STRANGE fact number 4.061: Major companies pay massive sums to advertise on the siding of racing cars which flash past the intended audience at speed averaging more than 150mph. It is a funny old world.
Accolade's Grand Prix Circuit has taken these high-speed advertising hoardings and built a game around them. Not that there was much design involved because Grand Prix Circuit follows the real Formula 1 championship almost to the letter.
As far as presentation is concerned, the view from the cockpit is similar to Accolade's recent Test Drive II. The cockpit has very few working controls - you have got exactly what you need, a rev counter, steering wheel, gear lever and damage indicator.
This display remains relatively constant across the three cars on offer - a Ferrari, a Williams and an all-conquering MacLaren. The Ferrari is a good beginner's car, cornering well but losing a little power on the straights. The Maclaren, on the other hand, is a bitch to handle but travels faster than a speeding bullet. The Williams is a good compromise, taking corners well and performing admirably in a straight line.
In itself, working your way through these three would be enough variation, but GPC also offers five skill levels. The first takes care of the gear chancing and endows the car with near total invulnerability from crashes.
From level two upwards the going gets tougher, with even the relatively user-friendly Ferrari proving quite a handful in the top flight.
There are eight circuits in all, taking in Brazil, Canada, Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan plus the two street circuits of Detroit and Monaco. Any can be used for practice purposes before entering either a single contest or a full eight-race championship.
Points are scored in the usual way - nine points for a race winner falling to a single point for sixth place. A save and load option allows you to take a rest at any stage, with up to nine separate games accommodated.
So much for the options, how does the racing feel? Well, I have never taken a car around Hockenheim or Silverstone - but I know a man who has and he is completely over the moon with GPC's recreations of some of his favourite circuits. The achievable lap times are accurate to tenths of a second, as are the default lap records and opponent's times.
There are a couple of little faults to rain on the parade. In fact, a lack of rain is one of the most serious. Imagine an entire Formula 1 season played out in blazing sunshine with the wet tyres staying in their packing crates throughout. Very unlikely.
On a similar note, the opposition may vary in ability, but one thing remains constant - they all drive impeccably safely. There is no need for track marshals or a system of warning flags because if there is a prang you can bet your exhaust pipe that you will be involved.
The only other real problem is the flatness of the tracks. A few hills and bumps would not have gone amiss, especially in Monaco, which is notorious for the steepness of its hairpin bend.
Otherwise realism prevails. Even at the lowest level, the car steers accurately - it is all too easy to let the tail end slide out when cornering, and it is easier still to overcompensate. The backgrounds vary from circuit to circuit to generate some sort of character. Even a three-lapper needs super-human concentration.