F1 23: How To Be Faster and Improve Your Lap Times

In this guide, I'll run through our best tips and tricks to becoming a faster driver in F1 23. I'll look at how to improve your lap time as well as become better at defending and overtaking.

F1 23 on board gameplay Aston Martin Singapore

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F1 23 is the second game where we get to drive the new generation of Formula 1 car. The new cars that were introduced last year feature a completely reworked way of generating downforce and were designed to be slightly slower than the previous generation of F1 car.

This has translated into F1 23, making the cars slightly harder to drive than the previous generation due to the reduced levels of front and rear downforce. However, Codemasters have tweaked a lot of the driving physics, so the cars feel much better compared to last year’s game.

Despite the cars in this year’s Formula 1 game being harder to drive, there are plenty of ways you can increase your pace and improve your lap time to become faster in F1 23.

In this guide, I’ll break down the main areas where you can improve your lap time and become faster, and show you some advanced techniques that can help save you seconds across a single lap.

Improve your braking

One of the key areas where a lot of lap time can be found in F1 23 is during the braking phase of a corner. The corners around each track are the main areas where lap time can be gained or lost, and the braking phase makes up a big portion of this potential lap time.

If you can fully utilise the grip available to you from your tyres during the braking phase, you’ll be able to brake later into a corner and start to turn in towards the apex before the braking zone has finished. This combination can save a lot of lap time in F1 23.

A few very common mistakes that sim racers including myself often make during the braking zone are;

  • Braking too earlier
  • Not braking hard enough
  • Slowing down too much
  • Not trail braking

If any of these mistakes are made then the full potential of the tyres isn’t being utilised, and performance is being left on the table.

The potential grip of tyres

Before I jump into techniques on how to improve braking I want to quickly touch on something I’ll reference a lot in this guide, the maximum potential grip of tyres.

We can portray the grip levels of tyres as having a maximum of 100% of grip available. This grip can be divided up across a few actions such as braking, cornering and acceleration. If this grip level is exceeded the tyres will either break traction or lock up as you’ll be asking too much from your tyres.

When braking in a straight line with full braking force, you’ll be using 100% of the tyre’s grip to slow the car. When at the apex of a corner, you’ll be using 100% of the tyre’s grip to keep the car gripped to the track during the corner.

Think of both braking and steering as two percentages that need to combine to meet 100%, and no more.

If you both brake and turn the steering wheel at the same time, you’ll have to modulate the amount of brake pressure and steering input to ensure you don’t exceed the maximum grip available from the tyres. If you do, you’ll lock a wheel and start to understeer.

Now we’ve covered the potential grip of tyres, let’s take a look at a few braking techniques that can be used to make you faster in F1 23.


Braking in a straight line

The first technique is to utilise all of the tyre’s potential grip to slow the car as fast as you can. This involves braking at full force in a straight line.

If you apply any steering input at all while braking, you’ll be taking some grip away from slowing your car, and you won’t be able to brake as efficiently.

Instead, during the first stage of a braking zone, you should try to position your car to be as straight as possible while applying the brakes. Then brake as hard as you can at the start of the braking zone. As you start to slow down, or just before you start to turn into a corner, you’ll need to reduce the amount of brake pressure you have applied.


Learning to trail brake

The technique of both braking and steering at the same time is called trail braking. You’ll be trailing off the brake pedal on the approach to the corner whilst starting to increase your steering input.

F1 22 Braking tips

The benefits of trail braking are that by combining both braking and steering, you can keep the tyres performing close to their maximum grip potential.

In comparison, if you brake to your slowest point before you start to turn in. As you start to release the brake pedal while you slow, you won’t be utilising all of the maximum grip available. You will be leaving performance on the table, and won’t be optimising your braking.

So what exactly is trail braking, and how can we utilise it in F1 23? A quick breakdown of exactly how to trail brake is;

  • On the approach to the corner, brake at full pressure in a straight line.
  • As you start to reach the point where your tyres would lock, start to gradually reduce brake pressure.
  • As you’re reducing brake pressure, you can start to turn your steering wheel.
  • Apply more steering lock in line with how much brake pressure you reduce.
  • Just before the corner apex, you should be completely off the brake pedal and turning into the apex at the maximum steering lock that is required for that corner.
  • Then start to open up the steering, and focus on the corner exit.

The above technique can be used at almost every corner in F1 23, with some corners allowing you to trail brake more aggressively than others.

Some of the benefits of trail braking include;

  • Ability to brake later into a corner.
  • Reduce the length of a braking zone.
  • Fully utilise the grip potential of your tyres at all stages of a corner.
  • Help rotate the car into the corner.

Trail braking is one of the more advanced braking techniques to master, and will almost certainly be hard to perfect. However, by practising trail braking in F1 23, and learning where to fully utilise it, you can start to shave seconds or tenths of a second off your cornering time.

