Formula One has a massive following around the world, so at least one Grand Prix format is essential for this ARC Pro guide. Unfortunately, I always get nervous about using F1 cars for digital racing - the cut and thrust of lane-changing, overtaking and up to six cars on two lanes can be a bit much for those delicate front and rear wings, bargeboards etc.
The first principle for any F1 digital racing should be 'No Contact Racing'. I've mentioned this before, but will look at it again, paraphrasing what is on the Scalextric website...
- You must not brake-test the car behind you - this is 'Contact'
- You must not deliberately crash into another car - this is 'Contact'
- You must not change lanes into another car - this is 'Contact'
- You must not exit the pit lane into another car - this is 'Contact'
- You must not push or shove the car in front to cause it to lose control or de-slot into a corner - this is 'Contact'
- You must not push a de-slotted car off the track to get past - this is also 'Contact'
The penalty for any contact is up to you. Usually, we give two warnings, immediately followed by a stop-go penalty on the third offense. With ARC Pro, this is most easily done by a pit stop and a count of 1-2-3-4-5-Go. For F1 races, one offence might be enough for the race steward to award a penalty. It is important to nominate one person to act as race steward - and their decision is final.
My fleet of four Scalextric digital F1 cars from the 2007 World Championship digital set look remarkably unscathed - just don't look too closely at the McLaren and Ferrari. The current Scalextric F1 cars are more robust and most take the C8516 F1 Digital Plug (the exceptions are the 'Start' branded cars, which will need a C7005 retro-fit chip soldered in). Despite their 'Super-Resistant' label, the front wings are still fragile. Maybe one day the front nose and wing will come as a magnetic-mounted unit, as was shown in a prototype F1 car by Slot.it/Policar at the UK Slot Car Festival in 2019. That would make pit stops after an on-track incident very realistic indeed.
Setting up our Formula One event in the ARC Pro app, we're looking at a timedrace for qualifying - or even two timed races to finish with a pole position shoot-out. Each could be two minutes long. Then for the main event we need a Grand Prix race of around 30 laps. With the Tyre Wear simulation turned on, that should make it a two-stop race. To increase the distance to 35 laps would mean stretching pit stops to 12 laps, or pitting three times. That could be fun!
Another feature that fits nicely into the F1 format is the KERS simulation of the real life Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems used in F1 and at Le Mans. Essentially, KERS systems store up energy from braking and feed it into the power train to give a short power boost when the driver wants it. KERS was available as a simulation in some of the race management software developed for previous Scalextric digital powerbases. It could be used strategically to conserve fuel (not possible in ARC at the moment) and as an overtake boost.
In ARC Pro, choosing theoption drops the maximum power of the cars to 80%, with the extra available as the KERS boost. A three-second boost is activated by double-pressing the Lane Change button on the controller. This drops the energy available to zero. The KERS reservoir indicator sits just to the left of the timing data on the ARC app race screen. It does not have to be full (green) to be discharged, but the boost will be slightly shorter if it is less than full. Below you can see the double press of the Lane Change button...
...and the KERS indicators on the ARC race screen. Driver 1 has only 5% KERS available, Driver 3 has 20%, whereas Drivers 2 and 4 have full KERS reservoirs.
The KERS reservoir starts the race empty. From the start of the race - or after a KERS boost - the level is gradually topped up - to 5% (red) after five seconds, 20% (orange) after seven seconds, 50% (orange to green) at ten seconds and 75% (green) after 13 seconds. From empty to full takes 15 seconds. The top up continues during a yellow flag, and although KERS can be discharged under yellow, there will be no power boost. This is the same for other features that rely on the calibrated low speed.
The way ARC Pro uses KERS is neat as it reduces maximum power and protects those fragile front wings, but offers an overtake boost if you time the double push just right. There are plenty of F1 track plans here on SlotRacer Online that are perfect to utilise KERS and this F1 format.
Although the KERS boost is not used in Formula One today, push-to-pass and other power boost mechanisms are pretty common in racing series around the world - as are energy recovery systems. For example, you would definitely want to include the KERS feature in a modern DTM or IndyCar simulation. The double push of the Lane Change button does take some practice. And be careful where you push it - avoid any lane changers or pit entry pieces. The original ARC Pro powerbase (those in the GT Platinum set and ARC Pro upgrade kit) doesn't like the Lane Change button pressed as you pass the sensors - you might miss a lap.
Another feature that should be included in a modern Formula One simulation is the ARC Pro Yellow Flag feature. This works more like a Virtual Safety Car, activated by tapping the race screen during the race and the cars are then limited to their calibrated low speed until the screen is tapped again. During the Yellow Flag period, a waving yellow flag appears on the screen while cars circulate at a safe speed. Crashed cars can be removed and re-slotted.
If there's been a big smash and you need to stop the cars on track, you can tap thebutton at the bottom of the race screen. When you are ready to race again, you can start the cars from where they've stopped or line them up behind the start/finish line in their race order - then tap . A Red Flag period like this is a sensible way to avoid more damage to those lovely F1 cars.
Formula One formats have changed over the years and it is easy to use the ARC app to simulate different eras - using any of the Fuel, Tyre Wear, Weather and Race Incidents features. The various qualifying formats can be re-created too. A Google or YouTube search will give you clues to the race formats of different eras, as well as the championship points systems. Whether you want to be 100% authentic or create your own unique F1 format is completely up to you!
Towards the end of the manual, we will be looking at an old-style Grand Prix format to illustrate the ARC Pro Analogue Mode that uses the ARC Air version of the app. The fabulous Scalextric Grand Prix 'Legends' cars from the 1960s and 70s are small, highly detailed cars and very tricky to convert to digital. Running in Analogue Mode, but still using the ARC app features is an ideal solution to racing these cars.