Today is a Saturday. I am sufficiently aware of the calendar to know that. Saturdays are often days when I watch a lot of sport on TV. Of course there’s no in-person live sport happening right now. The TV companies are gamely trying to keep up interest by showing classic matches, but it isn’t the same.
The other alternative is esports. Most sports simulation games that I have seen are deeply disappointing because they are nothing like the real thing. But there is one exception. Motor racing simulations are very close to real racing. Indeed, top flight drivers spend a lot of time practicing in simulation rigs, because running their cars on an actual track is very expensive.
The result of this is that it is possible to stage a simulated motor race that looks almost like the real thing on TV, and which professional drivers can compete in and enjoy.
The Formula 1 races they have had thus far have been more of a PR stunt. Neither Vettel nor Hamilton have risked their reputations by competing, and celebrity guest drivers have clogged up the back of the field. However, Charles LeClerc as proved that he’s the class of the field by easily winning both races held thus far.
Formula E is different. They are running a full 8-race season with two separate championships. The Challenge races will feature a range of guest drivers including up-and-coming drivers and professional esports racers, driving for the usual Formula E teams. Trans racing driver, Charlie Martin, has a seat in the Techeetah team for that. The main championship features the actual drivers from the physical races, driving their usual cars. A couple of them have had technical issues and not been able to take part, but the vast majority of the drivers have competed.
As a spectator, I’ve found the racing just as much fun as the real thing, especially now they have turned on realistic damage. They ran a practice race last weekend without it, and that ended up being more like a fairground dodgem car ride. The drivers themselves asked for damage to be turned on because it would make a better test of their skills.
So hooray for Formula E, who are once again breaking new ground in motorsport. And hooray for Charlie who finished a creditable 18th out of a field of 24. She’s the only woman in the field, and the level of competition is a step up from what she’s used to, so she’s doing really well.
Out in the “real” world, UK deaths are back above 800 again today. The numbers fluctuate from day to day, and they are certainly not growing exponentially as you’d expect from an out of control pandemic. But I think it is still too early to say that we are past the peak.