Out of all the difficulty settings in F1 2020, choosing what difficulty AI to compete against is the hardest to get right.
If you're struggling to nail the sweet spot when it comes to the pace of your competition, don't fear, we're here to help.
We'll show you how to alter your AI difficulty and how to test if you've got the right settings!
How to set AI difficulty
When beginning a My Team save or a session such as Grand Prix mode, you need to set your preferences. Part of this is to choose your gameplay settings and this is where you find "AI Driver Level".
If you're loading up a My Team save you have previously started, pause the game at any point to bring up the pause menu. Settings or gameplay settings (depending on your game mode) can be found in there.
If you find that the difficulty settings are greyed out, you've gone too far into your race weekend to change them. Therefore, if you're going to change these, it has to be before Practice begins.
You can set the AI Driver Level anywhere from 0 to 110 depending on your skill level.
How to test AI difficulty
Like a lot of things with racing games, you need to practice. One of the best ways to find out which AI difficulty is right for you is to test your speed in Grand Prix mode.
Choose a circuit where you're not quick, but not slow either, to race on. If you can, also select a circuit where there's a good mix of corners and straights, such as Spain, USA, or Bahrain.
Which car you want to drive is up to you, but we'd recommend an upper-midfield car, such as the McLaren. Qualify and then race on your chosen difficulty.
If you're challenging the Mercedes while driving a Renault, it's time to crank up the AI difficulty. Conversely, if the AlphaTauri's are all over the back of you when you're in Red Bull, it's time to turn the AI down.
But how do you gauge how much or how little to alter the AI's speed? We've got you covered for that too!
How much difference AI speed makes
To demonstrate the difference that AI settings make in F1 2020, we conducted an experiment. We booted up the game and carried two 25% races around Bahrain.
All of the difficulty settings were kept the same throughout, with the exception of the AI's speed. For the first race, we went with 95 and the second was ran with 105 AI.
For reference, I usually race on 102 AI, so these races were just below and a bit above my usual settings.
The Williams is the slowest car in F1 2020, so my team-mate George Russell was my target to beat. We first raced against 95 AI and managed to qualify an impressive P15, just 1.6 seconds off Bottas' pole time.
Our lap was also 0.6 seconds faster than Russell, not out of the realms of possibility, but unlikely to happen.
In the race, we got off to a good start and climbed to just outside the points in P11. We finished P12 after a great battle with both Renaults. Russell finished P18, 14 seconds behind.
While it's possible for a Williams to finish ahead of a Renault, for it to do it on pure pace is extremely unlikely.
Next up was the 105 difficulty AI and things were tougher from the outset. Despite doing a lap two tenths faster than our previous attempt, we qualified P19 for the race.
This was also behind our team-mate, who was over three tenths quicker than us. That's a difference of 1.1 seconds for Russell with an increase of 10 AI difficulty.
Therefore, the AI gains around 0.1 seconds of pace per difficulty point. This obviously varies depending on the circuit, but it gives you an idea of what to expect.
In the race, we managed to finish ahead of our team-mate, but only just. We challenged the Haas cars but never got any higher than 16th place. Only the retired Verstappen, the Alfa's and Russell were behind us.
This is much more akin to where Williams are in terms of pace, so this difficulty is more realistic for us. In terms of pace, the fastest lap with 105 AI was 1.5 seconds faster than with 95 AI.
The larger difference in lap time in the race when compared to qualifying is likely down to the AI saving their tyres and fuel better on higher skill levels.
When it comes to how the AI drive, there isn't a lot of difference. Although, they do seem to be punchier on the first lap on higher difficulties.
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