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How Verstappen's sim team-mate has found real-life racing success

After conquering many of the largest races in the virtual world alongside Formula 1's dominant force, Chris Lulham is now the early pacesetter in this year’s Radical Cup UK. Although the two might appear poles apart, the skills he has picked up in sim racing are proving very much relevant...

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Max Verstappen’s sim racing exploits once again hit the headlines last month, when the Dutchman combined winning the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with achieving virtual Nurburgring 24 Hours glory over the same – very hectic – weekend.

Another driver who was part of the sim success for his Team Redline squad was Chris Lulham. The 21-year-old Briton has seen first-hand how much effort the three-time Formula 1 champion puts into his Esports competitions and enjoys racing alongside him.

“His dedication is unparalleled – you can see why he is where he is,” says Lulham of his illustrious team-mate. “He really pushes to make the time for it [his sim racing], and he’s not exactly got a lot of free time!

“I feel like this year Max is involving himself a lot within the team, even micromanaging different things as well as being the main image. He’s competing whenever he can.”

Lulham has become an established fixture of the Redline operation, since stepping up his Esports involvement following his A-Level exams.

“I was sort of proving myself in the sim platform and a few people from Redline, including Max, noticed me and took me in and, since then, I’ve improved a lot as well,” he says. “I still went to uni then but, honestly, when I was at uni, I spent most of my time in my flat sim racing! I don’t regret it.”

The Briton was part of Redline crew that won 2023 Virtual Le Mans

The Briton was part of Redline crew that won 2023 Virtual Le Mans

Photo by: Le Mans Virtual Series

Since then, he has conquered some of the largest contests in the sim racing world, including taking the spoils in last year’s Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours. But Lulham is now seeking to add some real-life success to his virtual victories.

He has been competing in the Radical Cup UK this year and has so far been the pacesetter, with triumphs in five of the six races to date. He describes the SR3 in which he competes as having great cost per performance.

“It’s the fastest thing you can get into for this budget,” he adds, relishing the challenge of taking on physical rivals on track.

"There’s a lot more elements to distract you – even the noise, the smell, the wind, whatever, there’s so many different factors to focus on"
Chris Lulham

Lulham is able to take full advantage of his Esports experience and says there is plenty of crossover between the real and virtual worlds.

“Technically, it’s very similar – the driving, the inputs, even the level of competition,” he explains. “The competitions I compete in, if you have a slight off day and you miss two tenths on your quali lap or even a tenth, then that’s the difference between you having an excellent race and you being P20.

“The margins are very similar. Obviously, you’re putting a lot more on the line with a real race car but physically, set-up wise, I’ve found it to correlate really well and a lot of my knowledge is transferring.”

He even says he finds himself under more pressure for his larger sim events.

“There’s a lot more elements to distract you – even the noise, the smell, the wind, whatever, there’s so many different factors to focus on,” Lulham reveals about his Radical races. “Whereas, in the sim, it’s very much tunnel vision, which can lead you to building up a lot more nerves.”

Lulham showed speed in his previous car racing outing in British F4 back in 2019

Lulham showed speed in his previous car racing outing in British F4 back in 2019

Photo by: JEP

There has certainly been no evidence of nerves with some of his dominant performances so far with Valour Racing in the Radical. But Lulham is taking nothing for granted and still expects a strong fight with stablemate Luke Hilton, the 2023 Fiesta Junior frontrunner who finished as runner-up in Radical’s World Finals at the Algarve Circuit at the end of last year.

And perhaps Lulham’s confident start to the season can further be explained by the previous car outing he had back in 2019. He tackled the Silverstone round of British F4 with Fortec Motorsport, taking a best result of fifth. Lulham had enjoyed a successful karting career on the world and European stage yet was never able to mount a sustained attack on the single-seater ladder.

“We didn’t have the budget for a full season anyway, so I knew it was probably just going to be a one-off thing,” he admits. “I didn’t really have any plans at that point. Around that time, I was heading into my exams so I was just dabbling in sim racing. And, when my exams finished, I pushed a bit more and around that time when I finished my exams was when I joined Team Redline.”

Lulham is now seeking to establish himself as a leading light in the real racing world, in addition to his sim prowess. And that starts by securing Radical glory.

“The goal is to win the title but I’m sure Luke’s not going to make that easy for me,” he concludes.

Should he indeed be successful, Lulham is already optimistic of further opportunities as he attempts to follow in Verstappen’s footsteps and build a glittering real-life racing CV.

Lulham has impressed with five wins since joining the Radical Cup UK grid this year, putting the title in his sights

Lulham has impressed with five wins since joining the Radical Cup UK grid this year, putting the title in his sights

Photo by: JEP

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