How to be a better sim racer, with Porsche racing driver Laurin Heinrich
The rising star of racing shares his top Esports tips
Porsche TAG Heuer Supercup car doing doughnuts on the track
The new Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland champ, Laurin Heinrich, is also an accomplished Esports racer, using simulators to help hone his all-round driving ability. Heed his advice, and you’ll help improve your racing skills whether virtual or real life
Laurin Heinrich describes himself as a ‘hybrid driver’, as comfortable at the virtual steering wheel as he is leading the pack on track in one of motorsports’ top race series. He cut his teeth in sim racing before moving to the actual track where, in 2021, he won the rookie title in the Porsche Supercup. Then, after being appointed the Porsche Junior for this season, Laurin took a stunning Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland championship win in 2022. Esports are now a serious business – Laurin says that time spent sim racing have made him a much better driver. It’s given him knowledge that he’s now passing on to us with these 14 top tips for driving success.#1: Drive, drive, drive“It may sound obvious, but practice does make perfect. You can be in great physical and mental shape and follow the best-laid strategies, but nothing can replace driving practice. So go on – just do one more lap on the simulator.”#2: Don’t get too worked up“If you want to get started in sim racing, always remember one thing – it’s about having fun. You may want to be the best, but if you don’t take the time to learn, you’ll quickly throw in the towel. For this reason, you should lower your own expectations and keep at it. You’ll see the fruits of your labour eventually.”#3: Wear the right clothes“Many people underestimate the exertion that sim racing entails, and the heat that comes from the monitors and PCs. If you’re too hot during a race, you’ll struggle to quickly take off a thick pullover. That’s why having the right clothing is a must. Sports clothing is actually one of the best options for Esports.”
eSport/Porsche Supercup driver Laurin Heinrich driving on a simulator
Gloves, headphones and sports clothing – Laurin Heinrich says you need to be comfortable on a simulator
#4: Activate your body“If you just walk up to the simulator, sit down and immediately drive off, you’ll find that the odds are automatically against you during the race. Warming up 5-10 minutes beforehand will increase your heart rate and get the blood pumping, making sure that your body is fully activated and your brain is even more perceptive. An absolute no-no? Stretching. That’s because stretching causes more blood to be pumped to the muscles that have been stretched, which diverts blood from the brain and leads to reduced perceptiveness.”#5: Take breaks“Taking breaks is almost as important as training. If you don’t take breaks, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to let what you’ve learned sink in. And if you use up all of your [motivational] reserves right at the beginning and just drive non-stop on the simulator, you will soon lose interest. You should never underestimate the power of taking regular breaks and doing other activities.”#6: Get some fresh air“Take in some fresh air for a fresh mind. The air around you gradually reduces in quality due to the use of the technical equipment and your own breathing. In winter, the heating does exactly the same thing. Regularly getting some fresh air lets sim racers refuel their brain.” #7: Get out of your comfort zone“If you always drive the same circuits, get behind the wheel of the same car and know your opponents inside out, you will find it difficult to improve. For this reason, you should get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Try new circuits, change your car every now and then, and take on drivers who are better than you. This will help you develop.”
Esports driver looking at screen of a racing simulator
Accepting the challenge of driving on a new circuit is the perfect training session for a sim racer
#8: Learn from the best“You can learn a lot from drivers who are better than you. This is why good sim racers observe and analyse the races completed by other drivers. You should pay particular attention to aspects such as where the braking points are, which line the driver takes in the bend, and how they react to unexpected situations.”#9: Expand your horizons“Reaction speed, concentration, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination – these are all important in sim racing. You can also improve these skills by playing other sports or games. Try apps like Piano Tiles or games like table tennis. Exposing your brain to different stimuli can enhance your skillset significantly.” #10: Stay in the here and now“Mistakes happen in sim racing – just like they do in real-life races. But there is no point in analysing all of your mistakes during the race itself. Firstly, it doesn’t work. Secondly, you’ll neglect the here and now. You will have plenty of time after the race to work through mistakes and draw conclusions from them for the next races. You should concentrate fully on the moment. This will let you get the best out of every situation.”
Porsche 911 racecars on track in an Esports race
Participants in the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup – a series organised by Porsche and sim racing provider iRacing – compete for prize money totalling US$200,000
#11: General fitnessOf course, the level of physical exertion required in sim racing is not as great as in real-life motorsport. But anyone who has been sim racing for a while will experience the physical and mental toll that Esports can produce. Your heart starts pumping, the sweat starts flowing, your head feels fried. That’s why being generally fit will make you better prepared for sim racing. And if you’re using fewer resources for your body, you’ll have more to use for your mind.” #12: Good teamwork“Succeeding in simracing also means succeeding as a team. When working in a team, clear communication, a good team spirit and plenty of motivation are essential. For this reason, you should find yourself teammates who are on your wavelength, reliable and with whom you can share your passion for sim racing.”
Sim racing drivers competing at a competitive championship
Sim racing, like many Esports, has exploded in popularity in recent years and is seen a great entry point into real-life motorsports
#13: Develop strategies during training“Strategic decisions, such as when to change tyres or how much fuel to put in your car, can have a major impact on the outcome of a virtual race. Ideally, you should first test out any potential scenarios during your training sessions, and not during the race itself. This gives you more room to manoeuvre if you find yourself in an unexpected situation.”#14: Face your fears“Many sim racers shy away from certain situations, such as launching, and leave more difficult moves to their teammates. But you will find yourself in that situation sooner or later. For this reason, it’s best to face your fears and work on overcoming them. Do that and you will be less nervous and more independent.”
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