F1GP/WC Driving Guide

F1GP can prove tricky until a few simple techniques are mastered. This document lists some of the most useful pieces of advice for learning how to drive quickly enough. Please remember that these tips come from various people on the net, and that everyone develops their own style.

DG: I've made a few personal observations about driving style, based partly on people's descriptions of how they drive, and partly on their setups. It seems that the fastest qualifiers tend to be in the Mansell mould; very exciting to watch, right on the limit of essentially unstable setups; Ivanhoe Vasiljevich and the Smit brothers, René and Robin, certainly seem to fit this description. Those who consistently do well in races are in the Prost mould; calm, calculating, pragmatic, pushing safe, stable setups hard enough to get the job done without risking an incident which could wipe out their chances; that's the approach I try to take. Knowing which approach to use when is half the trick; being able to use either as necessary is the other half...

Learn the course

This is probably the hardest, but most effective method for speeding up. With a good knowledge of the track you can pick up 2-3 seconds a lap (and that's a pretty conservative estimate!). There is no easy way to learn the tracks except to drive round them a lot! [Duh, no?] Look out for landmarks, such as the dome at Mexico, the bridges at Silverstone and the buildings at Monaco. (Of course, if you have a slow machine, it's better to turn detail off and learn the courses without landmarks, so you can get a higher frame rate.) Once you know what corners are coming up you can anticipate the way that the opposition are going to move and which side of the course to position yourself on. Of course with the Ideal Line on it becomes a lot easier to tell, but on the higher levels you lose this option, and the ideal line isn't always ideal anyway.


OK, so you know where the corners are, now how about slowing for them. The Auto-Braking feature is very poor, and you can usually travel another 50-100 yards before you have to apply the brakes, this is the main way for passing the other cars and making up a lot of time. The computer controlled cars always brake very early so it is east to shoot past them, there is no excuse for not passing 3 or 4 cars at every 1st or 2nd gear corner.

By late-breaking into all corners whilst on a clear lap you can easily smash the lap record, the only problem with this technique is that your tyres get worn quickly and you may find yourself having to make an extra pit-stop. [DG: It isn't entirely clear just how tyre wear is modelled. Setup seems to play a role, but it's far from proven that driving conservatively reduces tyre wear.]


A good start can gain you plenty of places, or keep you out of the usual pile up at the first corner. If you have too many revs as the lights go green you will sit stationary whilst the wheels spin, and if you have too few revs the car will move away too slowly. There is quite a large rev-band in the middle where you can make a very good start.

GB: My personnel technique is to hold the car at full revs in first until the first lights come on, and then let go of the clutch (Gear change button), by the time the light go green the revs will have fallen enough for you to make a pretty good start. Note, this does not apply in the wet, when two many revs causes massive amounts of wheel spin. See the "In the wet" section for more information.

DG: My technique is similar, but I let the revs start dropping after counting to 5 (about 7 to 8 seconds). This is slightly before the red lights come on, about 1-2 seconds. That way, the revs are a little lower when the lights go to green, you get less wheelspin, and a quicker start.

If you aren't on pole, you should be aware that when the wheels stop spinning and bite properly, you'll get a sudden burst of acceleration which can easily put you into the back of anyone in front.


Invariably there will be an accident during a race, there are three types, ones that are half a lap away, ones that are a car length away, and an accident involving your car. Obviously the first sort is the easiest to cope with, and you will only usually find out about by the message "Kip Kipper is out the race". When this appears press pause and then insert to see what happened. This is done for two reasons, firstly to watch any cool pile-ups and secondly to see if it effects your lap at all. In most cases there will be no problems and you can continue as normal, however you should always check for cars parked half on the track that the computer isn't removing, and any damaged cars. If any stopped cars are still on the track then remember where they are so you don't overtake into the side of them! Normally the marshalls will push stalled cars away pretty quickly, but there are a few places where they may leave part of the car on the track. Damaged cars only pose a threat if you catch up with them near the pit-lane since they will suddenly cut across your path and can cause further accidents. (This is most noticeable at Mexico where cars going into the pits slow down on the racing line. Several other tracks also suffer from similar problems, especially Montreal, where they slow to 40 mph where you need to be going 170 mph!)

Something which you will soon discover is that you can overtake masses of cars under yellow without worrying about being black flagged. Shortly after you discover that, you will also find out that this often results in you slamming into a broken car at high speed, usually taking you out of the race.

If there is an accident directly in front of you then there is usually not too much you can do except take avoiding action; always watch the road ahead for funny shaped blotches that could be spinning cars and take care near some of the 'blackspots'. If there is a crash and you can't avoid it then all you can do is slow down and pray that you are going slow enough to cause no damage. Remember that you could get stuck behind another damaged car and the same problems as above apply.