Read our complete guide on how to improve your braking in F1 23.

F1 23 Aston Martin Gameplay

Avoid braking too late

One very common mistake that many will make when trying to improve their speed through corners is to try and brake later. While braking later into a corner can save you time, braking too late will make you slower through a corner.

Each corner has a limit to how late you can brake. If you push that limit too far, you’ll likely lock a wheel, understeer past the apex, or have to slow your car down more than normal to make the corner. All of these will cost you lap time.

You should utilise the practice sessions to learn the braking point of each corner around a track. During a practice session, you can push the limits of the braking zone, as you have to find the limit to know where it is. Mistakes during a practice session aren’t as costly as mistakes during a race.

Try to practice the braking zone using different tyres as different tyre compounds and the wear level of your tyres will affect the braking point. Soft tyres will provide the best performance and reduce your braking zone. Harder tyres and worn-out tyres will both elongate the braking zone.


Using ABS or turning it off

The ABS assist in F1 23 is a great assist for those who are newer to sim racing or playing F1 23 for the first time. However, it is a driving assist and isn’t realistic.

Real-world Formula 1 cars don’t use ABS, instead, all braking force is controlled only by the driver. For the most realistic experience, I’d always recommend turning ABS assist off in F1 23.

However, if you are struggling to manage the braking, by all means, turn ABS on, as this can improve your enjoyment with the game. In many cases though, ABS will slow you down.


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It is a fact that turning ABS off will give you the potential to be faster in F1 23. It can be hard to utilise this potential and will take practice as it will involve you braking at the car’s limits without overstepping the limits and locking a wheel.


Smooth steering

After optimising your brake zone, another area where you can improve your lap time during corners in F1 23 is by optimising your steering technique.

You’ll often hear Formula 1 commentators talking about drivers such as Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Sergio Perez who have really smooth steering and can make their tyres last longer than other drivers.

This is commented on as smooth steering inputs is a skill which can lead to better cornering speeds and decreased tyre wear. Both of these are essential for making your tyres perform at their peak during a race in F1 23.

When comparing smooth steering with more aggressive steering, it’s very easy to see why smooth steering can improve your lap time.

F1 23 cockpit cam settings recommended

One single smooth turning motion will keep your car balanced and stable throughout the corner. This allows the tyres to use all of their potential grip on the sustained load that your car causes while turning. Your tyres will remain in constant contact with the track, providing maximum grip.

Let’s compare this with aggressive steering, or multiple movements of the steering wheel during a corner. If you turn your steering wheel aggressively, the weight shift of your car’s balance can be dramatic and can in some scenarios overwhelm your tyres.

Also, if you turn the steering wheel multiple times during a corner, each movement will adjust the tyre’s contact with the track, which in turn will provide much less continuous grip.

For these reasons, you should try to be smooth with your steering inputs to reduce the aggressiveness of weight balance change, whilst your tyres keep consistent contact with the track surface.


Mastering racing without traction control

Now that we’ve covered braking and cornering which are two of the key areas where you can find additional lap time in F1 23. I now want to look at traction, as this is the third piece of the puzzle.

I’m going to start by saying that racing with traction control disabled will always give you the potential to put in faster lap times compared to using traction control on full or medium. However, you might actually be faster with traction control on.

This is because racing without traction control requires a precise level of control over your throttle. Getting this wrong can result in a spin or oversteer which can lose you time, and burn through your tyres.

If you struggle to race without traction control, then setting the TC assist on or to medium, can speed you up.

However, if you’re racing well with the traction control assist enabled, I’d highly recommend putting in some time and practising racing without it. This is because you will have faster potential lap times this way.

To really master how to drive without traction control, you need to practice exiting corners while managing your throttle input. Tracks such as Brazil and Hungary are great for practising this as they have many slow corners.

During the exit of a turn, start by gently applying the throttle, and gradually increasing it as you straighten your car and go through the gears. If you are exiting a particularly slow corner, you will need to shift up faster.

And you can even short shift, which is the term given to changing gear before you hit the optimal rev range. Short shifting will lower the maximum torque from the engine, allowing for better control over your traction levels.

Learning to drive without traction control is a game of practice, and it can cause a fair bit of frustration.

For a complete guide on how to drive without traction control in F1 23, check out this guide, where I dive into some techniques in a bit more detail.


Improving overtaking

If you want to move forward and improve your position in F1 23, learning how to overtake and improving your overtaking is a key skill to learn.

You can overtake a car in numerous ways, down long straights by having a greater straight-line speed, on the inside of a corner to deny your opponent the racing line, or around the outside of a corner to carry more speed and beat the other driver out of the corner.

However, you approach an overtake, you should ensure you don’t make contact, and that you have a good opportunity of completing the overtake without causing an incident.

