Hamilton's Mercedes Comes to Iracing: The Most Sophisticated Reproduction of an F1 Car Ever Made?

Hamilton's Mercedes Comes to Iracing: The Most Sophisticated Reproduction of an F1 Car Ever Made?

Hamilton's Mercedes Comes to Iracing

Last weekend, in Abu Dhabi, Formula 1 history was made with one of the most exciting and controversial season finale that this sport remembers. Lewis Hamilton was unable to conquer his eighth title, remaining stuck at the seven world championships also won by Michael Schumacher.

All thanks to Max Verstappen who, thanks to his aggressiveness, often over the top driving but even to an immense talent, he managed to snatch a title already in his pocket from under the nose of the Mercedes driver thanks to a Safety Car crucial for the fate of the championship. Assignment of the world championship aside, we are at the end of an era. With a new set of rules designed to flatten performance, reduce costs and encourage overtaking, we're about to say goodbye to the fastest racing cars of the last decade.

Which is almost perfect timing for the launch on Iracing of what, on a simulation level, we are sure to be the most advanced F1 car commercially available for a video game. This is thanks to the partnership between iRacing and the Mercedes AMG team which saw the W12 E arrive in the American simulator car park earlier this week.

Obviously only Hamilton and Bottas can have direct experience of this high-performance car (probably the most effective in the absolute sense of the turbohybrid era), but I have been lucky enough to be on the track in numerous racing Formula 1 and I can confirm that the sensations experienced at that juncture can be confirmed in the simulated driving of this car that come to life more vividly than any other title.

With fresh tires and little petrol it is perfectly possible to tackle the double bend of Pouhon in full. And if you're good, you can really print a great quick spin.

Watch on YouTube. Before we get into more detail, however (and the details of the W12 in iRacing are sublime), Codemasters is worth giving credit, should they feel downcast in the face of their own take on the same car in F1 2021. The F1 series is meant for a wider audience and, on a physical level, the two cars are not comparable in terms of complexity. Of course, the driving feeling remains essentially the same: there is the same ability to change direction at a mind-boggling speed, like downshifting and, more generally, like the single-seater it eats the track with crazy aggression. In the incarnation of Iracing, however, this all happens a little differently.

A decent set-up helps and maybe playing in VR cheats a bit thanks to all the added immersion that this entails (although maybe it's time for Codemasters to add VR support to its F1 games, but that's another matter). Sitting in the cockpit that served as the office for Hamilton and Bottas for 22 weekends brings with it a bit of excitement: the steering wheel configuration is the same, the brake balance takes up the whole screen every time it is adjusted, while the buttons are all carefully mapped and, in many cases, serve the same purpose as the real ones.

We also find the infamous magic brake button, which puts a little extra heat into the front tires when you need it, or more likely leads to squashing the tires just like Lewis did when he touched it by mistake at this year's Baku restart.

The eddies rising from the ends of the rear wing are a wonderful touch, very indicative of the level of detail that can be found in this car. All this to say that it is an incredibly complex system, deriving from the integration of several systems to be made to work at best to be able to squeeze the most, even if fortunately it is quite easy even for those who are not particularly familiar with the technical issues of F1 get an idea of ​​how the car unloads power to the ground. You can and understand how to store and release battery energy when you need maximum performance with a practical indicator of how much charge you have available in the center of the dashboard. While preparing for a fast lap you just have to make sure that you have all the power available and then use it fully during the fast lap.

And for hell of a lot. what a power! Simple lap time comparisons confirm that this is the fastest F1 ever, but that doesn't convey the astronomical acceleration (and deceleration, for that matter) of F1. Returning to the circuits that we know intimately from inside the cockpit of a GT3 car, we can confirm that this is a change of approach that opens our eyes to the differences between normal GTs and these single-seaters.

You hit the track at Spa-Francorchamps and feel the compression of the Eau Rouge unloaded on the steering wheel in an incredible way: you throw yourself downhill towards Pouhon, which normally requires a downshift and a deep breath, and the W12 challenges us to take the double left-hander completely in full. That's exciting.

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Acceleration is something scary and requires great sensitivity with the right foot. It is also a surprisingly easy car to drive, although it is more accurate to say that it is surprisingly easy to drive while having fun. To bring this frame to the limit or in its vicinity, however, superhuman reaction times coupled with acute concentration are required. The physical stress that driving one of these rockets on wheels entails, and which are not replicated in any other iRacing car, leads to an even deeper respect for the skill and professionalism of the best F1 drivers.

After a dozen laps with a direct drive wheel, we can guarantee that your shoulders and arms will hurt like hell just trying to stay on the track. Our eyes widened back in shock from the spectacle of all that speed. God only knows how the likes of Max and Lewis make steering wheel artists to race wheel to wheel while enduring the incredible physical forces that come with these cars' crazy performance.

The Abu Dhabi finale was thrilling and all the enthusiasts can rejoice in having experienced a season that represents the swan song of these magnificent racing beasts. We will miss these cars when they are gone and we are sure that over time they will be remembered along with the turbo monsters of the 80s and the howling V10s of the early 2000s as the technical pinnacle of the sport. The fact that iRacing allows you to appreciate this type of car in detail is an opportunity not to be missed.

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