Formula SimRacing is back! This weekend the teams and drivers are off to Melbourne, Australia for round 1 of the 2016 Formula SimRacing season.
Today we will provide you with the definitive guide to the season ahead, covering many areas across all 3 divisions.
As Formula SimRacing heads into its 16th season a lot of questions will be answered over the course of the next 8 months, can anyone challenge the Twister dominance of last year? Will the drivers and viewers be a fan of the new hybrid cars? Whatever way it goes, we should be in for a fantastic season of action. But a few of you may be wondering, just what has changed for this season? Well to start we will take a look at the new mod, which has been changed practically from to bottom.
As mentioned above the cars that FSR are going to use this season are almost completely different, gone is the modified FISI 2.4 V8, and in comes the 1.6 Hybrids, with 8 gears, and different boost options that are available to the drivers. With these cars the drivers will notice a significant change in how they handle, compared to what they have had over the past 2 seasons.
Managing fuel use and the engine temperature will be a key part of 2016 as Mix 2 or “Boost” places a big thermal stress and fuel consumption penalty. Teams will have to decide how much headroom they have for extra fuel, with the cars 141 litre total limit and how much they want to carry.
The boost can be used at any stage of the race and will be used to both attack and defend in the DRS zones. In a DRS zone it can add as much as 8 kph, so those who are trying to defend, may be in for a tough time.
Also different is the drivers' personal choice of engine sound, with 4 to choose from, Mercedes, Ferrari, Honda and Renault, so when the broadcast team go on board with a driver, you may be able to notice that different drivers have different engine noises for their car.
An absolutely massive thank you must go to David Greco and Marco Conti for their amazing work on this years car, putting hours and hours of their spare time into this project has made all of this possible, and without them we wouldn't be able to showcase these cars in Formula Simracing for 2016.
The following is a brief breakdown of what each division is doing for 2016, in brackets we can see where they have changed compared to the 2015 season.
World Championship: 100% distance No assists, live real world real time weather, engineer permitted on the server.
ACE: 100% distance (up from 80%), auto clutch, live real world real time weather.
PRO: 75% distance( up from 60%) , auto clutch, TCS*, ABS* (*both on low and both come with a weight penalty).
AMA: 50% distance, GP2 style car. auto clutch, TCS, ABS.
Part 1: Weather
2015 saw the introduction of live real world real time weather to both World Championship and Ace divisions. However in 2015 the Spa round of Ace was the only race that had wet conditions.
Weather is again implemented in 2016 and you can bet that with a combined 32 races we will see some wet weather drama.
There is something special about waking up on race morning and having to keep an eye on the real world weather. In case your set up or strategy need to change.
Teams will need to get the weather calls right to prevail.
Part 2: Race Distance
Drivers and viewers get more for their money!
Ace moves up from 80% distance to 100%.
Pro moves up from 60% to 75%.
In both cases it will reward consistency and strategy more as well as pace.
AMA is an great new idea. In the past drivers who could not quite muster the pace to pre qualify for Pro would be left out in the cold with no race to drive. AMA creates a slightly lower feeder tier so people can be confident of getting involved and getting a race.
We asked Martin O'Brundle to comment.
“Its quite straight forward really, in both Ace and Pro qualifying was more than half the battle in 2015. With the increased distance is increased challenge. It also moves the easy 1 stop just out of range for Pro so makes it much more interesting. For Ace they can now show who is ready to take on the big guns with a full race distance performance. The Pro drivers I spoke to were thrilled. After so much preparation for each race to get more laps to show what you have got can only be good.
Further than that the weight penalty for using TCS and ABS seems to have a more significant impact. Most drivers applaud this as it means that on the one hand you can get help to drive the car if you need it but on the other hand assists won't help you win. As such the series is approachable for new drivers but the incentive is their to drop assists which is in keeping with a pinnacle series”
Formula SimRacing has had some huge names from the world of sim racing compete over its 1st 15 seasons. However for the 2nd consecutive year, the defending World Champion will not be on the starting grid in Melbourne. So for the 2nd year in a row Formula SimRacing will crown a new World Champion this autumn.
Here we take a look at some of the main contenders heading into the 2016 season.
Muhammed Patel - Musto Racing (2015 Runner up. Best result P1 X 2)
Arrives for 2016 with new team. As a twister driver ran Petar Brjak quite close for most of last season will be back. On paper it should be a formality? Or should it not. Muhammed is very fast, makes very few errors and was one of our seven race winners last year claiming two wins. As a form guide it was really three, as a dominant performance in China was only denied with an engine failure in the final laps.
However team mate Petar taking a break is a double edged sword. He doesn't have to beat him but nor will he have his help and support in practicing and setting up a brand new car. He is with an all new outfit Musto Racing. Will they provide the injection of speed for which Twister was famous. His new team mate Marco Conti was on the design team for the new car so perhaps he will be OK after all.
