F1 2020 has taken the motorsport world by storm. From Career Mode to Multiplayer, this year’s edition has everything in store for every type of gamer. Naturally, with popularity comes the need to be good at the game. Do you feel you struggle to keep your car in check? Forget where to turn and end up flying into the tyre barrier? Fret not, I’ve got you covered with this handy and essential beginners guide! This is the first guide of a 3-part series through which I intend to cover almost every aspect of the game. These guides will have you racing like a proper racer in no time!
UNDERSTAND THE CONTROLS
One of the most crucial aspects of any gameplay experience, your settings can make or break your gameplay. While Audio, Video and Gameplay options fall under Optimisation tweaks, Controls and On-Screen Display options definitely help you race better. It is perfectly okay to race with the default key bindings provided you learn what each key does. The most important functions to remember whether you drive using a keyboard, controller or a racing wheel are Accelerate, Decelerate, Steering, DRS button, the Overtake button and the Multi-Function Display (MFD) button. You can also learn the Voice Command button which can help you cover the majority of MFD tasks as well as give you a radio comms feel while racing!
Speaking of graphics, I suggest tweaking your settings to get a stable 30 FPS at the very least. Run the Benchmark mode with Monaco GP at night time during heavy rain for the perfect estimation. This will give you optimal performance without compromising heavily on the graphics. Lastly, speaking of camera options, almost every YouTuber and Esports player prefers the TV Pod cam or the Offset cam, which in all fairness, works pretty well for the majority of players. But, the Cockpit cam is the way to go to get the maximum realism and really feel the thrill of racing. I suggest you change the Field-of-View for the Cockpit cam to 0.7 in order to see the side view mirrors. It is also advised to turn on the Rear View Mirror option.
KNOW YOUR ASSISTS
A revolutionary feature added to F1 2020 is the Casual Handling Mode. This handling feature is a boon to all controller and keyboard racers which lets you focus purely on the race and leave the steering and track limits, off-road driving and other nitty-gritty mechanics in the hands of the AI. Having tried that mode out, I can confirm that it does help amateur drivers and certainly gives an advantage to pad users but I still prefer the vanilla experience. It’s still a cool feature to use nonetheless. I recommend keeping the Dynamic Racing Line assist turned on always. Ensure it is set to 3D and for the full length, not just corners. Once you feel comfortable with your car and the tracks, you may turn it off. You can also take a look at this Assist Guide in order to fully understand what each assist does.
Assists for Controller/Keyboard Users
Now let’s talk about the assists that you should use if you are a board/pad racer, namely Anti-Lock Brakes, Traction Control, Pit Assist and Pit Release Assist. These assists will help take the strain off of your fingers and will help you focus on driving rather than waste time fidgeting with various buttons. The TC and ABS assists are important as your controller/keyboard work very differently compared to pedals of a racing wheel and exact throttle/braking values are difficult to achieve on the former. Speaking of assists you shouldn’t use at all, these are ERS, DRS and the Fuel Assists. They can be termed as “lazy driver’s assists” and should only be used if you don’t want to be bothered by any micromanagement.
Manual or Automatic?
One important setting that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the Gearbox Setting. Whether you use a Manual or an Automatic Gearbox is completely a personal preference. A manual setting does allow you to drive better and faster but can also make you mistake-prone. However, I do recommend using an automatic gearbox for controller/keyboard drivers (again, for simplicity and better experience) with pad users switching to manual if comfortable. Racing wheel drivers can take advantage of the shift paddles and utilise the manual gearbox to the fullest. If you want to learn how to drive in F1 2020 using manual transmission, be sure to read this Manual Gears Tutorial.
SET YOUR SKILL LEVEL
The first and foremost part of learning the ropes of F1 2020 is to determine the AI difficulty level. But how do you accomplish that? There is a nifty literal trick for you that has been revealed by Codemasters themselves which they have dubbed “The Spanish Qualifying Test”. Here is the video tutorial to accurately determine your driving level.
Select the Grand Prix mode and choose any team/driver. Choose the Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona) as it is the most balanced track on the calendar and will help you get the perfect skill rating. Start with an AI difficulty of 50, set your desired driving style and assists and select Short Qualifying. Once the session starts, try to give as many good laps as you can until the qualifying ends. Once the qualifying is over, compare your lap times with that of your teammate. For every second of the gap in lap times, adjust the difficulty by 10. For example, if you are 0.7 seconds behind your teammate, reduce the difficulty from 50 to 43. This should be a good starting point to be able to enjoy the race as well as feel a challenge in F1 2020.
LEARN THE TRACK
This part is extremely crucial. Knowing the layout of the track is obviously a given but knowing how to drive on the track is even more important. This is where Free Practice (FP) comes into play. Just like real life, F1 2020 provides players with the option to have up to 3 FP sessions before the Qualifying and Race events. During FP, you are given various “programmes” to complete to secure resource points. These tasks are designed to teach you the track. If you’d rather just jump into Qualifying straight away, I definitely suggest you to at least complete the Track Acclimatisation Programme (TAP). The programme is designed to help you learn the entry, apex and exit points of each and every corner and curve on the track. Not just that, they also help you remember the DRS Activation Zones, too.
In addition to TAP, learning the layout of the track also helps a lot. Knowing which corner follows the other really helps in guiding the car quickly and safely. Lastly, one of the most important indicators of efficient driving is to know when to brake. It is vital to memorise the braking points in a circuit. Look for brake distance boards (150, 100, 50m boards), light indicator boards (black overhanging squares at corners) and the kerbs to find a braking point you feel is the best and memorise them. Finally, make sure to check out the official Codemasters YouTube channel where they release track guides for every circuit on the calendar based on the race schedule in real life. They offer great tips which will definitely help you learn the track better.
BE SMART, NOT JUST FAST
It is common knowledge that in a race, speed equals results. But does it always result in a win? Driving fast is definitely beneficial but not always the best option. You could be driving at 300km/h but it will be of no use if you can’t brake in time to pass the first corner. A race in F1 2020 is not just about pace but also about precision, presence of mind and teamwork. You can’t race with a car if your car can’t even run, right?
Some good hints would be to take the first few turns in Lap 1 with ease. Avoid any unnecessary fighting and/or collisions with other cars and keep a check on car parts. Monitor your tyre wear and fuel levels as well as your battery charge. Plan an appropriate strategy with your pit crew and time your pitstops well. Race using your brain just as much as using your pedals and you’ll surely taste victory soon!
And that concludes this Beginners Guide to F1 2020. Be sure to follow these tips and go check out the next part in the series, The HUD and Terminology Guide. It is a banger! Do you feel some basic tips are missing? Let us know in the comments below!