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Interview: Sebastian Job talks helping Verstappen to Dutch GP win, F3 dream and route from virtual to real-life racing

Sebastian Job could well be the next driver to make the leap from sim racing to real-life racing, with him currently part of the Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports team and also a driver on the Formula 1 team’s race-sim programme.
Motorsport, it is well-known, is an expensive business to get into but Job is an example of how there are now ways around not having a massive financial backing, with him going from karting, to gaming, to being a part of the team that helped Max Verstappen win the Dutch Grand Prix in 2022, thanks in part to his work in the race sim at Red Bull Racing’s HQ in Milton Keynes.
Job’s story is a fascinating one and it’s clear the pursuit of getting a full-time real-world race drive is what is spurring him on.
We caught up with him recently to discuss that exact project, then, but first we started with his role in Verstappen’s Zandvoort victory last year, which saw Job put the work in on the race sim back in Milton Keynes to help tweak set-up on the RB18 over the course of the Dutch GP weekend.
ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS – SEPTEMBER 03: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort on September 03, 2022 in Zandvoort, Netherlands. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
“What usually happens,” Job explains, “without going into too much detail, as I don’t want to over technicalise the process, is I’ll do some laps to get up to speed – we spend a few days beforehand, one to two days, to warm up and make sure I’m driving really well, really consistently and I’m totally dialled in with the car, so I can feel any little change.
“We’d do some tests – this is maybe before [F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez] travel to the track, just to make sure I’m giving the right feedback. They don’t care about my lap times, just consistent feedback. Once we’re happy with that, they’d go out on track. They’d been doing laps in the simulator a couple of weeks before to get a feel for the track. It’s better to waste 50 laps of learning the track on the simulator than wasting your actual free practice time learning, so it speeds up the process. Then, when they went to the track, practice went awfully – Max and Checo had a bad FP1 session.
“After FP1 was done, the first step we needed to take was to get our lap times to correlate with the real track, so we’d make changes to the sim. I would have notes of how Max and Checo would describe the car and I had to match that. I would relay feedback and we’d do it until I had very similar compared to the real track.
“Once it’s how it should be, we begin to test changes that may or may not work on the real car. We feed back if they work, and if they do work, it gives them something to try at the track. We tried some stuff, some things work, some things didn’t. The things that did work, we suggested to them and they used a couple of them and changed them to the car.
“That was what made the difference between FP1 and FP2. I think they may have made some changes for FP3 as well but you don’t want to change too much on a Saturday, because it’s so close to qualifying. That’s basically the process, and then once qualifying has started I’m done, there’s nothing for me left to do. It was quite a long day on Friday because of how badly practice went so we were working really hard to fix the set-up – it took a long time to get the correlation right, because it was quite far off.
“Then on the Sunday [after the race] there was an interview that Christian [Horner] had with Sky and he specifically mentioned that the simulator team was working hard so that was quite nice to hear, like he was like directly mentioning us. I think that’s the main thing that it’s kind of known within the team that we put our work in and we did what we needed to do.”
Making the move from racing in Esports to being trusted enough to use the F1 sim and provide feedback that Verstappen and Perez will use over a Grand Prix weekend is already some jump for Job, and the natural progression would seem to be that he gets a real-life shot at racing at some level in the near future:
“I’ve always wanted to do that and the stuff that I have learned in sim racing and in the F1 sim puts me in a much better position than I’ve ever been before. In my eyes, I don’t think there’s anyone in sim racing that is more prepared because of the work I’ve done – I’ve learned so much. I’ve spent nine years training my motor-skills to be able to adjust quickly, so I’ve spent nine years learning how to brake in different ways as I swap from game to game.
“I think because of what I’ve learned, I’m in a very good position if I were to get the opportunity, so that’s partly why I’m being quite proactive with it. And I think also, because obviously, your financial backing is the main thing you want to get sorted, it looks a lot better to an investor if I’m more likely to succeed which I’m definitely more likely now than I was before.”
The question has to be asked, then, what level would Sebastian be aiming to get into if he were to enter the real-life motorsport ladder?
