This might be the most advanced F1 sim commercially available •

This might be the most advanced F1 sim commercially available •

At some point later this afternoon in Abu Dhabi, history will be written. Whether Lewis Hamilton clinches his eighth title and snatches the record of seven crowns claimed by Michael Schumacher or whether Max Verstappen wins his first remains to be seen, but whatever the outcome we are about to see the end of a era. With a new set of rules designed to bring the peloton together and slow them down – temporarily, at least – we’re about to say goodbye to the fastest racing cars to ever grace the planet.

So it’s somewhat timely that we’ve just received what I’m sure is the most advanced F1 simulation commercially available, thanks to the partnership between iRacing and the Mercedes AMG team that saw the W12 E arrive at service earlier this week. I can’t claim to have much firsthand experience of this most muscular iteration of the hybrid era, but I’ve been lucky enough to be by the track a few times and it certainly brings the speed and the supernatural performance of the fastest. F1 cars come to life more vividly than any other title.

With new tires and a low fuel load, it is perfectly possible to take Pouhon flat. If you’ve got any skills, that’s – I’m making a colossal cock in the eventual hotlap here.

Before we get into the specifics, however – and the details of the W12 in iRacing are sublime – it’s worth thanking Codemasters, if they feel bad about their own take on the car in F1 2021. By its very nature design, this game has a much wider appeal, but the underlying feel is the same – there’s the same ability to change direction at breakneck speed, how that transforms in an instant, and how it greedily engulfs everything. this tarmac with such an outrageous rhythm. It’s just said here in a slightly different way.

Decent setup helps, and maybe I’m cheating playing VR with all the extra immersion it entails (although maybe it’s about time Codemasters added VR support to their F1 games, but that’s a point for another day). Sitting in that same cockpit that has served as Sir Lewis’ office 22 weekends this year brings a bit of a thrill – the instrument panel reading is the same, with the brake balance taking over in droves every time you go. tweak it, while the knobs are all accurately mapped and in many cases serve the same purpose as on the real thing (the infamous magic brake knob is also there, putting some extra heat in the tires forward if you need it, or more likely leading you to lock down those fronts like Lewis did when he mistakenly hit it during the Baku reboot debacle earlier this year).

Seeing the vortices forming on the rear fender is a nice touch, and indicates the detail found here.

All of that to say that it’s an outrageously complex thing, with several systems to get it to work at its peak – although luckily it’s easy enough for idiots like me to still get a feel for what it is. able. Harvesting and deploying battery power is fairly easy to understand; battery runs out when you are at full throttle, with a handy charge indicator you have in the center of the dashboard, so you end up for a quick spin, just keep it at nine tenths before releasing all that power.

And oh my what a power. Simple lap time comparisons will tell you this is the fastest F1 race ever, but that doesn’t quite reflect the astronomical acceleration (and deceleration, for that matter) of those things, and coming back to tracks that I know intimately from inside a GT3 cockpit is an eye-opening education. Make your way to Spa-Francorchamps and feel the compression of the Eau Rouge soak up: dive into Pouhon, which normally requires a downshift and a deep breath, and the W12 will dare you to take the left double completely flat. It’s exhilarating.

2The couple are downright scandalous and ask for a delicate right foot not to buckle it.

It’s also a surprisingly easy thing to drive, although I should rather say it’s a surprisingly easy thing to drive at leisure. To get this thing to its limit or near its limit, it takes superhuman reactions with acute focus. Match that with the physical constraints that driving one of these rockets has to place on the pilot, and that’s not replicated in iRacing, and I have an even deeper respect for the craftsmanship and sportsmanship of the best in F1. After a dozen laps with a direct drive wheel, my shoulders hurt from holding the wheel so tightly, my eyes rolled back in the lingering shock of seeing all this speed. God knows how people like Max and Lewis do it, racing wheel to wheel while enduring the incredible physical forces that result from these cars’ outrageous performance.

Abu Dhabi will be the farewell party, and I’m glad we’ve had a season befitting these magnificent beasts (and fingers crossed, we’re getting a worthy final too, without some of the overkill drama of recent races). I will miss these cars when they are gone, and I’m sure in time they will be remembered alongside the turbocharged monsters of the ’80s and screaming V10s of the early’ 00s as F1 at its best. It makes me all the more grateful that the latest addition from iRacing allows me to appreciate this brilliant race of F1 car with such fidelity and detail.

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