The first thing that comes to mind when talking about racing simulators has to be Formula 1. The emblematic motorsport that got a lot of people into racing sims in the first place has a lot of great racing wheels wheels for your at-home enjoyment. Here are our top picks for the best F1 wheels for 2021.
Best F1 Racing Wheels of 2021
- Best Bundle – Fanatec CSL Elite F1
- Best PS Wheel – Fanatec Podium F1
- Best Xbox Wheel – Fanatec Racing Wheel Formula
- Best Ferrari Rim – Thrustmaster Ferrari F1
- Best McLaren Rim – CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2
Breakdown of the Best F1 Wheels
Based on our extensive research, here are the best F1 sim racing wheels:
Our favorite overall bundle is the CSL Elite F1. The CSL Elite wheel base itself has been (unfairly in our opinion) criticized in the past. It’s true that it doesn’t reach the same levels as the ClubSport V2.5, and obviously, it’s not as great as a direct drive wheel, but the CSL Elite is a serious wheel base at an affordable price point. It makes use of the same electronics, the same servo motor, and the same power supply as the Clubsport to offer up a very powerful and realistic force feedback experience. It unfortunately only makes use of one belt drive (hence the hate you may sometimes find online), but it couples it with the Directsensor tech to make it feel just as precise and powerful as you could possibly hope for. Moreover, the CSL Elite works on all platforms: PS4, Xbox and PC.
Onto the wheel, the CSL Elite F1 set makes use of the Clubsport’s F1 Esports wheel rim, and it feels just as great here as it does in any of the other wheel bases (with the added bonus that the CSL Elite has a larger rotation range than the ClubSport). Finally, in this already great bundle, you also get a pair of CSL Elite pedals. You can check out our pedal review list here, but needless to say, we love these. They’re made from metal, they’re resistant, they’re powerful and they complete what you need for a great F1 setup.
All of this comes at a fraction of our next pick. So, if you’re looking for something more complete for your F1 needs, without spending a fortune, this is what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for the best PlayStation-friendly steering wheel especially made for F1 video games then you can’t go wrong with the Fanatec Podium F1. This Fanatec bundle makes use of the fantastic Podium DD1 wheel base. While it’s true that a more modern version exists (read our full comparison between the two versions here), in our opinion the DD1 delivers more than enough and is a lot more reasonably priced. That being said, reasonably priced does not mean cheap. This is still an expensive racing wheel, but it’s simply a marvel of engineering. The force feedback is powerful, the wheel inputs are precise and suffer from no lag at all, and the DD1 is compatible with a massive amount of fantastic peripherals.
On the physical wheel itself, the fact that it’s an officially licensed product from Formula 1 should be enough to let you know how incredible it is. It’s mounted with multiple LED lights, it has buttons and switches in the double digits, it has a massive amount of customization options, it looks like a genuine product you could find inside a Ferrari or Mercedes, and it makes use of truly incredible paddle shifters.
Our top Xbox pick is the Podium Racing Wheel Formula. Like the Podium F1, it’s also built on the extremely popular Fanatec Podium DD1 direct drive wheel base, except it works with Xbox and PC instead of PlayStation and PC. The DD1 guarantees you an ultra-smooth driving experience with strong force feedback that you won’t get with cheaper steering wheels, but comes in at a reasonable price with the huge community and the accessible distribution and support network that Fanatec boasts. Need we say more?
As for the wheel rim, the Podium Racing Wheel Formula uses the ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2. This is Fanatec’s latest and greatest Formula-style wheel rim. The base is a half centimeter plate of real carbon fiber, which gives an incredibly premium look. In addition, the wheel is complete with paddle shifters (which can be upgraded) as well as a huge variety of buttons, dials, and sticks, ensuring full Xbox compatbility.
If your racing setup already consists of a Thrustmaster T300RS, T500RS, or TX steering wheel, you might be looking for an F1-style wheel rim that offers plug-and-play compatibility with your existing setup. Look no further than Thrustmaster’s own F1 wheel, which is made of a solid brushed metal face, complete with numerous extra inputs (with a total of 29 programmable functions), and most importantly: officially licensed by Ferrari.
The rim is an exact replica of the Formula 1 Ferrari 2011 racing wheel, so you’ll won’t get any closer to the real thing than this!
If you’re a McLaren fan, you’ve probably already heard of, and are patiently waiting for, the release of Fanatec’s updated McLaren GT3 wheel rim. And if you know Fanatec, you can expect nothing less than a hyper-realistic product on official license from McLaren Automotive themselves.
That’s right, this rim is yet another detail reproduction of the real thing, down to the size and location of the switches, paddles, and dials. It’s built on a thick carbon fiber base with premium metal components and a one-inch OLED display.
Other Racing Wheels We Reviewed
Although they didn’t make our top-5, we reviewed six other racing wheels on the market to see how they stand up to the test.
The Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 decided it wanted a challenge. It wanted to emulate what you would feel and experience when driving with a direct drive steering wheel, but avoid the same incredible price tag. Well, not only does it deliver, but we’re impressed by just how well it does what it seeks out to do.
