GTA Online’s newest update adds open-wheel racing to the game. Think F1, but with more chaos and destruction. These new open-wheel races feel different than previous modes, with a focus on skillful driving and managing your car’s tires and damage. These races can be fun, though a lot of the GTA Online players seem to be struggling with the techniques they require
These new open-wheel races are the latest continuation of the Diamond Casino and Resort update. In fact, just last week an F1 car was available to win for free in the casino. That potential prize racer is one of the two new cars that Rockstar added for this new update. They are nearly identical performance-wise, but they look different. Both cars are fast and nimble like you would expect from high-performance open-wheel race cars.
The new F1 tracks are built around different parts of the GTA V map. Some use streets and others are floating over oceans or lakes. But unless you stop and look around, you probably won’t notice where you are.
Cars on these new tracks can whip around turns and bends in a way most GTA Online vehicles can’t. It feels great when you figure out the flow and layout of races and can start cutting corners with inches to spare. Driving through one of the tracks made me feel like a cool, pro racer. And then someone would careen into the back of my car and throw me into a wall.
Crashing into other players in previous GTA Online race modes is common. But usually, a simple bump or grind won’t do too much. It might spin you out or, worst case, knock you off the track. But a quick respawn can fix that. In these new F1-like races, crashes can be disastrous. These open-wheel cars are like rockets made out of toothpicks and paper. Pieces break off after simple collisions and this can make your car less stable and harder to control. Tires can pop and get destroyed, too, which makes driving even harder.
Luckily, these open-wheel tracks have pit stops. These new pitstops, not seen before in GTA Online, add an extra bit of strategy to races. Did you take a hard turn into a wall and lose your spoiler, making future turns even harder? Well, you could swing through the pit, but you might lose a few spots in the process as racers pass you by. Is it worth it?
Even if you avoid the other players and hit every turn perfectly, your tires will now wear down over the course of the race. This is represented by a metre on the screen. I was curious how worn down tires would change the feel of my car. So I skipped the pit lane for nearly the whole race. By the second to last lap, I was spinning out from minor bumps, and my back end got squirrely if I tried to slide even a bit around a sharp turn. Having to manage when to pit and when to keep going is a lot of fun and makes the races feel more about skill than just holding the gas button down for 10 minutes. At one point I was in second place, doing well, but my tires were about to pop. I needed to hit the pits. But third place was right on my tail. And he needed to pit too. So it became this endurance race before eventually he hit the pitlane and I pulled ahead enough to do the same on the following lap.
After about seven or eight races, I noticed a lot of players were not pitting or using their brakes in the new modes. Sometimes I would see multiple cars limping around the track with flat tires and missing spoilers. They became annoying obstacles. If you want to win these races, here’s my tip: use the brakes and let go of the gas on some turns. You will end up beating half the other racers who are just pinballing around turns. That is assuming they stay in the race.
For pit stops and tire wear to matter, you need to have races go about 10 or so laps. That can mean races go on for 15 or 20 minutes. And for most players, especially ones who are crashing a lot or in the back of the pack, this can be too long. Sadly, most races I tried ended with about half the racers we started with. But then again, fewer cars on the track made most races less annoying. The problem is that, if too many folks leave, the payouts drop a lot and the race can feel empty. There isn’t an easy fix for this, other than playing a few races and building up a lobby of open-wheel racing fans who are willing to stick around even if they are losing.
Some fans will be disappointed that Rockstar is adding another racing mode to GTA Online. The game is filled with different ways to race cars, boats, supercars and even RC cars. But these new open-wheel races feel fresh and different enough that I don’t mind another racing mode being added to GTA Online. With a lobby of players willing to slow down sometimes and stick through the long races, these new F1 tracks can be a lot of fun and can offer skilled GTA Online players something new and challenging compared to most stunt races.
Just please, stop rear-ending me and knocking off my spoiler. Please.