Q: Now that sim racing has become more popular and I’ve done quite a lot of it during lockdown, I find myself with some bad habits. Braking and brake feel for instance is much different on my sim rig compared to real life. It can take me hours in real life to find the right amount of trail braking after doing it on the sim one way for so long. Also, I have the problem of thinking I’m going faster the more g’s I pull which isn’t always true now that I can feel g-forces again. How do I quickly adjust from sim racing to real life racing?”

A: Yeah, the problem with so many sim rigs is the lack of feel in the brake pedal, and that can lead to developing the wrong habits/mental programming. Obviously, anything you can do to make your sim brake pedal feel more like your car, the better. I’m sure you’ve done the mods with rubber bushings behind the pedal to give it a firmer and more accurate feel?

I’ve found that the amount of trail braking can and should be very similar to the real car, if the handling is similar. If you have to trail brake more or less in the sim to get the car to do what you want, could you change the setup to make it more like your real car?

You really need to think about what the objective is when using your sim. For some drivers, it’s to be as fast as possible and win sim races. For others, it’s to use the sim as a tool to program the right habits, skills and techniques that will be used in the real car. If you decide to use your sim as a tool to help your real-life driving, then only practice what you want to do in the real car. Remember, practicing the wrong things on the sim will only make you better at doing the wrong things. Practice on the sim the same way as you want to drive in your real car.

I’ve had some drivers who practice on a sim for a long time go into their garage and sit in a real car and mentally practice driving the track using the same amount of trail braking as they’d use on the track. Do this, actually working the pedals as if you’re on track, while you close your eyes and imagine driving the track. The key is to actually use the brake pedal in your real car to simulate the feel you’ll have when driving on the track. Essentially, you’re building muscle memory.

The only way I know to adjust from the lack of feel of g-loads in a sim to the real car is to transition with mental imagery. Sure, you can’t feel real g-loads in your imagination, but you can imagine them. And your brain can’t tell the difference between a real and an imagined event if you imagine it with enough realism. If you take the time to completely envision what the real car feels like in braking and cornering, it’ll help. Other than that, you’ll have to accept that it’s a limitation of using a sim.