It makes use of a dual belt drive with multiple ball bearings and v-ribs which makes it have no slip or drag, exactly like you would expect to find in a high quality racing wheel. Fanatec’s Directsensor technology is employed to add both realism and accuracy, improving what is already an incredible performance to almost direct drive levels. All in all, it’s precise, powerful, and accurate. If you’ve never before used a direct drive wheel, you could be excused if you thought the Fanatec ClubSport V2.5 was one. If you have used a direct drive wheel… well, you could still make the mistake, that’s how good it is! The only real let-down of this steering wheel is the rotation range of just 900 degrees.
In terms of the wheel rim, there are two options we love. First, there’s the F1 Esports, which is compatible with PlayStation and PC. Second, there’s the Xbox-compatible Clubsport Formula V2 wheel, with 67 adjustable options! It may lack the F1 trademark but that makes it no less functional or beautiful.
For once, let’s start with the wheel itself. This package makes use of Thrustmaster’s full-scale replica of a Ferrari F1 wheel, which was listed as one of our top rims above. There’s an incredible amount of buttons, switches, paddles and more that you’re completely free to map however you wish, allowing you full control over your customization options. The motor behind all this magic will change depending on which operating system you want to make use of. The Playstation one will be powered by the T300 motor while the Xbox variant will make use of a Thrustmaster TX motor. Regardless of the one you choose, what you’ll surely get is powerful force feedback, a hyper-realistic feel, and a rush of adrenaline when overtaking on the outside.
That’s not where it ends, however. Imagine taking an incredible set of pedals like the T3PAs, and thinking “Nah, these need to be better”. Well, the folks over at Rimotech added a load cell to the brake in order to make it pressure sensitive, much like what you’d find in a real-life F1 car. You’ll quickly learn to make use of this added precision in order to shave a fair amount of time off of your best lap! Finally, the build and seat that are included in this bundle are as sturdy and comfortable (without feeling like you’re sitting in a couch, it retains the realism of a real racing seat) as you could ever hope for!
Let’s start with the two main drawbacks. One: if you plan on using this racing wheel only for the purposes of driving an F1 car, you’ll be disappointed when you see the shape of the wheel. Two: this wheel only works on PlayStation and PC. That’s the end of the bad things we can say about this wheel.
Moving onto the good stuff, this wheel is absolutely beautiful, and for good reason too! The T300RS is a replica of the wheel you’d find in a Ferrari 599xx EVO (in 8:10 scale). And this is an official replica, as in a replica that the Prancing Horse signed off on and made sure was up to scruff, meaning incredible build quality. The force feedback is fed to you via a brushless motor which makes use of a belt system to make sure that you won’t hear the wheel, and won’t feel any notchiness when steering. It’s powerful and realistic, making it so much easier to quickly get immersed in the racing.
It has an excellent rotation range of 1080°, which is more than some wheels that cost over three times as much! Speaking of cost, the T300RS is an affordable force feedback wheel. It’s less than half of the cost of the cheapest option we’ve written about thus far in this article. If you can get over the shape of the wheel (it being traditional rather than F1 shaped), and want an inexpensive but quality product, then this is an easy pick!
If you’re looking for a quality, budget friendly racing wheel to use on Xbox One or Series X, you’ve found it. In a lot of ways, the Thrustmaster TX racing wheel is simply the Xbox-equivalent of the Thrustmaster T300, which we praised just a second ago. The motor technology is exactly the same, meaning you can expect the same performance and reliability as T300 users. Unfortunately, the rotation angle is, for whatever reason, a tad lower at just 900 degrees.
Once again, the Thrustmaster TX isn’t shaped as an F1 wheel; instead, it’s a simple circular rim. However, the force feedback and overall build is just so good that you should definitely consider this if you’re not yet willing to invest in Fanatec territory.
It’s difficult to write an article on steering wheels without mentioning perhaps the most popular PC racing wheel of all time. The Logitech G29 Driving Force, and its Xbox counterpart (the G920), are both excellent entry level purchases. The wheels themselves are smooth and powerful with a very acceptable 900 degree rotation range. Not to mention, a great set of pedals (including a clutch) are included in the price.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing that makes the G29 really stand out as an F1 wheel. With a traditional circular rim and no Formula One branding, we think you’re better off going for a Thrustmaster in most cases.
The Thrustmaster TMX and its bigger brother, the TMX Pro, are both solid, affordable racing wheels. With rewarding force feedback and a decent pedal set, there’s nothing that makes these wheels bad. Conversely, though, nothing really makes them special.
Without the Formula One rim shape and with such great alternatives in the form of the T300RS and TX, we suggest you skip the TMX and save up for a better wheel later.
Build Your Own F1 Wheel
2021 is a great year to be a sim driver because like never before you have the option to customize what you want in your driving set-up and wheel. This is especially true of direct drive wheels. Websites such as Fanatec and Rimotech allow you to mix and match various wheelbases, steering wheels, pedals and more to help you truly create your own best set-up (as a quick note: Rimotech has more varied products, but Fanatec makes it easy for you to understand what works with what). This means that you can essentially build your own “best F1 wheel of 2021”.
This is especially true if you decide to take the hardest road out there and attempt to make your own Open Sim Wheel. This is a difficult project which can, however, yield an incredibly powerful and satisfying drive. If you feel up to the challenge or are at all interested, why don’t you give our article on it a look by following this link here?
Last Updated on May 2, 2021