F1 2016 Makes Me Feel Like A Goddamn Idiot

F1 2016 Makes Me Feel Like A Goddamn Idiot
Image: Kotaku
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So here’s the thing: I can’t drive. It’s an anxiety thing — I get too worried that I’ll lose focus, cause an accident, that sort of thing. But virtual driving? No problems. Who cares if I slam into the wall?

Driving a Formula 1 car takes a bit of nuance and care though. And in previous F1 games, I thought I was capable of getting around the track pretty well. But F1 2016 has a new set of tutorials designed to teach you how to drive properly. And bugger me, driving properly is something I cannot do.

The F1 series was in a bit of a lull with the transition to the PS4 and Xbox One, but since then it’s started to improve markedly. That’s particularly the case with F1 2016, which has further overhauled the career mode with a suite of features not too dissimilar from Formula One Championship Edition back on the PS3.

The basic idea is to further overhaul the way practice sessions works by giving you various objectives that earn research points. Those points can then be invested into various aspects of your car, improving its downforce, fuel efficiency, output and so on over the course of a season. The objectives, however, are basically tutorials for each track. One’s a simple circuit around the course that just asks you to hit a good racing line, while another is a test run so your engineers can project how fast you’ll be in qualifying.

And then there’s a tyre test. Good God, the tyre test.

A basic principle of Formula 1 is that you can’t spend an entire race trying to set the fastest lap all the time. Tyre conservation matters. And to that end, F1 2016 has a special tutorial that’s designed to teach you how to do laps at a reasonable pace without annihilating your tyres.

But the game can only give you so much feedback. In the end, it’s still trial and error, lap after lap, screwing up corner after corner.

14 hours.

That’s how long it took before I was comfortable to proceed to my first race. That’s how much time I spent replaying practice session after practice session.

It’s madness, but I love it.

Image: Kotaku / F1 2016

Anyone who plays tons of Dota 2, League of Legends or StarCraft will understand that there’s a certain appeal to repeated failure. When it all comes together at the end — whether it be a co-ordinated gank, a perfectly timed build order, or predicting the next few seconds of gameplay in your head, only to watch it all unfold exactly as you planned — it’s addictive.

There’s nothing quite like it. It might actually be the best feeling in video games — the feeling of victory, after many, many failures.

F1 has the same joy. Braking at the perfect time, gently nudging on the left thumb stick to corner as smoothly as possible, accelerating at the right time, nailing the perfect racing line. F1 doesn’t have the toxic connotations that the Dota and League communities suffer from though — although arseholes who slam into the back of you in multiplayer is another matter altogether.

I’ve still got so much to learn. I’ve got bugger all knowledge when it comes to cars, so I’ll be relying on the Steam Workshop when it comes to car setups. And my FIFA-esque penchant for wanting to pick the worst teams and rise up through the ashes is not the best strategy for beginners when it comes to the F1 series.

But that constant trial and error, that ever-too frequent reminder of my ineptitude and lack of co-ordination, is part of the fun. So I’ll keep slamming into walls. Blowing the engine. Screwing up the tyres. Redoing a single practice session for hours on end. Whatever it takes.

That’s the fun of racing.


  • This is beginning to feel like it might evoke Geoff Crammond’s games more and more. That’s always been the benchmark for F1 games, and with F1 2015 I feel like they got closer than ever before. F1 2016 is looking the goods – more so than previous years.

  • A steering wheel will help you a lot. Far more accurate steering, brake and throttle application, the more simulator focused a game is, the harder it will get on a controller The previous F1’s have been more on the sim side of simcade, so if this is the same, it will undoubtedly take longer to get the hang of it with a thumb stick.
    Race strategy (like caring for tyres and fuel usage) is pretty much the main appeal of F1, racing IRL can be a bit of a procession so it’s often a well thought out race strategy that can provide for a good or entertaining race.
    If you’re looking for setups, http://www.racedepartment.com is a great place to start.

    • I got a X360 wireless speed wheel which emulates a steering wheel. Played a couple games with it.

      Are there games which have 1:1 wheel ratio and actually punish you for steering badly? E.g. if I’m flying down a straight and I slowly turn my wheel fully sideways, will I crash and die as would happen IRL?

      The games I’ve played still used the typical gamepad joystick thing of steering=weight, and not steering=steering.

      • i don’t know anything about that wheel in particular, by 1:1 do you mean when you steer the wheel the on screen wheel doesn’t visually line up? On PC you can adjust but generally on console if the game already has presets for your wheel, it should already be calibrated. If the game doesn’t have your wheel pre loaded, its likely it wont work very well. if your after a more realistic sims on console, Assetto corsa is 1 of the best on any platform, in the meantime probably pcars.

        with all this in mind, the games can make you crash for sure, but hopefully not die…

        • I’m asking if there’s games that map the physical steering wheel to the in-game car’s wheel. So turning the physical wheel to left lock will turn the in-game wheel to left lock.

          Using the joystick, while stopped, if you shove stick left the in-game wheel makes it’s way full left lock. But when you’re flying down the straights, it turns the in-game wheel just so, so that you don’t understeer the car and fly out of control. I’ve found that the ‘X360 speed wheel’ works like the joysticks – it has steering ‘weight’ and not steering mapping.

          So my question is, if I have a physical steering wheel (like $200+ logitechs, you know), what happens when I yank the wheel hard while flying down the straights? IRL if I did that I’d understeer and fly out of control and likely die. Does the game actually turn the wheels, or will it just ‘weight’ the steering like the standard gamepad joysticks?

          • I wonder if you have steering assist on?

            I have an old G27 and in the games I play, like Assetto corsa, Pcars, Rfactor, F1 etc the wheel in game does exactly what G27 does, If I reefed on it halfway down the straight, the in-game wheel would respond exactly the same and cause the car to turn, loose control and probably hit the wall or spin. I don’t know what other advice to give you, Id imagine you’re either playing with a steering assist turned on, or you’re playing arcade games and not simulators.

  • This looks like a good improvement over the PS3 F1 games. Might think about picking this up.

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