Formula E’s first ever virtual racer speaks up

Harnimal Photographer Formula E Virtual Racer

Formula Future recently caught up with Facundo Galella, the world’s first person to race on Formula E’s South American street circuits – albeit digitally – having faithfully recreated them in the virtual world.

Shortly after the FIA revealed the track layout of the Buenos Aires ePrix, a video surfaced online of the confirmed track – yet to be built, of course – being driven within a racing simulator, giving motorsport fans a glimpse of what the circuit would be like to race on from a driver’s point of view.

A similar onboard video of the Punta del Este street circuit was released soon after that.

The videos were created by Facundo Galella, an Argentine graphic designer and director of Punto Simu (www.puntosimu.com.ar), an online community of racing simulation enthusiasts. As previously covered on Formula Future, the digital circuits were constructed with the help of the official track diagram, local maps, three-dimensional Google Earth data and reference photographs.

Google Maps was a useful reference tool

Google Maps was a useful reference tool

Racing simulation programmes – such as rFactor, iRacing and Assetto Corsa – are popular tools used by both racing drivers and motorsport fans alike. While the former use them as a method of learning or practicing tracks in preparation for competition, fans use the same software to experience the thrill of real-world motorsport at a fraction of the price.

Some simulators allow community-made add-ons, or “mods”. As such, if the software doesn’t feature a certain circuit or type of vehicle, it can be added in by its users – with the only limits being their technical ability and imagination. Although such mods are often supported by manufacturers or racing teams, and are very often developed by motorsport professionals as pet projects, some keen simulator racers prefer to work alone with mountains of reference material.

Missing a particular car? Online downloads allow you to add any content to your simulator. (CTDP, F1 2006)

Missing a particular car? Online downloads allow you to add any content to your simulator. (CTDP, F1 2006)

One such racer is Facundo Galella. In an exclusive interview with Formula Future, we discussed the creative processes behind the videos and what the driving experience on Formula E’s street circuits is like.

Formula Future:

Why did you decide to make digital versions of the Formula E circuits?

Facundo Galella:

I decided to create my first simulation – Buenos Aires – within a minute of seeing the revealed circuit map. I just thought immediately that I had to simulate it! Then, because that digital track was quite successful, I decided to recreate Punta del Este as well.

Formula Future:

What attracts you to Formula E?

Facundo Galella:

I like the incorporation of new technologies into motorsport. The level of the drivers and teams is great as well!

Formula Future:

What is your favourite category of motorsport?

Facundo’s onboard videos can be viewed on Youtube

Facundo Galella:

I’m a big fan of Formula One – it’s rare that I ever miss a race, even when my schedule gets in the way! I love IndyCar too.

Formula Future:

You are the world’s first person to be able to share driving impressions of Formula E’s street circuits. What are they like?

Facundo Galella:

Both of the tracks feature big, heavy braking zones – which I understand will be a typical feature of Formula E tracks. Personally, I enjoyed Buenos Aires more – it’s wider and faster. However, Punta del Este is a beautiful location!

Formula Future:

How did you simulate the circuits? What maps or resources did you use to virtually recreate the routes?

Facundo Galella:

I studied the area in Google Earth and collected a lot of photos and videos for reference. Once I had that information, I built the track in a piece of software called a track editor.

Track editors such as 'Bob's Track Builder' allow users to virtually recreate tracks

Track editors such as ‘Bob’s Track Builder’ allow users to virtually recreate tracks

Formula Future:

How accurate are your tracks?

Facundo Galella:

The length and widths of the circuits are very precise thanks to information stored in Google Earth’s KML archives. The other details of track projects depend on the time you devote to them and the complexity of each circuit. My Formula E simulations were done quite quickly, so they lack some minor details.

Formula Future:

Which simulator did you record the videos in?

Facundo Galella:

I used the rFactor racing simulator, because it’s the fastest when it comes to loading and editing new circuits. Before recording my simulation run, I had to view the circuit inside the simulator, correct some details, and keep improving it until I was happy with it. So I needed a piece of software that could help me do this quickly. I also prefer to use rFactor because it’s the most realistic simulator out there!

rFactor is one of the most popular racing simulators

rFactor is one of the most popular racing simulators (PCGaming2Me)

Formula Future:

Do you plan to create previews of any more Formula E street circuits?

Facundo Galella:

Based on the response we’ve been having to these videos, it’s something I’m currently evaluating! There’s not much time to make them, since the season kicks off in Beijing in just over a month – but it’s very likely that we’ll try to.

Formula Future:

Do you have any plans to release these circuits to be downloaded and driven on by other racing fans?

Facundo Galella:

Yes, that’s the idea. First I need to improve quite a few things before public release. As you can see, for now I’ve only simulated the basic circuit layout. It’s missing a lot of details that would make it enjoyable for the public.

Formula Future:

Do you know of any plans within the simulation community to simulate Formula E cars?

Facundo Galella:

I don’t know of anyone trying a project like that – hopefully someone is interested in this!

Image credit: Harniman / Amlin Aguri

Be the first to comment on "Formula E’s first ever virtual racer speaks up"

Leave a Reply