Your Magic Setup for F1 2016 is Here!

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I’m not a fan of taking a couple of days off from working on the site and leaving people hanging, but sometimes a mixture of shitbox racing on Saturday nights, as well as messing around with a new game get in the way of pissing off fanboys on a daily basis here at PRC.net.

It’s probably a good idea to start the week off by addressing the elephant in the room: Codemasters unleashed Formula One 2016 upon the world three days ago, and aside from some pretty catastrophic hardware issues that were quickly rectified with a pair of emergency patches, a whole bunch of sim racers have been pleasantly surprised with the title. This is a rare occurrence for the current group of individuals working under the Codemasters banner, as the quality of games released after their 2011 masterpiece, DiRT 3, have taken a tangible nosedive towards mediocrity. In particular, the licensed Formula One titles were typically met with scathing reviews by hardcore Grand Prix fans for an abundance of technical issues and lackluster artificial intelligence; the lone entry in the series worth playing (F1 2013) was merely saved by the inclusion of historic bonus content.

With Codemasters receiving a unanimous thrashing by both critics and fans alike for shipping an empty, shallow, and most notably broken game in F1 2015, the general consensus from multiple online communities is that Codemasters have redeemed themselves as a developer thanks to F1 2016. Ideally, we’ll have our resident Formula One aficionado Sev give the title a proper shakedown in the coming days, but for those wanting a final verdict right away, I can assure that it’s really fucking good. This is basically the vision everybody had in their minds when Codemasters acquired the license back in 2009; it’s just a shame it took so long to get to this point.

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Anyways, for those of you who’ve purchased the game and have spent the majority of the weekend turning laps, you’ve probably figured out that the computer opponents are absurdly quick on higher difficulties, and like all modern racing games, that final bit of pace will be picked up in the garage menu. However, the five baseline setups F1 2016 offers in the garage menu as a quick fix rarely warrant any on-track improvements, and since it’s a Codemasters game, you just know real-world setup tricks probably won’t work here. This is a game rooted in reality, but the physics have indeed been manipulated for mass market appeal. Personally, I don’t mind them one bit. The game drives a bit like the old FSOne mods for rFactor; much simpler compared to the other stuff out there, but in the context of a huge game with ruthless AI and a massive offline career mode, it’s nothing to complain about. I saw someone on reddit make the comment that the game is “70% simulation, 30% arcade”, and that’s a pretty accurate summary.

My only word of warning, is that Codemasters appear to simulate turbocharger behavior by tying it directly to your own personal throttle input. With traction control turned off, you simply can’t roll on the throttle and still turn competitive times as you would in other simulators. It’s like the game engine intentionally ignores the kind of light throttle input you’d use on a similar car in Automobilista or rFactor, and amplifies anything over 50% pedal input to exaggerate turbo behavior. The result is that you more or less can’t modulate the throttle at all. I’m usually against turning on assists in any type of racing game, but F1 2016 is simply unplayable on a competitive level without turning traction control to the Medium setting. This still lets the car wiggle around a whole bunch on exit, and you’ll indeed need to wheel the thing to post a respectable time, but getting rid of traction control entirely in the pursuit of realism will straight up fuck you over from winning much of anything in F1 2016.

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As is the norm whenever I load up a new game, I went straight to F1 2016’s Time Trial mode as a way to figure out what kind of lines, setups, and driving styles are needed to be fast in this strange new world. The Time Trial mode in F1 2016 functions much like Forza Motorsport’s Rivals feature, where the game throws you the ghost car of a player just a few spots ahead of you each time you improve your personal best, and it’s a fun little diversion from the main meat of the game. As an added bonus, you can copy your rival’s setup for use in your car at the click of a button, and you’re also welcome to bust it open and make changes as you wish – something Forza doesn’t let you do. What you can probably deduce from the above screenshot of the Interlagos leaderboard, as well as the title of this post, is that Columbia University’s Mattress Girl is one hell of an F1 driver.

After about two hours messing around in Time Trial mode, I can safely say that real world setup techniques that you’ve used across other racing simulators indeed work in F1 2016, there’s just a limit to their overall effectiveness. Climbing through the leaderboards while left to my own devices, I was initially able to stick to basic modifications that I would use in other sims as well to earn a couple tenths here and there. So I can imagine someone who’s strictly an offline player actually enjoying the Career mode in F1 2016, as the adjustments you’ll make to your car in between sessions actually make sense. However, once I got into the elusive Top 50, all hell broke loose, and I pretty much had to load other people’s exploit setups to remain competitive.