“I’m quite aware that I’m getting older. I know that I’m only 22 and I’m young but, in the racing world, I’m old already. I look at Max joining F1 at 17, I think Lando [Norris] joined at 19, so in that sense, I’m getting old. And there are Red Bull junior drivers that are like 16 which means I can’t spend time doing something like GB4 for F4 because it’s too low of a level – everyone in that is like 16. I’m thinking maybe either GT cars, or, if everything went perfectly, and I got the budget, and my pace was good, I’d like to try and do F3, but that is like the perfect dream scenario, if I’ve got all the funding and everything.”
Job wouldn’t be the first driver to go from virtual to reality in terms of a racing career, but we’ve yet to see anyone break into F1 having gone down that route – though it’s still very early days in that regard. Nevertheless, getting into something like F3 would obviously open up the route to the Holy Grail of motorsport.
Job is aware, however, that if he did get into F3 he’d be coming up against some really top drivers with big experience of real-world racing already under their belts:
“If I do want to get to the top level, I’ve got to start at a reasonably high level already. In F3 I’d be going up against people who’ve been racing for ten years and all the odds are against you but you have to kind of have to just go for it because there’s no point doing a low level. It’s just not going to lead to anything. And that’s the thing, I don’t want to do it just for the sake of racing, I want a clear progression in mind. I don’t want to just be doing it for the sake of doing it.”
Still only 22, but well aware that he could almost be considered a pioneer if he did forge a successful real-life motorsport career, Job believes that in years to come we could well see more drivers who don’t have the financial backing go down his route as teams become more aware of the talent that is waiting to be unlocked:
“It’s potentially a really good route for drivers that are talented that just don’t have the financial opportunity.
“I’ve been saying it for a couple of years now. I think the best drivers, or the best talent pool, is going to come from sim racing. Once teams figure that out, there is the potential. I mean, Red Bull using me as one of their sim drivers is already a start because they realise, ‘hang on, this guy can do what real drivers can do on the sim. We don’t know if he can do it in the road car yet, that’s yet to be decided, but he can do the simulator work so let’s use him for the simulator work.’ And then eventually, it will be ‘okay he can do it in the real car, let’s use a real car.’ The best out of 10,000 people in karting isn’t going to be as good as the best out of 1 million people in sim racing, because there’s more people doing sim racing because it’s cheaper.
“I think it was [Fernando] Alonso that said, after being asked how it felt to be the best driver in the world after becoming a world champion, that he’s probably not the best driver and it was probably some cab driver in India but they don’t have the money to be racing. So it’s kind of that same mindset. But I think there’s this massive talent pool that needs to be tapped into and I hope that I kind of pave the way for others.”
Back to Job’s own aspirations for, though, and getting testing as early as this year is the aim:
“What I want to do is do some testing this year, if I can get the funding, like this is all very hypothetical as I don’t have the funding yet, so we’re putting something together and a plan in place. And then if testing goes well then racing next year because in all honesty I think if it gets much longer, then I’ll miss my opportunity, because I am getting older. As horrible as it is to say at my age, it’s just because everyone starts so young now that I’ve got to kind of get on with it.”
With that said, Job obviously needs to be physically and mentally fit enough to cope with the demands of being a real life racing driver, so he can produce his very best showing whenever he gets the chance. We asked him about that side of things as well:
“On the mental side, I feel very ready. But on the physical side, I was getting there at one point and then I got so busy with [Esports] practice that I struggled to do it. I just pretty much practice my whole day at the moment and it’s hard to fit in that fitness. I’m trying right now to get back into it but as soon as I tried, I got ill, which was great timing. Even for doing the sim work for Red Bull, I need to be strong. And strong enough like to the point where it’s not making me uncomfortable when driving because that affects your feedback, your performance, your lap time. So I’m not there yet, but I need to be quite soon.”
Job will also be continuing to drive in Esports and representing Red Bull in 2023 but it is clear what his aim is in the near future – he wants to be a real world racing driver.
Certainly, he has made some impressive progress towards achieving that aim and a big year or so could well await him if all goes to plan – we’ll be monitoring his movements closely!



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