Big Changes in Formula One This Year!

The first race of the 2014 F1 season is over and it was a very interesting race. BIG changes this year with the cars. The 18,000 RPM screaming V8 has been replaced with a 15,000 RPM turbo charged V6. Totally different sound & lots of reliability issues thus far.  The KERS system has been updated to allow for 33 seconds of boost vs the 6 seconds in the past.

Red Bull put together this video (it’s a little corny) that explains some of the changes & the new technology in the cars.  It’s going to be an interesting year!

XBox 360 – F1 2011

I’ve been a “gamer” since my first computer (Apple IIc) back in the 80’s.  I’m not as hard core as a lot of people, mainly because I have a job that requires me to get a good nights sleep and focus on the tasks at hand.

I posted earlier about the Microsoft Speed wheel for XBox 360 and I referenced the F1 2011 game.  I thought I’d share some feedback and a few videos, just in case you’re interested in checking it out.

Actual Gameplay (Qualifying Lap):

Here’s a comparison of the game vs. a real life lap:

As you can see by the videos above this is a pretty realistic simulator.  Fortunately there are a lot of computer assist settings you can enable to make the game playable.  I turned all the assists off and could barely drive the car around the track.  I imagine in real life these multi-million machines are VERY difficult to drive, let alone race.

F1 2011 for Xbox retails for around $50.  Last years version can be had for about half that price at Game Stop.  If you’re looking for a realistic and challenging racing simulator you’ll probably like this game.

Xbox 360 – Wireless Speed Wheel

I had a bit of money burning a hole in my pocket so my son & I took a trip to GameStop.  I’ve wanted to buy the new Formula One racing game but I’ve never been very impressed with the Xbox 360 controller when it comes to driving games.  Then I found the Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel and everything changed.

I checked out a few reviews online and found a lot of positive comments on the performance of the Speed Wheel.  It’s not cheap ($59) but it’s a lot less expensive than the wheel/peddle setups that cost several hundred dollars.

The Speed Wheel has a nice design and all the necessary functions are where you would expect them to be.  It’s missing the 2 shoulder buttons found on the Xbox 360 controller but I have yet to find a game that needs them.  The triggers are a lot larger than on the regular controller and they allow a very precise application of the accelerator and brakes.

Since the Speed Wheel is wireless it relies on you holding it in front of you while you use it.  On long racing sessions this can get a little tiring.  As far as performance goes, this thing is very accurate and steering inputs are immediate with no perceived lag.  In fact, if you are using the in-game camera view that shows the steering wheel it mimics your movements exactly in real-time.

Unfortunately the Speed Wheel does not measure forward and backward motion which would make it a great controller for flight simulators.  It’s only purpose is for driving games and it works very well for that purpose.  If you’ve been as frustrated as I’ve been with the regular Xbox controller you should definitely check it out.

Has DRS & KERS Saved Formula 1?

I’m a guy & most guys like racing of some form or another.  I used to be fascinated with Indy Cars & then started following NASCAR.  My latest obsession is Formula One (F1).  I used to watch F1 years ago but it got to the point where unless the Pole Position driver crashed he normally won the race.  This was because of the crazy technology like active suspension and anti-lock breaks (common in passenger cars these days)…  There was little to no passing…

There’s a bit of this going on now in F1 (Sebastian Vettel seems to win all the time) but the introduction of the Drag Reduction System (DRS) has brought passing back to F1.  In a nutshell DRS allows a driver who is less than 1 second behind another driver to open their rear wing and take advantage of an immediate reduction in drag thus making the car faster & allowing for the potential for a pass.  It can only be activated in certain areas of the track and even disabled by race control should the weather make it unsafe to use (F1 races in the rain which is VERY exciting to watch).

This, along with the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) has made F1 a lot more enjoyable to watch.  I actually look forward to each race and love watching these new technologies in use during the race.

Now we just have to get F1 back to the US