Let’s take at what I adopted from CQR Takumi to snatch the record at Interlagos.

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I’m quite satisfied with the aerodynamic values you’re forced to use. The front wing setting can remain somewhere in the middle at 7, while the rear wing can be lowered to 5. This obviously makes the car a bit unbalanced given the fact that you’re generating more downforce at the front than the rear, but what you’re trying to achieve here is the magic number of 341 km/h in 8th gear while in a DRS zone. If for whatever reason you can’t hold on, you can run 6 or 7 clicks at the rear. Anything higher, and you’ll lose speed.

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You can get away with a fully locked differential while using the medium level of traction control. Again, these cars are basically unplayable at competitive speeds without TCS, so just throw these numbers at the car and be done with it. Don’t frustrate yourself when you don’t have to.

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Maximum negative camber at both ends of the car is the way to go, even on high speed tracks, as cornering performance is infinitely more important than tire temps or straight line speed.

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You’ll want to stiffen the front end of the car – both the sway bar and the springs to the maximum value – while the rear end remains as soft as possible, and I’m told this is close to what the real cars are running as well. Even though the values may appear absolutely crazy, this stabilizes the car to an extent you simply won’t receive with a conservative approach. Ride height numbers can be left at 5 clicks on each end; I’ve gone lower in my own testing, and it’s made me slower, presumably thanks to bottoming out.

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Brakes are actually quite integral to your success in F1 2016, and even though the tire model is incredibly simplified compared to the plethora of modern simulators available, the four wheel drift you want to achieve on corner entry still exists and is highly beneficial. You’ll want to leave the brake pressure at 73% and always give near-full pedal input at the 100 metre marker to slow the car down in time, though dialing the brake bias back to 57% lets the rear end of the car break free and points the nose towards the apex when you lift off the pedal on corner entry. While on-track, the game allows you to adjust the brake bias in increments of 2%, so use 56% if you’re confident in your driving abilities, and 58% for a conservative approach that won’t allow the car to slide as much. Yes, you can feel the difference between those two values. Pretty impressed at that, to be honest.

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Oh boy, tire pressures. This one’s pretty easy; the lowest possible tire pressures give the highest amount of grip. During my own personal testing, I played around with jacking these up a bit to increase straight line speed, but the lack of grip in the corners negated pretty much anything I’d attained during the speed sections. Drop them to the minimum value and be done with it.

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Lastly, we have the weight distribution, which again is a setting which relies on an extreme value. You’ll want to push all the ballast towards the rear of the car, so the back end doesn’t slide around a whole bunch on corner exit. This is a setting I do not recommend deviating from; I’ve tried values towards the center of the slider, and it just doesn’t work. The car handles like shit.

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In conclusion, setups in F1 2016 are pretty simple once you’ve tossed this baseline, record-holding setup into your game. You can run this configuration basically anywhere in the game, and be met with satisfactory results which place you well ahead of the competition, online or off. Some people will surely cry that this game lacks simulation value for how little work you need to do in the garage area, but in my opinion, it’s really no different than any other modern simulator in terms of developing a baseline before making minor adjustments. I’ve been using a similar theory to my setups in both Automobilista and RaceRoom Racing Experience, so this isn’t exactly unfamiliar territory.

When it comes to adjusting this setup for use in other locations, there are basically two things you need to change to accommodate the particular track you’re visiting.

  • You can leave the rear wing at 5 clicks on most tracks, I’d bump it up to 6 or 7 for places with a lot of technical corners – or if you can’t keep the rear end under you.
  • If you’re confident at a particular track and need a few tenths, lower the brake bias to 56% instead of 58%, and really attack the corners with both heavy/late braking & heavy/early throttle applications.

Enjoy the game, and we’ll have a full review up at some point. You can grab the setup for F1 2016 off the Steam Workshop by clicking HERE.

 

One Setup, Three Cars

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Each time I write an article diving deep into the problems plaguing Sector 3’s RaceRoom Racing Experience, I’m always worried I won’t be able to access the hundreds of dollars worth of content available in the title when the following morning arrives. If you haven’t taken the not-so-subtle hints sprinkled throughout previous articles by now, Sector 3 appear to value PRC.net‘s opinion on the world of sim racing, and have kindly granted us Press Access to the game’s massive list of content. Personally, I enjoy the game for what it is, and have used the Press Pass to play the game on my own leisure time – much more than is ever required when covering a game – but if I find something big, I’m not going to hide it from our readers because that’s how we roll. I’m glad at least one developer has been a good sport about it.

