F1 22 sees a huge change in car performance, and as a result, setups and driving.
As Team Manager of Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports and Head of Sim Racing over at G2 Esports, I’m going to talk you through some of the things I look for when creating setups on F1 22.
But first, some expectations!
No setup is going to be the magic bullet to insane time gains. It might dial out some of the understeer F1 games are known for, or give you a little more top speed, but for the most part, developing driving fundamentals is the first stop for improvement.
With that being said, here are my top tips for setups in F1 22.
When first attacking a circuit, the default setups are actually a very good way of understanding the general direction in which to take the setup. Basic presets aren’t going to set the world on fire, but they will provide you with a really solid base from which to work from.
For Silverstone, you’re going to want less wing, and superior balance through long, fast corners, so try using the lower wing presets initially to understand how they affect the car and build from there.
For a circuit like Monaco, you’ll want the complete opposite. Start with the higher wing presets and then turn your attention to dialing in some mechanical grip through suspension and ride height tweaks.
A few general rules if you are stuggling with certain issues within these presets.
If you have poor stability at high speeds or high-speed oversteer start incrementally decreasing (negative) the rear camber to dial it out. Struggling in traction zones? Try softening the rear suspension, or look at your rear tyre pressures.
For understeer, try experimenting with the differential settings I mention below, as well as making changes to the broader setup. Low-speed understeer will require you to look more at mechanical grip (tyre pressures, suspension settings, camber and toe), whereas high-speed understeer will most likely be better dialed out by wing settings.
Balance is important, as oftentimes outright performance over one lap translates into more tyre degradation over a stint, something we will touch on now.
Build for purpose
Time trial, race, qualifying. What is the setup for?
Don’t be lured into seeing Esports pros at the top of the time trial leaderboards and then downloading their setups to use in longer races. Those setups are designed to be driven on the absolute limit for one lap, and over the course of a long race are a recipe for disaster due to their unstable nature and unpredictability, as well as other drawbacks such as increased tyre degradation.
You also need to factor in Parc Ferme rules, and the lack of options that allows you to change between qualifying and the race.
Start with an end goal and test the setup accordingly. For longer races, look at more than just the time delta. Focus on how the balance changes over a stint, and how the tyres last over a run. Test multiple tyre compounds, as any setup changes you make might be good on more responsive rubber but might not necessarily work on a longer medium or hard stint.
Test dirty air and how the car responds, adding some front wing can help if you know you’re going to be stuck in a train. Your DRS and ERS usage and how that affects fuel usage, all of these things will affect the car in race trim.
Wet and dry setups also require completely different approaches too, so don’t forget to check the weather forecast!
In the wet, you want to focus initially on ride height (bottoming out in the wet is destination barriers), whilst softening up the entire car and lowering the tyre pressures for a better contact patch with the tarmac. Wings are also important, the last thing you want in a downpour are skinny wings, so increase those too.
New regulations, new considerations
One of the big talking points of this year's cars is that aerodynamically, they are fundamentally different to last year. There is far less visible aero, especially on the barge boards and front wing areas of the car.
This has been replaced by something called ‘ground effect’ where the floor of the car creates an area of low pressure, especially at high speeds, that sucks the car into the ground.
What you will find this year is that cars at lower speeds will be slower, with more understeer. Whereas in the higher speed corners of circuits like Jeddah and Silverstone, the car will feel more responsive.
So how does this affect setup?
To make the most of the ground effect, you’ll want to experiment with rake (the angle of the car) and ride heights to suit the needs of the circuit you’re setting up for. It’s all about compromise. Running the setup too low will result in bottoming out, a killer at old school circuits with high kerbs like Mexico and Monza whereas at the newer, snooker table smooth circuits, you can be more aggressive with ride height to maximise gains.
Porpoising, or bouncing, doesn’t seem to be a consideration so far but that could change as the game is updated further.
Expanded options, in more ways than one!
This year, in addition to the new fundamentals introduced by ground effect, the in-game setups have been opened up considerably, with more fine-tuning of certain settings.
The ‘Meta’ setups will most likely change extremely frequently early in the games’ lifecycle as a result.
This gives a huge window of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to experiment with things you wouldn’t have considered in previous F1 titles.
Negative rake, reverse wings, and suspensions, try and see how it affects the car in all situations. This kind of thinking will be crucial early on as the meta is far less settled and predictable.
Brake pressure has on the whole been 100% pressure and 50% bias as the meta, but again, with a new game this could reasonably change. Be careful with these settings, especially if you don’t use a load cell pedal as these require fine control on the brake pedal to avoid lockups.
Trail braking in any race title is a crucial skill for lap time, as it helps rotate the car whilst maximising braking performance.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can adjust the brake bias depending on the corner, however this seems to have less effect in F1 games than it would in other titles.
When it comes to differential, I expect lower off-throttle values (50-60%) to be preferred to counter the understeer provided by the new regulations, with on-throttle run pretty high (as high as 100%) to maximise stability on exits due to the smaller amount of downforce generated by the rear wing this year.
This is more of an educated guess though, and depends on how well the new game simulates the low-speed understeer of ground effect cars.