Their website may be slick, and their credentials may include assisting in the development of a modern racing simulator which recently surpassed the milestone of two million units sold, but MAK-Corp’s rendition of the 2004 Williams FW26 is easily the worst piece of content ever to be released for Studio 397’s rFactor 2. Despite their claims of using real world data to aide in the vehicle’s construction, MAK-Corp have bundled a set of outright preposterous physics underneath the objectively beautiful 3D model, which in no way represent how this car performed during the 2004 Formula One campaign.
Juan Pablo Montoya was an absolute beast of a pilot during the prime years of his career – such an extraordinary race car driver he managed to win America’s most dangerous open wheel racing championship in his rookie season – but what MAK-Corp have built for the rFactor 2 community simply isn’t a car he once drove. Producing a combination of nonsensical acceleration figures, bogus top speeds with the standard aerodynamics package, and insane lateral grip characteristics which literally try to separate the tire from the rim, MAK-Corp’s Williams FW26 is so horrendously inaccurate, it actually calls into question the authenticity of their other rFactor 2 releases.
I first first learned of this abhorrent mod via obscure sim racing YouTube personality Joe Nathan, who recently uploaded a review of the FW26 in which he aggressively questioned MAK-Corp’s claims about the mod’s overall simulation value. Nathan stated MAK-Corp had outright lied about the use of real data to create their Williams F1 mod, given the virtual cars’ substantial leap in performance compared to the real thing, which although a tad sensationalist on the outset, spoke volumes about the quality of the mod – not many people traditionally channel their inner PRC autist when trying to establish themselves as some sort of sim racing cynic.
Several diehard rFactor 2 players consider MAK-Corp to be one of the last major dedicated mod teams continuing to plug away at supporting rFactor 2’s post-release lifespan with additional high quality content free of charge, so Nathan publishing a review where he essentially put the team on blast for creating such a poor rendition of a Formula One car took me by surprise, and I ended up downloading the thing for myself as a way to learn what all the fuss was about.
I’ll start by saying the car responded quite well to the setup changes I threw at it. Listen, I don’t want to mislead people and make them believe I’m an alien when it comes to top level open wheel cars – I’m definitely out of my comfort zone here – but during initial shakedown laps, I was quite pleased at how extremely basic techniques I’ve picked up in my travels, such as stiffening the shit out of the front while softening the rear, dropping the tire pressures to the absolute minimum values, and playing with the sway bars a tad, all did what they were supposed to. Though Joe Nathan ripped this car apart, I was pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t find any bullshit in the garage menu and could instead immediately get to work on making this thing fast. As a sim racer who’s prided himself on finding little exploits in RaceRoom Racing Experience and out-engineered his fellow Teamspeak combatants in Brick Rigs, it was nice that I could avoid the faux-engineering garbage for a change.
But then I started really attacking the track, and dear God was it a disaster.
Formula One cars from 2004 simply did not accelerate this quickly, nor were they hitting upwards of 365 km/h going into turn one at Interlagos – those are the kinds of speeds you’d see earlier in the season at Monza, where all teams ran a specialty low-downforce configuration that you most definitely wouldn’t be bringing to the year end race in Brazil. I’m accustomed to the speed of Formula One cars thanks to games like Automobilista and F1 2016, but the MAK-Corp FW26 was more akin to a neutered version of Gran Turismo’s Red Bull X1 fantasy car awarded to those who progress through the single player campaign mode. I could monster truck over some of the most treacherous kerbs with relative ease, and unless I really screwed the pooch and entered a corner with wheel inputs that would intentionally upset the car, it was if I couldn’t spin the damn thing out.
It’s important to note that Williams didn’t win the championship in 2004 – notching a single victory conveniently at the circuit I was testing at within rFactor 2 – but if this was how the car really drove back in the day (or somewhere in the ballpark), Juan Pablo must have been the worst driver in the paddock; MAK-Corp have built something that basic lap times and speed charts show could have run circles around the competition both literally and figuratively. That just doesn’t seem right.
The more I pushed for a quicker time to feed my own ego, the more flaws I discovered, sometimes accidentally. I could rapid-fire downshift in a way that has since been patched in other modern simulators, abusing the technique to slow down the car in such a severe fashion that the engine sound would actually cut out entirely – the underlying isiMotor audio calculations unable to produce an RPM range that high thanks to me ripping through the entire gearbox in half a second. And as you can see in the screenshot above, the car had such enormous lateral grip, replays demonstrated the physical rubber flexing in ways that appeared the tire itself would separate from the rim. Brief Google searches have not brought up anything close to the sidewall flex exhibited by what MAK-Corp’s car does, and on-board footage from both Juan Montoya and Ralf Schumacher did not convey the feeling of playing an outdated PS2 game which grossly exaggerated the performance of an F1 car from 2004 as MAK-Corp’s FW26 did.
I mean, as much as I’m trying to be objective here, it was as if I loaded up one of the very first EA Sports F1 games from right when Sony’s PlayStation 2 first hit the market, except I clearly wasn’t. I was playing one of the most advanced racing simulators of our time, using a car created by a team that rFactor 2 owners parade around as one of the last great mod groups – sometimes relentlessly spamming their praise of the rFactor 2 physics engine on message boards far and wide.