Obviously, you’re all well aware that the game costs a fair bit, and that most sim racers are beginning to treat it as the spiritual successor to GTR 2 or Race 07. Personally, I really enjoy the title. It’s got a fairly large list of relevant vehicles and locations, I don’t have any major complaints in regards to the driving model, and the game looks phenomenal for being powered by the trusty engine Image Space Incorporated developed over a decade ago. If you can stomach the cost of the complete package, or carefully plan out the ludicrous journey through micro-transaction hell, a lot of people will be satisfied with their purchase.

But I do more than just race the AI by myself. I love competition. And to be successful at a high level, whether it’s in leagues or online leaderboards, you’re required to learn what everything does in the garage menu. Our boy Maple has taught me everything I know about car setups, and the basic steps to creating a decent road racing setup are as follows:

  • Drop the ride height as low as it can go.
  • Use the softest springs available.
  • Treat the front and rear anti-roll bar like the wedge adjustment in a Stock Car.
  • Raise the ride height if it bottoms out. Alternatively, stiffen the springs.

It’s that easy.

With the sheer number of sim racers participating in each Leaderboard Challenge, whether it’s an official competition with prizes or simply a fight for the bragging rights of holding a world record on a certain combination, I’ve spent a fair bit of time fiddling in the garage menu in the quest for an extra tenth of a second.

And I found a lot more than that. Most likely not intended to be discovered, there’s a single setup that works across every car in the game. Try it for yourself:

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As I’ve said, I like the driving model featured in R3E. It’s heavily based on the fundamental concepts of driving a race car: brake in a straight line, be smooth with your steering inputs, and unwind the wheel as you step on the throttle. There isn’t any bullshit like in other ISI sims where you can feather the throttle under braking to induce understeer – something that will hurt you if you try it in a real car. In competitive online races, there is never that one guy who’s exploiting something you won’t figure out for a couple of months – like Forza’s Handbrake glitch. The game rewards those who understand the process of driving a race car.

But, in my own experience, there’s gotta be something going on with the physics engine that’s heavily simplifying stuff behind the scenes. Every single car in R3E drives the exact same, to the point where three completely different cars can be driven to the top of their respective leaderboards with the setup above. Instead of an entire roster of dynamic vehicles that each require their own driving style, it feels like only the overall weight and engine power output change from car to car. This allows a setup built for a front-engine modern DTM car and a mid-engine GT3 sports car to be just as effective in a light weight open wheel speedster.

Which, obviously, shouldn’t be the case.

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  • There is basically no penalty for running the minimum rear wing setting. In other games, your car would be a death trap. Here, you’re given so much straight line speed, you’re required to switch to an alternative final drive configuration so you aren’t bouncing off the limiter on the main straight. In the corners, the car sticks to the ground like glue.
  • While most play with the front and rear ARB settings constantly throughout a race weekend, a super soft minimum value allows for excessive body roll, yet the car never breaks traction. Like, ever. Even the Formula RR2 that was released today.
  • The suspension geometry, for whatever reason, works universally across all cars. As outlined in the guide above, you can run the softest springs and the smallest ride height, and the car will never scrape the ground. The biggest challenge of getting the ride height correct via a combination of sprint perches and the stiffness of the springs themselves is simply nowhere to be found.

Are these setups race proven? Of course they are. In the GT3 race at Zandvoort shown below, I was able to add another 0.4 seconds onto the gap between myself and Reinhard Berger each time we made the journey down the long front straight. The rear wing simply wasn’t necessary for stability, and had there been an option to remove all pieces of the car generating downforce, I would have. This doesn’t seem right on a flowing, high speed course where the back end should in theory be constantly stepping out with the use of a low – alright let’s go a bit furtherno downforce setup.

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Taking the exact same setup to the DTM Winter Cup competition at Austria’s Red Bull Ring, I’ve put the car into the Top 10, behind known cheaters and guys representing professional sim racing teams. The only reason I’m not higher, is because I haven’t sat down and figured out where I’m allowed to run wide in certain corners.

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I mean, R3E drives good and it certainly looks good, but given that I can run the exact same setup across three very different automobiles, there’s definitely some sorcery being done under the hood in regards to the game’s physics. As mentioned earlier, it’s as if each car is a generic brick, with only the weight and power output adjusted to produce realistic lap times. It’s a throwback to games like Grid Autosport, where the McLaren has a speed of 6 and a weight of 7, and the BMW DTM entry has a speed of 7 and a weight of 6. It would be unfortunate if this were the case, as RaceRoom Racing Experience is fairly costly for newcomers with the excessive micro-transactions. Many would be disappointed to find out they are paying for a Grid Autosport-like title with realistic tire grip levels, especially when racing sims are traditionally held to a higher standard.

