I would like to start this week’s column by apologising to grandprix247.com Editor Ben Stevens for not having this piece ready for yesterday’s deadline, my bad!
Ben is now at the helm of our website as the day-to-day Editor since January and I will use this opportunity to commend him for a great job he is doing in times of nothingness. We had no clue when he took the reigns that COVID-19 would become the only story this year.
Since then he has kept us abreast of what’s going on and got it out to us. But it’s only coronavirus news, to be honest. We are aware of overdosing our readers with bad news which we all get anyway when we login to news sites or switch on the telly.
So we are scraping the barrel when Lando Norris shaving his head sends his Nielsen ratings through the roof, and lobbying the Guinness Book of Records to consider old Bernie Ecclestone and his squeeze Fabiana for the next edition.
Scraping barrels is what we do best for you, but it’s a tough challenge these days which Ben has had a handle on. Bravo and Thank You!
My take on COVID-19?
Really I don’t know what to think, I can say what my gut feels wading through the deluge of information, disinformation and conspiracy. So here goes:
I will be surprised if we race this year at all, I am curious to see who will be left standing on a global level let alone Formula 1 and motorsport in general. Until there is a serious dip in deaths or herd immunity conquers the virus I believe all predictions are laughable. No one knows.
With that in mind – I am talking any real motor racing, aka Lewis Hamilton and the lads flinging metal on tarmac, not the virtual stuff – any real racing will be a proper bonus. Five races at Silverstone and five at Red Bull Ring? Fine. Do it. One race? Anywhere, just do it.
But don’t count on any of this happening.
On a personal note, I appear to have writers’ block these days despite a great deal to say. Ideally, I should be pumping out 1000 words every couple of days because there is plenty to share and debate despite the lack of news.
From where I sit, regarding F1, there is a huge blank canvas awaiting an artist to paint a new masterpiece, to boost the sport into the heart of the 21st century, rethink the 2022 F1 rules that perhaps should be delayed to 2025.
And allow Mr Jean Todt and his comrades at the FIA to draft rules with that logical ‘World-Engine’ concept at the forefront where F1 remains the pinnacle but would have relevance to WEC, F2 and even Indycar and possibly F3.
That’s an old story we have been banging on about for a long time ago, and now could be revisited and put out there for constructive debate.
I will add Mr Todt’s name various times to the piece for Google to alert him or his minders and, hopefully, when bored he might pop into our site and find some inspiration. Apparently he has visited us before…
Back to the writer’s block thing: the ideas and subjects to ponder and discuss are there but the fingers are not turning my brainstorms into words.
Nevertheless, while Ben has steadied the ship on windless waters searching for land aka F1 news, I have been busy in the background attending to our content partners, strategising for the current dilemna and uncertain future we all face, and launching our simming project: Team simRACE247.
The whole lockdown scenario has played handsomely into the gaming world with everyone confined to their homes, Playstations, XBoxs and PC have been whirring relentlessly, and probably more gaming is happening right now than ever before, by far.
Sim racing or virtual racing is booming too, everyone wants to sim theses days which is ultra-cool for those of us who beat the drum about simming since the mid-nineties.
In the blink of an eye, make that a week, grandprix247 has spawned Team simRACE247 to begin our adventure as a sim racing team with humble beginnings but unlimited ambition. This is the credo:
simRACE247 has been formed at a time when sim racing as a sport is booming, providing a platform for young talented motorsport fans to get a taste of racing with wheel and pedals. These move on to become fine sim racers and enjoy careers that span decades.
A hobby/sport that was the domain of motorsport nerds not too long ago, is now mainstream with many opportunities for dedicated and skilled drivers to make a name themselves on the eSport stage. Here, with hard graft and commitment, these drivers can end up one day going head-to-head with the top sim drivers of this generation, whose poster boys are none less than Max Verstappen, Lando Norris, Nicki Thiim and the like.
Our Team is made up of young guns seeking to become pro-level drivers needing a hand with their sim racing careers, through to amateur drivers who are keen to race and develop within a team environment of like-minded motorsport and sim racing fans.
The Team’s recruitment programme is active, with several drivers under evaluation and a number already confirmed.
Currently, the team is in the brainstorming-planning phase with developments ongoing.
It is still early days for the startup, but interest has been immense and was spurred on by a need, indeed a call for this by young guys who have the talent, the commitment and passion, but ten bucks for a track or car is too steep.
Tapping into my own experience with teams throughout my career, coupling it with real inside info I garnered from working closely with teams during my tenure as comms manager at Dubai Autodrome, then throwing-in some key partners, and we have ourselves a project.
We can’t be Lawrence Stroll in real life, but maybe being a ‘virtual Lawrence’ allows us a small taste. It’s a game ready to be made: Being Lawrence Stroll – A Formula 1 Adventure.
Unlimited cash etc… A project for another time…
Of course, we all know that the virtual stuff is absolutely no replacement for motorsport, and I will make it official:
Sim racing is not motorsport, but it is racing.
Yes, racing in your shorts and t-shirt, with cookies and milk at arms reach, in my case on a swivel chair – poor man’s motion-simulator – yet the adrenalin still flows, road rage is still there, frustration with setups, as is the satisfaction of that near (never) perfect lap and the childish “I am faster than you taunt” that we racers groove on.
For our readers, we invite you on our journey as our supporters – even get involved, as we will be recruiting and would welcome anyone with input, be it driving or otherwise – as we seek to make this virtual team a force to promote young talent, while providing a cool environment for like-minded drivers to tackle the booming world of simming.
When all our ducks are in a row, we will make some noise with a launch. This is being “leaked” to you good folks first.
In the end, we are content providers.
Sim racing, a month ago, would hardly factor into our coverage. But these days there is nothing else, feel free to follow our progress on here with occasional reports on here (subject to Ben’s call on newsworthiness) or our team portal where we have a blank canvas, with a few strokes on as the foundation.
Join us to add your strokes or grab a chair and see what we concoct.
In closing, amid a world under pandemic and facing such uncertainty, at times this all feels trivial and I console myself with the hope that this collective flash of inspiration – Team simRACE247 – will be one of the good things to emerge on the other side of this as I hope we all do.
Thereafter that the team will grow from strength-to-strength, with our Young Guns guided by the Old Guard on virtual tracks of iRacing, Factor 2 and Assetto Corsa. Watch this space!
Prince song? Turn up the volume! Shit was also happening in the mid-eighties. The “disease with the little name” has been replaced by the “disease with the longer name” nothing changes, hence nature’s revenge.