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So how does a real F1 car compared to an F1 car in a sim? Well, in this video, I’m going to try and beat my own outright real-world lap record in Assetto Corsa. I’m also going to compare the two pieces of footage side by side so you can see just how close the sim is to the real world. Now, I set this lap record all the way back in 2004, in a 1997 Benetton F1 car that I used to drive. The lap record was a 38.032 on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. And Porsche actually went there with the incredible 919 to try and beat the lap record and unfortunately for them, at least, they missed it by just two-tenths of a second. 

So I drove this Benetton for the whole of the 2004 season in a championship called Boss GP, which is for ex-Formula 1 cars that are up to maybe 5 years old. What a fantastic car, it was 720BHP, lots of grip and we went around circuits in the UK and Europe. At the time, I was only 18 years old, which was a pretty young age for a driver back then to be driving a Formula One car. You know, obviously now it’s pretty commonplace for younger drivers to be in an F1 seat at that age. I was a young driver back then and these cars are difficult to drive, I’ve been lucky enough to drive from a 1982 F1 car all the way up to 2013 I think is the most recent car that I’ve driven. For me, this sweet spot is with these mid to late 90s F1 cars, because they’ve got the speed, they’ve got the grid, but they are difficult things to drive. They don’t like the bumps, they don’t like the kerbs, you feel pretty exposed in the cars. Your head is up and out there, a bit different to how they are now and so they feel a lot more raw. They feel a lot more, frankly, scary when you initially get them before you get used to them. 

So in terms of the comparison, I have to say that this model, which is in Assetto Corsa, the one that I have downloaded, it was a mod, was pretty good straight out of the box, actually, it felt pretty similar. Obviously, you don’t have the G force, the brake pressure because of the setup that I’ve got with the Fanatec stuff here isn’t as heavy as it would be in the car like this. You really have to stamp on the brakes, but the dynamics of the car, the way that it was working and the way that it was feeling was pretty similar. I will say that this model was pretty light on the rear, so when I went to turn it in, the rear of the car was lighter than I would have expected, I did try and change it with setup, but aside from that, it was pretty good. 

So you can see here, I did 13 laps before this session, that’s all I had done just to try and get a feeling for the car, try and find out how much grip it’s got. See what it’s like in those quicker corners, which is where it was struggling at the rear. It didn’t have the aero at the back of the car and to be honest, I put the wings up and everything like that, but it still didn’t have quite enough grip. 

So I’ve just done a 38.4 just four-tenths of a second off my lap record. Now, the lap record was done in a race, for it to be an official lap record in the real world, you have to do these lap records in a race. So that means that the car was full of fuel and obviously, you’ve got a bit more of a race pace set up in the car. In the sim, I did drop all the fuel out of it and just made it good for one lap. But you can see here that I’m building my pace, if you watch the throttle, you can see how smooth I had to get in and that last lap was a 38.2, much closer. I was really struggling in the quicker corners so just coming through Paddock here and then going into Surtees, a quick lap left-hander at the end of the lap. I was struggling through those areas with the rear of the car so I was having to make sure that when I lifted off the accelerator it was super smooth so that we don’t get the weight transferred to the front. 

So just watch the throttle, you can see how smooth I am off the throttle and then back on again, nice and smooth again, bring the car into Clearways and here, you’re just having to be really patient to get back on the throttle, get a good launch. See, I had a bit of a wobble there coming through. Into Paddock, what was that last time? A 38 dead, so I have just beat my record by a couple of hundredths. I’m going to do one more lap to compare, see if I can go a little bit quicker, I think there’s a bit more in the car here. Focussing on just getting the traction nice and smooth, just watch that throttle, you can see how smooth I’m having to get on the accelerator and how we lift going into Surtees here, really, really smooth so the weight doesn’t go to the front of the car as much and we give the rear the grip when we need it to turn it. 

So coming along to start, finish straight here and there we have it a 38.8. So it took me 20 laps to beat the lap record. I have to say that I think the model in Assetto here is probably a little bit quicker than the car that I drove in the real world, why don’t we compare this side by side with my own onboard footage and see what it was actually like. 

So here we have the two laps side by side, heading down the start, finish straight now, into Paddock. They’ve been matched perfectly so you can see where one gains and the other one doesn’t, I mean, pretty similar through Paddock. The real world’s a little bit ahead of the sim here. Now they are about even again, coming down into Graham Hill. Now, the sim is a little bit ahead, I think, yeah, just a fraction, but it’s all very, very close. Into Surtees, very, very similar into clearways, pretty much the same and the way we go down the start, finish. What’s incredible here is exactly how close these two laps are together, which is just fantastic. 

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