As the files themselves are encrypted, and very few talented drivers own enough content in R3E to back up the claims made in this post, we’ll probably never have a definitive answer.

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Another Update to R3E, another GT3 Leaderboard Setup

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With Sector 3 Studios recently rolling out a large physics update to RaceRoom Racing Experience, and a growing amount of people checking out the title due to sheer curiosity, it’s time for yet another Ultimate GT3 Setup to get everyone up to speed. While car setups are usually part science, part personal preference, I’ve noticed throughout 2015 that RaceRoom tends to have extremely simple car setup tricks. One differential setting worked across every car in the game, anti-roll bar settings were always set at either minimum or maximum values, toe settings were universal, and suspension/ride height values were always dropped to the minimum value.

But anyways, a new build has brought slightly different tricks. This is the setup I personally use in both public lobbies, and to attack some of the leaderboard challenges. It’s obviously designed for the McLaren 12C GT3, but I’m fairly certain it will work across all cars within the same class, as has been the case with previous versions of R3E.

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The biggest exploit this build is the rear wing, which can be ran with a value of 1 on any track in the game. I’m not sure how accurate this is, or what the value of 1 relates to in terms of raw angle of attack, but I can safely give y’all the thumbs up to drop the rear wing as low as it will go. Even at a treacherous street circuit like Macau, the car suffers from no noticeable handling oddities, while gaining a massive speed boost on any flat-out sections. I know when I raced in a public room at Hockenheim a week ago with Ortner and a few other R3E regulars, I was eating people on the long run down to the hairpin. It would be nice to hear from Sector 3’s  Kelvin Van der Linde if this is realistic or not.

The anti-roll bar behavior has changed slightly, with the optimal configuration now residing at minimum values for both ends of the car. In theory, this should make the car a bit of a death trap, allowing the car to wander everywhere in the center of the corner, but the car has so much overall grip that the rear end never gets to the point where it breaks loose, nor does the front end turn in too much.

Ride Height and Suspension settings, as Maple has talked about previously, should always be set as low as they can go. A lower ride height results in a lower center of gravity, giving you more stability, and a soft suspension lets the car sink to the ground even further over bumps.

The rest of the values are carry-overs from previous builds. Differential settings are now locked at 60%, though you’ll want the Preload set at 1. Brake bias is comfortable at 58, though if it’s stepping out in the entrance to the corner, change it to 62 and you should be fine.

I don’t recommend this setup in other ISI powered sims, but with whatever Sector 3 have injected into the ISI code, this is what works in their world.

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rFactor 2 Setup Guide

David O’Reilly has written a massive in-depth setup guide for rFactor 2 with help from some very high level drivers from Formula SimRacing, which also gives an interesting look into what a professional level team goes through to get what they believe is the best setup every weekend. Although this is written for rFactor 2, the information inside works across all modern racing sims, and is something you definitely need to read. Many of the steps and tricks listed are exactly what I myself do when building a setup.

You can download the guide HERE.

As far as my own setup guides go, I have been busy getting ready for the upcoming iRacing.com Pro Season and finishing off the current NASCAR Peak Anti-Freeze Series, as well as having the new surface model on my shoulders.. As many of you have now experienced, the new surface model is very good in some ways and allows multi groove racing but is still lacking some key features – such as graphically showing us where the shade actually is on track, or where the rubber build up currently is on track.

As Eric Hudec himself has said, the new surface model is dynamically effected by the actual position of cars on the track, and from Peak Anti-Freeze Series testing, this has been the case. I will have a very in-depth guide on how to get the most out of the new surface model for the oval side coming up soon, though keep in mind it may be subject to change depending on what changes iRacing makes to it over the coming months.

The Ultimate DiRT Rally Rallycross Setup is Here!

Over the past week I’ve been having a killer time with DiRT Rally‘s new Multiplayer PvP Update, and I thought I’d try building a proper setup for the cars. What you see below is what I’m personally using every time I show up in an online server, so beware that it might not suit your driving style.

It’s quick enough to be at least a second faster than anyone else in the lobby if put in the hands of a competent driver.

rcxsetIt will make the car extremely twitchy and prone to oversteer, so do not fret if you can’t get a handle on it. Try it out and let me know what you think!