Shifting Shootout - Heel Toe Vs. Paddle Shifters

Shaun Cole On February 13, 2015
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Recently at The Simpit we have reviewed both the Fanatec Clubsport Shifter SQ and also the Thrustmaster TH8A.  In each of those reviews we talk about how a shifter will add to your driving experience, but it might actually make you slower.  There is a reason that modern race cars use paddle shifters.

In this video we put the topic to a challenge of testing all of the different shifting methods that one can use in sim racing.  This means putting paddle shifters against using a sequential shifter, an H-Pattern shifter and then final again a H pattern shifter while using the Heel and Toe method of shifting.

After completing multiple laps with each shifting method we take a look at the lap times and compare how each method performed.  Shaun also takes the time to really talk about the differences as a driver, and the added demands of heel toe shifting vs. the others.

During testing Shaun used a setup that is now being shared.   You can download this setup and see how you did against our lap times with various shifting methods.  Please post your lap times for comparison for all to know with this video.

Download the setup and post your lap times here:
John Hill Lotus 79 - Watkins Glen

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Dr Nys On 2015-05-23 17:32:40
Dr Nys

I have to say i'm a combo driver - racer. I use no aids, heel & toë and use clutch UP AND DOWN shifts. But i'm also planning to get to my fullest potential at all costs, only "all cost" in my case means time. I'm currently overall P3 in advanced mazda's with 2 weeks left yet i'm very motivated to prove the "simracers (as in; as real as possible)" can be fast too. I still haven't done iracing for a year so i hope to get a podium this or next season (this season's already looking good) but i really got the hunger for that P1 overall. It'll take me time, lots of it, but it's not only the gamers (iracers with flippers and auto-i don't care what) that can compete for the podium. 

So to all who are still in doubt to go "full simulation" by doing heel&toe no aids; i say; Do it, way more pleasure from a good result if done the proper way!! And success!!


Michael pich On 2015-03-04 13:21:03
Michael pich


i thought IRacing gave a time penalty for auto blip, but you times seem to indicate that there is no significant penalty for driving aids. Is that true? 



Tim Chitwood On 2015-02-26 03:35:59
Tim Chitwood

I found a quick video on how to load the setups onto iRacing. Easier than loading cars on Assetto Corsa. That is a stable, but stiff front ended car. Gonna try it tomorrow. Thanks for the setup and all. Maybe now I can download some other setups. smile


Tim Chitwood On 2015-02-26 00:19:32
Tim Chitwood

Oh right, I am sorry, still waiting on the paddles/shifter usb combiner. 


Tim Chitwood On 2015-02-26 00:11:42
Tim Chitwood

I was confused on the name again. It is a
It is under $20. 
I can't figure out how to apply that setup for the Lotus 79 at Watkins. I have never downloaded a setup for iRacing other than just a shared one in the same room. Help please.


Shaun Cole On 2015-02-17 15:35:34
Shaun Cole


That was some great feedback.  I have also experienced the same thing, that I tend to downshift too fast at times when using my paddles.  I get so caught up in the moment that I find myslef trying to do eerything faster, however that approach rarely delivers.  In fact I find myself often locking up the rear wheel with a down shift that comes to early "the engine is still revving higher then the speed of my new gear, resulting in wheel lockup or a skip".

As far as the driving school, it had been delayed but it is the project that I am currently working on.  By the end of this week the Driving School will be back in action with new episodes.


