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 TX and T300. 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. If you raise the settings too high, the wheel just maxes out. 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 first thing that needs to be fixed is the steering angle. By default, F1 2020 uses the full rotation of your wheel, which is far too much for an F1 car. In an F1 car, the steering angle should be about 360°, meaning you can turn it 180° to the left and 180° to the right. While possible to do in-game, setting this in the Thrustmaster Control Panel provides a better Soft Lock.
|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. I usually have the Damper set to 0, but it is needed in this game.
F1 2021 Settings
In Game Options > Settings > Controls, Vibration & Force Feedback > Thrustmaster TMX / T150 > Calibration:
I raise the Steering Linearity to make the wheel less sensitive when the wheel is centered.
In Game Options > Settings > Controls, Vibration & Force Feedback > Thrustmaster TMX / T150 > Vibration & Force Feedback:
|Vibration & Force Feedback||On|
|Vibration & Force Feedback Strength||75|
|On Track Effects||35|
|Off Track Effects||20|
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 70-75 works best, depending on the track. This also scales the vibration effects, so if you change this too much, you will have to adjust the vibration effects to compensate.
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 lightens the wheel when you start to understeer. I'm not a big fan of this, but that is personal preference. Feel free to turn this on if you like it.
F1 2021 plays great once you get the steering angle and force feedback set properly. Like its predecessors, it doesn't have the most amazing force feedback ever, but once I'm in a race, I don't even think about it.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.