F1 2021 Setups: Race-winning insights on how to create setups

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Starting to make F1 2021 setups can feel like trying to make a 1000-piece puzzle at first. You can often not know where to start and don’t know what pieces you need.

You might often find yourself wandering through to the time trial leaderboards, saving the world record holders setup, and using that for your desired track without knowing much about the setup itself.

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However, with time, experimenting, and practice the process of making your own setup begins to become more and more natural. In this article, I’ll share my tips and advice on how to make setups of your own on F1 2021.

F1 2021 setups

Every year there is a new style or philosophy with setups. What works in old games does not guarantee a direct carry over to the following years game on the same track and conditions.

On F1 2021, the setups changed a lot in comparison to the previous year’s title.

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Out went the dramatic low front downforce/high rear downforce meta with the ‘memed’ but also somewhat true ‘1-11-1-11’ suspension and roll bar philosophies.

For 2021, here are the general ideas or ‘meta’ on each setup area...

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Aerodynamics

F1 2021 aero is quite different than in the past. You can now run setups that are much more front wing dependent, i.e. using a higher front wing value than the rear wing.

If you can balance the car nicely elsewhere on the setup, this can be beneficial on tracks with long high-speed corners as it offers plenty of front-end grip and poise that can gain you time. The wings can be run relatively neutral too, especially if you must consider traction, as removing rear downforce can hurt the rear end throughout the lap.

Differential

Unlike in F1 2020, where you almost always ran 50% on the on-throttle diff, on this game you will run far more ‘locked’. Often you will want the maximum of 100%, which provides good traction but creates a sharper traction loss.

f1 2021 portugal setup transmission
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In the past you could run off-throttle very low, even at 50%, it's a different story in F1 2021 though. Depending on what you need from the car you can set it up anywhere between 50-60%. If you need more entry or turn in then off-throttle should be lower, toward the 50 mark. If you need a bit more stability or understeer off-throttle then you'll want it higher, toward 60. Any higher than this can promote a lazy and unresponsive car that is too stable to extract performance in most cases on the corner entry.

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Camber and toe

While there are some tweaks in this area you can perform to alter how the car grips up and responds, a general meta you see on these games is RLLL, aka Right Left Left Left.

This translated to minimal front camber, maximum rear camber, and minimum toe angle both front and rear, this style will do you well on most tracks you go to.

Suspension

F1 2021 in comparison to F1 2020 runs far less aggressive in this area.

While still running low (soft) on the front, the level you can run on the rear is now significantly less than in the past. You can still go aggressive with the rear suspension if you feel like it, depending on if you require more rotation over traction, but don’t feel like you must run high values.

Anti-roll bars

F1 games run typically soft roll bars on the front in most situations. This allows the front to extract the most bite from the tyre while dealing with the increased laziness on response, particularly on load/direction change.

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The rear however you can get aggressive, you can use stiff rear roll bar for rotation/rear end response in loaded situations if you are able to handle the increased snappiness of the car.

Sometimes stiffer isn’t always better, however, so be careful you don’t use any unnecessary clicks if you don’t have to as this will hurt the rear end.

Ride height

There have been varying styles over the years of what ride height is best on the F1 game, but on F1 2021 it is a bit more in a single direction.

Running the front as low as 1 is good as long as the car isn’t too ‘on the nose’ and pulling the car around. The rear usually isn’t lower than around the 6 mark, so keep the front low and the rear around the middle and find the ideal values you like for each condition and track you visit.

Brake pressure and bias

This one is very simple! Run 100% on brake pressure and in almost all situations use 50% on the brake bias. You can use higher brake bias to help the balance of the car if needed, but 50% is very common.

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Tyre pressure

On F1 2021, the tyre pressure not only affects temperature and tyre characteristics but also the grip balance.

At the rear, running high values, if not maximum, is recommended to offer premium rear grip. It’s better to do this and manage temperatures than to not have the grip in the first place.

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On the front, it is completely flexible, you can use whatever you like. As a rule of thumb, higher is more grip, lower is less, but don’t think immediately that higher is always better.

It’s important to have the correct grip balance from the tyre’s front and rear depending on the circuit, so you must test and consider these things when making a setup.

Different circuits

While those rules are good for general purpose, in practice each track has its own characteristics that require unique setup tweaks.

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Low downforce

Tracks like Monza require good top speed, which means with lower downforce and gaining time through the corners using the least downforce you can.

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Firstly, being happy with the downforce balance (the difference between front and rear) is important. Mechanically (suspensions, roll bars, etc) You need a decent level of rotation but also traction, so be sure to play around with roll bars and suspension until you find a balance that provides a good compromise.

Tyre temperatures can be hard to hold, and you need to regain some grip from the lost downforce, so don’t be afraid to have a higher pressure on the tyres.

Medium downforce

Tracks like Silverstone require a middle ground on the aero, needing both front and rear downforce to be at a reasonable balance to allow for traction at low speed and front grip at high speed.

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Once happy with the wings, you can play around with suspension and roll bars to find how much rotation you need and want. If you need rotation but struggle for stability, consider the off-throttle differential and try increasing it to provide more support off the throttle.

The entire setup needs to work in harmony, so consider what changes you make and how they may affect the car and hence the other changes/parameters also.

High downforce

High Downforce tracks like can typically be street tracks on the F1 game such as Monaco and Singapore.

The importance of driver confidence at these tracks and being able to feel the car is what will make the difference come qualifying. A general consideration you should have for all tracks and races is make sure you aren’t relying on hotlapping style setups to deliver in the races, as this can lead to inconsistent car balances and lack of confidence when you suddenly must deliver a lap on the spot and don’t have 100 attempts.

F1 photo monaco TD
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This is especially true at street tracks; high downforce offers the most grip available for cornering performance as the top speed caused by the drag isn’t as big an issue as at other tracks.

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Traction is hugely important as rear limitation is often a huge factor, so a softer car can often be better than a theoretically faster, stiffer but harder to drive car. Confidence is key, if you know exactly what the car is about to do, it makes all the difference when you need to put it on the line. So make sure that you are happy with how the car reacts and feels.

A lot of things are down to experimenting and seeing what you like. Over time you will learn your preferences within the car in order to extract the best from yourself.