Nihad Gluscic – One Hand on the Crown?

Half the season is behind us, and Gluscic is in the lead of the championship. Starting the season with the aspiration to win the Team-Championship by earning the crucial points needed for his Team, the Bosnian might have to rearrange his goals. Hence, we were desperate to get some insights.

FBL: What an impressive season this has been so far. You made it to the podium in four of five races, made it to your maiden win in Montreal. Living up to your expectations?

Gluscic: I have to admit I am surprised to be in this position at halfway point and I can easily say that this is the best season and best races I have done in my almost 20 years of sim racing. I never dreamed of achieving so many podiums, let alone a maiden win or leading the championship at any stage considering how competitive the league is and just how many fantastic drivers we have here.

FBL: How did you make your way to simracing?

Gluscic: I always loved driving games as a kid, and when they got really good in the late 1990s, I was hooked on the EA Sports F1 games and only then did I start following Formula 1 in earnest. And from the season 2000, I never missed a single race. My wife is understanding of that but she will never forgive me the Spanish GP in 2009, when we just boarded the cruise ship to go on our honey moon, which was put on hold until the GP was over.

F1 games were just about career mode and I never did anything online until I started with GPL sometimes around 2003, and started racing online with a UKGPL and UKGBL leagues. I instantly loved it and spent around 7 years in this setting, I was even a race moderator and was managing some of the junior divisions, and that experience was very useful for me to understand the racing etiquette and race craft.

When iRacing appeared in 2008, I didn’t instantly join but the effect it had on GPL was more than obvious and I was lured into it by Skip Barber, that was at the time something like a modern version of GPL. So, I am with iRacing for more than 10 years now and I enjoy it as a platform and feel no need to stray into other sims, I have everything I need right here.

Chasing Fernando Alonso in El Radical.

FBL: And then you joined the fbl right at it’s beginning.

Gluscic: Last year I was contacted by Roberto Modena and he invited me to join the Radical racing league, which appealed to me as I always enjoyed the car. In 2021 S4, for example, I was in the top 0.9% drivers in Division 4 and 2.6% overall, which I thought was a really good result. I am nowhere near that number in the other cars I’m racing on iRacing. I did a full winter season with some good results, but felt I could have done better.

I feel that the fbl has found its own rhythm now, and has shaped up into a fantastic league, thanks to our moderator Sandro. He has really brought the vision and made some changes, that now provide a very good platform and brings together awesome people to race together.

FBL: Besides your results this season, you are the only driver who made the maximum points for incidents in every race. How do you approach the races, and how do you prepare?

Gluscic: Yes, I find it absolutely amazing that I have had only three incident points in five races so far, two of which were at the Nurburgring. What is amazing about it is that I’m not just driving around in circles farming SR, I am racing the wheels off the Radical and making almost no mistakes. I have always been a consistent driver, but I never performed at this level before. The goal is obviously to collect maximum safety points till the end of the season.

I don’t tend to over-practice though, especially as we race on tracks we all know well. So my approach is to do at least two half hour sessions, practice starts and pitting as smooth as possible, and I do try and join the Thursday practice sessions whenever possible. They are very beneficial, more so than solo practice. A study was recently conducted that corroborate this.

The Glusc in his rig. Full focus.

FBL: You changed your equipment in front of the season (Logitech G25 to Fanatec CSL DD and McLaren GT3 wheel). What kind of impact did that have on your driving?

Gluscic: Its very good that you brought it up, I was going to mention it in context of the previous question (laughs). I have had a pretty stable platform for most of my sim racing career. I got the Obutto rig and G25 wheel long time ago and bought Fanatec Clubsport pedals with load cell early on, so I was using those for ages. In the summer of 2020 I switched to VR and that has been a major turning point in my awareness and precision, but the switch to CSL Direct Drive was more than I anticipated – more feedback and fidelity from your wheel means you are better aware what the car is doing and you can correct it, but not overcorrect as it has been the case with my old wheel.

I found that it made me faster, not necessarily on a single lap pace but it increases the pace of all your laps, making you faster that way. In official iRacing series, my iRating immediately went up from average 1.5k to average 2.1k and I feel more competitive in those splits now. Plus, you are less likely to spin as you can catch the oversteer before it throws you off. Funnily enough, with DD wheel you have a better car control if you happen to go off track. And getting the McLaren GT3 wheel was beneficial in two ways: I got all my buttons on the wheel now so I can better manage the strategy and not lose focus whilst doing it and the double clutch starts have been amazing at every race but in Montreal, where I let the clutch off a bit too quickly but luckily, lost only one position due to short run to T1.

FBL: You started the season with the goal to win the Team-Championship, now you are the one to beat for the Driver-Championship. Do you feel the pressure rising – and can Daniele Cascardo still expect you to let him pass for the Championship?

Gluscic: Despite the championship position, my feet are firmly on the ground and I am here because my teammate missed one race, as did some others, and they had their fair share of misfortunes or technical issues. The points advantage is very small and getting smaller to the others, so nothing is given. I only hope to deliver the same kind of consistent performances and hope to be ahead of them at the end.

