The lines between ‘real-world’ and sim racing are getting blurred, with Germany’s motorsport governing body officially recognising sim racing as a motorsports discipline last year.
Now, Team Redline team principle Dom Duhan has said that he thinks every junior driver will need a sim racing profile soon if “they’re going to reach the top”.
Duhan also believes that the trend of sim racers graduating into real-life motorsport is needed because of the increase in costs to participate.
‘Real-world’ racing drivers are already seeing the benefit of virtual track time. Sim racing is becoming a great way to improve driving skill level, learn track layouts and get more track time (at a much cheaper cost than in the ‘real world’).
Formula 1 drivers Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are no stranger to the digital discipline, splitting their time between ‘real’ and virtual racing for their entire careers.
Racing for Team Redline, the pair recently won the iRacing Spa 24 hours (with some last-minute drama thrown in for good measure). Duhan expects results like this to become an increasing trend.
“I see nearly every major upcoming F1 or junior driver coming through the ranks needing to have a sim racing profile,” Duhan explained to Autosport.
“If they’re going to reach the top, they need to understand the community and the ecosystem, and they also need to engage with it.
“Once they do—if they’re a success—they have a massive fanbase of people that have seen them race before, have raced with them, and that will support them.
“Max and Lando had two of the best junior careers of all time. Simulators weren’t that good back in the day, they still had to have that raw ability, but sim racing is a good way of keeping your skills sharp and learning racecraft.
“These guys drive every two weeks [in F1], but you don’t get to race against people that much. When you do sim racing, you get to race against people every day on accurate, laser-scanned tracks.”
World’s Fastest Gamer winner and McLaren simulator driver Rudy van Buren and Redline’s Enzo Bonito have both competed at the Race Of Champions over the past two years.
Van Buren shone in 2018, beating current F1 driver Lando Norris, two-time World Endurance champion Timo Bernhard, and BMW DTM driver Joel Eriksson.
Earlier this year, Bonito beat 2016/17 Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi and IndyCar’s Ryan Hunter-Reay in Mexico.
“All the best talent will eventually come through sim racing, I’d imagine,” Duhan added. “It’s just so much broader in terms of the user base. It’s just about filtering that into motorsport.”
Featured image: Lando Norris in a promo shot for Mclaren F1’s World’s Fastest Gamer competition