The Coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on just about every facet of everyday life. In sport, its effect has been far-reaching and devastating. Sporting fixtures the World over have been postponed or cancelled, participants have retreated to the anonymity of enforced isolation, and fans everywhere have been left starved of their weekly fix. Motorsport is no different in this respect.
However, the sudden and seismic cessation of all live sports has seen an equally sudden and seismic boom in eSports. Sports that can be undertaken – or indeed simply watched – from home have exploded in popularity since Governments all over the globe have instructed citizens to stay indoors. Whilst this is true generally of all sports, motorsport has one key advantage over most others in these difficult times.
Let’s take football for comparison. There are plenty of football games out there that people can enjoy during lockdown, but they’re not *actually* playing football, are they? They’re mashing buttons on a controller, with varying degrees of skill. Being a competent footballer doesn’t necessarily translate into being a competent gamer, and playing football online against other players won’t improve your footballing skill in real life.
Motorsport, on the other hand, is a different proposition. With a sim racing rig (i.e. a wheel and pedals, perhaps with a gearshift and an immersive monitor), eSports not only looks and feels like proper circuit racing, but the skills are transferable between the two almost in their entirety. Being a good racer in real life helps you race competitively online, and the skills you are practising (racing lines, trail braking, heel & toe, etc.) are directly applicable when you get in a real racing car.
Indeed, sim racing is so close to the real thing these days that many global superstars (such as F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Lando Norris) use it to hone their driving skills between races. From a fan’s perspective, racing is racing regardless of whether it’s in the virtual world or on-track for real. Watching close but fair racing is a joy on either platform.
That is why I have taken up sim racing in recent months. Not only is it keeping me sharp and helping me practise racing technique, it is allowing me to gain the experience of racing against other drivers in a competitive environment and even opening up new audiences for me and my brand. My YouTube channel has seen a surge in new subscribers since I started posting my footage there!
So if you’re a racing driver who has been grounded by Coronavirus, get online and get your head back into race mode! And if you’re a fan, check out the myriad of eSports racing series that are currently streaming or showing recorded highlights on YouTube. There are some absolute gems in there.