F1 2021 Beginner’s guide to racing – How to accelerate and brake, turns, tips, and more

Having a tough time mastering F1 2021? We have a few tips that could help you out.

Image via Codemasters

If you’re new to the F1 video game franchise, things can be particularly frustrating at first. Formula 1 cars are very different as compared to other vehicles, and thus, must be handled in a different manner. So if you’re struggling with the new F1 2021 game, things can be tough to handle. Luckily, we have you covered, so let’s take a look at some tips you should keep in mind before hitting the track in F1 2021.

Start off with the assists

To get an idea as to how Formula 1 works, start with most, if not all, of the assists turned on. This includes the assists that automatically change gears, as well as the one that helps with traction control.

Once you get acclimated with the physics engine and the flow of racing in Formula 1, we do suggest turning off the assists. While these can be helpful at first, the reality is you can get more out of your vehicle and be more of an attentive driver when the assists are off. Additionally, turning off assists does have some hidden benefits, which we’ll get to in a bit.

Check the setups

Before you head out on the track, you might want to mess with the setups. Setups affect a variety of things, including tire pressure, transmission, and the aerodynamics, and how much you change the setups depend on the track, as well as the type of car. There are a number of sources online that can help you out, but not all setups that you find on the “World Wide Web” are one size fits all.

If you are looking for the right setup, one that suits how you play, we recommend that you experiment with different settings. Then, test the setup out on the track before making a decision.

Accelerate and brake

Accelerating and braking works about the same as it does in other racing games. To accelerate, press and hold RT/R2. To brake, hit LT/L2, depending on what controller you are using.

The controls are simple enough, but it is important to know when to ease up on accelerating, and also how hard you should hit on the brakes. We’ll get more into that when we talk about turns.

Let’s get a good start

Starts are extremely important. If you can pull off a strong start, you can put yourself in a position to pass some other cars on the first turn, or put your vehicle ahead of the rest of the pack should you begin at the front.

We have a more detailed guide on starts, but if you want the gist of things, here’s what you need to know. Before the race begins, you don’t want to spam hold RT/R2. Instead, gently tap, but not hold, the trigger a few times to warm up the car and to get the gears ready (assuming you are using manual gear shifts). Then, once the five red lights pop up on the screen, press and hold the trigger fast.

Gear up

Now let’s move on to gears, which you may or may not have set to manual. If you are comfortable with the automatic gear assist, we won’t stop you from using it. However, manual gearboxes do offer a bit more precision on the track, plus an added layer of control.

The reason for this is because by shifting up and down manually, you can dictate exactly how you want to attack on turns, and how fast you can move when attempting to move across the track.

We have a more detailed guide on how and when to shift the gears, and we highly recommend that you check that out before moving on.

Turns are the key

Now let’s move on to arguably the hardest part to master in F1: turns. Turns can be complicated, for a few reasons. For one, if you don’t slow up a bit before overtaking an opposing car, you can be hit with a penalty. Second, turns, if done incorrectly, could lead to your vehicle taking a large amount of damage, and the possibility of veering off the track.

Turns need to be done with a certain precision that really can only be attained through practice. To help you with this process, let’s go over a few tips:

  • You need to slow down – Braking on turns is (almost) a must, be how much you slow down depends on the kind of turn. If the turn is sharp and requires a complete change of direction, you will need to brake and shift down with the gears. Then, once the turn is complete, get back to accelerating and shifting up, but make sure you have complete control of the vehicle. In other instances, such as on turns that are not sharp, you may not need to slow down as much as possible.
  • What gear should you be on? – For sharp turns, you’ll want to most likely shift down to Gear 2, should you have the manual gearbox on. For non-sharp turns, anywhere from Gears 3-5, depending on the type of turn, should be suffice.
  • Be mindful of the action around you – In order to turn effectively, you’ll need to be cognizant of the cars in front of you. Taking any kind of damage to your car can be detrimental, as even just a little bit of damage could be problematic. To ensure you take as little as damage as possible, slow down a little bit more than you might normally would if no vehicles are in front.

Turns take time to master, and a lot of that has to do with the nature of the game’s physics engine, plus the different kinds of turns. Another factor is trying to anticipate how to approach a particular turn on the track. This can be addressed with getting experience on a track. Take a couple of laps to get a feel for what you need to do, and go from there.

You don’t need a wheel, but…

Lastly, let’s touch on the controller. If you want to play F1 2021, you don’t need a wheel, as a regular controller is suffice for all controls. However, if you are having problems with the controller, you might want to consider trying out a wheel. Wheels can make turns a lot easier, should you have problems working the sticks on the controller. And, you might feel just a little bit more comfortable braking and steering.

However, we do want to emphasize that you shouldn’t feel obliged to get a wheel, should you want to play F1 regularly.