A few weeks ago SIMSPORTNews founder Jacob Tofts took Sebastian Job to iZone Driver Performance at Silverstone. Sebastian is an experienced sim racer, having won GT World Championship level races as well as the JMR Scholarship that awarded him a fully funded drive in the real world 2018 British Formula Ford championship.
I think it’s fair to say that despite being a very experienced sim racer, Sebastian is very much self taught and hence wasn’t quite sure of what to expect from the day, but came away with a very positive impression and some techniques he can apply to help develop his sim racing skills further.
We were greeted at iZone by Neil Riddiford and Enzo Mucci. Neil is the Head Coach (and inaugural British Formula Renault Champion back in 1989). He is probably the most experienced simulator driver coach in the industry with over 10 years of experience. Enzo is the Personal Performance Coach, whose clients include Esteban Ocon, Romain Grosjean and many other high profile drivers. Enzo will work on your racing mind and teach you how to mentally perform on demand.
The first time you see the iZone setup, you can’t help but be impressed. Sebastian used the single seater full motion rig (one of 5 simulators iZone have to choose from), with a huge full wrap-round screen!
The session started with Sebastian doing a 15 minute warm up session, driving a Formula Renault 3.5 on the Silverstone National Track. The aim was not to set a lap time, but it was very quickly evident that Sebastian knew what he was doing and was posting quick times almost straight away. iZone have live telemetry screens and hence we were already observing Sebastian’s laps with him ending that session having posted a time of 53.06 seconds.
Next up was a debriefing period, with Neil relaying his initial observations. He discussed the ideal technique and a few ways in which he felt Sebastian could improve before we moved on to the second driving session of the day – the eye tracking assessment.
iZone have developed an eye tracking device, similar to that used by the United States Air Force to train fighter pilots. Simply put, it follows where your eyes are actually looking on the track, particularly so when rounding a corner. The idea here being to look as far through a corner as possible, but few of us actually do this well! Sebastian did this for a few laps before coming in for a second debrief of what the data showed. Once Seb understood what he needed to improve on, he went back out onto the track, but now his target was to focus on looking at a laser device that Neil was pointing, to guide him where to look. With some more laps practice using this different technique, Sebastian was able to unlock a few extra tenths from his lap times!
It was the final session however, the mental training through the use of a ‘Distraction Test’, that surprised Sebastian the most and is something that he is keen to focus on developing further. Utilising techniques such as counting backwards in increments whilst trying to focus on driving, is something Sebastian is keen to try more. With many sim races being held at LAN events, where there are lots of distractions, this could be an especially useful skill to develop.
Unexpectedly, it was these mental skills techniques that gave Sebastian the biggest gain of the day in terms of lap times. He improved his time to a 52.29, for an overall gain of eight tenths of a second. This is a huge amount of time to find in just two hours of specialist sim training!