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The F1 2022 game features some pretty significant changes compared to F1 2021, the previous entry in the series. Not least of these changes are the new aerodynamics regulations, which reflect those in the real life championship. There’s also a new track to learn and race around in.
Whether you’re a returning veteran checking out what’s new, or a new player looking to get into the simulated version of the top flight of motorsport, we’ve got you covered. Strap yourself in for Hotspawn’s F1 2022 basics guide!
F1 Engineering 101
Many of the sim racing concepts we talked about in our Gran Turismo 7 basics guide actually apply the same way to driving Formula 1 cars. Things like traction, oversteer and understeer, following the racing line, and more will carry over, as it is still motor racing at the end of the day.
However, the differences in engineering between road cars and open-wheel racers like Formula 1 cars mean that the finer details will likewise differ. F1 cars have extremely powerful brakes compared to road cars, for example, and have so much more downforce as well. When combined, these dissimilarities demand a moderately divergent driving style.
All Formula cars, from the junior series all the way to F1 itself, use the mid-engine, rear wheel drive (MR) drivetrain layout. Period. Unlike in other sim racing titles, you won’t be able to choose cars from different manufacturers with drivetrains that favor your driving style. Instead, the regulations restrict you to driving an MR car with extremely similar bodywork to those of your rivals on the grid.
Of course, this comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect from this particular drivetrain. F1 cars have superior weight distribution, with most of their weight balanced close to the center of gravity in the rear wheels. This gives them unparalleled responsiveness and traction, even at high speeds.
Engine Power and Weight
Speaking of high speeds, the cars in the F1 2022 game are bar none some of the fastest racing machines you will ever drive in a sim racing game. According to defending constructor’s champions Mercedes-AMG F1 Team, the hybrid engines inside modern Formula 1 cars produce nearly 1,000 horsepower (HP). This is way more power than your average sports car, and even some dedicated racing cars like the 2016 Nissan GT-R NISMO GT500 (612 HP).
Along with their extremely low total weight of around 2,000 lbs (around 900 kg), the sheer power of Formula 1 cars give them unmatched acceleration and top speed. You can expect these cars to hit speeds in excess of 300 kilometers per hour in a straight line without breaking a sweat.
Ironically, these cars don’t actually accelerate well from a standing start. On average, F1 cars go from 0-60 miles per hour over 2.6 seconds, which is quite slow when compared to four-wheel drive cars. This is due to the fact that all the power from the engine gets sent to just the rear wheels rather than all four, and because F1 cars rely more heavily on their aerodynamics to produce traction. When at rest, the aero devices on an F1 car’s bodywork don’t generate any downforce, which means little to no traction.
The hybrid element plays a huge role in everything too. When set to overtake mode (Circle on PlayStation/B on Xbox), the car’s energy recovery system (ERS) adds a significant amount of power to the engine. This allows the car to hit higher top speeds at the cost of battery power. The ERS then recovers this energy by converting the heat generated by the engine into battery charge.
Tire Management and Pit Stop Rules
In other sim racing titles, it is entirely possible for one to finish a race on the same set of tires that they started with, especially if they start off with the hardest compound available. This is straight up illegal in Formula 1 nine out of ten times, as the rules state that drivers must use at least two different tire compounds throughout a grand prix — assuming it doesn’t rain any time during the race itself. This necessitates stopping for new tires at least once during a grand prix, which costs precious time and track position.
Managing tire degradation is therefore pivotal to success in F1 2022. If you are able to stretch the life of your tires better than your competition, you can afford to take fewer pit stops compared to the rest of the field. Fewer pit stops means less time lost, which increases your chances of finishing higher up the order.
To this end, there are three different dry tire compounds to choose from when building your race strategy: soft, medium, and hard. Softer tires have much more grip available, which contributes to faster lap times. However, they have the shortest lifespan, which means they lose grip and need changing earlier than harder compounds.
You will therefore need to consider the tradeoffs between tire life, outright grip, and the number of pit stops you’ll be taking in your strategy in order to make the most of your available rubber. Fortunately, the game does most of this for you, with the Race Strategy practice program calculating an optimal pit stop strategy based on your pace in practice sessions. You can, of course, change the strategy as you see fit — but for new players we recommend leaving it to your race engineer.
Aerodynamics and Braking
Above all else, Formula 1 cars stand out in terms of aerodynamics and braking. These machines sport cutting edge aero devices, from the front and rear wings down to the floors that just barely touch the track surface. Likewise, they use ridiculously powerful brakes in order to tame the speeds they can reach.
F1 aero is simply leagues above anything else in motorsports. When running at medium to high speeds, F1 cars enjoy tremendous amounts of downforce, which allow them to grip the asphalt like no one’s business. This results in some of the highest cornering speeds in racing, and the ability for drivers to toss the cars themselves around the corners without having to slow down as much compared to road cars. And when they do need to bleed speed, the brakes will always be there to help slow the cars down in a hurry.
