World of Sport

How to have an F1 car in your living room

Most sports fans can emulate their heroes in their chosen sport, even if it's on a basic level.

Football supporters can head to the park, cycling aficionados can take the bike out — but what about the Formula One fan?

Well, the closest thing to the real thing has been invented — the Evotek SYM 026.

Technically, it's a video game simulator, but on a scale like little else.

You sit in a lifelike, fully rendered Formula One cockpit, then stare ahead at three HD screens which have perfect versions of all the tracks from around the world — right down to the pebbles of the run-off areas should it turn out you're not Lewis Hamilton.

While other alternatives exist, they don't use Formula One data and set-ups similar to those the drivers themselves would use on race day.

The software was designed for professional racers to hone their skills, but has evolved into something the public can buy.

That is, of course, if they have $90,000 (around  £56,000) burning a hole in their pocket.

"There's a lot of interest in the private market for this machine," says Loris Scagliarini, the director of California-based Evotek US.

"You not only pick your track, you can pick the time of day at that track thanks to data that's built into the Evotek," says Gian Luigi Cavani, one of the founders of Evotek Engineering and who for more than 20 years worked on Ferrari's F1 program. "It's so realistic that if you wind up off and in the pebbles, you'll feel those pebbles on the tires."

It's not just that it looks real — the car body you sit in is on suspension so you feel the ups and downs of the track, the verges and kerbs — in short, the effects of your driving.

American racer Guy Cosmo, who competes in the American Le Mans Series, said it was as close to the real thing as he had ever experienced.

"It did a great job replicating an experience that admittedly can't be replicated," Cosmo said. "There are no forces on your body here, so you can't produce that pure fear. But its movements are so subtle that I really felt it was close to a real drive. And after all, most humans will never even get close to driving an F1 car. So at least there's this."