The famous poll contained the option ” Pit stop strategy “. It’s quite interesting, as pitstops are extremly overrated, but also very important to work on.
Overrated? Wait, pitstops are a basic feature of any racing simulator! Yes, this might be true. But when did you actually do your last pitstop? Statistically, you either are driving in a league and therefore aren’t that significant – or you’ll honestly answer with a longer timeframe.
Pitstops are done within races that are usually lasting longer than your car can carry fuel. Outside league races you don’t really see activity in anything that takes more than 20 minutes, at least in the visible multiplayer. So the factual gain of pitstops and strategies is extremely low for a majority, therefore I call pitstops overrated.
#1 How does a pitstop work in AC?
Currently, AC has pitstops during race sessions. That is you enter the pitlane, stop at your pit and then get a mouse-driven menu with the self explaining basic actions:
While the solution is pretty creative, Kunos was widely criticized. Best point made: You need a mouse. Simracers tend to have their home setup built for a wheel, and they don’t like to control a mouse within a timed minigame.
#2 What is a “pitstop strategy”?
That’s a very good question. Stefano didn’t really describe what this feature would look like once implemented in AC, but a strategy usually involves predefined planning. Currently you just would pit when your fuel is gone and/or your tyres are worn out. I think any implementation would contain the possibility to tell when you are planning to pit, what work would be done (how much fuel? also change tyres?) and so on.
Project Cars has an advanced strategy implementation and a nice guide on steam that covers their solution pretty well. Basically you define your stops actions in the “pit” menu of a training session as templates
And just chose a template when you enter the pits
This way you can set up several strategies (also considering rain tyres) pretty good and also choose your actions without gambling or using the mouse.
Although I’m sure almost everybody tested the pit stop strategies in Project Cars, I’m evenly sure that it isn’t used much more often than the pitstops in AC. Leagues will love it, yes – but the average joe doesn’t use it that often.
Currently you actually can plan your first pitstop, as you need to define how much fuel you are starting with. You might even know how much fuel you want to refill. The strategy is becoming more important when considering longer races and even more pitstops. Given a 4 hour endurance race, when do you want to pit? When can you expect traffic, free roaming, overlapping? This is exciting. But given how common race lengths with only one pitstop might be (very, very uncommon), how often will we see 4h races?
#4 But simulation value!
Really? In simracing, you usually take the role of a racecar driver. Drivers have one task in racing: Sit in that car and go as fast as you can without doing something stupid. Actually simracers would be surprised by how little some drivers know about setups, strategies or anything else that happens outside their seat. Setups are often done by wizards called mechanics, that somehow transform the nonsense a driver gives as feedback (and much more reliable telemetry data) to good settings. Race control including tactical decisions like pit strategies and sometimes even “don’t overtake” are done by clever people standing in the pits, staring on screens with numbers.
I’ve personally witnessed a driver who owns the complete racing team, but subordinates himself to his race engineer during a race – even on disagreements. I also became acquainted with a (very young) driver who needed his mechanic to explain what the suggested setup changes will do to his Formula(!) car between qualifying and race. Camber, pressure, rear wing.
No, in terms of simulation value we are already doing too much in race simulators. For simulation software, the sim rather should command us to the pits and don’t even tell us how much fuel they is refilled, and perfectly understand “car doesn’t feel good and has no grip at all” and magically improve our setup. That would be much more realistic!
#5 So.. ignore pitstops?
No. When the possibility to pit is missing, it feels incomplete. Doesn’t matter how often it is used when implemented. I am guilty as well, nobody promised people are acting and feeling rationally.
Luckily there are more valid reasons to re-evaluate pitstops: Assetto Corsa has exemplary modding support, and a strong community. The minigame was soon defeated by some combination of ingame app and external program that would do the stop in very short time. The successor pitconfig does an incredible job, all within the plugin. Plug&Pit.You have a little panel where you can predefine the actions you want to see once you are pitted, and you instantly gain 2 or 3 seconds of clicking:
While I was very happy to see such a good work, it also opens the door for cheating. You can’t beat the app, giving app users an unfair advantage of some seconds. Especially league racers might feel forced to use this little helper. A revisited pitstop system that doesn’t need additional help just to overcome limitations will be highly appreciated, although the option “pitstop strategy” doesn’t necessarily cover this one.
Not having pitstops in a racing simulator also opens the door to a marketing nightmare. It’s soooo easy to jump in a discussion and simply put that AC is such a bad software as it doesn’t support “basics” like pitstops. It’s a plain fact, and nobody is forced to add that he doesn’t even uses pitstops regularily. How depressing.
Forgot my punch line. Although it probably would be hated, the coolest solution seems to be the most realistic one. Let your race engineer decide, and feel like a real driver. Little gui stuff, no control barriers, very innovative and brave.