Robert Covey On 2015-02-16 15:43:53
Robert Covey

I really enjoyed this segment showing how different shifting methods are.  As a still up and coming Sim racer I'm learning new things everyday in practice and race events.  I very recently moved myself up in the Sim racer ranks with the purchase of a Logitech G27 wheel giving me FFB, proper shifter and clutch.  I would like to offer some advice to any newer racers that I discovered very recently practicing for an event with Really Rubbish Racing.  I found using the paddle shifters I was always getting over enthusiastic down shifting and up shifting as tapping the paddle is so simple.  I switched over and ran a 30 minute stint using full clutch and shifter and surprisingly took a good 3 seconds off my lap times.  I believe this was more a result as you say in the segment you have to take your one hand off the wheel plus operated clutch which made me pay more attention to the speed I was coming to the corner as I wanted both hands on the wheel on turn in and through the apex.  My suggestion to anyone like me still working thier way up the Sim Racing ranks is drive with atleast the shifter and auto clutch for a while before switching to the paddles.  You may come off a little slower to start but from my experience you will find your shifting patterns will be smoother and once you switch to the paddles watch your lap times drop.  Very informative segment.  I'm am curious however what ever happened to the Driving School segments?


Shaun Cole On 2015-02-14 18:20:06
Shaun Cole

Great feedback on this topic.

Mark - I will do some more work on my end on Heel and Toe driving and then I will.  Honestly I used to be much better at it.  As soon as I can show it well I will cover the topic, thank you for the sggestion.

Paul - Wow, great results.  It looks liek your results were similar, that you were a touch faster and more consitent with the paddles.  However your heel and toe dirving times are spectacular.  I am going to do more work and see if I can get down to those kind of times.

Tim - I compltelty agree with you on things there.  THere are many times, it is usually inspired by older cars when i feel the need to stick shift.  Like it just has to be..  With exception to the one Lotus 79 race I did run with the h pattern, I rarely attempt it in a real race.   And if Leo makes such a cable be sure to let me know or have him send me one.  smile


Tim Chitwood On 2015-02-14 14:42:45
Tim Chitwood

Yeah, I have a T500 and a TH8A shifter, I even watched an old video you did on removing the paddle shifters Shaun. Btw, mine has color coded wires not all red, must be an update. I decided to leave mine until I can get a wheel with paddles. I do switch from paddles to stick when I think the car would have that. I can not heel-toe shift nowadays, my right foot is too damaged, but with or w/o using the clutch to shift, my paddles are faster, but not as "rewarding." I just use the clutch to start. Btw, I have sent John Bodine of Leo Bodnar a message asking him if he could make a usb that would allow me to plug in my T500 and TH8A in together and allow me to use either or. PS3 allows me to do it, so it should be possible. Shifting into the + would be same as the right shifter. It is easier to hit a shifter or to use the sequential shifter under certain conditions of turning the wheel. Just best of both Worlds. I will let you know if he makes one and sells it to me. Just an idea. Hey thinks for covering this issue.


Paul Garrett On 2015-02-14 02:22:32
Paul Garrett

Great show and excellent topic, Shaun!

I am more of a sim driver and drive the way the real car operates - paddles if it has them or H-Pattern or sequential with clutch if it uses that. The majority of my races are done using heel and toe. But, as you said, that is usually slower. Keeping both hands on the wheel while paddle shifting, the car feels easier to control and I feel like I can hit the apexes and braking points more confidently. That said I was surprised at my results from your "challenge." 

H-Pattern Shifter
Heel and Toe - No Aids:                                       Paddle Shift with Auto Blip:
1:36.701                                                             1:36.818
1:37.418                                                             1:36.163
1:37.528                                                             1:36.499
1:36.707                                                             1:36.586
1:36.319                                                             1:36.581

As you can see, I was more consistant using the padlles but wasn't much faster than when using the H-Pattern shifter . Still, over a race distance, that time differential would add up.

I felt more involved when using the H-pattern shifter and my concentration level was probably higher as well. It was also a lot more fun and very gratifying when I got it right. Feeling that connection to the drivers who do/did it for real is why I got into iRacing to begin with.



Pascal H On 2015-02-13 18:55:10
Pascal H


H-pattern shifter
No driving aids

Pascal H On 2015-02-13 19:16:01
Pascal H


Mark Shaw On 2015-02-13 18:52:18
Mark Shaw

Thanks for the great edit Shaun,very informative. Have you done, or will you be doing, a driving lesson on the art of heel n toeing in simracing ?



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