Aspiring Formula 1 racer Liam Lawson has praised the role sim-racing has had on keeping him race fit during the coronavirus-induced suspension of the FIA Formula 3 Championship as the young kiwi counts down the days till real-life action returns.
The Red Bull Junior driver has been immersed in the realm of iRacing across several virtual championships over the last few months.
Lawson starred in the recent 2K Cup iRacing League and was impressive in the four-week Racing Local Eseries. The 18-year-old even landed a coveted drive on the virtual F1 grid back in April for the simulated Chinese Grand Prix.
Lawson returned to the UK earlier in the month amid the pandemic to join his Hitech GP team and to begin preparations for a quick-fire eight-round opening leg to the F3 championship starting with a doubleheader Austrian Grand Prix.
But while his absence from the real-life track has suffered an unforeseen hiatus, Lawson says sim-racing has been able to keep him race fit and has mentally prepared him for the start of a new F3 season.
“I think the biggest advantage of sim racing is being able to drive all sorts of cars around any tracks you like,” said Lawson. “iRacing is constantly being updated so new content is always being released and the program is becoming more and more accurate every month.
“There is definitely an art to sim racing. In real life you have all the feeling of the car coming through your whole body, whereas in the sim it’s limited to visual and what you get through the wheel.
“My favourite [iRacing] car is the F3. The model is really accurate and the racing is always good. The setup changes are quite accurate, and just like real life there is so much you can change and make the car better.”
Lawson’s personal driving coach, Enzo Mucci, explains why sim work is so vital:
“Drivers can improve their personal performance and mental skills, learn tracks they’ll be racing on when real life racing starts again and keep improving themselves in nearly all areas,” said Mucci.
“For me, the biggest thing is mental, for a driver to improve their performance on demand, do qualifying runs and stay focused in races.
“I use it more for one-on-one training. So the driver will have set skills, like qualifying drills, lap time consistency over long runs, race-craft and certain driving techniques, like braking, overcoming mistakes and distractions whilst driving.
“Before a sim session, I will have a small list of areas that a driver needs to improve on and a series of measurable drills that can help train in each area.”
Lawson will only have a sole 40-minute practice session in Austria next month to get back up to speed with the car before getting stuck in with qualifying and two races.
The F3 series will support all eight opening F1 GPs which includes rounds in Hungary, Great Britain, Spain, Belgium before concluding at Monza in Italy on September 4-6.
Main Image: Geoff Ridder