Later on this afternoon you’ll be able to answer the question, “Am I as quick as an F1 driver?”, as thousands of gamers compete on Gran Turismo 5 (GT5) against ex-F1 driver David Coulthard, who will be driving a 6.2-litre V8 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG around a real track.
UPDATE: If you missed the live event, the edited highlights video is now available to watch. Take a look at the bottom of this page.
The race which will be broadcast live from 3pm (BST) later today will be run within a purpose-built game within GT5 called, the Mercedes-Benz Driving Event.
With Coulthard in the driving seat, Martin Brundle and Jonathan Legard will provide commentary and present the live broadcast. To add to the drama the track will remain a secret until the day to give all competitors a fair chance at victory, although perhaps in a deliberate faux-pas Legard announced on Twitter this morning “F1 star v virtual racers. Who’ll be champion around Dunsfold? #topgeartrack TODAY”.
He later corrected himself by tweeting, “Assuming it is there, of course. Like the stig, Some things aren’t always what they seem. Watch this space…”.
Jeremy Hart interviewed Martin Brundle for The Telegraph last week, who said, “When I first heard about this competition I thought it was DC racing gamers on a computer game, and he’s absolutely hopeless at that,” chortles Brundle. Then he gets serious. “But in a real SLS I think he’ll give them a good run for their money.”
“When I drive a car on a game, it amazes me how real it can feel. I recognise some of the traits of the real car in the digital version. But until you have felt the real car, the grip, the fear, you haven’t got a reference point. That’s why a digital racer needs the racing experience as well.”
Brundle then goes on to say, “In a real car you have to trust you can turn into a bend at 180mph and the car will stick and you won’t go off and kill yourself,” says Brundle. “If you go off the track during a game, it doesn’t hurt. That’s why we are still a long way from someone coming from virtual racing becoming a world champion. There are so many levels to being a top-flight racing driver. How to set up the car, read the weather and race wheel to wheel.”
Meanwhile at Mercedes-Benz World, Surrey, 24 prize draw winners will be battling it out to qualify for their place in the big race, and the lucky few who set the top six qualifying times will then compete against Coulthard in real time at Mercedes’ Brooklands venue, where visitors are welcome to come along and watch the action for themselves.
The GT5 contestant that sets the fastest lap will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2011 Brazilian Formula 1™ Grand Prix on 27 November.
If you weren’t lucky enough to make it through to the final 24 players, then you can still compete against Coulthard in the SLS AMG by entering the specially created in-game ‘seasonal event’ on GT5. Leaderboard information for the Mercedes-Benz Driving Event will be available on www.gran-turismo.com
The in-game Mercedes-Benz Driving Event will be available until Monday 26 September so there’s plenty of time to earn those bragging rights, but make sure you tune in this afternoon to gain some pointers on how to beat an F1 driver..