On 2019-07-13, during the 2019 Formula 1 Silverstone weekend, I decided to try the 2017 F1 cars around that circuit. I played rFactor2 for 30 minutes, racing Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, on soft tires. I am yet to learn how to activate the DRS, which is inexcusable, since I have played this mod before.
It was fun, as always. I recorded this 01:32:xxx race lap, where I am in pursuit of Massa on a Williams, and being chased by Hamilton on a Mercedes. I managed to overtake Massa in a maneuver that from the next Sunday on, would be named a “Leclerc pass”, due to what happened in the real race.
I started a Formula 1 “Fantasy League” named “Team AM League since Austria.” I am quite late to this F1 fantasy thing, and I am not quite sure I understand it or its purpose. For example, I built my team ahead of today’s Austria GP, and my picks scored big (including the top 3: Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas), but last time I checked I had no points. Maybe that is because the results aren’t yet official, I don’t know. https://fantasy.formula1.com/leaderboards/league?league_id=158202
On the weekend of 2019-06-15+2019-06-16, there was yet another 24h Le Mans event. Curious about the circuit, using rFactor 2, I decide to run Alain Prost’s 1990 Ferrari (the famous “duck nose” car) around the 1991 layout of the circuit. Unfortunately, the 1990 mod I use only features the 1990 Ferrari cars (Prost and Mansell), so I injected the 1999 bolides (from a different mod) as the competition, in what became a very interesting racing spaghetti.
Long story short: I am 3 seconds slower than the fastest of the 1999 cars, which seems quite good to me 🙂
Here is a video of a 03:14:7xx lap around Le Mans. First, the outside camera, then the inside camera.
A warning: rFactor 2 seems to have a technical limit of 3 minutes per outside camera replay. This means that I cannot capture a full “Le Mans” lap with outside camera. For that reason the outside camera in this video not only skips 14+ seconds of action but also – and more relevant to the interested viewer – is actually the joining of the first ~14 seconds of a second lap the replay system managed to capture with the true footage of the inside camera.
One RF2 lap around the Nogaro circuit, France, driving Alain Prost’s 1986 McLaren. Two mistakes of mine and one accident of others easily cost 2 seconds, which means this 01:20:5xx lap could have been a 01:18:xxx lap. Notice that the 2019 Indycar machines lap this circuit in the 01:16:xxx. In other words: 30+ years ago, these turbo powered F1 cars were nearly at the level of performance of modern Indycars, at least believing RF2.
The video includes a “TV” view and, after that, the in-car camera.
Virtual racing in rFactor2. The track is “Monaco”, in its 1966 F1 layout. The car is a Gen2 #FormulaE. This is I at the wheel, completing the lap in under 01:27. The main reason I play rFactor2 is because of how physically demanding it is. It makes me sweat :). These Formula E cars seem quite hard to race on the limit.
If there is one gaming genre that can be unfair to those really pushing ahead, it is the “racing” genre. Regular gamers are used to absurdly unrealistic software, where vehicles respond like they’ve done since the ZX Spectrum days, meaning like indestructible spaceships that make good use of the surrounding structures to stay on course. The average gamer can’t be bothered to learn about precision driving and delicate handling, using proper input devices. Surprisingly, professional game critics usually adhere to the same shallow standards: the “F1” series from CodeMasters is a very good example of how ridiculously deceiving ratings and scores can be. The “F1” games score high in most specialized publications and have been celebrated in BAFTA events (!), but they are less interactive than playing with a toy train in rails.
CodeMasters’ “F1” looks wonderful, but plays horribly, tricking the user to think that he/she is in control, when in fact, the player’s freedom is severely limited; it is literally like driving on rails with narrow margins for anything creative. It is disgusting because for casual racers and other outsiders it appears a worthy experience. It is not a worthy experience, and it is unfair that the true racing simulators must flourish in niches, under the shadow of such miserable titles.
From my experience, one of the “true” simulators available today is “rFactor 2” (RF2). RF2 is fun, demanding and reasonably realistic. If you ever drove a competition car, you’ll probably notice the extra care: for example, tires start cold, then get warmer; tires will get flat spots if you lock them under braking; and the car will get damaged, and respond accordingly, even if in very subtle ways, if & when you hit obstacles.
RF2 tires’ physics is unique. I am not writing about different temperatures for each tire – I am writing about different temperatures across different regions of every tire! It feels “organic”, it feels true! The vehicles are responsive and the pedals truly analogue. It is literally a physical exercise to put consistent fast laps against 100% strong computer opponents: in fact, you’ll probably sweat and burn a significant amount of calories. For real!