With the imminent return of the F1 Esports Series, we managed to catch up with a trio of drivers, reigning champion David Tonizza, Brendon Leigh, and James Baldwin.
Competing at the highest level of professional sim-racing is never going to be easy.
However, how do these drivers prepare for their races? Let’s jump in and see how the best of the best prepare!
Mental toughness is key
Both physically and mentally, drivers need to be on the top of their game.
While not experiencing the high G-force that Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen endure, the need to be at peak performance every lap is just as high.
The two-time champion Brendon Leigh, talking from a Mercedes office, made it very clear just how seriously the best sim drivers in the world take their jobs.
"We do a lot of mental & phyiscal training [...] I plan to run the London half-Marathon next year [...] also a lot of mental stuff."
Leigh refused to go into detail, but it was clear how focused he was on being the best.
"In terms of mental fatigue and mental stress, the esports racing is just as real as the real racing." Said Leigh, "We have to prepare our body to go to war".
Whilst Brendon couldn’t go in-depth about what the mental preparation at Mercedes F1 Esports team looks like, it is apparent that the mental readiness of the esports drivers is taken as seriously in Mercedes as it is for Hamilton and Bottas.
Hours at the wheel
With regards to on-track time, Brendon was happy to convey the training programme that the drivers face.
He openly admitted to practicing for up to eight hours each day, making previously mentioned figures of 200 practice laps for one hot lap seem like light work!
Tonizza quoted a track time of around four-to-six hours a day as he balanced schooling.
Not all drivers have had the time to practice as much as they’d like. James Baldwin has been competing in the British GT Championship, giving him plenty to do on a real track before jumping into the virtual ones.
"It's been quite tough balancing the two. I'd be lying if I said it hasn't prohibited the hours I can put into the F1 game." Said Baldwin.
However, he's been incredibly fast at whatever he turns his hand to, and while Baldwin will be making his Pro Series debut with McLaren Shadow this year he was a test driver for Alfa Romeo in 2019 and competed in some exhibition events with the F1 esports field during lockdown.
How to watch
The F1 Esports Series returns this week!
Watch Event 1 of the F1 Esports Pro Series presented by Aramco on 14-15 October live on F1’s official Facebook, YouTube and Twitch channels. For full info on how to watch visit https://www.f1esports.com/