Online multiplayer is not new to the official Formula 1 game series, but it has been expanded and improved for F1 2021 – with many different ways you can race against real people around the world.
There are now several different options to choose from in F1 2021, including Social Play, Ranked Play, Leagues, a Weekly Event and even Two Player Career.
Below you’ll find a guide on what to expect from each of these modes, as well as some tips and tricks to get the most out of it.
The Multiplayer Tab
First of all we’re going to run through the various options available from the F1 2021 Multiplayer tab, which is where you’ll find the lion’s share of online multiplayer options.
Brand new for F1 2021, the social play multiplayer option gives you the ability to jump into some quick online races without worrying about any long term goals.
This ‘Beginner Friendly’ option puts you straight into a session with one-lap qualifying, followed by a five-lap race, all with collisions completely disabled. You’ll use an equal-performance car that you can design in the ‘Customisation’ tab and the track will be randomised.
If you feel up to the challenge, the ‘experienced drivers’ option will give you the same one-lap qualifying, but that will be followed by a 25 per cent distance race. Collisions will also be enabled with this option, along with strict corner-cutting – so make sure you keep at least one wheel within the white lines.
A word of warning: if you opt for either of the two options above, you may be put into a session that is in the middle of a race. I’ve found this a little frustrating, but once you’re in a session, you can stay there for as long as you like.
If you’re looking for a different experience, you can either create your own custom game – ideal when racing with a group of friends – or browse for sessions that other players have created.
There is a wealth of different options available in this area, so I recommend you go and have a dig around in your own session to get a feel for the available options. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can then use the new-for-2021 filter options to find the session you’re looking for.
If you prefer to race a little more seriously within F1 2021 and like the results of the races to mean something, then you may want to consider Ranked Play. You’ll still have five-lap or 25 per cent distance options, both with the same one-shot qualifying as above, but after five races you’ll be given a rank on your super license.
The first ranking type that you need to know about in F1 2021 is the ‘skill rating’. This does exactly what you think it does – it’s a rating based on your finishing positions from ranked races. After your initial five placement races, you’ll be given a colour and a little symbol that denotes which tier you’re in within that colour.
For example, I am in Silver 3, which is just one step below Gold 1 and three steps above Bronze 3. You’ll want to try and finish in the top 50 per cent of your races to keep this number increasing and of course, the higher up you finish, the bigger the potential gains!
The second part of the ranked mode in F1 2021 is the ‘safety rating’. This rating is determined by how clean you are on track in terms of warnings, penalties and car contact. After the first five placement races, you’ll be given a rating from D to S, depending on how clean those races were, with S being the cleanest.
The game will always try and put you into sessions with people that race as cleanly (or dirty!) as you, so if you want to race clean, make sure you keep this high.
Prefer to race even more seriously? Then join an F1 2021 league, where you race a season on a schedule against the same drivers to determine a champion. In this section you’ll find the ability to search for, join and manage any leagues that take your fancy.
One thing to note about the league section of F1 2021 is that it only contains the more casual leagues, as the really serious top leagues that esports drivers will race in will usually be organised via their own websites.
You may need to submit an application to become part of a league, and as a league owner, it’s up to you to send out invites, set up the race schedule and accept any applications. You can also set up a league to un on an ad-hoc basis, so you can race whenever all participants are available.
However, if you have some friends and you want to keep track of points standings without the need for a spreadsheet, there’s a native feature within the game.
The Weekly Events in F1 2021 are a great place to come if you prefer more scenario-based online races, updated every seven days, with a final online leaderboard pitting you against other players around the world.
Outside of race weeks, you’ll often find a race against the AI, with a final leaderboard against other players that is determined on a points-based system. You’ll accrue points not only from your overall race time but also from your assist settings, AI difficulty, penalties and your fastest lap.
During a race week, you’ll find scheduled races similar to iRacing or GT Sport, where you can do practice and qualifying ahead of time, before jumping into races with other people. Once again there is an overall leaderboard based on points, but with the added difficulty of racing against real people.
Although not technically an online mode, the split-screen option is still well worth a mention here. This mode allows you to play offline with friends in person, each sharing the same screen. You’ll get all the same options as you do for a single-player race, including the ability to play an entire season, but sadly there is no way to play Splitscreen with…
Two Player Career
Easily worthy of its own section is the new-for-2021 Two Player Driver Career mode. This mode gives you exactly what you might have hoped for with the name – it’s a fully-fledged career mode, but you get to play it with a friend.
When both players are driving for the same squad, the ‘team leader’ will get to choose which upgrades they put on the car using the overhauled UI for F1 2021. The rest of the game works exactly as it does in the single-player Driver Career – but note this is not the same as the My Team mode where you create and manage your entire team.
There’s even the ability to choose whether your friend will always be your teammate if you move teams, or you can each handle your own contract negotiations if you prefer, which means you can join separate teams.
From the start, there’s also the option of each player driving for competing teams, and when that is selected you collate your own development points and cash to spend at your own discretion.
Of note, the F1 2021 uses the in-game Mail system to send and accept Two Player Career invites – so if you’re on PlayStation or Xbox, don’t be checking your system notifications or messages because it won’t be there.
Worried about a flakey friend? Fear not, because you can easily swap (upgrade?) your friend by removing your rubbish companion and inviting a new, superior friend that promises they’ll never leave you…
That about sums up the online multiplayer options in F1 2021, so now it’s over to you to give it a try for yourself! If you fancy joining me for some online races or just watching me get increasingly angry at people’s lack of racecraft, then feel free to join me every Thursday on Traxion’s Twitch channel.