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Getting the Formula 1 experience in Hampshire

If you fancy yourself as the next Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel, or you just want to know what it feels like to compete in a top Formula 1 team like Mercedes, Ferrari or Williams, then you should get yourself down to the Race Centre at Chandler's Ford in Hampshire. Situated midway between Southampton and Winchester, the Race Centre offers an authentic Formula 1 experience, thanks to its state-of-the-art racing simulators, which use the same simulation software as the current F1 teams. Indeed, professional racing drivers regularly visit the Race Centre to practise and to familiarise themselves with a particular circuit. You'll be in good company!

Latest technology

The simulators at the Race Centre use all of the very latest technology to give you an authentic racing experience. The steering wheel has a force feedback system that feels uncannily genuine, while the integrated shift paddles and professional quality pedals are very similar to those used on modern F1 cars. A combination of high-resolution, high-contrast ceiling-mounted LCD projectors, 2.4m screens and immersive headphone sounds gives you an awesomely realistic simulation, and of course all the simulators are linked up, so up to 50 people can see, hear and race with each other.

The choice of cars includes F1 single-seaters from Ford to Honda McLaren and BMW, as well as a range of contemporary, classic and historic cars, including hot minis and Porsche RS Spyders. You can also select from 800 tracks in exotic locations worldwide, including Brands Hatch, Donington, Le Mans, Monza and Goodwood.

Road test the changes

Choosing the historic option will give you the opportunity to experience how Formula 1 has changed over the decades, particularly as far as safety is concerned. When Max Mosley was elected FIA president in 1993 he made it his mission to promote safety reform, particularly following the fatal accident that killed Ayrton Senna in 1994. In 1996 he led a successful campaign to modernise EU crash test standards for the first time since 1974 and founded the F1 Safety Commission. With the FIA Foundation and Academy he has also promoted road safety and environmental issues in the wider world.

Mosley has recently been vocal on the subject of the F1 noise debate, as seen in this Max Mosley interview. The whole thing kicked off when Bernie Ecclestone criticised the quieter sound of the new V6 turbo engines, as opposed to the old V8, before he'd actually heard them. While the FIA has pledged to continue looking for ways to make the new engines louder, some fans prefer the quieter, more nuanced sound of the V6 -- though most agree they sound worse on TV than trackside.

You'll certainly have no complaints about the realistic engine sound at the Race Centre however, which puts you right in the driver's seat at the centre of the action. If you're a racing enthusiast it really is a perfect day out, for a birthday treat, a stag do, or as part of a works outing or corporate team-building exercise.
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