Formula One is one of the most complex sports in the world, and indeed, that is replicated in the official F1 games developed by Codemasters.
In order to get the very best out of your car and to get the fastest lap times, you must ensure that your setup is correct for the circuit at hand.
In this guide, we will explain some of the basics for creating a good setup in F1 2021, and what you should be looking out for in your playthrough.
How to edit your setup in F1 2021
- Load up into one of the main game modes: Time Trial, Grand Prix, or Career/My Team. For the latter two, head to the track once you’ve made it through all of the career hubs.
- On the track, hit the relevant button on your wheel, keyboard, or controller to bring up the screen attached to your car, or the race strategy menu if you are in Grand Prix mode.
- Cycle to the setup menu and press the requested button to customise. You will then be presented with a multitude of options to change, as well as the ability to load previous setups that you have created and saved.
F1 2021 adjusting the differential
To adjust the differential, go to the Transmission tab of the setup that you’re modifying. Here, you can adjust the On and Off Throttle Differential.
The differential is one of the more complex items to adjust on the car. It is how the power is transmitted to the rear wheels, and changing this affects how that power is transmitted.
A more open differential will see the rear wheels turn at different speeds, whereas a locked differential will see them spin at the same speed.
Each has its pros on cons. For a more open differential, there is less tire wear and a more gradual traction loss, but a more locked setup might provide better outright traction.
To find the camber settings for your setup, go to the Suspension Geometry tab. Here, you’ll find the Front and Rear Camber sliders.
Be careful when messing with camber; these setup options define how the wheels on the car sit, with more negative camber meaning that the wheel leans in towards the car, and more positive camber having the opposite effect.
Negative camber allows for better grip in longer corners, but this can potentially seriously hurt the lifespan of your tyres.
Toe in and toe out
The toe setup is something that you probably won’t need to worry about too much. Still, these aspects of the F1 2021 setup are found under the Suspension Geometry tab, below the camber sliders.
Toe out at the front will see the car respond more sharply on initial turn in, but you will lose some front stability. Whereas toe in at the rear can see increased stability, but the car might feel a bit lazy as you initially turn into a corner.
To find the slider settings for the Front Right, Front Left, Rear Right, and Rear Left Tyre Pressure, go to the Tyres tab of the modifying screen.
Tyre pressures can have a small but significant impact on your car, thanks to the impact that it has on the surface area of the vehicle.
Lower tyre pressures see a larger surface area for the car, giving improved traction but losing you some initial responsiveness when going around some corners.
Conversely, increasing the tyre pressures of the car lowers their profile, reduces rolling resistance, and will give your car that little bit more straight-line speed. However, that can lead to higher tyre temperatures, which could cause your tyres to wear out faster.
Front and rear tyre pressures
Linking in with the above point, both the tire pressures for the front and the rear can be kept at around the same levels. For example, if your front tyres are at 22.0psi, you can keep the rear tyres at that level, too.
Equally, you’ll need to think about the track that you’re at in each race. If the track puts more stress through the rear tyres, think about upping the rear tire pressures slightly to keep the temperatures down, which will allow more wiggle room for the front tyres.
Fuel load explained
The single slider for the fuel load setup in F1 2021 is found under the Fuel Load tab of the modification screen.
Fuel loading isn’t something that you have to worry about too much in F1 2021: this is simply how much fuel the car carries per session. In practice, you never need to touch this while running the practice programmes.
For qualifying, ensure that there is as little fuel as possible in the car to help get the fastest lap time that you can and land a higher place on the starting grid.
For the race itself, you will just need to adjust the fuel load to suit your needs. You may want to have that bit extra to run in a higher power mode, or you could take some out for weight saving while being wary of potential fuel saving later in the race.
Tweaking the suspension
You can adjust the suspension, anti-roll bars, and ride height in the Suspension part of the modification screen, using the sliders that range from one to 11. Modifying the suspension is one of the trickier aspects of getting the perfect setup in F1 2021.
Stiffer suspension will improve aerodynamic stability, but it could make the car a bit skittish over bumps on the track’s surface. On the flip side, a softer suspension setup will mean that the car absorbs bumps better, but that harsh braking and acceleration could pivot the car around violently.
It is best to keep suspension at the rear on the same levels, and the same can be said for the front, or you will find that the car handles quite awkwardly.
Anti-roll bar adjustments
Anti-roll bar adjustments are a bit simpler than the front and rear suspension, with a one on the slider making the anti-roll bar its softest, while an 11 makes it as firm as it can be in the game.
The softer the roll-bars are, the better the traction will be through prolonged corners. However, the car will lack some initial responsiveness. So, the car will be better through longer corners but perhaps not as responsive in short, slow-speed corners.
If you firm up your anti-roll bars, the negative effects are that you’re going to put more stress on the tires. However, to counter that, there will be less body-roll into the corners, and the car will be that bit more responsive. Finding the balance for the two is quite tricky, depending on the circuit. However, once you get the hang of it, adjusting the roll bars will come quite naturally.
