Rudy van Buren – known for being one of the fastest sim racers around – took on a new role in 2022 as Red Bull's Simulator Test and Development Driver.
The news was confirmed over the summer but, according to Max Verstappen, van Buren had been "unofficially" working with the team for some time.
In light of the announcement, van Buren recently spoke to RacingNews365.com about the process of the news emerging, and his role within the squad.
"It has been a bit longer that I have been working there, only part of the contract was that it was not allowed to come out," the Dutchman explained.
"This year a new contract has come in, but my duties are car development and track support during race weekends.
"So after the season, that's testing new parts and philosophies. During the season, that's during race weekends, after free practice, trying different set-up changes to provide an extra tray of options for the track."
Working with Red Bull's simulator
Van Buren admits that the highly advanced simulator at Red Bull's base in Milton Keynes cannot be compared to an at-home simulator.
"At Red Bull, it goes a step further. You can almost superimpose the data from real life and virtual in the sim," he said.
"It's always still a bit of fine-tuning with the grip levels, that always depends on the temperature and wind direction on the real circuit, but I'm sure: if I overlay the data on a printout, you can't tell what is real and what is the sim."
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How does sim racing compare to the real thing?
While van Buren excels in the simulator and knows the Red Bull car well, he acknowledges that getting out onto a real circuit would be more of a challenge for him.
"I think my neck would be off after three laps then!" the Dutchman joked.
"In terms of procedures, provided I fit in the car, it would work. Just the G-forces and the experience of speed, that's the killer.
"I don't think you should say out loud that every sim driver is a good real driver. It's been tried plenty over the years, guys going from virtual to real.
"Some do it really with charm, but there are also a few where it seems that the fear effect – or whatever it is – turns out to be the killer."
Can van Buren beat Verstappen on the sim?
Despite this, van Buren is confident that he can outpace most drivers in the simulator.
"Who can't," he laughed when asked who he can beat.
"All of them, hundred per cent!"
Van Buren has known Verstappen for some time, with the two having both competed in sim racing for Team Redline, and he admits that the competition posed by his new Red Bull teammate can be tough.
"If we use iRacing in the home sim, I get completely wiped out by Max," van Buren added.
"If we use rFactor 2, I think he will get tough. In the Formula 1 simulator, it's close, but it has to be.
"They are the best drivers in the world. In the end, it's only about one thing and that's making the car better. That whole ego battle over who is a tenth faster is totally irrelevant."
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