Oracle Red Bull Racing has just announced that its esports driver, Sebastian Job, has been working as an F1 Sim Test Driver alongside his existing esports commitments.
After a surprise evaluation using Red Bull’s junior simulator (VS2) earlier this year, the 22-year-old Englishman was offered the full-time role, seeing him work directly with the Formula 1 team.
“When I was greeted at reception with an NDA I knew something serious was happening.” said a clearly delighted Job.
“I hopped on the simulator and was asked to lap the Hungaroring, as that GP that had just taken place and we had Max’s qualifying data to compare myself to. It wasn’t just about speed, they wanted to see what my feedback was like, how accurate and consistent it was,” he explained.
“We had a productive day, and then a couple of weeks later, I was doing it for the real thing at Zandvoort. It was all very surreal.”
Sebastian has been racing at the highest level of esports for a long time now and after joining the Oracle Red Bull Esports family, was crowned Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion in 2020. He now competes in the F1 Esports Pro Series under the Scuderia AlphaTauri Esports banner, picking up three top-six finishes in his five appearances so far this season.
His global sim racing success may have demonstrated his ability behind the wheel, but it’s his measured and analytical approach to driving that makes him flourish in his new role.
“Feedback is ultimately the most important thing, and I think that’s why I have been chosen for the role. I am very analytical, my practice revolves around understanding why the car is behaving the way it is and comparing my data to others. Even if I’m on the pace, I will look for the one corner where I am slower and fix it,“ Job stated.
“Because I come from a sim racing background, I have been doing my own set-ups for many years and have a good knowledge of the car. That makes a big difference, and because I’m used to long driving stints, I can maintain focus throughout the sessions. Physically it’s tougher, but mentally it’s the same thing,” he continued.
His years of experience within the sim racing world have undoubtedly helped him develop transferable skills for this new career step. However, as he has discovered since those first laps at the virtual Hungaroring, the driving element is a big step up from anything previously encountered.
“It was very weird at first, getting used to the motion for example, but after a few laps, you stop noticing it. Very quickly, I felt like I had more feeling than I’d ever had on any sim racing game. The 2022 Red Bull is an incredible machine and I felt so connected to it. You expect that feeling to an extent, but it struck me as even better than I had anticipated,” commented an exultant Job.
“In sim racing, you use your eyes, hands, and ears to see, feel and hear things, whereas, with this, It’s all instinct. This may sound stupid, but it was easy, and that’s what it should be,” he exclaimed.
As Job now juggles esports preparation and competition with F1 simulator development work, it’s worth noting that this is not his first ‘real’ racing-related adventure. After winning the JMR Scholarship (based on Project Cars 2) back in 2017, he spent the following season competing in a national Formula Ford championship.
With a combination of sim racing, real racing and now official F1 sim driving, Seb’s career to date is one of the prime examples of the developing synergy between real and virtual motorsport. When discussing where he sees himself in five years, Job remains open-minded.
“If you asked me this question five years ago, I would never have been able to predict this [where I am now with Red Bull]. I don’t want to set specific goals because it could lead to disappointment, or maybe even end up better,” he answered pragmatically.
“In five years I’d love to be doing racing in real life in some form, or sooner really. That’s the goal I am working towards, but it’s always a matter of funding.”
“I feel like I’ve learned so much from the sim driving and I feel ready for it now. I’ve been training physically to prepare for it in case an opportunity ever arises,” Job concluded.
As we follow Sebastian’s journey with great interest, the biggest takeaway is that we are continuing to see talented sim racers filling major roles at the top level of motorsport. For fans of the sport, especially those interested in virtual racing, this can only be a good thing.