Through all of the years that I have watched Formula 1 and played the corresponding racing games I’ve wished for the type of steering wheel that you’d see in an F1 car. In my mind that was the component that was always missing in order for me to become truly immersed.
As it were no such wheel existed at the time outside of actual racing sims but I never stopped dreaming of having it one day. Fast forward to now and I’m over the moon to have the Fanatec ClubSport Formula Wheel (Black) in my possession. If you’d like to read an in-depth review of the wheel, the ClubSport V3 Pedals, and the CSL Elite Wheelbase you can click here.
What I want to talk about today is how this wheel, and the other components, performs in game. For testing in F1 2016 I selected the Williams FW34 and famed Spa-Francorchamps grand prix circuit in Belgium.
While F1 2016 doesn’t have a native setup for the Fanatec it nevertheless effortlessly connect to the game. Besides, with the wheel’s on-board settings this isn’t an issue whatsoever. My initial feeling with the Formula wheel was positive. I especially enjoyed the lack of lag in terms input from the wheel and the heightened sense I got of how the car was handling at any given point. Too often it’s the lack of feel that costs you time, or the ability to catch or correct the car if it steps out of line. While there were certainly some spins and crashes in my racing session I found it significantly easier to catch an oversteer moment than I ever have before. Similarly, I could feel the adhesion level of tyres through the two vibration motors in the wheel, which is, obviously, a highly important aspect of successful racing.
The performance of the V3 ClubSport pedals in F1 2016 felt spot on too. Most sim racers will have different preferences and demands from their pedals and fortunately there is hardly a limit to what you can adjust on ClubSport pedals.
Personally, I enjoy quite a severely stiff brake pedal so that I can somewhat pretend that
I’m hitting the brakes on a real F1 car. I’d set the brake to its stiffest option but still felt like I’d like it to be even harder. However, this isn’t a complaint of the Fanatec pedals but simply personal preference.
Because the CSL Elite Wheelbase is so compact and quiet I hardly even knew it was there. As my eyes are focused on the screen I scarcely took notice of the wheelbase, which kept churning relentlessly. However, as this was my first experience in racing with a belt-driven system I was keenly aware of the force feedback it was delivering. For me, the delivery of ‘power’ from the wheel in F1 2016 didn’t feel all that spectacular which, again, proves that Fanatec gear needs to be really pushed in order to reach its full potential.
On to Project Cars then for which I’d chosen the Marek RP 339H LMP1 around the Autodromo Nazionale Monza GP. While the experience of racing with the Fanatec wheel in F1 2016 is definitely enjoyable I feel that the Codemasters title isn’t able to support the might of the gear.
In Project Cars the Fanatec gear comes alive a bit and so do you! Even though I was at home and
snug in my racing seat I felt a tremendous sense of immersion and knew that I had to concentrate on every little aspect of the Marek LMP1’s performance, as I was being made hyper-aware of it all. From the tiniest bumps in the track surface, to atmospheric woosh of the tyres skimming across the asphalt.
When you’re racing sims it’s almost as if you develop a sixth sense of how the car will respond. Well, you can throw what you think you know of a specific car out the window once you go out on track with a Fanatec setup. What you thought you were able to anticipate and feel with other equipment is nothing in comparison to the level of feeling you get in your hands and through your feet with the Fanatec Formula wheel and V3 ClubSport pedals.
The most impressive aspect of the Fanatec gear in gameplay is the speed and precisionwith which the inputs from the wheel are calculated and transmitted. This is, arguably, the greatest requirement for all sim racers – what you input must immediately be reflected in game. If this doesn’t happen, and precision is lacking, it not it detracts greatly from the immersive experience and realism of racing sims but also from the enjoyment. With Fanatec gear however this will never even enter the stream of consciousness, as the ultra-precision of all of it will continue to blow your mind no matter how many hours or laps you rack up.
Many people will tell that there has to be a con to everything. Most of the time they’d be right but not in this case. Fanatec sim racing gear is a must for everything racing enthusiast. And I write racing enthusiast, and not only hardcore sim racers, because everyone should have the pleasure and experience the joy of what sim racing should truly feel like. Every person who enjoys racing should have feel the sense of satisfaction that comes with Fanatec sim racing equipment.