Last weekend young Formula 1 stars Lando Norris and Max Verstappen teamed up to compete in the virtual 24 hours of Spa alongside two experienced sim drivers. The final result has been thrilling: with just 15 minutes to go, Max Verstappen's brake pedal came undone while he was in the lead.
"I thought he was joking -laughed Lando- he shouted 'Brake failure!" and I was like 'Oh, yeah... right..."
Despite this issue, their team managed to secure the win after the Dutchman crawled back to the pits and left the 'seat' to Norris.
"I think that sim racing helps us, in the end you do the same things you have to do in Formula 1 -confirmed Verstappen- Even if you're driving a virtual GT car, still you have to find the best line, breaking zones, you are working all the time on the set-up... you also have to keep 100% focussed to be consistent and at the same time you have to push as much as you can because you know that the drivers around you may be quicker than you. So in conclusion for me sim racing is a very good and fun way to stay sharp."
Lando Norris maily agrees with Verstappen's word, but he draws a thicker line between virtual and real life: "They're not the exact same thing, even as raw driving. There's always something you have to change to fully adapt to each of them. When you drive a real car for sure you are more cautious, while on the simulator you always try to push to the limit. End of the day though, it's a nice way to train, both regarding the driving style and your mental strenght, because in endurance sim racing your stint lasts a little bit longer than a Formula 1 race."
So is sim racing actual racing? Lando has no doubt about it: "It is! Sim racing is actual racing: the skills required are huge, the effort is there and the grid is highly competitive. But -he laughed- still driving in real life is way more fun."