F1 2021 Game: Career Mode guide - Which team to sign for, F2, R&D & more

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The long wait is finally over and we're so glad that F1 2021 is finally here! The official Formula 1 game has plenty of single and multiplayer modes to sink your teeth into. One of the most tried and tested is Career Mode.

Although its spotlight has been taken by My Team somewhat, Career is still a fun option to opt for, especially if you want to focus more on driving. Career Mode also lets you take over your favourite team and continue their success or get them back to winning ways.

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So, which team should you sign for? And how does research and development (R&D) work in Career Mode? We've got everything you need to know right here!

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Choose your starting point

The first thing you'll have to choose is whether you want to begin your journey by jumping straight into Formula 1 or starting in Formula 2.

If you choose to start in F1, you're given the option of whether you want to do the full season or do a "real season start". Real season start is where you start at the point where the real season is at that point in time. For example, at the time of writing, that's after the British GP.

This is great for those that want to see a simulation of what could play out in real life. The full season option from the beginning doesn't include new circuits like Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, nor tracks that have been drafted in mid-season like Imola and Portimao. Those will be coming via a DLC update later in the year though, Codemasters have confirmed.

F1 2021 Calendar options
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NEW OPTION: New for F1 2021 is the ability to jump into the real-life season

Going down the F2 path means that you will jump into the 2020 Formula 2 season. It's your call as to whether you want to do the full calendar or a custom roster. Depending on your performance and the team that you drove for, you'll be offered a number of drives in F1 come the end of the season.

If you win the championship though, you'll more than likely have more than half the Formula 1 grid wanting your signature for 2021.

Creating your driver

Just like in My Team, you get to fully customise your driver. This includes everything from their helmet design, driver number and even down to their celebration on the podium.

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F1 2021 Career mode driver
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A DRIVER IN YOUR IMAGE: You can make the Formula 1 equivalent of yourself in F1 2021

One of the beauties of Career Mode is that it allows you free range of which team you wish to race for. It doesn't matter if you're a rookie, you can still race for the top dogs like Mercedes and Red Bull right off the bat if you want. You can continuously change the difficulty too.

Beware though, with added pace, comes added responsibility, so you'll need to start performing straight away. You also get to choose your teammate as well, so there's no ambiguity here.

Which team should I go for?

We'd recommend going for whichever team you support in real life. If you're a Ferrari fan, go for Ferrari, if you're a McLaren fan, McLaren etc... This way you really feel a connection to the outfit you're turning out every grand prix weekend for.

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F1 2021 McLaren career mode
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LOOKING GOOD IN PAPAYA: McLaren are an excellent option to start a Career Mode with

From a story point of view though, getting McLaren, Ferrari or Williams back to winning ways does have a certain ring to it. It's good to start in a midfield or lower car too, as you've got more time to find your feet in the sport than you would at the front-runners.

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F1 2021 Career mode teams
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THE PECKING ORDER: This is the pecking order in the F1 2021 game at the time of writing

Of course, you're not locked into driving for the same team throughout your career, you can change mid-season or between seasons.

Research & development

R&D in Career Mode isn't much different to that in My Team. The main difference is that you don't have control over the level of facilities that your team has.

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F1 2021 Facilities career mode
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LOCKED: You cannot upgrade the team's facilities in Career Mode

However, you do have full control over the direction the team takes in terms of the aerodynamics, engine, chassis and durability of the car's components. When it comes to which R&D parts should be developed, that depends on your car at the start of the game.

If you look at the bottom-right of the screen in R&D, you'll notice a "development potential" graph. Whichever one of those four colours covers the smallest area is probably best to focus your resource points on.

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F1 2021 Career mode rd
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THE REAL RACE: Your development off-track is arguably more important than that off it

However, that's not the be-all and end-all when it comes to R&D. The best way to figure out which areas of the car need to be developed is to drive it yourself. If, for example, you're being passed easily on the straights, it's probably best to focus on the engine of the car.

If you're struggling to keep up with other cars through corners, your aero is probably lacking. Something that you will be struggling with at first though will be durability, as those two or three engine components per season really hamstring you.

It's impossible to avoid penalties for engine component changes in Season 1, but with enough development, you could avoid it for most of Season 2.