3 Unorthodox Ways to Improve in Sim Racing

features-single-player-03.jpg
One thing I have always enjoyed is the pleasure of improving beyond my limits. Sometimes, however, one realizes that there is not much more to learn from traditional methods.

Nowadays everyone offers articles and videos that say the usual repetitive things: how to improve braking, how to accelerate faster, how to follow the racing line.
Then there are those that make promises like: this will forever change the way you race, I wish I had known this when I started simracing, "alien" secrets that will make you faster, etc.

Therefore, I have decided to share with you the 3 unorthodox things I have done to improve in simracing, and how. Some may seem silly, but indulge me because I think you will find them interesting and fun.

1. Playing Sudoku

microsoft-sudoku.jpg

Image credit: Microsoft

Ten years ago there was a real craze for this game. Everyone played it, there were references everywhere, and somehow it had become pop culture. Today it is mostly forgotten. I decided to pick it up because I wanted to understand how it worked, what it was, and why people were so madly in love with it. Starting with the easiest levels, I gradually got to the most difficult Sudoku puzzles. This journey taught me that this game teaches me to think logically, to look at every little detail and, when necessary, to make decisions based on deduction to minimize the risk of making the wrong choice. This in turn has improved my simracing by teaching me to carefully observe my opponents, even before the race begins. I look at their stats, the data available, even things as simple as their current ping, to make well-founded assumptions about what I might expect from them in the race. It helped my focus and my attention to details when it comes to car behaviour and possible lap time gains.

Playing Sudoku is very easy, either online or by purchasing a dedicated magazine. I personally use Microsoft's official app, available in the Windows 11 app store for free.

2. Play Chess

chess-com.png

Image credit: Chess.com

My grandfather taught me to play chess when I was little. He never let me win until I learned and improved enough to beat him in a fair game. I will always treasure that memory and that teaching, which he imparted with serene severity. No frustration, no unfairness. Play, learn, improve, earn it.
Chess teaches you to think about what you do, about its consequences. In an age when our minds are no longer able or accustomed to making complex connections, thinking is the silent revolution. It calms the mind, it makes you ponder about the "big picture," it makes you accountable. If you lose, you made a mistake somewhere. You could have made a better choice, but that's okay. You need to figure out where the mistake was and try differently, better, in the next game. Your mistakes do not define you. It is your ability to use them to improve yourself, to turn them into bricks that do not weigh on your shoulders, but take you up a ladder you build with them, that does. You can and will improve; your mistakes are how you can do that.
Chess has improved my simracing, by teaching me not to get frustrated. There will be another race. I can improve, even if only a little, even if only one step at a time. Whatever happens can teach me something and I can turn it into something constructive. There is always some move I can do better, there is always a way to put pressure on my opponent, fairly. At the same time, there is no need to put everything on the line in every race. Chess has given me the serenity to understand the big picture.

You can play chess for free through a great website that is Chess.com. You can play online, with Elo ranking, or offline, even without registring, against different AI opponents. These have different personalities and, of course, proficiency levels

3. Playing Aimlab

aimlab.jpg

Image credit: Statespace/Aimlab

I have always been amazed by the training of F1 drivers. The way they improve their reaction times through various drills and techniques. I've been looking for a way to do that myself and found it in this fantastic application that is Aimlab.
Aimlab is free and available on Steam. It is "aimed" (excuse the pun) at fps players, but it can actually work for everyone, especially simracers. It puts you in a sandbox where you face different challenges. The common goal is to improve reaction time and accuracy. There are leaderboards, ranking, timers, everything you need to maintain motivation and monitor results.
Aimlab has improved my simracing by making my every move more careful. In other words, I try to make as few moves as possible to get the best possible result. I aim (again, pun intended) for quality rather than quantity. I do more with less, effectively.
Plus, it's a great way to relieve stress sometimes :roflmao:
About author
Davide Nativo
Petrolhead and Simracer, passionate since the cradle about cars, motorsports and simracing. I read a lot, and I love to share what I've learned with others!

Comments

Bram Hengeveld
Staff
Premium
I second Chess. It will teach you to think a few steps ahead, carefully plan your moves and become a tactical mastermind trying to beat your opponent.

But above all: it learns you to be patient which is essential for being successful in a (sim racing) race. No Turn 1 let's try and overtake the entire field with one silly move in Chess.
 
Jimlaad43
Staff
Premium
Can I just add the unorthodox route I took:
Get a job in Motorsport and work full time as a data engineer :roflmao:

There's nothing like working with professional drivers and realising from their driving styles just how wrong my method of taking corners was. I went from midpack in the RD club races to front runner within the space of a few weeks by focusing on what I was doing wrong and trying to drive properly. Being able to analyse your own data and learn from it is a very useful skill to getting faster.
 
Davide Nativo
Premium
Can I just add the unorthodox route I took:
Get a job in Motorsport and work full time as a data engineer :roflmao:

There's nothing like working with professional drivers and realising from their driving styles just how wrong my method of taking corners was. I went from midpack in the RD club races to front runner within the space of a few weeks by focusing on what I was doing wrong and trying to drive properly. Being able to analyse your own data and learn from it is a very useful skill to getting faster.

