Dom Duhan on Driving in a Formula One Simulator

Yesterday, I posted a first story on Team Redline’s Dom Duhan who got the chance to prove himself in a professional-grade Formula One simulator of an undisclosed Formula One team.

As promised, Dom has taken some of his time to write about his experience, explaining how the high-tech simulator compares to simulations we use every day.

By: Dom Duhan

The F1 sim felt similar to what we already drive (it wasn’t RF Pro, but a bespoke sim) I acclimatised to the sim pretty quickly despite not driving it before. I found it surprising that it was so close to what we already drive, however learning nuances on the fly was a little difficult! I decided as soon as I got it to really attack it.

Firstly careful of kerbs, I found that out with a couple of crazy moments testing the limits in the first 8 laps or so, gravel traps with high FFB and the motion platform are entertaining to say the least.  Even running a couple of wheels on the kerbs vibrated the whole platform so much it was difficult to keep in a straight line.  I was worried about the physicality with the high FFB of it before I started but after a few laps you get used to the forces, though I wasn’t as smooth as normal and the car was harder to counter-steer.

The car feel on track was very good, and due to the motion platform coupled with the strong force feedback, I received much more in the way of sensory input.  I would say that it felt like F1C, high speed corners in general were quite easy to take, you could control the snappy moments if you predicted it.  The slower corners were more tricky getting the power down and generally much more fun, you had to be aggressive to be fast however.

Braking was literally slam on the brakes as hard as possible then release as the aero effect reduces.  I had to match the RPM to down shift which was a bit tricky at first as all I wanted to do was slam down 4 gears haha, in fact this took me some time to get used to and I still didn’t get it right at the end.

The brakes were important, firstly I used a load cell brake, felt great actually. What I did find funny was the sim racer technique of using the brake to turn the car with a little bit of throttle worked well, though I didn’t change the setup (I would have put more rearward brake).  The engineer told me that they never like to run brakes to the rear, brakes are determined by how much locking there is on the front, so once the fronts no longer lock-up that should be the optimum brake bias.  I said that sim racers use the brakes more for steering into a corner and run low brake bias – his response was that in a real life situation it was too dangerous to run brake bias too far back.

So after running around 3×8 laps and feeling very ill from the Field Of View bizarrely,  I was satisfied with the performance.  I know its easy to say but without this I could have put in about 100 laps and I think I would have been much faster. Still there were a few surprised people there.

Lastly, the engineer told me that simulators will be as important as wind tunnel technology in future, so much can be tested at a cheaper cost using simulators over track days.  The sim is also perfect for drivers to get used to the controls in the real cars, something as sim racers we know about, however most F1 drivers don’t have a keyboard in the cockpit hehe.  I can foresee simracing teams being involved with testing for F1 teams, providing telemetry, replays even rudimentary setups.

GTOmegaRacing.com

  • http://simracing.in.ua Pandamasque

    Now that was really interesting. Thank you very much!

    I wonder if the FOV was too high or too low (in rF terms)?

  • carbonfibre

    I wonder what the most realistic F1 mod for rFactor is in terms of overall difficultly then, compared to the professional sim?

    It’s safe to say LMT’s 09 F1 is the most difficult to drive (not including setups) and F1RFT would be one of the easiest imo because of the high grip levels.

    The problem with rFactor’s FOV I think is that you can’t get a sense of speed unless it’s really wide and then that tends to make the tracks and cockpits look way too squashed and even flatter.

  • digitalxni

    I can’t see F1 teams employing sim racers to use the simulator when they have test drivers and young driver programs. :tongue:

  • commodore

    Yeah, I too would like to know which rF F1 mods could be considered realistic and which one’s not.

  • pleb

    “It’s safe to say LMT’s 09 F1 is the most difficult to drive (not including setups) and F1RFT would be one of the easiest imo because of the high grip levels.”

    LMT isn’t as difficult as most people make out, its just the default setup is piss-poor, with both front and rear wings at maximum, and very low diff settings which allow for the wheels to spin idependent of one another (causing snap-oversteer). Most people who don’t bother playing with their setup will find it difficult.

    I am also surprised about some of what Dom said about the braking/downshifting. (surprised by the fact that he was surprised that he couldn’t get away with using his own sim technique on a proper sim) This has always been a pet peeve of mine in Rfactor, and thats when i see a video of someone putting in very quick times, but by having a bizzare braking/downshifting driving style that just wouldn’t work in real life, as stated by the unknown engineer in the article.

  • jux

    pleb: (surprised by the fact that he was surprised that he couldn’t get away with using his own sim technique on a proper sim) This has always been a pet peeve of mine in Rfactor, and thats when i see a video of someone putting in very quick times, but by having a bizzare braking/downshifting driving style that just wouldn’t work in real life, as stated by the unknown engineer in the article.

    Dom didn’t say he was surprised by the downshifting. He said he found it funny that his braking technique DID work well with the F1 sim. Funny because there’s always plenty of people criticizing fast sim racers for using unrealistic braking techniques.

  • joseki

    Thank’s for the article, I wish we could get more of these.

  • pleb

    jux: Dom didn’t say he was surprised by the downshifting. He said he found it funny that his braking technique DID work well with the F1 sim.

