The latest personality to get behind the wheel of the state-of-the-art simulator at our Milton Keynes HQ is none other than YouTube and gaming star Sim Racing Girl, aka Sinem Temur.
Sinem began racing on gaming rigs just a year and a half ago, but since then has become one of sim racing's biggest stars, largely through her hugely successful YouTube channel. So, how did the Belgian star get on in what might be called the daddy of all gaming rigs?
Sinem set a best lap time of 1:10.100 just 6 seconds behind the qualifying times of Daniel and Max at the 2017 Austrian Grand Prix. She also managed to beat British astronaut Tim Peake's time of 1:16.900 set in our previous sim challenge.
Check out the video below and read on as we quiz Sim Racing Girl about racing, online trolls and the thrill of dog-scented playseats.
What did you think when you were first asked to come into the factory and try the simulator?
I was blown away. I couldn't believe it. OK, I'm Sim Racing Girl but I didn't expect this much!
How did you find it?
It's something else. It's something I've never done before but I can't compare it to anything else. I have tried different kinds of rigs until now at the sim racing expo and stuff like that but this is something else. Also, I love racing open-wheel cars; it's really my thing. It was a great experience.
Was it a big step up from what you're used to?
Yes! The software, the wheel, the pedals, everything was 10 steps up. I got used to it though. I think it has to do with the software iRacing. Normally, I race on Assetto Corsa, but with iRacing it's tricky and very easy to lose the car; it really teaches you how to manage it. That's why I was better than I thought on this software.
Was it the longest you've been in a sim for?
No, that was quite normal, but the motion and the sound is amazing. It's really immersive. It's more intense than racing at home. At home I have the Oculus (vr system), which is also quite advanced but this is amazing.
What was it like having an F1 engineer talking you through it and giving you pointers?
My sim racing coach has already told me most of the things the engineer told me, especially about braking and corner exits, but the engineer did tell me some things I didn't realise. But it really does help you.
How do you think you did in our challenge?
I think it was good, but I have no idea! I think I was only 1 or 2 seconds off the pace of the engineer which isn't too bad considering I started driving only a year and a half ago!
How did you get into it?
My boyfriend came home with a second-hand playseat. It even had the smell of the previous owner's dog on it, so we would put towels on it before racing! He came home with this and it was a boys' club on Tuesdays; all of his friends would come over. I wanted to have a go and one of the guys said to me, "it's not a girl thing, you can't do this, it's only for boys". I didn't get mad, but I saw it as a challenge. I practiced for a week or two and then the boys came again and I beat them. That's how I got into it and I really enjoy it.
Then I started doing reviews, which were a bit sloppy in the beginning, but with every review I learned a lot, and I slowly got better and felt more comfortable doing reviews. However, because I was putting a lot of time into them, I has less time to race any more! My primary reason for starting a simracing channel was to share my experience and evolution in racing, so in the future I will definitely focus more on getting better and getting faster in simracing and share this with my followers.
Do you do any real world racing – karting or anything like that?
No. We go karting once every two months or something like that. Not that I'm good at it, it's something new for me, but I do like it.
What did you think of the factory tour?
I was blown away. You know what goes on but behind the scenes it's so much more. You really don't think about that. It's amazing. I'm really grateful to Red Bull Racing for offering me this experience, the tour and the simulator session. It was all just great. I was really amazed by the carbon fibre materials and how they're made.
What's your favourite track to drive?
I have a few. Obviously Spa, but also Zandvoort in the Netherlands - and the Red Bull Ring - but if I had to pick one it would be Spa.
Is there one piece of kit you absolutely have to have in order to race?
My racing shoes! I started racing just wearing Converse, and it was OK but everybody was like 'the soles are really thick and you can't do it right' and then I got the shoes I have and it made a huge difference. Some people race in socks or barefoot but that's not for me.
Motorsport is quite male dominated and the world of sim racing even more so, what's like being a famous woman in that environment?
First of all i think "famous" is a big word. I realise that in the niche market of simracing a lot of people have seen my channel or have heard of me so I'm known in the community. I get a lot of comments saying, 'The only reason you get free stuff and opportunities is because you're a girl', but I don't believe this is the only reason. Being a girl in a male dominated market can be attractive, take my reviews for example. I put a lot of research and effort in to them. The video production process can be difficult and stressful. Additionally, I believe I have the potential to get better in simracing as I'm already mostly in the top 5 on assetto corsa for example. I love sim racing and I want to be fast. That's my goal – I just want to be fast as a person, not a girl.
What would be your number one tip for anyone starting in sim racing?
If you like sim racing, and you want to get faster and better i think the only way is to practice, practice and practice!