F1 2019 : racing the Formula 2 car @Spain (01:31:919 lap / top #400)

I decided to try the game “F1 2019” (it was 30% off on Steam), and the experience evolved from terrible to interesting. It is amazing how bad the game defaults are: unrealistic handling and audio stuttering are the top issues. These issues seem to affect many players, considering the frequency they appear in support forums, yet – and this is quite a mystery – the big review sites seem immune to such annoyances, not referring how they configured the game to bypass all issues and apparently enjoy a turn-key 9/10 game.

I always perceived the “F1 20xx” game series as “racing fun” for “kids”, i.e., for those just wanting to have a nice looking arcade experience with F1 cars in it. For those who appreciate a “simulation” approach, these games feel ridiculous, sand-to-eyes (look good, drive awful), and unfair to other games on the market, which are so much more “real”, and better handling out-of-the-box.

In my first minutes with it, F1 2019 greatly exceed my WORST expectations. It was unbelievably bad, with video synchrony drama (sometimes, as if driving in slow motion), audio stuttering (interrupts in the audio stream), and a feel of disconnect (not exactly lag, but rather disrespect to what I was asking from the virtual car) between inputs from my wheel + pedals (Logitech G29) and their effective result. I literally could not believe the game was that bad, so I endured in many configuration experiments (hardware and software), until I achieved something enjoyable and worthy of my “simulation” label. It took me three days (more like three attempts in three different days) and I nearly dropped the towel on day 2, but this afternoon was rewarding. Now, in my book, “F1 2019” is the best of all the games in the “F1 20xx” series, which would not mean much (its siblings are not good), if it wasn’t for the “simulator” label.

So, what did I do?

  • I am running a graphics configuration much below what the video-card can allegedly do. In my case, the game suggests “Ultra High” settings for every graphical setting, but I cut back on several options, the most relevant being the shadows to “medium”, “motion blur” to disabled (why do people play with that on?!), the cars’ mirrors to just “high quality”, and decreased texture filtering. In theory, these options result in a less good-looking experience, but in practice, it is hardly noticeable at the resolution I play (2560×1600), and greatly rewarding in freeing up computer resources.
  • To help with the audio stuttering, reduce the frequency of the audio process to “low” and combine that with VSync ON, at 60 fps, or the exact refresh rate your monitor supports. It you have one of those 120 Hz or 240 Hz monitors, then you should also increase the audio process to “medium” or even “high”, but good luck with no audio hick ups.
  • For credible steering + pedals inputs, do NOT use the game’s defaults. Define a custom configuration for the controller you will be using, including manually setting the throttle + brake controls, even when they seem to be already configured. With the Logitech G29, I “saturate” the steering and the brake inputs. I also noticed that increasing the “linearity” for an input, seems to cost inferior accuracy. The controls feel more authentic if not subject to changes in “linearity”.

Having achieved a drivable “F1 2019” game configuration, I hit the track. In a matter of 2+ hours of game play, I progressed up to the top #400 spot in the fastest laps table, racing a Formula 2 in Spain. I still did not try the F1 cars.

Here is a video replay of a 01:31:919 lap. The game tells me that this lap is top #400 material.