Finally, what do you do if you are in an accident? The first thing to do is not panic or get angry, if you go off course then there is nothing much you can do except wait for a gap in the traffic to pull back on. If you pull back on without waiting then chances are you will be hit by another car and taken out.

Your car can be damaged at the front, the rear, or both combined. Front damage results in severe understeer, making it very difficult to turn corners; rear damage equals massive oversteer, resulting in excessive wheel spin, and a sharp or fast turn will spin the car; both wings damaged will make the car very difficult to control. Once your car is damaged, all you can do is limp round to the pits, taking the straights quickly and the corners slowly and carefully. Once in the pit it is usually a 25 second stop before you are released.

It helps to practice a bit on the grass. The cars will behave strangely on grass (and most especially when one side of the car is on grass and the other on asphalt) and you need to practice getting back on the course quickly, and without hitting the walls or other cars. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, other cars will ram straight into you. That, as Damon Hill would say, is racing.

The pits

The pits are where all repairs are conducted on your car, in an ideal race you will only see them once or twice for pit stops. During a pit stop bring your car in smoothly, and consider doing another lap if a car in front is also going to pull in as they will slow you down. When in the pits watch very carefully for other cars pulling out or racing down the pit lane as they will hit you mercilessly. A tyre stop is quick with the get-away being the only problem you have to worry about.

GB: I follow a similar procedure to starting the race, but instead of waiting for the first lights I wait for the car to begin to be dropped.

When the car is damaged there is little change in the procedure except that the stop will take longer and there is more danger of you overshooting the pit.

The opposition

There are 26 cars in a race and if the level is set to 1991 level then they all have a set performance. In this case it helps to know what the other team colors are so you know who you are trying to pass. Mono VGA owners [GB: like me] will just have to learn the general patterns of the faster cars. By knowing who you are up against you can judge how fast they are going to be traveling and how likely they are to make a pass on another car.

The artificial Intelligence of the computer cars is very poor and they will all follow the same line, and brake at the same points so it pays to learn these patterns. The main problems occur when overtaking two cars that are battling each other, at some circuits (notably Hockenheim) sometimes the second car will put out to overtake the first car as you pull alongside, thus pushing you off. There is no way around this and you will just have to wait for a corner or be very brave pull right over to the side of the track and go at it three abreast.

The right line

The right line is crucial for going quickly, however, the game provides a lot of help when it comes to picking out the correct route. This is done in two way, firstly through the use of the Ideal Line Indicator which puts the dotted line on the track, and the Steering Help which tends to pull you over to the correct side of the course. Although both of these options can be turned off, by the time you reach the levels where the former is not allowed you should know the courses quite well. At some corners it helps to come up with your own line, but this will tend to happen naturally depending on your style.


Grand Prix cars have a different cornering characteristics depending on their set up, and learning these is just a matter of trial and experiment. With a lot of downforce at the back, the car will be unresponsive in corners but it will tend to drift out of corners nicely, the main thing to remember is not to accelerate mid corner as the car will understeer off the course.

If the cars has more front downforce then it will turn in well and be better at taking sharp corners, the problem with this set up is that if you accelerate too early the car will spin or turn too quickly (this is often desirable!); it takes time to learn the correct acceleration point, but this just takes practice. Sometimes the rear wheels will skid as you come round a long corner (such as Peralta at Mexico), occasionally it pays off to accelerate when this happens, and hope the tyres bite the road, also steering the opposite direction to try and prevent a spin. This technique takes a lot of practice and good luck, but once you learn it, the cars become far more controllable than before.

DG: Read the manual carefully. It does explain how the setup will affect the car's handling, and what oversteer and understeer are, but not very clearly. Practice and experiment a lot until you can identify how a setup change will affect handling and performance. And the manual has some good advice: only change one thing at once.


Apart from the methods described in 'Braking' and 'The Opposition' there is Slipstreaming, where you move up close behind the car in front and pick up a tow (This is a "hole" in the air behind a car in front, by moving into it you lose both drag and downforce and so move faster). As your car picks up speed pull out quickly and use the extra 10mph to overtake. This is fairly easy to do, the only problem happening if you have a low downforce car and you turn out too sharply and lose control. There isn't too much you can do about this except to turn out more gently or be ready to catch the skid. It's also all too easy to get too close before pulling out and accidently hit the car in front, often resulting in you spinning out.

In the wet

GB: I am rubbish at this! Any tips appreciated for both me and the FAQ. DG: Err, yeah, me too! Still, here goes...

