F1® 2019 Driver Academy: Basic Driving Tips
Our engines are revving, the summer break is over and to get us in the mood we thought we’d tackle the basics of F1 2019. We’re asked constantly by new players for tips to help them navigate an F1 circuit in one piece without a first lap visit to the pits. So, for anyone who needs a few pointers, we’ve got your back.
Let’s start at the beginning: getting a good race start.
The Race Start
Ahh – the race starts. One of the most crucial parts of an entire race weekend (no pressure then). A good getaway could see some vital overtakes, but a poor getaway could result in being well out of position, or worse still, recovering from severe damage.
There are two Race Start options available in the Gameplay Settings menu – you can find these when you’re setting up your race weekend. Manual Race Starts give a countdown in which you need to hold down the clutch button X (PS4) or A (Xbox) and balance the revs using the vibration rumble to hold the optimum amount until the lights go out, then react as quick as possible. The other option is Assisted Race Starts which simplifies the experience, just requiring the right amount of throttle to get away cleanly when the lights go out.
Suddenly unleashing close to 1,000BHP from a standing start is asking a lot from the tyres so feeding in the throttle gradually is key to getting the best launches. Pay close attention to the vibration effects through the pad rumble motors as these are highly insightful in representing how your tyres are coping. Once wheelspin is no longer a concern, observe the cars around you and try to pre-empt each opponent’s position into turn one to plot your route, and avoid being shunted or squeezed out.
Once you’re off to a flying start, it’s on to braking…
Amongst other things, F1 cars have exceptionally effective brakes, so a good deal of time can be gained from braking as late as possible into a corner. (Provided, of course, there is enough space to get down to the required speed prior to entering a corner!)
To help gauge the distance many circuits feature braking marker boards, which highlight in meters the proximity to a heavy braking event. These boards typically begin at 150 metres, then another at 100 metres and again at 50 metres. By 50 metres there is often good corner visibility, but for many heavy braking areas it may already to too late at this point.
As a rough guide a reasonable rule of thumb tends to be one mph lost for every metre of travel. So, to put that into context, if you’re braking from 200mph down to a 50mph corner entry, that’s a loss of 150mph which can safely be achieved within 150 metres of braking. For this scenario, braking at the 150 metre marker board is a safe reference point. In wet conditions braking distances are notably longer so be sure to compensate if the track has had anything more than a light sprinkling.
As well as braking marker boards various environmental objectives such as kerbs, painted lines, bridges, grandstands or even buildings can provide useful reference points when learning where to brake. When all else fails there is always the Dynamic Braking Line (DRL) available in the assists menu. The DRL shows a typical racing line and changes colour depending on the current speed of the vehicle. When approaching a corner, the DRL will turn red should the entry speed be too high to safely navigate the corner, otherwise green means accelerate (though this doesn’t necessarily mean putting the pedal to the metal!)
It’s often said a racing driver’s job is to minimise the angle of each corner. This means starting on the outside of a corner, reaching the inside at what’s often referred to as the ‘apex’ or ‘clipping point’ and then returning to the outside. Using this method, the minimum speed is kept as high as possible which results in the best lap times.
Another useful philosophy is ‘Slow in, Fast Out’. This means ensuring the entry speed is low enough that the corner can be successfully navigated, accelerating through the corner to give the best possible exit speed which benefits the following straight. This methodology avoids scenarios where drivers must slow down on the exits of corners in order to avoid running wide which is far more costly in times of lap time.
Finally, it’s worth looking ahead where long corners are concerned. Sometimes it’s worth sacrificing speed through the first part of a long corner section, because it allows for better positioning in subsequent corners, which, of course, will give you better lap times.
Now you’re in the race, and Jeff, your engineer, calls you into the pits…
Beyond strategy, there is much to be gained or lost in the pit stop process itself. Remember racing is still allowed after the pit lane splits from the main track up to the point where a solid white line denotes the speed limited section prior to the team garages. Just before this point each track has a visible marker displaying the speed in KPH but be aware these can be knocked over so may not always be visible.
The Pit Assist, available in the Assists menu, takes control of the car in the event of a pit lane entry and automatically reduces speed at the correct moment. For those who prefer the challenge of manually reducing speed at the right point the assist can be turned off and the target speed will be displayed in the HUD. At the point the target speed is reached, the pit limiter button triangle (PS4) or Y (Xbox) can be triggered to keep the speed consistently within the limit.
After stopping in the pit box and the pit crew have successfully serviced the car, there is a prompt to leave by holding the clutch and revving the engine provided the Pit Assist is turned off, otherwise this is handled automatically with no action required for the car to leave the pit box and feed back in to the pit lane. If the pit speed limiter is applied there is also ground to be gained from pressing the pit limiter button again immediately after the pit exit line where the speed once again becomes unrestricted. As soon as the speed limited area is departed it’s about getting back up to racing speed even before re-joining the main circuit. You don’t want to be left with the limiter on for longer than necessary!
A feature known as Flashback allows you to pause the game and go back in time to correct any untimely errors recently made.
Flashback can be initiated either via the pause menu or directly though pressing the touchpad (PS4) or Back button (Xbox). It’s possible to pick the exact moment to rewind to within a specific timeframe, but as a rule, it’s often worth rewinding a bit further than needed to get a feel for that part of track once again to avoid making the same mistake twice. There are no limits to the amount of Flashbacks which can be used, but just be aware they can’t be used in multiplayer game modes.
Next time around, we’ll be taking things up a notch looking at things like set-ups and wet weather racing. We’ll also start looking at individual circuits and help you navigate them as quickly and safely as possible. we’ll see you out on track!