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WIRED Review

Wired-Simulator

Astonishingly immersive. Physically taxing, visceral experience. Good for a relative novice and all the way up to an F1 driver. This is an outrageously realistic bit of kit.

If a Formula One car suddenly loses aerodynamic downforce, it can snap sideways with sufficient ferocity to fracture a misplaced thumb. Axsim’s system isn’t that extreme, but it’s potent enough to give your upper body a pretty serious workout while reminding you of the major talent deficit that exists between even a competent driver and a pro. This is an outrageously realistic bit of kit.

It’s also a sign that racing simulators have truly come of age. Back when Formula One had money to burn, the teams enjoyed unlimited testing. The front-runners had their own dedicated test squads—drivers, mechanics, and data analysts who would travel the world more or less in parallel with their racing colleagues. Great for optimizing lap times, trying new aero components, and evaluating young drivers. But it was also ferociously expensive, and in-season testing was banned by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, in 2009. For 2022, a new cost cap has further tightened the screw.

Cue the rise of the simulator, a rapidly evolving and much more cost-effective mechanism for learning a new circuit and doing all the stuff that used to be done “for real.” Not everyone was happy about it: Michael Schumacher actively detested simulators, and even some of the sport’s biggest stars could be prone to motion sickness.

But that was then. F1’s increasing reliance on sims and the boom in e-sports has narrowed the gap, and racing sims also appeal to high-net-worth individuals with enviable car collections who will happily blow six-figure sums on a state-of-the-art rig. Track days are great fun, but a sim doesn’t burn through tires or fuel, and it’s available 24/7. You can also make your own weather.

Even better than the real thing? AXSIM doesn’t go that far when touting its plug-and-play system, but it has the credibility to match its marketing spiel. It’s a sub-brand of UK-based Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CaeS). Among other things, it has delivered 130 simulation systems to 21 different armed forces during the past 30 years, with iconic aircraft such as the F-16, F-18, Tornado, and Eurofighter Typhoon.

"Although an experienced driver, I’m not a gamer and have a pretty well-developed cynicism when it comes to simulators and virtual reality. But the AXSIM is a revelation."

Read the full article by Jason Barlow at WIRED.co.uk...

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