That is gold.
For everyone interested in getting a job in motorsport, remember that you can find them listed by the actual companies, worldwide, at Motorsportjobs.com
 
I second Chess. It will teach you to think a few steps ahead, carefully plan your moves and become a tactical mastermind trying to beat your opponent.

But above all: it learns you to be patient which is essential for being successful in a (sim racing) race. No Turn 1 let's try and overtake the entire field with one silly move in Chess.
Playing 1. g4 is the equivalent to sending it in t1 at Monza.
 
For Sudoku there is only one really great way: The "Cracking The Cryptic" guys on Youtube and especially their fan-discord server (always a link under their videos), where some awesome creators present every day a new "Genuinely Accessible Sudoku" for everyone to solve.
 
I am under the impression that the usual and repetitive things are more effective than playing sudoku and chess.
 
T
Premium
Can I just add the unorthodox route I took:
Get a job in Motorsport and work full time as a data engineer :roflmao:

There's nothing like working with professional drivers and realising from their driving styles just how wrong my method of taking corners was. I went from midpack in the RD club races to front runner within the space of a few weeks by focusing on what I was doing wrong and trying to drive properly. Being able to analyse your own data and learn from it is a very useful skill to getting faster.

Nice! So what was it that you did wrong? Helps us learn a little too ;)
 
Jimlaad43
Staff
Premium
Nice! So what was it that you did wrong? Helps us learn a little too ;)
I attacked corners by trying to carry as much speed into the corner as possible. This means brake late, throw it in and deal with if it's too fast mid corner. Exits are destroyed. As all laptime comes from corner exit down the next straight, focusing on slow in-fast out was the epiphany I needed because I was doing it wrong for ages. I focused too much on braking latest and trying to take every corner flat out if possible. Lifting off or braking on the exit kerb to keep it on track is not the fastest way to take a corner. You need to focus on where.you plan to be on full throttle, and work out your braking and speed to deal with that, rather than the other way around.
 
I agree that there are way to many "suggestions" about how to improve at sim racing. If I'd watch only half of them I never get faster because I didn't have time to race any more.

What you're saying comes basically down to challenging your brain and working on hand-eye-coordination. Which is in general never a bad idea. And I can see why it could help in simracing by learning to focus and analyse. Interesting angle.
 
I agree with the above advice, but I have a completely different problem that needs to be solved first. It doesn't matter how fast I go or how far ahead I am. At some point in almost every race I lose my nerve and throw the car away. Usually on the last lap and the last corner. If anyone can recommend me a good nerve calming agent. :o_o:
Thanks a lot!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I can recommend anything that trains the concentration. Also I think it's good to train to improve yourself in racing instead of instant satisfaction. Determination, for example.
ps Chess is awesome.
 
Last edited:
Interesting game suggestions. I would add that if you are trying to improve, nothing beats "look" training. It can't be emphasized enough that if your eyes are not tuned properly, nothing else matters. I was taught in sports that I played, "if your eyes are right, you act, you don't react".

Reaction time is overrated.
 
Ich stimme den oben genannten Hinweisen zu, aber ich habe ein ganz anderes Problem, das zuerst gelöst werden muss. Es spielt keine Rolle, wie schnell ich fahre oder wie weit ich voraus bin. Bei fast jedem Rennen verliere ich irgendwann die Nerven und schmeiße das Auto weg. Meistens in der letzten Runde und der letzten Kurve. If mir jemand ein gutes Nervenberuhigungsmittel empfehlen kann. :o_o:
Vielen Dank!
Ethanol, 96% aus der Apotheke.
 
Ricoow
Premium
I found it helps improving having actually driven a car on high speed on a track. Just one lap on the schleife helped me get a better understanding of some forces you usually don't feel in the rig. Driving a real Huracan SuperTrofeo around a track also helped.

I understand it may not be for everyone, but I also can highly recommend it.
 
Ich stimme den oben genannten Hinweisen zu, aber ich habe ein ganz anderes Problem, das zuerst gelöst werden muss. Es spielt keine Rolle, wie schnell ich fahre oder wie weit ich voraus bin. Bei fast jedem Rennen verliere ich irgendwann die Nerven und schmeiße das Auto weg. Meistens in der letzten Runde und der letzten Kurve. If mir jemand ein gutes Nervenberuhigungsmittel empfehlen kann. :o_o:
Vielen Dank!
Ich bleib mal bei Englisch für das Internationale Publikum :D

Use too strong AI when practicing single player, always go routes that seem impossible, get used to losing and go into same scenarios again, play frustrating but rewarding video games with lots of risk/reward as a harmless way of dealing with "Don't Panic".(Something like FTL comes into my mind or Fromsoftware Souls games). ...also playing music in front of an audience can help if viable :D

Ethanol 96% works aswell yeah, but it's no long term assistance :p
 
Last edited:
Davide Nativo
Premium
Nah........NONE!! Just practice and learn to setup your car ;)
Those are invaluable and at the core of every serious simracing journey. Mine though are "unorthodox" ways to improve, remember? :) things that you can do on the side, to improve your logical thinking, rational behaviour and reaction times, which in turn make you sharper all-round (and thus in simracing by consequence). Try!
 

Article information

Author
Davide Nativo
Article read time
4 min read
Views
18,630
Comments
40
Last update

Share this article

Top