Assetto Corsa Sim racing.

Assetto Corsa and Formula 1

Time to write about new favorite sport and hobby. The last time I had a hobby outside of photography was 14 to 15 years ago. I drove a Budweiser beer truck and I collected beer steins and Royal Doulton heads. I had a shit ton of beer steins. A lot of Budweiser ones of course. The most memorable ones were the Budman steins. Very cool! I couldn’t afford too many Royal Doultons, but I think I had at least two.

Other than trying to learn website skills and graphic design skills I haven’t done much outside of photography on my own. I’ve been a real estate photographer for nine years now. Before that I was a graphic designer for five years. That entire time I didn’t do much relaxing that didn’t involve a camera or a monitor. Last year was a very slow travel year for us. We usually do at least three to four weekend trips and several day trips. We did a few weekenders, but that was about it. I didn’t have any photos to edit and I started to get burned out on doing WordPress websites.

Formula 1

I watched the two seasons of Drive to Survive on Netflix and was hooked on Formula 1 racing. I subscribed to F1TV and watched all the races in the 2020 season. I’ve also watched every race in seasons 2016-2019. I’ve gone back to 2008 and watched that entire season. Now I’m half way through the 2009 season. I’ve also started a subscription to Motorsport.tv and watch GT4 races on it.

That’s a lot of hours of watching tv. I don’t mind, it keeps me away from social media. Formula One races are boring. Usually you can tell who’s going to win within the first five laps. Races in the rain are pretty exciting. And they have races in some the coolest places on the planet. My dream would to be able to follow them for a season and photograph it. Pipe dream I know, but it’s a nice thought.

I like Formula One because it’s such a complex sport. There’s a lot of moving parts outside of the moving parts within the car. The driver is the quarterback and the pit crew are his support players, similar to lineman in American football. Except pit guys get little to no notoriety. The team principal is the head coach and the engineers are the assistant coaches. Then there’s the car.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas has pretty well much dominated the sport the last 6 years. Their driver, Lewis Hamilton, is a seven time world champion. Many argue it’s the car that has propelled Hamilton to so many championships. Anyone could win a championship in that car, they say. I don’t think so.

The second to last race of the 2020 season saw Hamilton sidelined with a positive Covid-19 test. George Russell, one of Mercedes junior drivers, replaced Hamilton in the Sakhir Grand Prix at the Bahrain Circuit. Mercedes pulled some strings because George was under contract with Williams Racing and driving for them. Mercedes does have the fasted car in the F1 feild and George Russell would have more than likely one that race. He led most of it, but some errors within the pits during the last few laps cost him the race. Many say that that’s proof that it’s the car that wins, not the driver. Bumpkiss!

Lewis Hamilton wouldn’t have pitted with so few laps to go. He would have known even with a safety car restart he could have rode those tires to victory the last few laps. The pit wall would have let him stay out. Mercedes, however, wanted to make sure George had fresh tires and the best chance possible at victory. They pitted him and Bottas, the other Mercedes driver no one likes to talk about, and screwed up royally. It cost George and Bottas the race. Hamilton would have stayed out and won. That’s why he’s a seven time world champion. He knows how to win.

I love Formula 1 and look forward to the 2021 season. Hamilton’s contract expired last year and he has of yet signed a new one with Mercedes for 2021. He’s the only driver that hasn’t been signed. There’s a lot of speculation. Drama! I’m sure he’ll return next year, but I don’t know Formula 1 well enough to know for sure. We’ll see.

Assetto Corsa

Last November I started sim racing with Assetto Corsa. It’s a blast! I just have a steering wheel mounted to my desk and I play on my desktop computer. There’s tons of tracks and people can create their own tracks and cars. Obviously, some of tracks and cars are built better than others. There’s tons of quality stuff out there.

You can choose from modern present day tracks to older tracks that date back to the 50’s. At least I don’t think I’ve seen any older than that. Some of my favorite vintage tracks are 60’s Monaco, 60’s Monza, and Silverstone. I tend to lean toward modern cars, but the Alfa Romeo GTA is a lot fun to drive.

Most of the time I’ve spent on Assetto Corsa has been driving closed wheel cars. The AI is pretty good and you can some exciting races. They do have a multi-user service that you can log onto and race with other people in real time. I haven’t crossed that threshold yet. Not sure if I will.

It wasn’t until this past week that I really drove open wheel cars. I bought a package of the entire F1 2020 field and have been having a lot of fun. These cars are twice as fast and get twice the grip. I have a long way to go in them. I am glad I waited before jumping into them. They are a little trick to drive especially in tight corners. Here’s some videos of me driving some of the F1 cars at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, or Spa. Not the easiest tracks to drive in some places, but ranks in my top five favorite tracks.

Driver view of me driving Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at Spa. This lap was my fastest at 1:58.
The view from the track cameras. You can see from here I have a little work to do on my technique.
Here I am driving Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. Seb is one of my favorite drivers.
Me driving the Ferrari. I love Ferrari and hope here in the near future they can return to the front of the grid.