So you’ve finally hopped on board the sim racing train and started putting in your practice laps. Around comes your first race and you may or may not be on pace with the front runners. Regardless of whether or not you win or lose your races, there are always steps you can take to get faster. The quicker you are on track, the easier it’ll become to catch up and eventually pull away from the cars in front of you.
It might seem easy at first glance. I mean all you have to do is drive fast. You drive a car every day, that shouldn’t be too difficult right?
Wrong. Driving a car on the track is a whole another ballgame and driving a car in the sim goes one step beyond that. There’s a lot more to it than just stepping on the throttle and turning the steering.
Here are seven ways we have to help you get faster across the track.
Also read: Sim racing on a budget: Viable or not?
Use the whole track and the driving line
A simple concept that every beginner to track racing needs to get acclimatised to is the racing line. You see, when you’re racing, your speed matters more than the distance you travel.
When taking a corner, the shortest path might not necessarily be the fastest one. Getting on the racing line ensures that you carry the most speed through the corner.
A good way of quickly getting on board with the racing line is using the in-game racing line assist. Every sim on the market has this feature and it can really help you get up to speed.
However, we do not recommend keeping the racing line on forever. Rather, we suggest using it as a tool to get used to the track and set your braking/turning points. Once you’re well versed with the track, the racing line can be hindering or even slow you down.
Pro drivers don’t depend on a computer-generated line. Instead, they go by their instincts and memory.
Hit your apexes, and hit the correct ones
Building from the previous point, make sure you’re hitting your apexes. An apex is a point closest to the edge of the track, Going through it will let you carry the maximum speed through the corner. Make sure you’re following that driving line.
Different track and car combinations mean that your apexes will be different for each turn. As you get more experienced, you’ll realise whether to take a late or early apex depending upon the corner and the exit out.
Remember — slow in, fast out.
Get your braking sorted
Braking is where most of the track time is gained or lost. If you haven’t set up your brakes correctly, you will lose out on a lot of lap time,
You don’t necessarily need to have top of the line equipment. It certainly helps to have good pedals, but you can do just fine with good enough pedals. Just don’t get something totally garbage.
Once you have a set of pedals you’re comfortable with, dive deep into your sim settings and set your pedals up so that you can take corners by braking as later as possible without locking up your wheels.
If your pedals are set up incorrectly, you’ll either lock up on corner entry or overshoot corners altogether.
Master trail-braking and know when to use it
Trail braking can save you a boatload of time especially on high-speed corners.
Basically, instead of braking, then turning and then getting on the power, you brake hard at first, then gradually lift off the brakes until you’re turning the car with 10-20% brakes applied, hitting the apex and then getting on the power as soon as you can.
You’ll be more prone to over or understeer at the beginning because there’s only so much the tires can take. However, once you master the skill and use it in the right corners, you’ll start shaving off your lap times rather quickly.
Find the correct FOV
FOV or field of view is exactly what the name suggests. This number controls just how wide, or narrow your vision is. Since you’re looking at a monitor rather than driving a real car, this comes in real handy.
Why you ask. Well, having too wide or too narrow a FOV can trick your brain into thinking that a corner is approaching faster or slower than it actually, which results in wonky judgements from your side and, as you can guess, slower lap times.
Finding the right FOV involves your monitor size and how far you’re sitting. Most sims have tools to help players get this number right so make sure yours is optimised.
Go slow to go fast
No, it’s not a contradiction. What we’re trying to emphasize is that you maintain consistency. Over the course of a race, your consistency matters more than your speed.
If you can keep your car out of trouble and lap consistently, you’re already in a much better position than most of the field.
It’s better to be consistently two seconds slower than the front runners than inconsistently being on pace with them and then messing up every other lap. So, find your rhythm, get comfortable, get consistent and then slowly start pushing the limit.
Practice, practice and then some more practice
All these tips and a million others on the internet won’t work for you if you’re not putting in those practice laps by yourself. Learn the tracks, learn the cars, know how they run, get a feel for them and get a feel for the tires.
Put your practice in because the more seat time you put in, the faster you’ll get.
Knowing your car and track inside out is your best bet to achieving a good result in a race.