SMAAASH offers a close experience of driving a Formula 1 car.
Formula One is the pinnacle of Motorsport and has only got more and more popular in our country since the Indian Grand Prix made it to the F1 calendar two years ago. While many aspire to get into the cockpit of these super fast machines, only the top drivers in the world can boast of this dream job. But it’s not as easy as it looks, the drivers have to undergo vigorous training and have to be extremely fit to be able to withstand the high G forces a Formula 1 car generates. There are numerous video games on Formula 1 but if you want to get an almost real feel, you have to try a simulator. Formula 1 drivers, too, use simulators to understand the tracks and setup the cars for the race weekend. So how does it feel to drive a Formula 1 car? We find out at the Formula 1 simulator at SMAAASH!
SMAAASH is a gaming and entertainment arena located in Kamala mills, Parel, Mumbai. Its F1 simulator has been developed by an European simulator company which develops high end racing simulators for most of the F1 racing teams. The simulator consists of three screens mounted together as shown. Mounted on hydraulic arms is a Sparco racing seat and a steering incorporated with paddle shifters as in a Formula 1 car. A heads up display gives data on the engine limiter, lap times, etc. The SMAAASH racing simulator is designed on a Six Degrees of Freedom platform (6 DOF) and simulates 4 feet height, which creates realistic movements of a professional racing car and also creates G Force to be felt by racers. Currently there are only 3 tracks, Autodromo De Lunyachamps, Zandavroot and Kyalami and more actual Formula 1 tracks will be available soon. The first is a beginner’s track and in this track the car uses an automatic gearbox, so you can drive without worrying about shifting gears manually. The next semi-professional and professional both have manual transmissions.
In each of the tracks there are 4 other cars you are racing and it’s not as easy at it may look or sound. In the first attempt, the lights go green and we are firmly on the gas. The setup is similar to the real thing, which means left foot on the brake and right on the accelerator. As we approach the first corner, it sinks in that this thing is harder than it actually looks. The steering feels directly connected which means it’s extremely hard and feedback is simply phenomenal. In all honestly it was difficult keeping the car on the track on the first lap. While the other cars zoomed into the distance, we were getting used to the track and the controls. On the second lap, we were more confident. As you take long high speed corners, the hydraulics translate the G forces to your seat and it feels as if you are in the real thing. Having driven on the Buddh International circuit before, we can vouch that this is the best experience you can get virtually.
Famous corners like the ‘Eau Rouge’ of Spa Francorchamps and the ‘Parobolica’ of Monza are meticulously replicated and the detailing is superbly accurate. It has been done by using laser scanners on race cars and scanning the real tracks by helicopters to get it spot on virtually. The manual transmission takes a while to get used to initially but you can master it with some practice. The brakes are very hard too and a few laps on the simulator will help you judge the braking distances more accurately. Going flat out around Eau Rouge will make you feel up to 2.5 G, which is enough to make you sick but the pumping adrenaline keeps you charged up. A real Formula 1 car will generate around 4.5-5 G around the same corner.
The SMAAASH Simulator is so accurate that it can actually replicate a 2 mm bump on the road. Go wide on the kerbs and you feel exactly the same vibrations a race car makes upon doing the same. Try to corner too fast and the car will oversteer and an out of reflex opposite lock will actually keep you on the track. The physics realism is accurate and detailed. Whatever you do, do not crash the car into the barrier. We tried it to test how the hydraulics would react and it was a loud thud and the entire force left us with an aching back.
It’s a lot of hard work driving a race car on the track and we were left sweating by the end of it. SMAAASH have got the perfect thing for a motoring enthusiast and the F1 Simulator will feed the passion for petrolheads. A 3 minute session costs about Rs. 250/-, which is quite reasonable for this expensive piece of machinery. So if you feel you have it in you to tame a Formula 1 car, SMAAASH F1 Simulator is highly recommended and quite addictive too.