Driving the Fordzilla P1
The Fordzilla P1 Project
Fordzilla is Ford’s virtual racing team. In fact, it is the team behind all of the brand’s esports activities. Founded in 2019 at the Gamescom fair in Cologne, it has since grown into an online racing team with over twenty drivers active in various esports championships. Of course these are racing games. See also teamfordzilla.com .
Developed together with fans
What is a race team without its own car? That is why the P1 project was started. The Fordzilla P1 was already unveiled in 2020, but for those who don’t know it yet, a short introduction. The P1 is a virtual race car developed in collaboration with gaming and Ford fans. In that sense, at defining steps of the design process, the Fordzilla team presented two choices to fans on Twitter.
The most popular choice and therefore the most popular design (element) was subsequently developed further, resulting in the Fordzilla P1 as it is today: a spectacular two-seater with a very striking design. We will come back to the powertrain of the Fordzilla P1 later in this story.
From virtual to physical
Ultimately, the virtual car was converted into a physical model, which was then converted into the ultimate racing simulator in collaboration with HP. Includes live streaming capabilities in 4K resolution. The car has since been shown at multiple events, from game fairs to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. At each event, the car had a slightly different appearance. For the first time, the P1 can now also be seen in the Netherlands and before that the car was given this special chrome-orange color.
Opening Racesquare in Alkmaar
The fact that the Fordzilla P1 can be seen in the Netherlands coincides with the opening of a new Racesquare location in Alkmaar. Racesquare is a fast growing chain of racing simulators. There are also branches in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Zandvoort. As a special opening promotion in Alkmaar you can have a chance to take a seat in the Fordzilla P1 yourself. Yesterday a select group, including AutoRAI.nl, was allowed to try it out.
Formula 1 racing at Zandvoort
Before we can virtually go out with the Fordzilla P1, we first take a seat in the race simulator of Racesquare Alkmaar. We will drive on the renewed Zandvoort circuit , with the Formula 1 cars of the current 2022 season. I am assigned one of the McLarens and can take a seat in the race simulator. Much like a Formula 1 car, you sit back in the simulator, with your legs far forward. Together with the racing wheel and the right camera position, it’s like sitting in a real race car. There is even a function to communicate with the others and the ‘race management’ via the headset while driving.
The driving experience of the simulator is very realistic. The steering wheel feels like it’s really connected to the wheels, with the right amount of force feedback under the right conditions. The brake pedal of the simulator also feels like a real brake pedal and is therefore easy to dose.
The driving characteristics of the Formula 1 car are also well imitated. At least, the car drives like I suspect a real Formula 1 car feels. Despite the fact that aids such as traction control and ABS are on and the car automatically switches for the occasion, you really need a few laps to get the hang of the car. Then a few more rounds to discover how to guide him over Zandvoort as quickly as possible.
At Racesquare you follow the build-up of a real Formula 1 weekend. So you start with free practice to get used to the car, then qualifying and then it’s time for the race. Fortunately, the damage simulation is off, but the Formula 1 rules apply. Be careful not to bump into each other and so don’t cut corners.
How does the Fordzilla P1 drive?
Time to switch to the Fordzilla P1, which is waiting for me at Spa-Francochamps. The P1 may not really drive, but it does feel like a real car. Also here: the steering wheel and pedal controls feel very realistic. Together with the large screen in front of the car, it is as if we are actually driving at Spa, although it is somewhat disorienting that the car does not move and so there are no g-forces.
For the test round, the Fordzilla P1 is paired with the game rFactor 2 and the Ford GT LM GTE-Pro. Unfortunately, the screen we’re playing with now doesn’t have a very high resolution. If you look where you would look in real life, so roughly the ‘horizon’ of the circuit and into the corner, you mainly see bright pixels. Although that handicap is not due to the P1, it does make it more difficult to estimate curves properly. The biggest handicap, however, turns out to be that the car doesn’t move, as mentioned, so that I am surprised a few times by oversteer. By the time you feel it in the steering wheel, you’re already going. In reality, you would feel it coming on earlier in the body movements.
Calm down with the throttle and once you get used to the pixel screen, the Forzilla GT manages to set up a maybe not super fast, but otherwise neat race lap. More importantly: with a slightly better display for the car, the Fordzilla is indeed the ultimate racing simulator. Everything feels like a real (race) car, only those g-forces are still missing.
Driving the Fordzilla P1 yourself?
Would you like to drive around with the Fordzilla P1? Which can! In two ways. The first way is to book quickly at Racesquare Alkmaar , where the Fordzilla will be present until Monday 18 April. If you manage to win the regular sim race, you can take a seat in the P1. The alternative is to wait for the Fordzilla P1 to be introduced in a racing game.
Fordzilla P1 available in racing game
Ford has not officially announced the virtual introduction of the P1, but a Fordzilla employee present at the event said that the credit goes to the game GRID Legends. That game was already released at the beginning of this year and the Fordzilla P1 will be added with an update. According to the current planning, that will be an update in June/July.
Powertrain Fordzilla P1
If the Fordzilla P1 appears in a racing game, it must also get a powertrain. Nothing has been officially announced about that either, but the same Fordzilla employee announced that it has become a hybrid powertrain. Here too, the game community itself opted for this drivetrain, where the option of a fully electric drive has not become. To be precise, the 3.5-liter V6 of the Ford GT is turbocharged and combined with hybrid technology. The electric motor produces 150 hp and the system power will probably be just above 1,000 hp. Virtual horsepower can do anything, but it’s still impressive.