Warning, a long post ahead…
As a first time player of any F1 game myself, I can feel your pain.
I fully agree with you in that it can be difficult to figure out at times – there is a lot of details embedded in the game and as an F1 licensed product, I imagine that it stringently sticks to F1 rules for a variety of things (like the number of different power unit components you are allowed to have in a season or how often you can change your gearbox).
So here is a random set of pointers that I’ve been able to figure out...
These will only apply to the solo career mode – at this point, I’m not interested in the multiplayer part of the game at all.
First off, I play on a PS4 with a game controller (i.e. the game pad) as I do not own a wheel.
I’ve also set up the options to play with lots of assists until I get more comfortable with how everything works (like auto ERS, auto shifting etc.).
There are 6 practice components spread out over 3 practice sessions. You can’t do them all in one session but you can do them in any order and, you can repeat them if you want (although you won’t get full points for repeating them, only points for where you improved them).
Also, each test has a minimum target time that you have to complete your laps for the test to register as successful. The time in the upper right will be green if you are over and red if you are under (and it will show you by how much you are over or under).
Track Acclimatization – drive through the gates as fast as you can and hit the DRS when you cross over the panel on the road – gates are placed around corners and if you miss the first gate of a corner or fail it because you were going too slow, you fail the other gates on the same corner and they will be red before you even get to them. Hitting consecutive corners will get you bonus points. Green is a pass on the gate and purple is the best. They give you 3 laps to do it.
For DRS – you use it when you are in a DRS zone and during the practice sessions it can be used any time you are in a DRS zone. The game will make a ding when you are in a zone – they are the long straight sections and there can be 1 and sometimes 2 on a track.
During an actual race, you have to complete 2 laps before it will be activated and when you are in a DRS zone, you can only use it when you are less than 1 second behind the car ahead (the game won’t allow you to use it if you are more and 1 second behind).
Tire Management – take corners smoothly and accelerate smoothly (i.e. no tire skidding).
Fuel Management – coast into the corners and break later that you normally would and then accelerate smoothly as well. This test is annoying for me because the first lap seems very hard and I sometimes fail but then it improves for the second or third lap. There is also a strategy of just going full out on the lap getting ahead of your designated time by a couple of seconds, not caring about the fuel in the red but then coasting before you get to the finish line and letting the bar slide into the green zone by the time you cross over the line.
ERS Management – I just set it to low and it goes into the purple fairly quickly and after 1 lap I’m done.
Qualifying Pace – just like the description – it’s a practice for the real qualifying.
Race Strategy – you are given 5 laps but after 3, they determine the pit and tire strategy that will be used in the race. Laps 4 and 5 are optional but will get you a more accurate strategy and bonus points.
And don’t forget to check the Team goals, the 7th item at the end of the list – you get bonus points for achieving a set of goals while you run through the different practice sessions (like achieving fast sector times in qualifying, hitting all the DRS spots in track acclimatization etc.)
Research & Development – where you spend your resource points…
Everyone has their own opinions on what they want to spend their points on and when.
There are a number of different strategies like
- Compare your car to where the rest of them are and focus on what needs the improving the most
- Some people will spend on all the nodes that reduce the cost of components so that down the road it costs less to upgrade overall
- Some people will spend on nodes that reduce failure rates
I’m on the Alpha Romeo team for 3 reasons –
Reason 1 - I wanted to pick a team that focused on sportsmanship and was near the bottom so I could build it up over the season to be more competitive
Reason 2 – With them being near the bottom I figured it would be easy to beat the low expectations (qualifying and finishing 18 – really?)
Reason 3 – Kimmy is my partner – nothing more need be said
Alpha Romeo is second worst in aero and chassis and are pretty good on the powertrain side.
(Note: with the 1.5 patch recently released, Alpha Romeo got a big boost in the aero department).
I started by spending points upgrading aero and chassis and during Spain the engineer was giving me messages about my turbo charger and gearbox which I ignored and in Monaco my gearbox completely crapped out during the race.
I suddenly learned the value of the Durability branch of the tree (of which I had spent no points at all).
And I also discovered the following very important F1 rules that the game employs...
- You have to use your event gearbox for 6 consecutive races or suffer grid penalties (you can change your practice gearbox as often as you like)
- For the entire season you are only allowed to use 3 Internal combustion engines, turbo chargers and motor generator unit – heat
- For the entire season you are only allowed to use 2 motor generator unit – kinetic, energy stores and control electronics
In other words, you have to make your stuff last long enough before you are allowed to replace them or you'll end up just watching the final races.
So I decided to actually delete my career save and start again with a proper plan.
I mapped out all 21 races and now I know that...
- after Monaco, Hungary and Mexico I need to change my event gearbox
- after Canada and Italy I need to change my Internal combustion engine, turbo charger and motor generator unit – heat
- after Germany I need to change my motor generator unit – kinetic, energy store and control electronics
So now I’m putting points into Durability for all my components before I start putting points into other 3 categories so that my components will last through to change then time.
Hope this helps in some way...