Daniele is still my favourite to win the championship and he is an extremely fast driver – I expect we are yet to see the best of him after his well-deserved break. And yes, I would still let him by, not just because he is my teammate but because I am very tactical in my approach to the race and I try not to fight faster drivers as that can cost you a lot of time and you can fall farther back and lose more positions. There are situations when I would concede position even to the drivers of rival teams, if I assessed that this would be beneficial to the team result overall.

On track for the endurance challenge since last year.

For example, I adjusted my pitstop strategy in Nurburgring as Charlie was catching up with me and would have been all over me had I not stopped. I would be losing time and probably my rhythm as I would be focused behind me rather than in front of me. In the end, it worked out well as I was close to Colin when he had his mishap, so I could snatch the podium away from him. I think Daniele and I are a good team and I firmly believe that we are still favourites for the team championship, as long as Daniele keeps on giving me the draft and helping me be further up the grid.

FBL: Beside the WTEC you are now heavily involved in the FBL Endurance Team. What experiences did you make there, and what can we expect to come in the future?

Gluscic: I wouldn’t say heavily involved (laughs), but I did venture into the endurance foray by joining the FBL endurance team. Over the past five years or so, I started following motorsport other than F1 and kept my eye on endurance and multiclass racing, so this is something I always wanted to do. I started competing in the official endurance sprint series, first in GTE, then LMP1 and now in LMP2, as this is the weapon of choice for the FBL Endurance Team now.

I was impressed by our team’s 24hrs challenge and I was sad to miss it, but we now have a plan to have a sustained challenge by participating in the official 6 hrs races every fortnight. They do clash with our FBL series schedule but this is something we will try and deconflict for the next season. And then, we will use every possible opportunity to participate in iRacing special events or any other that pop up. I like the whole team work, organisation and commitment required for it and ideally, I would like to see FBL entering more teams, possibly even in different categories.

I think we might try and do the 6hr of Spa next, it is on Saturday just before our Monza race, so we are trying to get together to do that. Nathan, Iwan and I very much enjoyed our last race together.

FBL: You’ve been in the FBL since the beginning. After your win in Montreal you spoke about the impact racing in the FBL had on you. What does the league and community mean to you?

Gluscic: Throughout my decade on iRacing, I wasn’t participating in the leagues, there was only one that was running free cars and tracks, but they focused a lot on oval stuff which is not my cup of tea. And it was a big league so you don’t really know the people you are racing. In FBL however, we have a phenomenal group of people of similar abilities and with great respect for one another. This season, there were no on track clashes and no arguments afterwards – any contacts were owned up and were justified in the heat of battle. This is by far the best racing and most fun I’ve had in sim racing ever.

Nihad an his lovely family. Seems like they are about to have some fun 😉

For me personally, there is something about the league that brings out the best of me. Even when I practice, I can’t achieve the lap times or consistency. But once the green flag drops in an official session, I’m on a different level and manage to achieve my personal bests in quali and most consistent performances. I thought it was just the new wheel, but I can’t replicate the goods in non-FBL races, so I guess the motivation here is what stands out.

FBL: But you are also driving other cars and leagues. Where can we meet you on track besides the FBL schedule?

Gluscic: Well, apart from the obvious choice of “El Radical” in the official series, I also do F3. I am now back with Formula 1 having skipped a few seasons – McLaren MP4-30 was getting a bit lost and it was a difficult car to master, and so was Williams before. But the new Mercedes is much nicer and more enjoyable, but the races are a bit of a warzone and its difficult to survive. From this season, I also started racing the Dallara P217, as I want to learn and practice the car and this is purely to get better for the FBL Endurance. I would do races in the fixed series and some IMSA races, but will try and do every week of the European Endurance Sprint series.

FBL: Your guess for the Top 3 in Driver- and Teams-Standings at the end of the season?

Gluscic: I strongly feel that Daniele can be our champion and he will do well on the upcoming tracks. Nordschleife was probably his weakest track of all. I expect Nathan to give him the run for his money in the championship table. And on track, we got fantastically fast drivers such as Thomas, Charlie, Alfonso and Colin. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Joost yet. Graeme, Iwan, Nicholas and Sandro have all shown great speed at times, but have suffered lots of bad luck.

My goal is to try and keep within top three, and I’m looking over my shoulder at so many drivers. Team Marlboro looks good to maintain the top position until the end of the season, if we can maintain a good attendance record in the second half – so far only the Gulf team has had a better attendance with 100% in all races. I do expect strong challenge from Den Kaap Bronze and Gulf, while also Cambrian Sim Racing and Red Bull cannot be discarded, even if they are a bit behind in the table. Its going to be a smashing season, that’s for sure.


NIHAD GLUSCIC

Located: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Profession:  I am a Master of Science in Policy and Management and work for the British Embassy in Sarajevo. I enjoy photography and have started editing videos too. I am also a sailing skipper and a guitar player, so I tend to always be busy with some sort of project 🙂

Simracing Highlights:
* Winning Montreal in the night 😀
* Racing Fernando Alonso in iRacing’s Radical season

Youtube: Nihad Gluscic (kruger78) – you can watch me fly some VR flight sim missions there.

Instagram: Nihad Gluscic (kruger1978) – not much there, mostly family stuff.

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