There is nothing more satisfying than going round a turn faster than before in sim racing. Or beating your lap by any amount of time. You’re always striving to beat your previous best. But how exactly can you improve? Why are other racers beating your times by a godly amount? Here are some tips that I use to gradually improve. By no means have I made it to pro, but these tips have certainly helped me.
Manage Your Expectations
if your playing online and see other racers beating you while you are stuck in the mid-pack or even at the back it can be easy to be disheartened. Depending on your age it is unlikely you will be as fast as Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher. There are some techniques that they use that need to be trained into you from a very early age.
So my first bit of advice is to set realistic goals. Whatever game you are playing, don’t look at others. Focus on beating your times not anyone else’s. This will give you an attainable goal that will keep you motivated. By analysing your own abilities you can meet the small goals you set.
Stick with Few Variables
Racing drivers of today didn’t spend time driving every racing discipline under the sun. They zeroed in on what they wanted to do and stayed within that discipline. For example, most F1 drivers started go-karting then moved on to single-seater cars. Very few of them drove other types of vehicles.
What this means for you, is to decide what discipline you want to focus on. It can be single-seaters, GT, LMP, trucks, whatever it is you need to focus on driving those vehicles. For me, I am focusing on GT cars in Assetto Corsa Competizione.
Next, take a track at a time. Focus on one track and race it. Keep going around that track until you hit a metaphorical wall where you can no longer improve. This leads to my next tip.
Once you’ve got the track and the car. And you’ve done a few laps. It’s time to check on others who have gone round the track in the same conditions. There are many resources where you can get this data. If your playing on a game with a decent AI, spectate them while they go round the track. Watch their telemetry. If the game you are playing doesn’t have telemetry data then you’ll have to pay even closer attention.
To start with check which gear they are entering the corner in. This will give you a ball point speed to enter the turn in. Also, check the line they take. It may be slightly different to the ideal line for a reason. If you can print off the track or do a rough sketch of the track. Next to each turn write the gear that you need to enter the turn. This should help you establish better entry speeds.
Unless you are streaming or recording a let’s play, you need to minimise distractions. This will depend on your circumstances. If you can, wear headphones as this will keep out all noise and will allow you to pay attention to the noises that the car makes.
Another distraction is being uncomfortable. If your seating position is not supporting you in the correct way. Half your thoughts will be dominated by the pain it is causing. There are a number of ways to improve the driving position but remember we are all unique so you need to figure what’s best for you.
Keep Hydrated & Fed
If you are doing a long stint, say a few hours. You’re not going to be able to get up from your rig and get a drink or snack. So make sure you have them to hand. I covered hydration in a previous post such as what and how to get liquids. But food can be just as important if you are only drinking water. And if you forget, I hope there is someone who can do it for you while playing. Obviously, if your playing offline this isn’t an issue.
I’m not going to preach to you about healthy eating. But most healthier foods will fill you up and release energy more slowly. So that you remain full for longer and have fewer digestion problems which can be a huge pain when you’re trying to focus on racing. Depending on your budget you could cook up some healthy recipes or buy ready-made snacks.
There are many more tips out there, you need to go looking for them. However, I can recommend one:
Please note that the links to Amazon are affiliate links. I receive a small commission should you choose to purchase via my links.
It has a great many tips that I still use to this day and is really useful. Other resources include watching Sim Racers on YouTube. Watching interviews of your favourite drivers. Taking driving courses.
Use 100% Grip
Your tyres have a maximum grip capability which you will learn as you go round the track. In order to be fast you need to be using 100% or at least close to that figure of their capability. But if you go over that figure you will oversteer or understeer depending on your car.
When entering a corner gradually lift off the acceleration while you start pressing down on the brake. Once you have gotten off the acceleration completely and you’ve slowed down enough, begin to turn the steering wheel. The steering wheel input will also use up the grip of your tires. So gradually release the brake while you put more and more turning input. Once you hit the apex, you can begin to reduce the steering angle and start applying the acceleration. Using this method you should always have the tires close to maximum grip.
Set up FOV
FOV, or Field Of View is a setting in most sim-racing games that allows you to define how much you can see of the race track. Surprisingly you don’t want a huge FOV, as this distorts the image and makes it harder to coordinate turns and know when to start different phases of cornering.
Your ideal FOV, is determined by monitor size, the number of monitors (1 or 3), distance from the monitor(s) and the game itself. The best way to find this figure is to use the generators online to provide the correct FOV. This one is particularly good and you should use it.
By using the optimal FOV, you should now be able to hit those apexes a lot more consistently and have more confidence when taking riskier moves. It also helps shave valuable lap times.
Consistancy and Paitence is King
When you first boot up Assetto Corsa Competizione, consistency is drilled into you in the career mode. You don’t need to be fast, you just need to be consistent. As long as you gradually build up your speed and can hit those apexes at the highest speed you can manage you will most likely move up the positions due to other racer’s errors. Turn 1 of lap 1 is a great example of this. Most drivers will bundle in to try and get the best ideal line. But they often end up crashing into each other.
This leads to my second point. Be patient. If you are gaining on another racer, and your fast enough to take them on the corner. It is often better and less risky to wait until the following straight. After all, you can’t score any points if you don’t finish the race. And taking each other out can have consequences on others opinions on you. Again lap 1, turn one is the biggest risk of ending your race early. Often backing off completely will result in you jumping up a few places. This happened to me once where I was position 27, everyone crashed and I ended up in P4.
Be A Good Sportsman
People would generally rather have slower but fairer drivers than fast but unsportsman. Most decent sim racing games will penalise a driver who cuts corners or crashes into others. But also if you crash into another racer this can lead to an end of their race as well penalties applied to them. Race director AI’s are getting better but it often gets it wrong.
So if you do crash into someone else, don’t expect them to want to race with you again. Should it get bad, you’ll end up racing on lobbies that other unsporting drivers which aren’t fun at all. Be fair, be social and most of all have fun.
Join Racing Communities
Depending on the sim racing game you play, there are sure to be many communities that you can join. The first place I would check would be the game’s subreddit. Usually, the subreddit will include links to either their own hosted discord or links to other racing communities.
By joining a community you will be able to participate in more regular races with other drivers. Which drive your confidence up even if you don’t finish highly.
Another bonus is that other racers may be able to give you support on how to improve. And you never know you may make a few friends along the way.
Most sim racing games have assists that make it easier for beginners. To begin with these can be quite useful for getting you up to speed. But, they do have their limits. Generally in most titles, a manual gear box will be quicker than a automatic one.
Don’t rush to turn them all off. Gradually turn each one off once you can be consistent and stay on track. Once you’ve mastered one less assist move on to the next.
I always keep the ideal line on when learning a new track, but once I know it like the back of my hand I switch it off as it will only slow me down and keep my focus off of the environment
At the end of the day Sim racing, just like Real life racing is for fun. If you find yourself not enjoying racing for whatever reason then you are not going to improve. It may be your racing in the wrong division. It may be that you have assists turned off that you need, in order to improve.
There can be a number of reasons, and if you can’t figure it out maybe ask the community. We are all in this to enjoy ourselves. Some of us get lucky and get paid to do it. But this shouldn’t be your goal to start with.