Sim Rennstrecke


Success in the virtual world.

Thrilling wheel-to-wheel battles, iconic racetracks, top-class cars sounds like motor racing, and is indeed motor racing… only virtual. Sim racing has enjoyed a real boom in 2020. Big-name manufacturers are increasingly showing interest, sponsors are committing, and coverage is increasing – and with it comes an increase in prize money. BMW Motorsport made sim racing an independent and equal pillar in its motor racing programme in 2020. In close communication with the rapidly-growing sim racing community, it has helped to make the industry even more professional. Like real motorsport, sim racing covers all performance levels, from hobby racers, who take to the virtual track for a few laps as a way of winding down at the end of the day, to professional sim racers, who make a living from their hobby and passion. However, compared to real motorsport, the costs involved in sim racing are relatively low. For example, there is no need for mechanics. Nor must you purchase a race car, hire circuits, or spend money on fuel, tyres and other equipment.

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BMW Power in<br>Sim Racing.Success in the virtual world.


However, sim racing is not possible without any equipment at all. Just as a real racing driver needs a customised cockpit to be successful, the right hardware is also required in sim racing if you want to compete at the highest level. The range on offer is huge, from simple basis equipment, which any amateur gamer can pick up, to high-end solutions.

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What does the right equipment consist of?

Sim rig, force feedback, direct drive and widescreen are meaningful terms to those heavily involved in sim racing. They are just some of the hardware components that can be used in virtual races at the highest level of the discipline. Essentially, a high-end kit consists of a solid and stable metal frame, in which the racing seat is integrated – the so-called sim rig. As a rule, a rig like this also includes a screen – preferably a high-resolution one. A steering wheel with appropriate engine and a set of pedals are also obligatory.


Top sim racers Laurin Heinrich and Alexander Voß from the BS+COMPETITION team, who won the virtual Nordschleife 24 Hours alongside BMW works driver Philipp Eng in 2020, and also competed in the final of the BMW SIM 120 Cup at BMW SIM Live 2020, are real experts when it comes to equipment. On the topic of hardware, Voß said: “In my opinion, it is worth spending more than half your budget on a good rig and good pedals if you are looking to get top equipment.” Like Eng, he and Heinrich have a 144 Hz 49-inch widescreen monitor. “A monitor with a fast reaction time is extremely valuable, as it gives you a very realistic feeling of speed and is easier on your eyes,” Heinrich explained. 


At what point does high-end equipment make sense?

How is it possible for Krognes, despite his relatively basic equipment, to keep pace in such a strong racing series as the DNLS? “More expensive does not necessarily mean faster,” said Eng. “There are also a lot of professional sim racers who do not have such high-quality equipment, but still show me how it is done.” Voß agreed: “You are not automatically half a second faster, just because you have invested several thousand euros in a good simulator. You have to get used to everything – even very basic equipment. Familiarity plays a very big role. Only when it comes to squeezing out the final few tenths of a second do I think that it is easier with good equipment. In my opinion, you can perform more consistently with good pedals and a good steering wheel, in particular. It is more intuitive.” Krognes backs him up: “I don’t think I would be significantly faster with top-quality equipment, but I would probably be more consistent. A triple stint in an endurance race can be pretty uncomfortable on a normal chair.”


The good news for amateur racers is that you can get hold of hardware to be competitive in sim racing, with a manageable budget. Only if you are spending many hours a day at the wheel, or need to find the final few tenths of a second at the very highest level, does it make sense to invest in high-end equipment.

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What equipment do you need to be able to compete with the best?

The big question regarding hardware for sim racing is what equipment do I need to be able to compete with the best? Do I really need to fork out a five-figure sum for the race simulator and all the accessories? One man showing that this is not necessarily the case is Walkenhorst Motorsport driver Christian Krognes. Although his equipment is not necessarily of the very highest standard, Krognes still managed to set impressive lap times on the virtual Nordschleife and challenged at the front of the field. “I basically sit at a normal table, on a normal chair. During the day, I work from home as usual. Then, in the evening, I fasten my steering wheel in place and drive for a few hours,” Krognes explained. His pedals are attached to a box under the table and there is no sign of a metal sim rig holding the whole construction together. That does cause the odd issue. “If I brake too hard, I sometimes slide backwards on my stool,” said Krognes. He is now considering making himself a simple rig. 


Looking for the right simulation: how real should it be?