First, forget any knowledge of the track you already have; it's totally different in the wet, and forget any notions of running without Traction Help, unless you like spinning. Your setup will have much less downforce, and the differential between front and rear wings must be less or you'll have uncontrollable oversteer and will lose the back end at pretty much every corner. When starting, you want no wheelspin, so just engage first and wait for the light; the AI cars will beat you off the line but there's apparently nothing you can do about it. Do not attempt to brake into a slow corner like you can in the dry; you must finish braking before you turn in or you will lose the back end.

Set up hints

Take a look at the Halls Of Fame for some good setups; below are some more general bits of advice from various people.

Doug Reichley

[DG: I lifted this from an article posted to rec.autos.simulators. It has been very lightly edited.]
Some of you will remember the advice I gave for the German track last year. I said to have just enough wing to make it through turn 1 and the Agipkurve flat out.

Well, I have changed my mind (and my car). After practicing at other `fast' tracks (I'm smokn' at Monza), I brought in what I learned and am now solidly in the 1m31 lap range on Q tires (and no drafting, of course).

Last year's car was getting 207 to 208mph down the straights. This year's car is only getting 203mph. The difference is definitely in the slower corners. Last year's car pushed through the pit entrance corners at 80mph. This year's car is nuetral going 109-112mph.

Wings made the difference. Here is what I suggest (I've been wrong before):

Put your wings at 10 (front) and 1 (rear). Don't worry about cornering yet; you will still be flat out for the 2 fastest corners with these wings. Set your gears to get the maximum speed down the straightaway. Don't be afraid to try a setting above 64. Once the gears are set for maximum speed, don't change them for the wing adjustments.

Change only your front wing until your car starts oversteering. I'm not talking about while braking, but rather snapping into oversteer during high-speed cornering. You'll know it when you see it `cause you'll kiss the wall big time. You can expect to be about 20 counts apart when this starts happening, depending on your style. Back off on the front wing until the car no longer snaps into oversteer.

Now adjust both wings equally until you start losing top-end speed. This may surprise you how far up you will get them before you start losing speed. I don't mean 1 or 2 mph, but rather 4 or 5.

Now pay attention to cornering. Is the car pushing [understeering] in the slow corners? It most likely will be at this point. This is where the compromise will come into play. You will want to get rid of the push (again adjust both wings up equally), but you will need to sacrifice top-end speed. 5-7mph is no big loss since the cornering speeds are now higher.

Once you get comfortable with this, you can start using the brake bias to see how it will affect cornering at the slower speeds. I still have negative (rear) bias on my car (-10 for now to be exact).

Now the final step will be to re-adjust the gearing to gain any speed that may be left in the motor.

Once all that is done, you should have a nice car to drive. Don't be afraid to tweak it in any direction. You may be real close to that `magical' setup I always talk about.

This was written specifically for Germany, but can be used at most of the tracks. I hope it helps someone out.

[DG: Here's another article I pinched from Doug off Usenet.]

Pit strategy depends entirely on 2 things:

A track such as Monza is real easy on tires (ie you may go 100% distance on Cs and turn roughly the same laps all the way through), whereas France will eat them for lunch if you have a bad setup (ie you may only get 12 good laps out of them before they drop off and go bad).

The first thing you have to do is learn what worn out tires 'feel' like. There are two ways you can get a quick feel for worn tires:

The Q tires will teach you how the tire feels when it is good and then falls off over time. The W tires will teach you how worn tires feel almost immediately.

I would suggest to use both techniques. Use the W's first to get a good 'feel' for REALLY worn tires.

Then switch to Q's and drive on them until you think they are worn. It's not really as hard as it sounds and it won't really take that long either.

Once you have mastered the art of detecting worn tires, you are ready to move on to step 2.

Step 2 is lap timing in your head. It's really quite easy. It's not as hard as counting cards in poker, but easier than counting jelly beans in a jar.

EVERY lap you should keep a note in your brain of what your lap times are. You should see a nice ramp downwards, then a leveling off and finally a slight ramp back up.

Like this:

T  \
I   \
M    --__   ___---
E        ---

   Number of Laps
Your going to want to pit on the plateau. How long you stay on the plateau is up to you and the tires. What you learned with the tire trick will pay off big now.

The only reason to get off the plateau early is if new tires will be MUCH faster than if you waited. You always want your time to be on the downward slope lap after lap.

You have to time your last pit stop so that the last ten laps are not going on the upward slope. You always want to finish on the plateau.

If you have troubles 'timing in your head', then use GPLAP to do this. The only problem with that is if you don't test a lot, you will not have sufficient data to make your decision.

