Driving on Singapore's F1 night track

Simulator mimicks every turn of the real Formula One route.

John Chan
2 min read
Crave Asia

Earlier today, we had a go on SingTel's F1 simulator. Designed by U.K.-based BallRacing Developments, this machine is not your usual arcade fare. The Singapore operator commissioned it to simulate just one track, the one that F1 drivers will actually use in Singapore come September.

Not only does it look like an F1 car, but it feels real, too. You're almost fully reclined while an assistant adjusts the foot pedals to the reach of your legs. The steering wheel is then snapped on, just like the real thing.

Once you start the engine, the entire machine vibrates. Though you are controlling what happens on the screen, the "car" moves according to your driving. Granted, it won't spin you around like a theme park ride, but it does add to the sensation that you are really in an F1 racer.

The graphics in this simulator aren't fantastic; you'll probably get more eye candy from racing games for PCs and consoles. But that's not the point. This is an almost true-to-life recreation of the Singapore F1 track, one you won't find on any video game at the moment. Driving the F1 car isn't easy. This simulator aims to make it feel just like the real thing, so all your antics on an Xbox 360 won't work here. For one, there's no automatic mode, so gear shifting is a must using the paddles at the steering wheel. The intricacies of F1 driving including a speed limit in the pit stop area are also programmed into the simulator, which is just one example of how detailed it is.

SingTel has one simulator at its headquarters in Comcentre along Exeter Road and another that has yet to arrive in Singapore. The second one will travel around the island to spread the F1 fever. You can't just walk in and drop a token to drive one, though. It's free, but those hoping to have a go will first have to register and then book a slot through the operator's F1 site. You also have only one lap to prove your worth, so don't go unprepared. We strongly advise anyone attempting to use the simulator to practice first on the PC version (a 222MB download) at home, albeit without the cool car, wheel, seatbelt, and sound effects. Make sure you memorize the track so as not to make a fool of yourself in a public place, crashing at every turn.

As part of the festivities, there are also real racing suits and helmets that participants can put on for a photo opportunity. Check out our photo gallery for more images.

(Source: Crave Asia)