Remember, fast, sweeping corners will require more traction throughout them, but into slower corners like at Monaco, you will want that body-roll reduced and for responsive turn-ins.
Adjust the ride height
The ride height is one of the most crucial aspects of the whole suspension setup.
This aspect dictates how much ground clearance the car has at the front and rear, with an increased ride height resulting in an increased vehicle profile, causing drag in a straight line.
For tracks such as Monza, you want this to be fairly low to maximise the straight-line speed, but be wary of it hurting you in the corners. Finding the right balance is very tricky.
It is best to keep the front and rear ride heights either at the same level or with no more than one position discrepancy.
You can adjust the setup aspects that influence your oversteer and understeer on the Aerodynamics tab of the modification page.
Oversteer is something that you will encounter quite often in your F1 2021 journey. To put it simply: this is when the back end wants to step out as you turn into a corner, spin the car around, and thus oversteer the car into a spin and potentially the wall.
Oversteer can be managed, and indeed some drivers in real life enjoy a car with a bit of oversteer. Still, in F1 2021, try to eliminate oversteer as best as you can. A higher number selected along the Ring Wing Aero slider, putting more downforce at the rear, should help to keep your car planted on the ground.
Understeer is something that you will encounter at the front of the car. Where oversteer pitches the car around from the back, understeer sees your lack of grip at the front push you off of the track, making the car feel a bit lazy and lethargic.
To counter this, make sure that your car has plenty of Front Wing Aero on its slider. Doing this will give the car more bite as it turns into a corner, and shouldn’t feel as if it’s about to float off the circuit and into the run-off or gravel – or even the barriers if you are at Monaco.
Changing the brake bias and avoid lockups
The sliders for your Brake Pressure and Front Brake Bias are found under the Brakes tab of the modification screen. Adjusting these can help you to avoid lockups.
A lockup is one of the most irritating things to encounter on any lap in F1 2021. Not only can it pitch you into the barriers or lose lap time, but a lockup will also wear the tyres out faster and, although not modelled in the game, flat spots can occur.
This all happens when the front, and sometimes the rear, tyres are unloaded under braking, and the tyres freeze as the car tries to brake. To counter a front lockup, shift the brake balance towards the rear of the car incrementally. For a rear lockup, do the opposite, and you should find a happy medium.
Front and rear aero levels
Every Formula One car is an aerodynamic marvel. Without aero, a car simply wouldn’t function. When it comes to the game, the Aerodynamics section of the setup menu will present you with Front Wing Aero and Rear Wing Aero and a sliding value of numbers.
The more aero on the car, the more grip and downforce you will produce, and the more planted you will be on the ground. With less aero, your car will be more skittish and potentially trickier to drive.
While more aero sounds great, some tracks, such as Monza, require a car that is ‘slippery’ or otherwise fast in a straight line. Finding the right aero balance for a track such as Monza is quite the challenge.
Finding the balance for front and rear wings is tricky and sometimes it comes down to personal preference. For top-speed tracks like Monza and Circuit Paul Ricard, a lower rear wing level should be balanced out for a higher front wing level for the corners. Still, don’t go to the extremes of having a much lower rear wing value, or the car will likely just want to spin around on you.
For higher downforce tracks, such as Monaco, top speed isn’t so much of an issue, so you could comfortably run a 10-10 or 11-10 wing level at the venue – reducing the rear-wing level by one perhaps giving a slight top speed advantage through the tunnel and down the pit straight.
Impact of wet weather on your setup
Wet weather throws up plenty of new challenges when it comes to setting up a car. Of course, everything slows down on the track, and that level of grip that you had in the dry will evaporate, so to speak. So, here are some things you should take heed of when the wet weather comes for you in F1 2021.
You need to ensure that you have plenty of downforce on the car. If this means sacrificing some straight-line speed and qualifying positions ahead of a wet race, then so be it.
Locking the differential a bit more to give better traction out of the corners might not be such a bad idea either. Locking the rears is just as likely as locking the fronts in the wet, so keep that brake bias balanced between the two to avoid lockups. Rear lockups will pitch the car around, and so, they will be more costly.
Most importantly, though, you need to stay focussed on the track and try to be gentle on the throttle and brakes.
For the throttle, be much gentler on the loud pedal than you were in the dry and short-shift through the gears, if you have to, as you accelerate.
As for the brakes, the braking zones will be longer. So, under the Brakes section on the setup menu, ensure that the brake pressure isn’t too high as this could cause you to lockup a lot more easily in the wet.
If you get the chance to have a wet practice session, slowly lower the brake pressure to find that ever-important happy balance.
So, that’s each of the F1 2021 setups explained, hopefully helping you to get a better understanding of how to go about adjusting your car’s setup for each race.
For more specific guidance on exactly how to setup your car for each track in F1 2021, check out our track guides.
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