F1 23 Beginner’s Guide: Where To Start

Here is the ultimate beginner's guide for F1 23. In this guide, I'll look at where to start in F1 23, how to choose the right difficulty and assists, along with how to improve over time and get the most from F1 23.

Discover the best free F1 24 car setups for all tracks, including race and time trial setups.
F1 23 Aston Martin vs Mercedes

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With F1 23 launching so soon, I thought now was the perfect time to look at where to start with F1 23. In this guide, I’m going to take a complete look at F1 23 to produce the ultimate F1 23 beginner’s guide.

If you are playing F1 24, check out our updated F1 24 beginner’s guide, where I share our top tips on how to be faster, race without assists, set up your car, controller, racing wheel, and much more.

Watch our F1 23 beginner’s guide video

Watch our complete F1 23 beginner’s guide video below. Or if you’d prefer, continue reading to read through our guide.

Intro to F1 23

So let’s start this beginner’s guide with a little overview of this year’s Formula 1 game and some of the changes that have been made from last year.

If you did play last year’s Formula 1 game, you won’t notice a whole load of new things. Instead, this year’s game focuses more on minor improvements to various aspects of the game.

New game modes

One of the big statement changes to F1 23 is the re-inclusion of the Braking Point game mode. This game mode features a much more scripted approach to racing, with cutscenes to drive a new narrative in F1 23.

Outside of Braking Point, the favourite game modes such as My Team and Championship mode return allowing players to create their own team and race through multiple seasons.

New tracks

In F1 23 there are a few new tracks including the Las Vegas track and Losail in Qatar. Both of these are new additions to the 2023 Formula 1 calendar, and both have been recreated in F1 23.

We also see some favourites returning despite not being on the official Formula 1 calendar. Paul Ricard in France, Shanghai in China and Portimao in Portgual are all available to race in F1 23.

Changes to the driving physics

One of the bigger series of changes are to the overall driving physics. Codemasters F1 games have always balanced between arcade and simulation physics to cater for the widest range of players.

In F1 23, that trend is still true, but some of the changes focus on making the cars slightly more realistic to drive. The biggest change is to the levels of traction that are available.

Last year’s game saw many players struggling to apply the throttle as the traction levels at low speeds were incredibly low. This led to race starts and slow corners being incredibly tricky to navigate.

This year, it is slightly easier to apply the throttle sooner, allowing for easier race starts and more consistent levels of traction throughout a race.

Car setup changes

While the driving physics have been updated to make driving more realistic and traction easier to find, there have also been some changes to car setups. Rather than complete overhauls to the car setup system, there have been minor adjustments.

These include updating the values which you can choose from when tuning your car setup in F1 23. You now have finer control over the adjustments you can make to your suspension, ride height and tyre setup.

While these changes don’t drastically affect much, they do allow for finer levels of control over certain areas of your car setup.

Where to start

If you are jumping into F1 23 for the first time, I’d recommend getting acclimatised to the main features of the game. These include choosing some settings to make the game more enjoyable and adjusting your difficulty (which I’ll discuss later in this guide).

Next, I’d highly recommend heading out onto the track in a practice or time trial session to start to get used to the gameplay. Ultimately, you’ll be spending the majority of your time in F1 23 on track, and this is where a lot of the fun can be had.

F1 23 Haas Gameplay onboard

Becoming acclimatised with how the cars handle on track should be where the majority of your focus is during your first few play sessions. I’d recommend using the assists available to ease you into the gameplay loop. These will help you familiarise yourself with the tracks as well as how the cars behave under braking, acceleration and during gear changes.

If you want to experience the thrill of racing wheel to wheel early on, you can use the Grand Prix mode to run a single race session. This lets you race against the AI with zero consequence, and I’d recommend taking part in a few Grand Prix’s before jumping into Braking Point or a career mode.

Set up your racing wheel or controller

Before you do start racing on track though, I’d recommend setting up your racing wheel or controller. A well-configured wheel or controller will make controlling the cars much easier and make your F1 23 experience more comfortable.

We have plenty of guides available for the best controller and wheel settings to help you find the best settings faster. I’ll link these below as we publish them.

If you don’t know which settings affect your wheel or controller in a certain way, I’d recommend copying our settings. You can then tweak them as you progress to fine-tune the settings to your personal preference.

What is better for F1 23, racing wheel or controller?

If you are debating whether to pick up a racing wheel for F1 23, we have a fantastic guide which runs through the very best racing wheels for F1 23. This guide will show you the best racing wheels across a range of budgets as well as show you which wheels are compatible with which console.

You can find our F1 23 racing wheel guide here.

F1 23 on board braking point gameplay

A racing wheel will ultimately give you finer levels of control over your car, as each input range is much larger compared to the very small travel from a controller trigger or analogue stick. It will also increase the immersion of racing a Formula 1 car, and can therefore be more enjoyable.

However, you can still be incredibly quick with a controller in F1 23, meaning you should pick whichever you prefer and whichever will give you more enjoyment.