At this point you’re probably wondering what kind of lap times I pulled at Interlagos with this ridiculous beast of a car, considering I have a very real habit of waving my dick around during these kinds of articles and posting my leaderboard times to brag to the rest of the sim community in a not-so-subtle fashion. In this instance, the leaderboard times will still be posted, but they serve a very different purpose – they highlight just how poor of a job MAK-Corp have done on the Williams FW26. Juan Montoya set the Interlagos track record during the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix with a 71.4 second lap time in his real world FW26, but during my offline session in rFactor 2, with barely any rubber on the track and a general sense of unfamiliarity with where the limit of grip is in a modern era Formula One entry, I clocked in at a blistering 62.9, exactly eight and a half seconds faster than what was actually achieved in this race car, and seven seconds faster than Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari in qualifying trim.
I understand there’s usually a second or two difference between a hardcore racing simulator and reality thanks to being parked comfortably in front of your PC monitor rather than screaming around inches away from concrete barriers, but to clock in at eight and a half seconds faster than what the real thing was capable of is simply not realistic in the slightest – especially if you make the preposterous claims – as MAK-Corp have – that your car has been built with real data and is intending to accurately reproduce the performance of a 2004 Williams FW26 for the most hardcore racing simulator available on the market.
Not only were the lap times and trap speeds horribly awry when compared to Juan Montoya’s victory in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, the G-Force meter told an absolutely hilarious story; had the FW26 existed in real life with the performance figures of MAK-Corp’s rendition, Juan Montoya would be unable to complete his outlap before pulling into the garage area complaining of fatigue. Formula One cars of the 2004 season could pull as much as 4 G’s under heavy braking or high speed corners, but the MAK-Corp fairy-tale version could reach as much as 7 G’s on multiple sections of the circuit. You do not need to be Ralf Schumacher, Juan Montoya, or a Williams F1 engineer to know that this is clearly not how a 2004 Williams FW26 handled at competition speeds.
The MAK-Corp FW26 exhibits insanely low drag and less than half of the downforce typically produced by a 2004 Formula One entry, with the aerodynamic balance placed firmly at the rear wing complex as opposed to the 40:60 ratio seen in real life. To compensate for these nonsensical aerodynamic values, which clearly aren’t based on real data as MAK-Corp have publicly claimed when advertising the car, the team have given the front tires extremely high friction coefficient values, and a center of gravity far lower than any genuine data would indicate, resulting in a car that literally drives as if it were intended to be a shitty Russian mod for the PC version of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 – albeit with a gorgeous 3D model.
So in conclusion, Joe Nathan had every right – and then some – to call MAK-Corp a bunch of liars for claiming their 2004 Williams FW26 accurately represented the Formula One entry campaigned by Juan Montoya & Ralf Schumacher, and was based on genuine real-world data. With limited Formula One sim racing experience, I jumped in and went over eight seconds faster than what the real car was physically capable of, all while pulling G-Forces that would have made poor Juan Pablo sick to his stomach on the out lap. MAK-Corp blatantly misled people about the quality of their product – this isn’t accurate in the slightest, it’s easily the absolute worst mod ever conceived by a proper modding team for any modern racing sim.
But we aren’t done yet.
In uploading his video review of the FW26 to the Sim Racing section of Reddit, Joe Nathan received a monumental backlash from the community – a tidal wave of borderline-autistic comments that basically attacked him for daring to question the authenticity of a MAK-Corp creation. The highest rated comment on the original post literally implied Joe was not mentally sane for giving the mod a negative review and accusing the team behind it of lying, even though Joe’s analysis was in this instance 110% justified considering, how objectively poor and inaccurate the mod was compared to what MAK-Corp had claimed about their creation in public.
It’s pretty disgusting to see grown men questioning the mental capacity of a teenager on Reddit for giving some random Formula One mod a negative review despite clearly displaying why it wasn’t worth the time to download, but even more perplexing were the discussions that followed. Sim racers who traditionally go around belittling others for playing “simcade” titles such as Codemasters’ F1 2016, Forza Motorsport 6, and Gran Turismo 6, were now defending a totally inaccurate Formula One mod for rFactor 2, claiming they suddenly didn’t care how realistic any particular car in a racing simulator is, and that individuals like Joe Nathan should simply stop questioning the authenticity of content released for popular hardcore racing simulators. Again, I have to stress that these are the exact same people who refuse to touch anything aside from their hardcore sim of choice, and will shit on you for playing Forza because “it’s not a serious racing game”, but here they can be seen defending an rFactor 2 mod that can break the real life track record by eight seconds, and take kerbs like a Trophy Truck – driving in a manner so removed from reality – the entire purpose of sim racing in the first place, realistic race cars – you have to go back to the dawn of the PlayStation 2 era to find a comparable set of F1 physics.
The entire thread is the ultimate display in cognitive dissonance, and I encourage anyone with a few minutes of spare time to dig through the thread and see what other nuggets you can discover – you might see a certain developer pop up. It really feels as if we’ve reached a point in the evolution of sim racing where the average sim racer is so cucked by the concept of fake internet points and playing nice with moderators to amass the largest group of online comrades, anything aside from mindlessly praising any new piece of content that arrives on the scene is met with immense hostility from people who will contradict their own beliefs just to push you away from the community, and label you as an outcast who should be ignored at all costs.
We here at PRC.net would like to extend a genuine round of applause to Joe Nathan for daring to give MAK-Corp’s 2004 Williams FW26 an honest shakedown and make his thoughts on the mod public, even in the face of a community who was quick to call him insane and attempt to chase him away from the scene altogether.