20 Aug 2021
In 2019, talented British female racing driver Esmee Hawkey took to a dual campaign in the inaugural W Series and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. Two very different disciplines! With so many challenges and differences between the cars, it was vital Esmee was as best prepared as possible so her FPZERO racing simulator quickly became an important part of her training routine.
The W Series is the first female-only motorsport championship aiming to highlight and promote the quality of female racing drivers and encourage women into motorsport. Each driver competes in equal Dallara F3 cars, run by the same team, putting the emphasis firmly on the driver. In the inaugural season, W Series supported the German DTM series and in 2021 it supports the Formula 1 World Championship.
The Porsche Carrera Cup GB is the leading single make sports car championship in the UK with drivers competing in equal machinery - the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Following the British Touring Car Championship, the PCCGB visits the best tracks in the UK and is televised live on ITV4. The 485 bhp, rear wheel drive, rear engined cars are tough to drive and have unique characteristics. Mistakes are unforgiving with the absence of ABS and puts a real focus on the Driver.
Esmee's racing simulator was fundamental to her 2019 campaigns for three key reasons:
- It was Esmee's first experience of driving single seater formula cars
- There were 5 new tracks to learn with very limited testing
- Switching between two very different cars throughout the season is extremely challenging as they require different techniques
A new experience - Dallara F3
The Dallara F3 is a lightweight, nimble single seater race car with huge levels of grip. The F3 series has been a feeder series for many top level drivers in motorsport including F1 stars Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Riccardo, Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon, Jenson Button and many more.
Weighing at just 673kg - less than half the weight of Esmee's Porsche GT3 Cup car - the car requires very different techniques to that of a GT car. Emphasis is on braking late and carrying speed through the corner. In comparison, the Porsche 911 is much more of a ‘start-stop’ technique where the focus is on getting the car slowed down; rotated at the apex; and back on the power.
Using our Dallara F3 model, Esmee was able to use her professional simulator to build an understanding for the handling characteristics of the F3 car and the techniques required to exploit performance.
Using accurate aerodynamic profiles in the car models means drivers can see the impact of the downforce when loading up the car at high and low speed corners - a concept that is tricky to take advantage of without prior experience.
Learning new tracks
Travelling all over the world to race is one thing, but doing the same travel for a day testing in the car is not so economical due to the costs involved. Being able to spend hours and hours on the simulator prior to the first time visiting a track is invaluable and helps keep the budget under control.
Even for elite racing drivers it takes days of practice to learn the optimal lines, braking points and overtaking places. In fact, the subconscious mind typically requires between 22 days and 66 days to be reprogrammed, so every second on track is valuable. The process to learn a track like Brands Hatch Indy, with 6 corners, is a much faster process than a track like the Nürburgring/Nordschleife with it's 170 corners!
With the 2019 W Series, Esmee faced learning 5 brand new European tracks out of the 6 visited in the series as well as the qualification round. With accurate laser scanned models in Esmee's sim of choice, Assetto Corsa, she was not only able to learn the track layout but experiment with braking zones, racing lines, turn in points, and when it was possible to get back on the throttle.
Learning new tracks on the simulator isn't just isolated to understanding where you're going and the limitations of the car around the track. The simulator can be used to practice racing competitively with hosted events on FPZERO dedicated Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2 servers but also iRacing's online community. Racing against other drivers in the virtual world gives the chance to identify overtaking places and manoeuvres, as well as working on areas where pressure can be applied to force a competitor into a mistake. This enhances the driver's competitiveness on race weekend and reduces the mistakes made because most of the mistakes have been made on the simulated race track!
The nature of the W Series means that testing cannot be conducted outside of the race weekend as the cars are unique to the series. This creates an equal playing field in terms of track time in the car, but allows drivers who focus heavily on their simulator training to have a competitive advantage.
Re-familiarisation before the race weekend
With limited time on track and often 2-3 weeks between each race weekend, driving any race car is a challenge to get back in the zone for; let alone two very different cars! Jumping between the Porsche GT3 Cup sports car and Dallara F3 single seater requires two very different driving techniques. By using her FPZERO professional grade racing simulator, Esmee was able to get in the single seater and sports car mindset before each race. Focusing on adjusting driving techniques to match the cars levels of performance.
“When visiting Brands Hatch GP I had two use different techniques and even lines between the two cars. The only chance to test on the two tracks in the real cars was on the race weekend where we had very limited running with only a couple of test sessions. Using my FPZERO simulator I was at least able to get out on track in advance and get into the rhythm of the track. This helped me massively and I qualified P3 for the W Series race!”
Start taking your race preparation to the next level with FPZERO professional simulators. Configure your Clubsport simulator online or call us on +44 1483 387 370 to discuss your needs and get a tailored quote for our Pro II simulator.