Lewis Hamilton has been absent from the high profile Esports events that many of his fellow Formula 1 drivers have been contesting in recent weeks, but he has been keeping his hand in by trying to beat his own lap times in his favourite driving game.
The reigning world champion also been competing with some of his regular rivals in a popular shooting game, rather than with a steering wheel.
Max Verstappen and Lando Norris have been among the most prolific competitors in official Esports races since coronavirus put a stop to real events, while many other current and past F1 drivers have also been taking part. Hamilton has thus far stayed away from such competitions.
“I’m not interested in much driving simulated racing,” he said in a Mercedes video interview.
“But Gran Turismo and Sony just sent me this whole set-up. I grew up playing Gran Turismo, and spending hours earning the money to buy all these cars, and it was really a great opportunity to do something with them.
“So I’ve been working with them the last couple of years, and I got to do this challenge, beat my time kind of thing. I’ve been racing myself, trying to beat my own laps. It’s been frustrating as hell, because my laps were pretty decent I think!”
Hamilton said having the opportunity to compete in his own car was an enjoyable aspect if his chosen game.
“Honestly, it’s one of the coolest things. Naturally growing up playing F1 games I couldn’t wait until I had my car on there, and once I got to F1 I didn’t play any racing games, particularly like F1 – I don’t know why.
“But in this game fortunately I didn’t have to work to earn my car, because it would have taken me [a long time]. They sent me some credits and I bought the car. It’s incredible to think that it’s come a long way, and the car that my team and I have helped evolve and build over the years is in this game that people can earn and get to go and drive.”
Hamilton has never been a fan of simulators, and spends little time in the state-of-the-art facility in the Mercedes factory.
“I never drive simulators, very, very rarely," he admitted. "With simulators it’s very, very difficult, because the movement is never perfect. It’s something they constantly try to improve on. Obviously if you’re at home with a simulator the seat doesn’t move, and your mind is telling you that the car’s moving, but you’re not getting any cueing of movements.
“You have to kind of override your mind and I don’t really like doing that and going through that process. Then you get in the real thing, and it’s completely different.
“I don’t find it personally any benefit doing the simulation thing, but the actually fun gaming side of things, when you get to play with friends and people online, that’s a plus stage.”
While he hasn’t been racing in the public contests that many of his regular rivals Hamilton has been in online contact with some of them, revealing: “I’ve played Call of Duty with Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc.”