As well as equipment, it is also important to select the right simulation. Probably the best-known platforms, on which the BMW SIM Cup competitions take place, are iRacing, rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione. They all offer a very precise simulation of real motorsport – whether it be the driving physics, the circuits, or the strictly regulated races against other drivers. “On iRacing, the battles are very fair, very open and very respectful, because everyone knows that they have to be careful,” said Eng, discussing the world’s leading motorsport simulation. iRacing offers hundreds of cars and circuits from almost every important racing discipline. From world championships and ‘special events’ to public, hosted and league races, no matter what level of driving or motor racing background, there is always an appropriate iRacing event for every user.


The rFactor 2 platform, on which the BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup was held in 2020, uses the ‘gMotor2 High Fidelity Physics Engine’ to simulate car-based dynamic properties for a host of road and race cars. Its centrepiece is an extremely sophisticated tyre model and clever features like the dynamic ‘Real Road’ track surface, 24-hour day/night transitions, and a wide range of weather effects. Since 2013, rFactor 2 has been a forerunner in the development of modern race simulators. It is currently managed by Studio 397. The latest software version includes additional features like DX11 and VR support, as well as further developments in the field of graphic performance and the integration of an advanced multi-player system, which allows software-internal support and the expansion of local and high-end Esports simulations.


The Assetto Corsa Competizione simulation, which boasts a realistic driving feeling and a large scope of series and cars, and is also available for PlayStation, Xbox and high-performance Windows PCs, offers beginners a very cost-efficient route into sim racing. Fans of endurance motorsport can have a lot of fun on Assetto Corsa Competizione, which is totally dedicated to GT racing. It is this platform that will host the BMW SIM Time Attack by Assetto Corsa Competizione from 2021. RaceRoom also offers an affordable way into the sport, as the basic game is free of charge. You do, however, have to purchase well-known racing series like the DTM, WTCC and GT Masters. 

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Sim racing simulator

      BMW Power in Sim Racing.

      Sim racing simulator

          BMW Power in Sim Racing.

          Sim racing simulator

              BMW Power in Sim Racing.

              A steering wheel with appropriate engine and a set of pedals are also obligatory.

                  BMW Power in Sim Racing.

                  HIGHLIGHTS OF BMW SIM LIVE 2020.

                  While some manufacturers have become increasingly aware of the subject of sim racing in recent months, BMW Motorsport ramped up its involvement in virtual motor racing back in 2019. BMW Motorsport made sim racing an independent and equal pillar in its motor racing programme in 2020. In close communication with the rapidly-growing sim racing community, it has helped to make the industry even more professional. Working closely with simulation platforms iRacing and rFactor 2, BMW Motorsport has integrated race cars like the BMW M8 GTE, the BMW M4 GT4 and the BMW M2 CS Racing as realistically as possible in the simulations. Over the course of the season, the best sim racers in the world have gone head to head in the BMW one-make cups: the BMW SIM 120 Cup and the BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup. However, the previous involvement and collaborations were just the beginning. BMW SIM Live 2020 gave a small taste of what fans can look forward to in the future.

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                  BMW M4 GT3 steering wheel, the first of its kind for race car and simulator.


                  BMW Motorsport has collaborated with sim racing hardware producer, Fanatec, to develop a steering wheel for the BMW M4 GT3 that can be used in both a race car and a race simulator – a technology transfer, the likes of which has never been seen before in motor racing. Absolutely no modifications are required for it to be used in the race car. The carbon steering wheel is a motorsport design, with illuminated buttons and magnetic, dual-action shift paddles also made of carbon.

                  The BMW M4 GT3 as a prototype on iRacing.

                  As with the BMW M8 GTE and BMW M4 GT4 before it, BMW Motorsport has worked very closely with popular sim racing platform iRacing over the past few months to integrate the BMW M4 GT3 as faithfully as possible in the simulation. Even during the development phase, the BMW M4 GT3 is being used as a test car on iRacing. Sim racers can therefore follow the development together with BMW Motorsport, and can help drive the development forward until the final version is available on iRacing and to real motor racing customers later in 2021. At the same time as the real car is being developed, BMW Motorsport engineers have provided their colleagues at iRacing with CAD data and photos as a reference, which they can then use as a basis when programming and designing the virtual BMW M4 GT3. In an additional data package, iRacing received all the information on the driving dynamics of the BMW M4 GT3. BMW Motorsport engineers use the same set of data to operate the BMW Motorsport simulator, for example. In total, over 70 GB of data has already been exchanged. The common goal is to recreate the actual driving dynamics as realistically as possible.


                  BMW Motorsport, BMW Designworks and Sedus combine functionality and home design in the ‘Fusion SL’ concept furniture.

