April Fool’s! Mandatory Seatbelts for SimRacers! FIA Introduces New Rule

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For the last few years, SimRacing has become increasingly popular, leading to the automotive industry and real-life racing teams taking an interest in our favorite hobby. Now, even the FIA is getting involved – likely to the displeasure of a majority of SimRacers: The world’s leading governing body for racing has mandated seatbelts for every SimRacer who live streams their events to comply with the safety-conscious image of the organization.

Just like real-life racing drivers, SimRacers serve as role models to the younger generations, which is why the FIA demands compliance with the new rule – no exceptions to be made, as is stated in an extensive paper outlining the importance of SimRacing for motorsports as a whole, as well as measures to bring virtual and real racing even closer together.

“Any SimRacer who live streams their races or creates video content is required to wear seatbelts in order to comply with the safety-aware image of the FIA and its competitions depicted in racing simulations”, reads the section that is sure to get tempers flaring. While many sim rigs feature racing seats with the needed channels or openings to install a six-point harness, a considerable amount of people use desk chairs, IKEA chairs or other solutions to get their racing fix – their setups will likely not allow them to install the belts in any way.

Furthermore, the FIA instructs simulation developers to act as a monitoring body to ensure the new rule is not ignored: “It is the duty simulation developers/publishers to monitor the compliance of this new regulation and sanction racers who fail to cooperate in this regard, including banning them from racing online.” Even though creating the necessary infrastructure will take time, the FIA insists on enforcing the rule starting this Friday and does not rule out retroactive bans.

The implementation of the seatbelt rule aligns with a new EU regulation that aims to minimize “swearing and other undesirable behavior which carry the possibility of negatively influencing children and adolescents” in broadcasts where groups of up to three individuals would be responsible for the content that is shown. In larger groups, responsibility would be harder to assign, hence the limit.

As SRU understands, the top esports teams have already heard the news in advance and are already preparing to comply with the new rule, with some motion rig users already being up to the new standard due to the included belts. However, this could lead to seat belt shortages for enthusiasts and SimRacers that treat the discipline like a hobby, promoting a division between professional and recreational SimRacers. For now, the belts will not need FIA certification in order to keep said shortages to a minimum, but the governing body aims to make race-ready seat belts mandatory on any streamer’s rig by 2024.

We will keep you updated on the situation as reactions are sure to be made public quickly during the day. Our partner site RaceDepartment has managed to get a hold of a full copy of the FIA statement, which you can find here.