The story behind the simulator used by five F1 drivers including Lando Norris

In 2023, five Formula 1 drivers will have something very special in their living rooms, and you can too!

Cool Performance is a simulator brand at the absolute cutting edge of technology and customisation. It’s endorsed by Lando Norris.

Whether it’s F1 drivers, golfers, the England soccer World Cup squad or yours truly, everyone is blown away by the accuracy, changeability and comfort of the company’s sims in action.

Lando’s brother Oliver started the company – a brilliant racer in his own right and often on-par with Lando in karting before pursuing his education and business interests – when it became obvious they were doing too much travelling across Europe to visit various simulators to prepare for races.

“So Cool Performance was born, with the mission to build a simulator which was to that standard of race teams, but condensed into a home unit,” Oliver Norris tells Podium Life.

“We achieved this quite quickly with the team of racers we had and have behind the company.

MDM Designs helmet liveries

“We all understand the feeling of a car and what the simulator needs to output. As time has gone on we have enhanced the simulators in terms of its functionality with luxury items such as materials and electronic pedal adjustment.

“We now have gone down the route of allowing customers to customise the colours, materials and the look/feel of their simulator so it fits into a home setting better than ever before. This is proving extremely popular with our customers.”

Whether it’s Norris, Alex Albon, Carlos Sainz, PGA golfer Ian Poulter or championship-winning NBA basketball star Andrew Bynum, it’s clear the simulators are a hit for a range of drivers looking for a tool to make them a better driver at the highest level or just enjoy car racing games online with the very best of equipment.

Oliver Norris on a Cool Performance sim

And no F1 driver gets a free sim, something Oliver Norris says “proves to us that we are doing something right with the direction of our simulators”.

The most popular product is the Formula sim – a ‘cool’ £25,550, with an Esports option for £14,250 – which has a similar seating position to an F1 car. You can adjust the steering height and angle, seat and pedals – the pedals are electronically controlled – along with materials and colours so that the sim fits into your home aesthetic.

You can get digital display units, steering wheels, shifter accessories, streaming aids and even gloves and boots to make your home sim absolutely perfect.

It offers force feedback from the steering motor through the steering wheel to replicate the feeling of the weight of a car’s steering and the vibrations from the track, and the brake pedal can be set-up to replicate lots of different cars and categories with varying pressure.

This can really help with muscle memory and keeping sharp in a car when you can’t get out on track in a world where testing is heavily restricted in top categories to keep costs down or just plain expensive for series lower down the ladder.

It might sound like a lot of cash, but if you race 15 times a year and have to travel to Dallara’s sim in Italy, for example, to prepare, that might cost a few hundred/thousand pounds per trip. The Cool Performance unit is an investment but you’re paying for the convenience.

Simulation is absolutely vital if you want to compete in almost any series these days, even at the grassroots where a sim like this is incredibly expensive. But if you’re paying a few hundred pounds per trackday for each race you do, you could cut down and use the sim to do some of your preparation.

It’s not going to be in everyone’s budget, but you certainly get what you pay for. Finance options are available, too.

Cool Performance builds and completes the sim in your home so you never have to order anything outside of the package you order from them. And, as you can imagine, they rack up the miles setting up sims all over the world.

Completing most of those miles – reportedly around 11,000 – is Lando, who can spend hours and hours per day driving a whole host of machinery on iRacing, not just his own McLaren F1 car.

Obviously a huge part of Lando’s time is spent on McLaren’s simulators. The F1 teams have huge simulator units capable of spectacular computing power, and are running weekend-around on race events to provide feedback on set-up directions for the team on track.

This has given Lando a huge amount of knowledge of simulation which in turn makes him the perfect driving games tester at Cool Performance, to go with his 15-years of perfecting how best to practice on a sim.

“Back when we started Lando wasn’t considered a F1 driver, he was just like any other racing driver progressing through the ranks,” adds Oliver Norris.

“He helped us massively with the feedback the simulator gave us, and helped us develop settings. He still does this today giving us feedback with what to change/do to give a better replication of real life.”

Lando in F2 before making it to F1

“We use data from 20+ drivers, we constantly enhance the experience which gets pushed out to our customers automatically.”

Oliver doesn’t race anymore, he doesn’t have time given the sprawling, worldwide business Cool Performance has become.

He has to be ready to pack and fly for the next customer’s set-up in its ever growing portfolio.

Perhaps the best result of how strong his simulator line-up has become means Oliver is as close as physically possible to racing on-track.

“I miss it frequently, but I can get as close as possible with the simulators that we create!” he adds.

“If its suitable for the worlds top drivers I know that I am driving the correct machinery to replicate that feeling we all love. I can race with the guys I used to race with as well as driving with some top Esports drivers who also give us real drivers a run for our money!”

As you can imagine, Cool Performance has introduced Oliver to people he never would have met purely in the motorsport gaming world, like Bynum and Poulter as examples.

Perhaps the England football team would be considered the biggest names to use a Cool Performance sim.

“Connor [Hughes, Cool Performance] and I are not huge football fans so we didn’t really know too many of the players when we saw them, but it was fantastic to be providing a world stage event with our world renowned product!” Oliver adds, while almost the whole of England reads and wishes it could have been in his position.

“We really enjoyed this experience connecting Lando and the England football team together. Lando set a time for the players to beat, a few got close! But not close enough!”

Back in 2019 I was lucky to have a similar chance of learning and trying to beat Lando’s time around Brands Hatch, and I was pretty proud of being 1.6s off even if Lando had some opportunities to make fun of me.

Since 2019 the Cool Performance units have gone to another level, but Oliver isn’t content and has his eyes on the next goal for the company.

“The next steps are enhancing the customisation side of the business,” he says.

“The base of the product (the realism of it) is to such a high standard that it’s improving that 0.1% all the time, which will never stop. But the offering to customers is a key part of the business. Customers want bespoke products when they are purchasing such a high end/realistic simulator.”

“We now can offer completely customised simulators in 4 weeks. This is exactly what we did with Lando’s new simulator, carbon parts, bespoke paint colour. We can offer over 6,000 colours and A Grade carbon fibre parts to our customers which really makes building your simulator similar to building your own car in a showroom.”

So, if you have the budget and don’t have access to an F1 simulator at an F1 factory like well over 99.9% of the population, Cool Performance is for you.

Even if you are a F1 driver with access to a F1 sim, Cool Performance is also for you, as proven by the five drivers on the books in 2023!