    I think you need to re-read that paragraph.

  • bob

    Good and interesting post from the Team redline and Dom.

    @Montoya: I understand you want VirtualR to be famous, but for what I have read on team redline forum it seems that the answer is not for your site (even if you have re-write your yesterday comment to fit your statement). :sd: (Who said: Hand taken in the bag …) :sd:

  • http://www.srrs-racing.net/ ermax18

    pleb, which paragraph? Yours or the article? In the article he said he was surprised that braking deep and hard into the turn helped rotate the car and wished he could run more rear bias. There is nothing surprising about that. In real life cars turn in better when you unload the rear and even more when the rear is borderline locking up. The difference is in real life you wouldn’t push the envelop as much. Not with the bias anyways. Not that it wouldn’t work, it’s just risky.

  • pleb

    ermax18: In real life cars turn in better when you unload the rear and even more when the rear is borderline locking up. The difference is in real life you wouldn’t push the envelop as much. Not with the bias anyways. Not that it wouldn’t work, it’s just risky.

    That’s the point, they don’t do it for real in F1 because it won’t be beneficial. Having the rear move around while your braking is, at best, going to ruin your tires, at worst, you’ll end up doing a 180 in tight apex’s, or on corner exit.

    I also said the downshifting thing surprised me, this in particular:

    “Braking was literally slam on the brakes as hard as possible then release as the aero effect reduces. I had to match the RPM to down shift which was a bit tricky at first as all I wanted to do was slam down 4 gears haha, in fact this took me some time to get used to and I still didn’t get it right at the end.”

    This is my gripe with some drivers in rfactor F1 mods. I’ve seen some video’s where they are flying along in 7th, hitting the limiter, then come to a slow apex, they slam on the brakes and at the very same moment, downshift 6 gears in the blink of an eye. This type of method will get you nowhere but into a barrier in real life. and was surprised that dom didn’t already know this would be a problem in a proper simulator.

  • http://www.bsimracing.com BSR-WiX

    nice to read some hands on info.. and from what we might call the ” ambassadors of Simracing” i really enjoyed it.

  • http://www.virtualr.net Montoya

    bob: Good and interesting post from the Team redline and Dom.@Montoya: I understand you want VirtualR to be famous, but for what I have read on team redline forum it seems that the answer is not for your site (even if you have re-write your yesterday comment to fit your statement). :sd: (Who said: Hand taken in the bag …) :sd:

    Uhm, this has nothing to do with me wanting VirtualR to be “famous”.

    I asked Dom if he would be willing to write something up for a guest article and this is what he send me. :wink:

  • http://www.teamredline.co.uk domd

    Hey guys

    Thanks for your kind comments all:) It was a great experience:)

    Just to backup Montoya I wrote a post on our forum then sent him the same one but spellchecked, sorry i was being a bit lazy eheh.

    Just a quick point to pleb, I didn’t explain the shifting technique very clearly! What I meant to say was the sim wouldn’t even let me change into gear without the RPM dropping quite substantially (Does NK Pro do this? I think so) In most sims you can blip to rev match but not in this case, I couldn’t use any engine braking whatsoever.

    Dom

  • paupau

    Montoya:
    Uhm, this has nothing to do with me wanting VirtualR to be “famous”.I asked Dom if he would be willing to write something up for a guest article and this is what he send me.

    Along that way, we would very much like to see more of these out here on Virtualr. Interesting read.
    Congrats on a wonderful article :roll:

  • GeraArg

    carbonfibre: I wonder what the most realistic F1 mod for rFactor is in terms of overall difficultly then, compared to the professional sim?It’s safe to say LMT’s 09 F1 is the most difficult to drive (not including setups) and F1RFT would be one of the easiest imo because of the high grip levels.The problem with rFactor’s FOV I think is that you can’t get a sense of speed unless it’s really wide and then that tends to make the tracks and cockpits look way too squashed and even flatter.

    Would be preferable to compare the CTDP 2006 or CART Factor, these mods are “closer to reality” than the rest… :grin:
    If a mod is hard to drive, not mean that it is realistic :wink:

  • bob

    Uhm, this has nothing to do with me wanting VirtualR to be “famous”.

    Anyway, it deserve :lol:

  • Sensekhmet

    Gearbox and engine models are two things that need most improvement in sims I think. While suspension and tire models are pretty advanced, engine and transmission are simplistic and it shows. One issue is ‘the faster you downshift, the faster you stop’ quirk that’s most visible in GTR2. While it’s true that you can ‘lean on the gears’ while braking (so to speak) in some competition gearboxes, it simply is not true in every case and there are the issues of locking up the driven wheel(s) (depending on how much locking the diff has), shaving cogs, burning the clutch or blowing up the engine if you overdo it. In GTR2 I can race for 3 hours ‘leaning on the gears’ while braking and the car doesn’t mind at all.

  • Zenitchik

    Very interesting read!
    Thanks to Dom, Top Gear and everyone involved

    Would be nice to see more of this kind in the future :P

    I followed the link at the top and found the top gear article here
    http://www.teamredline.co.uk/other/topgear_f1.pdf

  • http://iRacing.com Marcus Caton

    Who does Dom think he is, Setups to Professional F1 Drivers… The nerv Lolz

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