Timing in your head is really the only way to go. It also makes those snap decisions easier to make if you know what worn tires feel like.

As always, this is, of course, only my opinion. If you asked 3 people you would get 3 answers. Consider this one of those 3 answers; nothing more, nothing less.

Dave Gymer

I start by "stealing" the setup from the Hall Of Fame; I usually use Ivanhoe Vasiljevich's. Then I shunt the brake balance forward a little.

Then I go out and drive test laps in ones and twos, adjusting the rear wing so I can get round the fastest corners on Q tyres with the car not quite breaking loose (take rear wing off one step at a time until it becomes loose, than back up one step). At some tracks this means a light touch on the joystick.

Now I decide if the front wing needs changes to either increase speed, or increase cornering speeds. This will typically happen at a medium-fast circuit like Interlagos, where compromise is the name of the game. By this stage the wings should be within 2 or 3 steps of the nominally correct position, so it's time to start playing with the brake balance. I shift it rearwards until the car oversteers under braking; some drivers like oversteer but I prefer a shorter braking distance and a smoother line through the corner (except at tracks with corners which need to be taken at speed but still braked into, like Silverstone, where the front end of the car needs to "twist" into the corner under braking). At this point it might be worth fiddling with the rear wing as well as brake balance, but most likely all you'll do is upset the balance of the car.

Finally, adjust gear ratios. The lowest ratio should be sufficiently low as to permit good acceleration out of the slowest corner (typically a hairpin); you may want to experiment with a ratio as low as 20. The highest gear wants to get you to about 12500 rpm at top speed; that leaves a bit over for drafting. Those who use autogears should keep their lower 3 gears within 7 or 8 steps of each other or the autoshifter will get confused under wheelspin and get stuck in 2nd. At really tight circuits like Monaco I keep the bottom three ratios within 5 of each other.

When I'm choosing a race setup, I tend to move the brake balance forward a place or two to reduce any oversteer, add a little rear wing for more stability, especially with a heavy fuel load and when pulling out of a draft, and always start on Cs.

Kevin Sullivan

[...] late apexing... go deep into corners on the brakes to carry straightaway speed, lighten brakes and corner in then begin accelerating out... maximizing exit speed onto the straights (longest straight corner before is the most important!) is crucial. This general strategy works in the real world, and in the sim as well (methinks, but I was a real-world racer once...).

As a general rule, this is most important to real-world fast lines through corners.

[...] Maybe in the sim this is so, though I doubt it, really. Too oversimplified for reality. If you've ever ridden a motorcycle or read a driver's education manual, you would know that under heavy braking, with the pitch forward and resulting weight shift to the front wheels increasing the grip available, the front brakes normally do about 70% of the braking work to stop a vehicle. The physics models would have to take this into account to make a decent sim, or it wouldn't feel as good as it does.

Know the traction circle concept, taught in every basic driving school class? The idea is that tires only have so much grip available that can be given to a "circle" with no accel/braking/turning vectors at the center, then full braking, full accel, turning left/right, and points in between defining your circle of traction... Practical aspect being that if you try to turn a corner under full braking, no doubt you exceed the circle of traction available and understeer occurs. Got to let off the brakes a bit to devote some of the grip available towards turning the car into the corner, and this is also why you need to balance throttle and turning coming out of a corner, because in addition to the traction circle idea, you are now accelerating with the rear wheels thus picking up the nose putting more traction towards the rear of the car on the driving wheels and taking weight off the front of the car on the steering wheels...

Play with it on your street car sometime... pick a constant radius turn at highway speeds and check the turn in/out factors based on throttle inputs only. More throttle more relative understeer, throttle off you will see the car turn in more. I am not talking about spinning the rears to oversteer, just mild throttle changes approaching your tires traction limits when these effects are easily visible.

[DG: It should go without saying that you should not be experimenting with racecar techniques on public roads.]

For your sim, if you find yourself understeering in a corner, then adjust brake balance to the rear (fronts locked and steering, exceeds grip available, so shift work rearward), but if you find yourself oversteering, even if smooth into the corner, then this means the rears are possibly locking up first so shift brake balance more towards the front, thus distributing work more evenly. When you get to a neutral balance of controllability (or uncontrollability if overcooking the entrance) then you've found a good balance for you.

Of course, setup has a LOT to do with the relative stiffness at each corner affecting the weight shift and effects of brake balance, so don't start here, end here. Springs/shocks/weighting affects.

And I don't own F1gp, or IC, just know cars and how it should be when you have a well-balanced race setup that is a joy to drive.