the case of the GT3 series, 70 minute) race and all of the sudden fog rolls in which eventually leads to rain? This would force an additional pit stop to change to wet tires.

Or would it?

Some would elect to stay out and fight through the rain depending on its intensity. This would surely shake the field up and add to realism.

So here’s where I step on some toes. Ready?

I understand iRacing is a business, one whose growth and long-term existence depends on revenues.  That said, many sim-racers I’ve spoken with (both iRacing subscribers and non-subscribers), believe iRacing is focused on expanding its collection of cars and tracks rather than developing many of the new features such as the ones above.

What is the proper balance between new content and new features?  What would you like to see?  More tracks?  More cars?  More features?  More (cow)bells and whistles?

As you can only be heard when you make your voice known, share your thoughts and comments below.

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5 Comments

Rain would be a dream to come true. But most of all, a “living” track would be the best 1st thing to get. This would attend both road and oval drivers, having to worry with a “green” track or tire marbles, dirt and grass. This would be the most interesting thing to have as a feature before rain.

Thiago Izequiel
February 22nd, 2014 at 1:57 am

I’m satisfied with the content offerings, I’m looking forward to audio improvements (burbles on the overrun), directX 11, physics improvements, mutli-class splitting algorithms (like Jonathan Butel’s), and the ability to keep a set of worn tires on the car.

Dan Rasch
February 24th, 2014 at 1:48 pm

For me new features like tyre compounds, changeable weather & a dynamic track surface are top of my list. By all means expand the car and track base a little but after the recent announcement of upcoming tracks and cars; I think they have a very strong line up moving forward.

Alex
February 27th, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Dynamic Track conditions and tire model.

Rollcenter
September 6th, 2014 at 1:42 pm

I’m not a member yet but looking into it. Just curios on when and if there will be dirt tracks?

Troy
September 16th, 2014 at 3:24 am

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