What have you got planned for next weekend? How about taking on the Nordscheleife in Sébastien Loeb’s WRC Citroen C4? Or racing around Rome in an Audi R8? Or what about about a test drive in the Red Bull X2010 prototype, the fastest road–going car ever designed?
Developing a huge 1483bhp which it delivers with the help of a whopping 9800N of turbo-powered downforce, this space age stunner dwarfs the performance figures of the existing record holder, the Bugatti Veyron.
But Bugatti’s French workforce can breathe easy because the only place you can put the X2010 through its paces right now is on the PlayStation in the new version of Gran Turismo 5.
The X2010 is a meeting of minds between one of the foremost racing car designers, Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey, and one of the greatest game designers, Polyphony Digital’s Kazunori Yamauchi, who has been the brains behind Gran Turismo from the start.
“This was the single most exciting project for me within Gran Turismo 5 because it really was a dream come true,” said Yamauchi, who has devoted six years of brain power and attention-to-detail to the development of the new game.
'A racing car is restricted by the regulations. Take those away and you can make something that’s obscenely fast' – Adrian Newey
He travelled to England to meet up with Newey and came up with a simple brief: “He asked if I’d design a car purely for the purposes of going around a track as fast as possible. One which didn’t respect any sporting rules and regulations,” says Newey.
“You see the performance of a racing car is hugely restricted by the regulations. Take those away and the opportunity exists to make something that’s obscenely fast.”
Starting with a few figures and shapes jotted down on a humble napkin, Newey devised a set of specifications for the car, and then began to create a design. But instead of handing the blueprints over to the factory in Milton Keynes as he would do normally, he passed them on to Yamauchi and his team of game developers at Polyphany Digital in Tokyo to incorporate into the GT driving simulator game.
But while this may all sound like pure fiction, Yamauchi’s philosophy has always been that when it comes to gaming, reality is fun – and that is what has made Gran Turismo so special.
“The gap between the real and the virtual is becoming narrower and narrower: these days racing drivers use simulators to practise. So realism and accuracy doesn’t make the game less fun, it makes it more fun,” he reasons.
“With the involvement of Adrian Newey and Red Bull, we were able to use very accurate simulations to make something that doesn’t actually exist, but easily could – and accomplish that aim to a very high level.”
So what’s it like to drive? Step forward virtual test driver Sebastian Vettel who took the X2010 for a shakedown around one of his favourite tracks; Suzuka in Japan. On his first flyer, the German beat Kimi Raikkonen’s actual lap record by more than 20 seconds.
This may be a digital car but it’s built to behave as if in the real world. So what would it be like to drive? “First of all you’d have to go to the gym. You need a lot of endurance and basic power.
“The X2010 is similar to a Formula One car, but it’s just so much quicker. So you’d need a very strong neck to be able to hold your head in the corners.”
'I like to play these games because they are very good fun and a big challenge' – Sebastian Vettel
So once you’ve been to the gym, what then? “The speed is so much higher it's like a new dimension – and you're not used to it. So you’d probably struggle to get the hang of it at first.
“You need to be patient and give yourself time to get into the rhythm, because the X2010 is just so much quicker than anything you might be used to beforehand, so – patience and a lot of practice – but then once you found out how it works it's actually pretty good fun.”
And none of that, though, takes into account the costs of actually building the car. So unless you have a few million in the bank, a private race track and a neck like a bull elephant, you’re better off spending your hard-earned on GT5.
And now to the burning question: do serious-minded people like Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Newey ever play video games?
“I like to play these games because you know they are very good fun and a big challenge,” says Vettel. “But they can be very helpful if you want to learn a track – especially if it's a new track.”
“Yes, I enjoy going on the PlayStation,” adds Newey. “I race my son, who invariably beats me. I really need a fast car like this to beat him! I think it’s a good thing for a father and son to do on a Sunday afternoon.”
And what about Yamauchi? What would he really like to do on a free weekend? “I like racing cars. My short term goal is I’d like to race in the 24-hours of the Nürburgring with Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Loeb.”
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