Finding your ideal difficulty and choosing AI difficulty in F1 23

One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when you first start F1 23 is which AI difficulty you should run. Choosing your AI difficulty will ultimately change the overall difficulty of the game and can make races much more enjoyable.

If you set the difficulty too high, you’ll struggle to keep pace with the cars around you and find yourself further back on the grid. Too low, and the game will become too easy and the enjoyment of winning every single race by a whole lap may start to wear off.

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Ideally, you’ll want to set the AI difficulty to just a little bit higher than your ultimate pace. This will allow the cars around you to really challenge you for position. While you push yourself to keep up and battle with cars on track, you’ll also be improving your own pace, making you a faster driver over time.

But how do you find the perfect difficulty right away? This can be done by starting a Grand Prix session with a one-shot qualifying mode.

F1 23 Aston Martin vs Mercedes

I would recommend setting the AI difficulty to around 75% to start with, and then participate in the one-shot qualifying session. It is important to set the car’s performance to equal performance when choosing your car. This will make all cars perform the same meaning a Williams won’t necessarily be slower than a Mercedes or a Red Bull.

After you have put in your qualifying lap, see where you are on the grid. The lap times you’ll see will be the AI’s ultimate one-lap pace so this makes for a great comparison.

If you are towards the front of the pack, you could consider increasing the difficulty a touch. If you qualify at the rear of the pack, you can lower the AI difficulty.

I’d recommend adjusting the difficulty in increments of 10 until you find a rough difficulty setting that works for you. Then you can further fine-tune it from there. Simply restart the Grand Prix weekend each time you make an adjustment and run the qualifying session again.

In general, around most tracks, there is about a 10 second difference between the slowest AI difficulty and fastest. Every 10 – 15 increment will either make the AI around a second faster or slower.

This general rule can be applied when changing your difficulty. If you are 1 second off the pace, lower the difficulty by around 10-15 points as an example.

Once you have found a difficulty where you can lap consistently with the AI, you can then move onto the testing phase. I’d recommend running a few 5 lap races at some different tracks to see how you stack up against the AI.

While testing, you can adjust the AI difficulty between races until you find a setting that you are comfortable with. Remember, try to set the AI difficulty slightly higher than your current skill level as this will allow you to push the car and improve your overall speed.

Which driving assists to choose

Choosing your driving assists is another big decision you have to make. Driving aids and assists will make driving the cars in F1 23 easier, and help you learn the tracks faster.

Driver assists such as braking and steering assist should really be turned off as these interfere too much with the overall gameplay.

Assists such as ABS, traction control and automatic gears are great to help you get started in F1 23 without the car being too difficult to control.

Another fantastic assist is the dynamic racing line. This will show you where to position your car and when to brake and accelerate around each track. This is a great tool for quickly learning the braking zones and racing line at each track.

Over time, I would recommend lowering or disabling assists such as ABS and traction control. Doing so will give you greater levels of control over your car, make you a better overall driver, and allow you to find extra speed and lap time.

There should be no rush to disable assists in F1 23 too quickly, as this can cause frustration and make the game harder than it needs to be. As you become more comfortable racing the cars in F1 23, then you should start to gradually lower the number of assists you are using.

Practice racing in F1 23

Really, one of the biggest things you should be doing during your first few hours with F1 23 is to be practising driving and learning how the car behaves.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll spend the majority of your time on track, so being comfortable with the car and how it handles is important.

F1 23 overshoulder gameplay onboard

I would highly recommend using the time trial mode to practice different car and track combinations. Time trial provides perfect racing conditions with low fuel, optimal tyre temperatures and track temperature, giving you the best scenario to really push the car and learn its characteristics.

Grand Prix mode and short races are also very valuable. There are no consequences to restarting races or finishing at the back. So use this mode as a test bed for racing wheel-to-wheel with other cars.

One great tip is to follow a car during a race or practice session to learn where they brake and accelerate. And where they are faster than you. This is one of the quickest ways to improve your lap time, as you’ll see a direct comparison between yourself and the car ahead of you.

F1 23’s different game modes

F1 23 has a range of game modes, from quick races to full championships and in-depth RPG-like My Team game modes. This variety of game modes allows players to pick and choose their own experience and how they spend time in F1 23.

I’d recommend starting with time trial mode and Grand Prix mode while learning the game. Then once you feel comfortable, you can move into Braking Point or the My Team mode and invest your time into a more in-depth game mode.

F1 23 main menu

Below is a short overview of each game mode in F1 23.;

  • Time Trial: The time trial mode allows you to compete with players around the world over a single lap. Your best time will be on a leaderboard for others to compete against.
  • Grand Prix: Grand Prix mode lets you run a custom race weekend against the AI. You can choose to race as any of the drivers and customise the weekend. You can choose which sessions to participate in and how long each session is.
  • Braking Point: Braking Point is a continuation of the story in F1 2021. This is a story-driven game mode with cutscenes and actors.
  • F1 World: F1 World is a new game mode for this year’s game and is an evolution of F1 Life from F1 22. It gives you your own car to customise and upgrade, with upgrades being earned over time. You can compete in events, in multilayer racing and in scenarios in this mode, and it provides a real RPG style experience.
  • My Team: My Team allows you to create your own team and car and compete against the other drivers and teams in F1 23. This is very much an in-depth RPG-style game mode.
  • Championship: Championship mode lets you participate in custom championships where you can race as any driver on the grid over the course of a season.
  • Multiplayer races: Multiplayer races come in a few forms and varieties, but ultimately pit you against other real players in head-to-head races.
  • Multiplayer events: There are also multiplayer events, which are specific scenarios where you compete against others to place on a leaderboard.

