F1 2021 plays really well with a wheel, once it is configured properly. Unlike previous entries in the series, they have actually created very good default force feedback settings for the Thrustmaster TMX and T150. The steering angle still needs to be set properly for the game to be even playable, though.
The default force feedback is actually quite light and can be improved with some tweaks to give it a little more power. A lot of people mistakenly believe that maximizing the force feedback settings means the force feedback is more "realistic." The true purpose of the force feedback is to give you information about the track surface and how much grip the tires have. In real life, this would be felt through g-forces and the shaking of the car.
Unfortunately, these lower-end wheels can only put out so much power before they are completely overwhelmed. At that point, you no longer get any information about the track or car; the wheel just feels heavy all the time.
In this guide, we will first look at the settings you need to set in the Thrustmaster Control Panel, if playing on a PC. Then we will look at the in-game settings to improve the force feedback.
No Force Feedback Bugfix
On release, F1 2021 has a bug that causes Thrustmaster wheels to sometimes have no force feedback, even though the wheel otherwise works normally. This seems to be caused when the game loses focus. I have noticed that about half the time when I start the game, I need to click the mouse to bring the game into focus. If this happens, there won't be any force feedback.
The solution is very simple. With the game running, simply disconnect and reconnect the wheel. The game has no problem recognizing the wheel this way and it will have force feedback again. I have yet to have the game randomly lose force feedback, it has only happened when the game loses focus.
Surely this will be fixed in a patch, but this is an easy workaround for the moment.
Thrustmaster Control Panel Settings
The default steering angle in this game uses the full rotation of your wheel which is way too much for an F1 car. They typically have a maximum 360° rotation, meaning you can turn the wheel 180° to the left and 180° to the right. You could set this in the Thrustmaster Control Panel, but if you play a variety of games, it gets annoying having to change it every time you want to play a different game. I much prefer to set the steering angle in the game whenever possible, which is exactly what we will do for F1 2021.
|Overall Strength of all forces||100%|
|Auto-Center||by the game|
Spring is not used by F1 2021, so the value actually doesn't matter. Some games require Spring to be on for their force feedback to work, so I keep it at 100% as a general rule.
Damper is used for the in-game Wheel Damper setting. This adds notable weight to the wheel when the car is moving slowly. Without this, the wheel feels very light in slow corners, which is quite unnatural.
BOOST should always be turned off. For an in-depth look as to why, see my BOOST Force Feedback Analysis.
F1 2021 Settings
In Game Options > Settings > Controls, Vibration & Force Feedback > Thrustmaster TMX / T150 > Calibration:
The steering angle is controlled by the Steering Saturation and Steering Linearity settings. To get a 360° rotation angle, raise the Steering Saturation. Use the Test Buttons feature to check that the Steering is at -100 when the wheel is turned 180° to the left.
I raise the Steering Linearity to make the wheel less sensitive when the wheel is centered. When you raise the linearity, you also need to raise the saturation to maintain the 360° rotation angle. The linearity is really a matter of personal preference, so you may need to adjust this. Just remember to adjust the Steering Saturation if you do.
In Game Options > Settings > Controls, Vibration & Force Feedback > Thrustmaster TMX / T150 > Vibration & Force Feedback:
|Vibration & Force Feedback||On|
|Vibration & Force Feedback Strength||70|
|On Track Effects||28|
|Off Track Effects||15|
Vibration & Force Feedback Strength is the overall strength of the force feedback. Raising it too much starts to overwhelm the wheel, making the wheel feel heavy and lifeless. I find the range of 60-70 works best. This also scales the vibration effects, so if you lower this, you will have to raise the vibration effects to compensate and vice versa.
On Track Effects is the vibrations felt based on the track surface. This is quite a strong effect, so you may want to lower this, depending on your personal preference.
Rumblestrip Effects is the vibration felt when running over a kerb. This is fairly light, so can be raised quite a bit.
Off Track Effects is the vibration felt when you leave the track. This is also quite strong, even with a low value.
Wheel Damper gives weight to the wheel when the car is slow. This is most notable in slow-speed corners. Without this, the wheel goes weightless, which feels strange. Even a small amount of damper gives enough weight to feel more natural, without being too strong.
Understeer Enhance drastically lightens the wheel when you start to understeer. I find this more distracting than anything. The wheel lightens so much when you start to understeer that it feels more like the wheel is broken rather than something that is happening to the car.
With the steering angle set correctly and the force feedback set properly, the game feels really good on these lower-end wheels. I'm glad that Codemasters has given much better default force feedback settings this year, but I do hope they implement a better way to set the steering angle.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.