Work on your car’s setup, trying to focus on the aspects that are most relevant to the particular circuit you are at. For circuits with high speed corners focus on wing settings, for low speed corners focus on suspension settings, and for circuits with high top speeds focus on gear ratios. Each also give additional benefits as described in game.
Play to your car's strength as well as to circuit demands, if your car excels in aerodynamic performance then make sure you achieve good wing settings in order to fulfil that potential. A well set up suspension will allow you to utilise your mechanical grip performance and good gear ratios unleash the full power of your engine.
Use the session to determine the different tyre compound properties, and also the effect of fuel weight on laptime. When each race weekend is started, each tyre compound is given a random wear and performance coefficient, meaning that the hard, more durable (Prime) tyre can sometimes wear just as much as the soft (Option) tyre, but might also wear just half as much.
In addition the performance gap between the softer, faster (Option) tyre and the harder (Prime) tyre when fresh can vary widely so test each compound out to determine their characteristics, bearing in mind that your laptimes will naturally improve as your setup gets better.
Depending on the carset, qualifying is either a single or double 60 minute session, a 3 session knockout format, or single lap qualifying. The qualifying format can be changed by a Teams Association vote at the end of each season in Career mode.
Use qualifying to maximise grid position. Find out how far you can push your pace to balance speed with risk – if you crash you may be out of the session! As a rough guide pace 100 in qualifying equates to an error rate of 1 in 2 laps (driver, car and circuit dependent), so it is a high risk strategy!
Remember in seasons where race fuel is carried from qualifying that you must qualify on race fuel in the final session – you will notice the fuel slider allows for much higher values in these cases.
In qualifying the player advances by the minute by clicking the advance button. To complete an outlap takes 2 minutes, followed by a further 2 minutes for a hot lap, and a further 2 minutes for an in lap, so a complete qualifying run takes 6 minutes, due to the way the game engine works. This helps to make it a little more challenging when planning the best time to go out on track. Blocked laps or red flags after an accident can ruin your plans!
This is where the points are won. There is no need to predefine a race strategy, instead you evolve your strategy as you go. Just choose a starting fuel load and tyre.
Off the start line, unless you are on pole, you will have to dodge the cars around you. Depending on the pit lane length each driver makes a certain number of moves (after the initial move they can each shift along an additional move, left to middle or middle to right etc), so try not to get stuck behind anyone or else your first lap time will be compromised.
Watch the live leaderboard updating per lap, the times appear in real time as the drivers at the front each cross the line, simulating life on the pit wall.
Follow the action using a number of different tabs, showing fastest laps, overtakes, retirements, steward messages, pit stops and lap charts for each driver.
When trying an overtaking move you are given 3 options for passing places. Each has a hidden probability behind it that changes for each race, so the aim is to try out different corners and try and find which are best for overtaking, as a driver would in real life. One corner can be as much as 3 times easier to overtake on than another!
Request stops from the Driver Menu if you feel the need to change strategy or tyres, for refuelling strategies you will automatically pit when fuel is low (less than 1.5 laps).
If there is a bad accident there may well be a Safety Car deployed, fuel burn and tyre wear will be significantly reduced, and you will need to adjust your strategy accordingly.
Your fuel burn is proportional to race pace and aggression, and most importantly to your engine fuel mix, so it is vital that you choose the best moments to push and when to save fuel, especially for non-refuelling carsets.
Push too hard or use too much aggression and you may make an error or have a mechanical problem. If you are lapping slower your damage CAN be repaired in your next stop, so you may wish to bring this forward. In other instances you may be forced to pit immediately.
Steward penalties may be awarded to drivers who are overly aggressive either in overtaking or in the pit lane, possibly resulting in drive through penalties. If you do commit a suspicious overtake you will be given an option to give the position back.
In all sessions the weather and track condition can vary from Sunny and Dry to Torrential and Treacherous respectively. Try to use the weather as a forecast but ultimately it is the track condition that determines how much grip the cars have, so try and find which tyre is best for each condition. In addition you will need to tweak your setup when the weather changes in the Driver Menu, the further away from the current track condition your setup is, the worse your setup percentage will be.