                  Sim racing is growing in popularity all over the world. As such, the number of users building comprehensively-equipped rigs at home is also growing. At BMW Motorsport, this raised the question of how to integrate these rigs into everyday life. Together with BMW Designworks and furniture manufacturer Sedus, they have come up with a solution. The concept study is called ‘Fusion SL’ – a unique combination of sim racing rig and lounge furniture. The idea was to develop a piece of furniture that would save space and could be aesthetically integrated into a modern living environment. It can be converted into a rig in just a few simple steps, but is otherwise folded down to serve as a desk, coffee table or seat, thus making ‘boost’ and ‘ease’ concepts that can be experienced not only in the car, but also in the living room.
                  The implementation of the project brought together the engineering quality of BMW Motorsport, design expertise of Michael Scully and his BMW Designworks team, and the production performance of Sedus – one of the leading full-service providers for office furnishings and workplace concepts. 

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                  combination of sim racing rig and lounge furniture

                  BMW SIM Cups.

                  Last year’s successful Cup formats on various sim racing platforms will be continued and expanded in 2021. This allows the best sim racers in the world to continue to compete in the BMW M8 GTE on the iRacing platform within the BMW SIM GT Cup. Over the course of the year, the BMW M4 GT3 will also be introduced. The virtual version of this car is currently being developed by iRacing at the same time as the real car is being developed. The BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup will also offer spectacular racing again. However, it will no longer take place exclusively on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, but at various racetracks within the support programme for the GT Pro Series on rFactor 2. New to the programme is the BMW SIM Time Attack by Assetto Corsa Competizione. This sees drivers race against the clock with the BMW M4 GT4 in monthly competitions. All participants have the same goal: to compete at the BMW SIM Live event, which will once again provide the stage for the grand finale of all the BMW SIM Cups in 2021.

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                  BMW Motorsport collaborates with top sim racing teams.

                  The partnerships with four of the best sim racing teams in the world underline the fact that BMW Motorsport is very ambitious and determined to celebrate victories in Esports. Team Redline, Williams Esports, G2 Esports and BS+COMPETITION will compete with BMW cars and represent BMW Motorsport at many top-class sim racing events on the biggest platforms in 2021. Each team brings its own specific strengths and different focusses to the partnership. Team Redline can look back on a unique success story in sim racing and is one of the favourites in every race that features a Redline car. The Williams Esports team is positioned very broadly in sim racing and regularly challenges for victories and titles on many different platforms – sharing the same name of the Formula 1 team. BS+COMPETITION has a big squad of so-called hybrid racers, who are successful in real and virtual motor racing. BMW and G2 Esports already collaborate successfully in other areas of Esports. Sim racing is now being added to this collaboration. The focus of G2 Esports Sim Racing is on outings in the Assetto Corsa Competizione simulation.

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                  Sim racing

                  BMW Motorsport SIM Academy.

                  With the construction of its own academy, sim racing is being given a physical home at BMW Motorsport. At the ‘Home of BMW Motorsport SIM Racing’, inexperienced and ambitious sim racers will be given the opportunity to call on the extensive range of training opportunities and motor racing expertise at BMW Motorsport. This begins with coaching from professional sim racers in the BMW Motorsport SIM Racing partner teams, and continues through to mental training courses, which BMW works drivers have been attending regularly for many years to optimise their concentration during races. The training sessions at the BMW Motorsport SIM Academy are available streamed online and – as soon as it is possible again – in person. The academy is currently being set up. Further details of the programme will be announced during the first half of 2021.

                  BMW SIM World Tour.

                  Also new for 2021 is the BMW SIM World Tour. This will – if the pandemic situation allows it – kick off in April 2021 with an innovative roadshow through Austria, under the tagline ‘From Showroom to Racetrack’. Mobile BMW racing simulators offer customers and interested parties the opportunity to enjoy an immersive motorsport experience, with the prospect of winning attractive prizes and a place in the national final. A total of 40 event days throughout Austria are planned for the pilot project. The car of choice for the virtual heats will be the entry-level model in the BMW M Motorsport range – the BMW M2 CS Racing. 

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                  Sim racing
                  BMW SIM Racing


                  BMW SIM Racing takes the lead in the Esports of the world with its virtual racing programme. 2021 sees the BMW SIM Cups in the BMW M8 GTE, BMW M4 GT3, BMW M4 GT4 and BMW M2 CS Racing on the simulation platforms iRacing, rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione.
                  110% Fan

                  110% FAN.

                  There are people behind the scenes, who make motor racing what it is: Unique, exciting and incomparable. Experience what true fan passion looks like and how creative the BMW Motorsport community can be when it comes to their greatest passion. Prepare to be amazed and inspired.