Still Muhammed is expected to be a serious force in 2016.
Jim Parisis - VBMadcape (World Championship 2015 P5, best result P1 X2)
Jim’s two wins in 2015 looked at in isolation is deceptive. He was leading in Melbourne when he suffered a disconnection, then went on to win Sepang and China. His Twister team mates Patel and Brjak saw him as being the World Champion in waiting. Jim backed these up with two seconds and a third and despite no points from 5 rounds still took fifth in the drivers championship. If Jim does the full season he will be in the mix. He is with a new look team in VB Madcape. It remains to be seen if that relationship will flower.
Jernej Simoncic - GhostSpeed Racing Team (2015 World Championship P6, best result Second X 3)
We include Jernej as he showed some great pace in 2015. He is great at setting up the car and as we saw in Canada is not afraid to be quite innovative and roll the dice on strategy. It looked in Japan to have his first win nailed down but failed to cover Kweekel who stole the win (his first). Jernej pushed Kuba hard for the Winter series where they were in a league of their own. If Jernej can get the strategy call right more often than not he can win races.
Daniel Kiss - Twister Racing Team. (2015 World Championship P10, best result P1 X1)
Daniel as a World Championship race winner cannot be discounted. He won the opening round at Melbourne last season when he stepped up from Ace (which he also won!). This imperious form did not quite continue all season but he was for sure not adequately challenged by the Ace grid so moved up to World Championship full time.
Francesco Bigazzi - Twister Racing Team (2015 World Championship P4, best result P1 X1)
Francesco when he is on form can be incredibly fast as he showed in qualifying in Canada. His 4 other podiums show that he can be consistent too. His battle with Brzezinski for third in the driver championship possibly conceded more by non finishes than by pure pace. His new home at Twister racing could well be the perfect home to help him deliver more points.
Kuba Brzezinski - Origin Front Row Racing (2015 World Championship P3, best result P1)
Kuba was in most minds the Rookie of the year in 2015. The new guy that came third in his maiden season in the WDC. His win in Monza along with four other podiums and a lot of consistency sealed him his place in 2015. As well as raw pace, his race craft and skill in wheel to wheel driving impresses. Twice he saw off Morgan Morand in close combat in what some saw as the changing of the guard from the FSR of recent history to the FSR of now. He comes off the back of winning the FSR Winter series. One of his biggest challenges will be that of his brand new team mate. A certain Jeroen Kweekel.
Jeroen Kweekel - Origin Front Row Racing (2015 World Championship P8, best result P1)
Jeroen swept away the field in the 2015 Pro series to claim the title with rounds to spare. He stepped up to World Championship for a drive in Japan and took his maiden World Championship win. He will skip Ace and join the World Championship grid for this season. Jeroen is fast and he brings with him his title winning race engineer Justin Sutton. Some might say that being dominant in Pro is one thing and World Championship is another. Those in the know say that he is more than ready.
We asked our special correspondent Martin O'Brundle to take the slide rule to this pairing.
O'Brundle. “Well I have watched these guys for three weeks now at Barcelona and Albert Park. I am used to seeing Kuba dominate his team mate, but it isn't happening here. Jeroen likes winning, he is used to winning and anyone that thought he would struggle a little for breath when “thrown into the deep end” of World Championship at Suzuka last season would have had a little shock. Fortune was on his side to a small extent at Suzuka, Patel jumped the start and had to do a drive through and that took him out of the equation. Still you make your own luck.
Most of the time in a team there seems to be a #1 driver, a sort of natural balance in these things. The guy who takes a lead on set up, has the raw pace. When its not clear it can be unsettling mentally. In a way its easier to face that guy who has 2 tenths on you every fortnight rather than 4 times a week on your practice server.
Who will emerge as the dominant driver? It is too close to call. At this moment Kweekel has a very slight edge in raw pace. However Brzezinski is inching closer day by day and has a habit of leaving no stone unturned till he finds the solution. They both have strong guys on the pit wall. If I was to suggest anything it might be that Kweekel will win the qualifying duel and that the points duel might be so close I wouldn't even hazard a guess.
This will be one of the intrigues of the season. Who will prevail? Will Peter Bell be able to manage the team dynamic between these two race winners or will he need to search Amazon for Toto Wolfs handbook! I cant wait to see how it unfolds.
The 2016 calendar comprises of 16 races for this season, the longest FSR calendar in over 5 years, for the full preview on the race calendar, see our article published a few weeks ago here, were we take a look at all 16 races.
Thank you for taking a look at the 2016 Formula SimRacing Season Preview, I hope you all enjoy the 1st round of the season this weekend in Melbourne.