F1 2021 has been with us for two weeks now, and it's been a whirlwind of learning for new and old players.
Even the best have jumped into F1 2021 with its new handling model and extra damage pieces and found it tricky.
We sat down with Lucas Blakeley, Aston Martin's star F1 esports driver, to discuss the new game and get a few tips on how players can adjust to F1 2021.
A whole new world
As the official F1 game, Codemasters needs to keep up with what happens in the real world of F1.
As a result, the handling and physics of the game is always being updated, but F1 2021 represents the biggest change in years. With F1 cars having 10% less downforce this year than in 2020, the cars in the game now feel remarkably different.
Understeer is a constant issue, and setups have changed dramatically as a result. And it's not just the average racer that is learning a whole new world of F1. Even the esports drivers, the very fastest F1 players in the world, are taking their time getting used to it.
We sat down with Lucas Blakeley to discuss the new title.
"It's a completely new challenge." Said Blakeley when asked about the handling. "You do notice that you've not got as much minimum speed at low-speed corners. The way you pick up the throttle, how the traction is delivered, the braking is really unique."
Blakeley's learning curve is mirrored by his F1 esports colleagues as they trade world record lap times back and forth, each finding how they can adapt to the new game to maximise their performance.
"It's going to take a while to perfect."
Setting up for victory
"It's still very early in this game." Said Blakeley when we asked him about the new setups these cars require. "It's very tricky to understand what works and what doesn't."
Esports drivers are understandably secretive when it comes to their setups. With the top 8 in qualifying often separated by just a tenth of a second every little trick up your sleeve can help.
"The way the car reacts to changes [in setup] feels quite different this year. Ultimately I don't really have all the answers yet. It's going to take weeks and weeks to remotely understand how it's all going to work."
Blakeley isn't working in isolation though. His Aston Martin teammates are also working hard to find what works for each circuit. Sharing findings and coming to the table with ideas is key to lifting the pace of the whole team, and that's something that we can all take away.
While you might have a setup saved for every track already (check our setups out here), it's worth bearing in mind that Codemasters has intentionally changed things up this year, and there may not be one overall meta for this game. Keep experimenting with what works for you and try tweaking setups to find that bit of extra speed.
Tips for F1 2021
Plenty of us think we know what it takes to be fast on F1 2021, but when it comes down to it even the best are still learning this game.
"Keep an open mind." Says Blakeley. "Don't think you know how to drive immediately. You've got to build up to it, learn how the game works [...] relative to the older titles."
A particular point of learning for this year is the kerbs. Many more of them this year will quickly spit you into the barrier if you don't get your line and speed right.
"All the way through the esse section [in Suzuka], the inside kerbs there are lethal. If you lean a little bit too much on them it's very easy to over-rotate the car and it sucks you in very quickly. If you try and be greedy on certain kerbing you will pay that consequence."
It's not just Suzuka either, every track has points where clipping the wrong kerb can end your race. "You're going to have to re-learn the kerbs. It will take a while to learn what will and won't work."
One that we've found that can really ruin your day is the exit kerb at turn 3 of Hungary, so if you are looking to emulate this weekend's race then watch out for it!
In the end, there is no shortcut to pace in F1 2021. Practice is the key, and once you find consistency in your laps you can start to tweak things like setup to help find that extra pace. Patience and an open mind are Blakeley's key tips for F1 players. Along with using the support structure that is already in place, such as the racing line and traction control, to help you on your journey.