The on-going coronavirus outbreak may have led to the postponement of races, but it has brought about a new-found solidarity amongst the motorsport community. So much so, that Louis Deletraz has revealed it’s led to the creation of a mass WhatsApp group featuring drivers from all different nationalities and championships. Pretty cool, right?
The aim of the group is to organise and host Esports events that keep the mind sharp, the drivers entertained and the racing spirit alive.
“Esports is probably what I am doing the most now,” said Deletraz. “Driving the simulator and doing some sports. There are a lot of online Championships as well, such as the Not the Bahrain Grand Prix that took place at the weekend, where you even had the likes of Thibault Courtois involved.
“That was very cool and got a new audiences of fans. It is great for the fans because it means that although we don't have racing, they can still see us race online in a world where we actually don’t take any risks, we just have fun with each other.”
While drivers cannot compete with each other wheel-to-wheel on track, the world of Esports allows them to maintain their competitive edge on the screen. This has sparked the continually expanding WhatsApp group, which Deletraz says features drivers from F1, F2 and F3, as well as those from DTM and Formula E, amongst others.
“Esports brings a lot of drivers who would not normally race against each other, together, from a lot of different categories,” he explained. “We have this WhatsApp group which is about sim racing during the lockdown.
“It is seriously impressive how the whole community has come together and that gives the fans something to watch. The cool thing is that they can actual compete with us too! The whole thing is completely different, and I think that it has a bright future.”
There is both a leisurely and professional side to simulator racing and even in normal circumstances, the Swiss driver would spend a heavy amount of time utilizing the machine in his household, learning tracks, perfecting his technique.
In fact, such is his ability, Deletraz was hired by HAAS ahead of the 2019 season as a simulator driver.
“I would say that I got my first sim around 10 years ago,” he recalled. “Obviously it has evovled a lot and changed, but I keep working on it a lot at home and it is a good thing to do in my free time.
“I am keen on having a simulator room and racing online. I don't just like simulator racing though, I like to be able to race with friends and all of the drivers online when we are not racing, so in this period of lockdown it is pretty good.”
While a lot of the skills are transferable, how close to actual racing is it?
“Driving is quite different,” he explained. “For me, you can actually do some driver work and sim work in a Formula 1 sim, like I do at HAAS, or like every F1 sim has, but obviously budgets are very different and that affects the level of simulator available.
“The driving I do on the sim and the programmes I have at home, there are some things that are similar, but mostly for me I miss the feeling of speed.
“You also struggle to feel the rear axle a bit and the breaking and locking, so that is a bit limited. For learning tracks though it is amazing.”
You can catch Louis Deletraz in action on his Twitch Channel, here.