Below are a range of different techniques that you can utilise to improve your overtaking and have a greater chance of completing the overtake.

F1 23 Aston Martin vs Mercedes

Inside or outside of the corner

As mentioned above, on the approach to a corner, you can try to overtake on either the inside or the outside. Both have their positives and negatives, and it can be very situational to which you approach.

Overtaking on the inside of a corner is great for denying your opponent the racing line. If you position your car inside another driver, it can force them to slow down more to make the corner, and they will have to go the long way around you.

This is a technique that has been shown time and time again by Max Verstappen over the past few years. He will often position his car on the inside of another driver, and then force them out towards the outside of the track forcing them to yield.

A different approach is to try and overtake around the outside of a corner. This technique is often much better through corners which are less tight and allow a higher minimum corner speed. Overtaking around the outside often allows you to carry more speed through the turn, giving you a better run out of the corner compared to the car on the inside.

Both methods can work well, and sometimes the car in front can force you to one side or the other by defending the better side. In those scenarios, sometimes a dummy move can work well.

The dummy move

A dummy move leans more into fooling the driver in front of you into believing that you will attempt an overtake one side, before then swapping to the other side.

If a driver starts to defend on the side you actually want to overtake on, you can then position your car on the opposite side. This can make the car in front start to drift over to cover your position.

As soon as this starts to happen and you see the gap, you can quickly switch sides while still behind the driver in front, and at the last minute, you will have your preferred racing line.

This technique is pretty advanced and very situational. It is important to leave enough space between you and the car ahead to allow yourself to switch sides without clipping the rear of the other car. When you do pull off this move, it can leave you with a huge smile on your face.

Plan ahead

Knowing what corners are coming can really help you plan your overtake on the car ahead. Not every corner around a track is a possible overtaking spot, so you’ll have to pick and choose your spots.

Trying to get close to the car ahead in the corners before your planned overtake can make the overtake attempt more likely. It can be hard to follow cars around some tracks due to the reduced downforce that you receive while following a car closely.

For this reason, you may need to plan your ERS usage for the lap before the overtake attempt to close up on the car in front.

Also, try to think about the track layout beyond the corner where you make the overtake. If there is another long straight after the overtake, you may be vulnerable immediately after overtaking the car. Instead, you can try to plan your overtake on a corner where the following track layout doesn’t give the car a chance to retake its place.

DRS (Drag reduction system)

DRS is a tool that all cars have at their disposal during a race. DRS opens up a gap in the rear wing to give you additional straight-line speed. It activates when you enter a DRS zone and are within a second of the car in front.

This can give you a big advantage when attempting to overtake the car in front and can lead to faster lap times as you can close the gap to the car in front.

Plan where the DRS zones and activation lines are around a track to give you an additional tool to play with when attempting an overtake in F1 23.


Improve your car setup

As well as making improvements to your driving style to become faster in F1 23, you can also make changes to your car setup.

F1 23 on throttle differential setup

An optimised car setup can make your car more stable and easier to drive allowing you to push harder without overstepping your car’s limits. It can also flat-out make your car faster if you tinker with areas such as the aerodynamic setup.

Depending on where you are likely to start a race, and your overall race strategy, you can adjust your car setup in various ways. Making your car faster in a straight line by reducing the amount of front and rear aerodynamics can help you make overtakes easier.

Alternatively, a track where qualifying is incredibly important such as Monaco and Singapore, you can alter your car setup to prioritise your qualifying performance.

For a complete guide on how to create an F1 23 car setup, read our ultimate setup guide.


Racing with a racing wheel

The last thing I’m going to recommend on how to become faster in F1 23 is to consider racing with a racing wheel. Using a racing wheel instead of a controller can give you additional levels of control.

It is possible to be extremely fast using a controller, however, a racing wheel increases the amount of precision you have with your inputs. There is much more movement involved in turning a steering wheel compared to an analogue stick on a controller. This additional amount of movement allows you to make much more precise inputs.

A racing wheel also increases your immersion, which can make F1 23 much more enjoyable. View our recommended racing wheels for F1 23 if you’re considering buying one.


Summary

Hopefully, the tips in this guide will allow you to make adjustments to both your car’s setup as well as your driving style to help you become faster in F1 23.

Work your way through the list above, practising each technique before moving on and including the next set of tips. You can then try to work on each area every time you hit the track, and in turn, you should be able to find a good amount of lap time at any track in F1 23.


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Article written by Mjolnir

Mjolnir is one of the main setup creators and content writers for SimRacingSetups. He has had years of experience in sim racing, both competitively and casually. After a decade of sim racing experience, he co-founded SimRacingSetup.com to share his passion and knowledge of sim racing and Formula 1 with other sim racers.
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