Which team to choose

Choosing your team and driver in F1 23 is a decision that affects a lot and not much at the same time. Each real driver and team competing in the 2023 Formula 1 season is in this year’s game.

When competing in races and single-player modes, you can choose any driver to race as. Each car has a different performance level, meaning if you choose to race in a Haas, you’re car will be much slower than a Red Bull or Ferrari.

It also changes the look of the car that you’ll be racing, giving the game a different aesthetic. Elements such as the in-game steering wheel and camera angles will be different from car to car.

Ultimately, choosing your team and driver can come down to picking your favourite driver, or dictating your own difficulty and choosing the style of race you’ll have.

Racing as Max Verstappen in a Red Bull will have you competing at the front of the grid while racing as a Williams will lower your car’s performance and have you racing against cars towards the back of the pack.

Become faster with custom car setups

While your first few hours in F1 23 should be focused more on learning how the car behaves, as you progress you may want to start to dabble with car setups. You can change various areas of your car setup and these changes can have a big impact on your car’s performance and the car’s handling.

There are various aspects of your car setup that can be changed with each affecting your car’s handling in a different way. Each track will require a different car setup, with slow tracks such as Monaco favouring higher downforce setups, and faster tracks such as Monza requiring low drag setups.

Below is a short explanation of each area of the car setup that you can change;

  • Aerodynamics:
    This affects the downforce of your car. Higher downforce levels will slow you down along the straights, but give you more aero grip through the corners.
  • Differential:
    Your differential changes how each rear wheel works together while accelerating and decelerating. These settings can change how your car behaves on the entry to a corner, along with how much traction you have on the exit of a corner.
  • Suspension geometry:
    The geometry setup in F1 23 changes the position of your tyres in relation to the track. Adjusting the toe and camber will bring more or less of your tyres into contact with the track and can affect how much mechanical grip you have mid-corner.
  • Suspension:
    The suspension setup changes how soft or stiff your car suspension is. Stiffer settings can increase your pace through faster corners by preventing body roll. It will also increase responsiveness while softer suspension setups will allow you to ride kerbs easier without as much issue.
  • Brakes:
    Your brake setup directly affects how much braking performance you have. Your brake bias will change how much braking force is sent to the front or rear brakes which changes how your car behaves under braking.
  • Tyres:
    Your tyre pressure setup will alter how quickly your tyres heat up and the overall temperature while on track. The pressures should be adjusted to avoid overheating to prevent tyres from wearing too quickly during a race.

Advanced tips and tricks

Once you’ve spent a bit of time with F1 23, there are further settings and game mechanics that you can look further into. Elements such as race strategy and when to pit during a race, along with advanced driving techniques can improve your pace, immersion and most importantly, your enjoyment.

F1 23 Car upgrades
Race strategy

Your race strategy can be set if you are participating in a race that is long enough for pit stops. The race strategy screen gives you control over how many pit stops you make, along with your tyre strategy and how much fuel you run.

While adjusting your race strategy, one important area to focus on is the overall race time. This number shows how long the predicted strategy would take to run. Lower numbers here are better and indicate that the chosen strategy can be faster overall.

Advanced driving techniques

As you progress and become faster, you can start to implement some advanced driving techniques to further increase your speed. Techniques such as trail braking as well as managing your brake bias in between corners can improve your overall efficiency, and lead to faster lap times.

Trail braking is the term given to trailing off the brake pedal as you approach the corner apex whilst applying steering lock at the same time. Essentially, you want to be maximising your tyre’s grip potential at all points through a corner.

You can do this by starting to turn into the corner as you start to release the brake pedal. You certainly shouldn’t separate the braking and turning phases as this will slow you down. Instead, try to combine them to maintain the highest minimum corner speed and reduce your braking zones.


F1 23 offers a lot of different ways to enjoy the game from casual races to ultra-competitive multiplayer racing and RPG game modes like My Team. Whichever game mode you choose, the important thing to remember is to try and maximise your enjoyment out of the game.

You can do this by setting the correct difficulty and assists and not making the game too hard too early. Then over time, you can lower the levels of assists and increase the AI difficulty to present yourself more of a challenge.

We have a range of F1 23 guides which cover different areas of the game in much more detail. You can find all of these guides in our F1 23 section here. These include tips on advanced techniques such as trail braking, guides on how to become faster and how to set up your car along with others.

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Article written by Rich

Co-Founder of SimRacingSetups.com

Rich is the co-founder, and one of the main F1 setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. With over a decade of experience as a graphic designer, marketing director, competitive sim racer and avid motorsport fan, Rich founded SimRacingSetup.com to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.

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