It has to be said that the online experience for the F1 2021 game hasn’t been the best, with loads of bugs, lag, de-syncing and a poor connection in general. Not to mention a poorly functioning safety car – more on that below.
The lobby system has also been messed up and they’ve over-complicated things to the extent where if you just go into a random open lobby with the default settings the game gives you, you’re not likely to have a great experience, especially doing a 25% race in a random open lobby with players you don’t know.
We’ve covered how to optimize your own connection to reduce lag on F1 2021 in another article, but even doing everything you can from your end, the online experience often isn’t great on this game, so we want to provide some useful settings templates that players can use to get the best experience playing F1 2021 online.
Here is a very quick summary of the best lobby settings to adjust when racing online on F1 2021:
- Go to Rules & Flags and turn Safety Car Off.
- Turn Rules & Flags down to Corner Cutting Only
- Keep Corner Cutting Stringency on Strict
- Go to Simulation Settings and turn Damage to Off or Reduced.
- Also make sure Ghosting is On
- Leave all other lobby settings as they are.
We’ll provide more explanation as to why these settings are recommended below, but the main issue is the excessive deployment of the safety car and the over-sensitive penalty system that tends to spoil online open lobbies when you’ve got people racing don’t have the best race-craft (to put it politely).
Let’s look at the entire issue of online lobby settings in F1 2021 in more detail, covering the best settings for different scenarios.
Best Settings For Open Lobbies (25% Race Distance)
This is the most common scenario where just using the default lobby settings is just a disaster and makes the game really bad to play online – when you’re just in an open lobby with random players and doing 25% races. With 5 lap races the Safety Car is off by default so it’s less of an issue.
Here’s what you need to change to make the game more playable in 25% open lobbies:
- Turn Safety Car Off (Rules & Flags)
- Turn Rules & Flags down to Corner Cutting Only
- Corner Cutting Stringency to Strict
- Damage Off or Reduced (Simulation Settings)
- Ghosting On (Simulation Settings)
These are the main settings to change; don’t worry so much about the others. The lobby settings menu is a bit over-cluttered so we just picked out the crucial few ones from the Rules & Flags and Simulation menus that cause the most problems online if they’re left on the wrong settings.
Best Rules & Flags Settings for open lobbies (Safety car can be Off or Reduced):
And then make sure Damage is Off or Reduced and Ghosting is On from the Simulation Settings menu:
Take care of these settings and you at least have a chance of racing properly online on F1 2021. Just going into random 25% race lobbies with the settings the game gives you (safety car on especially) is just a disaster though; here’s an overview of what happens if you do this:
If you leave the Safety Car On – In random open lobbies, the Safety Car just keeps getting deployed 2-3 times per race, meaning that there’s hardly any actual racing in a 25% race. Plus there’s constant bugs with the Safety Car, illegal overtake penalties wrongly given, being brake-tested by cars in front in the train once it forms and losing your wing. It just does NOT work properly when you factor in the usual carnage that goes along with random lobbies with unskilled racers, so needs turning off.
If you leave Full Rules/Flags On – It’s a nice idea in theory, but again with the carnage in open lobbies, it just doesn’t work. You’ll keep getting penalties for being crashed into, plus illegal overtake nonsense, plus real life rules aren’t even followed as you can serve time penalties under the Safety Car (which isn’t allowed in real life). So it needs turning down to Corner Cutting Only in random lobbies, but to counteract this, make sure Corner Cutting Stringency is still set to Strict, to make sure players are penalized for cutting track limits too often.
Damage – I think this is set to Reduced by default in lobby options, which is fine, since you can’t use Simulation settings in open lobbies. There’s too much carnage and you’ll almost always end up with damage. You can even turn it Off is preferred.
Ghosting – If you keep Ghosting off, then there’s too many collisions as cars keep spinning and crashing, and you’ll find yourself driving into crashed cars on track without time to react, as there’s always cars spinning in random lobbies. I think it’s On by default though, which is fine.
Best Lobby Settings For League Races (Skilled Players)
All of what we’ve covered so far assumes you’re playing F1 2021 in random open lobbies, with random players you don’t know, which means lots of idiots who don’t know how to race properly (harsh but true unfortunately – I’ve been playing these games for 10 years online).
However, what if you’re playing in official leagues, or at least in lobbies with players you know to be decent and have good race-craft?
In this case, you can be a bit more open with the lobby settings, since the skill level is higher and therefore there are likely to be less crashes/spinning cars/retirements/first lap carnage that can trigger all the bugs in the game and make it less playable.
Here are some lobby settings tweaks that can be possible with more skilled players or good leagues:
- Safety Car – Can be set to Reduced or Normal if racing is more clean. You might still prefer to keep if Off completely though, as it still has bugs even when used less often.
- Rules & Flags – Can be set to Full, but be aware that the penalty system is still quite sensitive and can give unfair penalties. I’d personally still leave it on Corner Cutting Only.
- Damage – Can be set to Normal or Simulation/Full if the racing is clean and fair.
Here’s what I’d use for a lobby/league with more skilled racers:
Should You Turn The Safety Car On Or Off on F1 2021?
This is the crucial deciding question for the best online experience with F1 2021, since having it on or off makes a big difference to the quality of the game-play when doing any race of 25% distance or above.
Here is a summary answer:
As a general rule, the safety car needs to be disabled in F1 2021 online multiplayer when racing in 25% open lobbies with random players, since it tends to be deployed too often and spoils the experience. It could be enabled in league races with more skilled players, but at the Reduced setting, since it can still appear too often.
Put more bluntly, in random open lobbies, there are too many idiots racing for the safety car to work properly, since there are almost always a huge number or crashes and retirements, especially on the first lap, which continues to keep triggering the safety car and spoiling the race.
In a 25% online race of 13-14 laps, you’ll often find you spend as much time behind the safety car as you do racing at full speed in open lobbies, so it’s almost not even worth it! In most 25% races I’ve done online on F1 2021, there’s 2 full safety cars of 2-3 laps each, plus a virtual safety car at some point, so it just gets deployed too much with all the carnage that happens racing in open lobbies with random players.
Here’s a more complete breakdown of the different online/offline game-play scenarios for F1 2021, complete with suggested safety car settings for each one:
- Online, 5 lappers – Safety car is off by default anyway.
- Online, open lobbies, 25% races – Safety car is best turned off as is deployed too much with all the accidents and retirements you get in random open lobbies. You end up spending half the race behind the safety car.
- Online 25%/50% league races, serious/skilled players – Might work on reduced or standard if the skill level is higher and there are less crashes/retirements, but Reduced or Off would be my recommendation.
- High level eSports – Safety car is almost always turned off because it simply doesn’t function reliably for high level competition.
- Offline Grand Prix/Career Mode – Can be on or off as per personal preference, as works pretty well offline in my experience. Frequency can also be Reduced, Standard or Increased as preferred.
You adjust the safety car settings from the Rules & Flags section of the race settings menu:
As a side note, if you’re racing in an open lobby online, and you effectively inherit host control of the lobby as the previous host left, then you’ll sometimes still find the lobby options locked/frozen, and you can’t change them, even though you should be able to as you’re now the new lobby host (crown symbol next to your name).
Unfortunately, it’s one of the many bugs on this game. In this case, you’ll need to set up a new lobby by going back to the Multiplayer menu, and selecting Social Play, then Create:
Once you set up a new lobby as the host, you should be able to change all lobby option, including enabling/disabling the safety car.
See also our other article on reducing lag for F1 games for some other things you can do from your home network side to get the best possible connection for racing online.