The aerodynamic grip that F1 cars are famous for is what really sets them apart in terms of optimal driving technique. While road cars would need to brake early just to turn a corner, F1 cars can get more aggressive in this regard thanks to their high braking power and grip levels.
Overall, this means that you can stand to put more confidence in the car’s turning ability, and carry more speed into corners than you otherwise would be able to do with road cars. Of course, this will take some getting used to — but as with anything in sim racing, practice makes perfect.
Drag Reduction System
Also worth mentioning is the drag reduction system (DRS), which opens the flap on the rear wing to reduce drag. If you cross what is called the DRS detection zone on any given circuit, within at least one second of the car ahead of you, you will be able to activate DRS upon reaching the activation zone.
DRS is a crucial component of overtaking in Formula 1, and there is practically no reason to not use it whenever it’s available. Make sure to look out for opportunities to open your rear wing for a nice boost in speed. You’ll hear a beep come through the game audio and see a flashing light on your car’s steering wheel when DRS is available.
Controlling Your Car
As mentioned previously, the rest of the recommended driving practices for F1 cars will be similar to those for road cars.
For cornering in general, you should attack the corner exit instead of the entry, braking early enough in order to hit the optimum speed for the turn before powering out of the apex. If you’re new to the F1 games, we suggest braking earlier than necessary to begin with, as it is still faster to brake early than to overshoot the braking point. Correcting for late braking involves cutting back towards the apex of the corner at lower speeds, in order to compensate for running too deep. At worst, you may even find yourself in the run-off area, which is bad news for your lap times.
Make sure your steering inputs are nice and smooth, avoiding sudden and harsh movement on the wheel when turning. The same goes for accelerating out of a corner; gradually apply throttle to allow the car to regain traction. This helps avoid oversteer and prevents spinning out of corners.
Delicate inputs also contribute to tire management, which is crucial to race strategy in Formula 1 racing. Riding the tires hard can help you produce quick lap times, but at the cost of higher tire degradation. If you drive too aggressively, you may end up having to put an extra pit stop in your race strategy just to make up for worn tires.
What’s New in F1 22?
Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, it’s time to take a look at some of the new features and changes between the F1 21 and F1 22 games:
The sport’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), implemented wholesale changes to the aero regulations at the start of this year’s championship season. Gone are the complex, multi-piece bodywork designs that were popular from 2014 to 2021, replaced by a simplified and more streamlined formula.
The FIA did this to promote closer racing, where cars can follow each other within DRS range or just outside of it for longer than before. Prior to these rule changes, “dirty air” — that is, the wake turbulence coming off of the aero devices on the back of a car as it accelerates — made it difficult for cars to stay within striking distance of their closest rivals on track.
After all, the very concept of aerodynamics relies on clean, predictable airflow to achieve the desired result: generation of downforce. Turbulent air disturbs the generation of downforce and throws everything out of whack. This is especially detrimental in twisty tracks like the Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary, where downforce is king.
But now that every car on the grid must adhere to the simplified model, close battles are back on the menu. Codemasters made sure to do the same for F1 2022, so expect to get up close and personal with the competition this year.
Immersive Pit Stops
The realism of pit stops has always been a point of criticism by fans when it comes to the official F1 games. In F1 2021, for example, pit stops would only either be perfect or slightly slow; rarely would you see your pit crew make mistakes changing a tire while you’re in the pit box.
This changes with the F1 2022 game, which brings pit stop errors to the table. Depending on how well you place your car in the pit box (assuming you have immersive pit stops enabled, that is), your pit crew may have an easier time working on your car, or end up making a mistake that costs you valuable time.
Thus, it’s important to nail the entry into the pit box, should you choose to enable the immersive settings. This will undoubtedly add another layer of excitement and unpredictability to races in F1 2022, which we’re definitely looking forward to.
Kerbs Are More Forgiving
There’s no getting around it: kerbs — those colorful strips on the sides of certain parts of each track — were basically like ice with how slippery they were in F1 2021. Even touching certain kerbs with one front wheel in last year’s game, like on the inside of turn 12 in Spa-Francorchamps, would almost instantly cause the car to spin disastrously.
Codemasters has dialed back the slip factor in F1 2022, making it easier to ride the kerbs again in search of those precious extra tenths of a second. Of course, they won’t be nearly as grippy as the actual track surface, but it’s nice to know that it’s possible to use the kerbs again without sending the car into an immediate death spiral.
Miami International Autodrome
The newest addition to the Formula 1 calendar is also in F1 2022. The Miami International Autodrome makes its official video game debut this year, bringing with it a brand new racing challenge for players to enjoy.
As a street circuit, Miami is all about keeping your car away from the barriers. There are very few run-off areas on the track, meaning that even the smallest mistake can cost you the race. The track is also unique for having plenty of corners that involve elevation changes, which will directly affect downforce and grip.
Expect plenty of overtaking opportunities here as well, with three DRS zones that facilitate passing. Cars running low drag setups and/or have powerful engines will see a decent advantage in Miami as a result. However, don’t let the layout fool you — this isn’t Azerbaijan. Some downforce is still required here, as there are several medium and low speed corners where grip is necessary.