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F1 23 Preview: New handling is a huge improvement


F1 23 is right around the corner, and we have been lucky enough to preview the game. While not a final build, and limited to Grand Prix and Time Trial mode, we got to test drive the new handling model that has intrigued fans so much.

EA & Codemasters has made the updates to the handling of these cars a main part of their pre-launch campaign. While the new 2022 regulation cars were well-represented in F1 22, the cars themselves weren’t that fun to drive. Throw in the Formula 1 series’ rather unique handling and players were left feeling a little underwhelmed.

Well, we can say that won’t be the case with F1 23! Let’s dive right into it.

A whole new world

Codemasters has talked a big game about the handling changes for F1 23. Their first deep dive video led with a laundry list of changes to traction, engine torque, and braking. While it all sounded promising, the proof is always in playing the game itself. While the preview build we have had access to is obviously not final, we have had a great time with the new handling model and the learning curve it now presents.

F1 23 in Miami
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The changes to traction and torque have made for a much-improved experience. After years of playing with medium traction control, I was able to turn the assist off completely and not get thrown into a barrier on every corner exit like in previous games.

That doesn’t mean you are glued to the road though. You can still get on the power too early, with too much steering angle, or with your rears on markedly different surfaces and lose the back end completely. However the car no longer bites your hand off at every opportunity. This is especially noticeable when you hit high revs in a low gear such as at race starts or coming out of a painfully slow chicane.

Smokin’

While the traction & acceleration changes have made for a much more enjoyable racing experience with your right foot, things aren’t quite so rosy for your left foot. Changes have also come to the brakes, and these might be the most dramatic in the game.

Locking up is now easier than ever. The previous F1 22 meta settings of maximum brake pressure and full front bias are now just a recipe for tyre smoke. Those with a more cultured left foot than me may be able to run similar brake setups as before, but for those that aren’t trying to compete at the sharp end of PSGL it will be a different story.

Locking up in F1 23
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Once again, pulling the brake bias too far to the rear will cause rear locking, something that is even worse than doing up the fronts as it will send you into a spin. While we haven’t played around with setups too much to see if there is any golden setting, around 54-56% seems to be ideal. However, adjusting from corner to corner, and creating a tiny bit of rear locking to provide rotation, could be the way forward at least in time trial. The changes to braking in particular will set the skill gap for F1 23, and will take some adjusting to for players at all levels.

That’s no bad thing in our opinion. These changes bring the F1 23 cars more into line with how Formula 1 cars behave in other titles, and thus feel more realistic and genuine than the previous iterations of Codemasters’ handling.

While some will bemoan life being too easy on the throttle and too hard on the brakes, the learning curve feels much more natural in F1 23. There will be a lot of re-training muscle memory for those looking to compete at a high level on F1 23, but for casual players the ABS assist will still keep you on the straight and narrow so overall it’s a great balance.

Setups

Another part of the handling that has seen changes is the setups. Last year saw the full range of aerodynamic settings opened up, taking the slider from 1-11 to 0-50. This year it is the suspension settings that are getting a similar treatment, but they aren’t alone in changing.

Front & rear suspension now has a range of 1-41, while front & rear anti-roll bars are 1-21. Front and rear ride height is set to 30-50, this is likely to reflect the higher ride height rules that have come into Formula 1 since the 2022 regulations were first adopted.

The new suspension settings on display in the F1 23 setup menu
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This will continue to make setups more minutely tweakable and personal. The best setups are still likely to be low aero/stiff front ones that provoke more rotation. As this is a preview build and we have had limited time on with it we can't say right now if there is a meta or what it will be.

Elsewhere in the setups, suspension geometry values have finally been made sane. Front camber now goes from 2.50 to 3.50, with no minuses. Rear camber values are 1.00 to 2.00, while front toe is set from 0.00 to 0.10, and rear toe is 0.10 to 0.30. Again, this may just be a visual change to the setup option rather than an actual change to the underlying car, time will tell.

Likewise, brakes have been rationalised. With minimum brake pressure now 80%, and the bias numbers flipped with 70% being maximum frontward bias and 50% the maximum rearward. Finally, tyre ranges have been opened up as well. Front pressure now has a range of 22.0 to 25.0 psi and rear pressures are 20.0 to 23.0 psi.

F1 23 in Las Vegas
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All of this will make for a much more intuitive setup system that allows players to create, or tweak, setups to their own liking.

Default setups are heavy on the lockups and not all that fun, but once you find the right one for you the benefits of the new handling model should only grow.

A promising start

The preview build we have had to play on is a great glimpse at the gameplay future of F1 23. Obviously, it isn’t the finished game so things like AI performance and car balancing weren’t there, but we have had a great time learning and adapting to the new driving styles required for F1 23.

F1 23's changes to ranked online play
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Change is never easy, and there will be some players who were fast in F1 22 that may not be able to evolve with the new handling model. Overall though, we think it’s a big step forward. Playing on a wheel we haven’t been able to feel the benefits of Precision Drive, but if it is anything like the improvements in handling it should be great for pad players.

Of course, the longevity of F1 23 will come in its game modes. While F1 World is an interesting new development, the silence around Career Mode and My Team is a little worrying. As FIFA or Madden players can attest, offline single-player modes in EA games have a tendency to be left to rot in favour of money-making online modes. We hope that isn’t the case in F1 23, but we will have to wait for the full launch to really find out.

For more articles like this, take a look at our F1 page.