While the world ground to a halt last year as the pandemic took over, one industry grew as people looked to pass time in lockdown, with many turning to sim racing and esports. Those with entry-level set-ups looked to improve their rigs at home as they aimed to get a close to the real thing as they could.
Earlier this year American gaming peripherals company Thrustmaster unveiled a unique collaboration with Scuderia Ferrari, the Thrustmaster Ferrari SF1000 Edition steering wheel, priced at £329.99. Now we know what you are thinking, straight away, the wheel is not cheap, especially when that cost doesn’t include the base to actually use the wheel; With that said, this is no ordinary steering wheel, this is a 1:1 replica of the SF1000 wheel with a fully working multi-function display and 25 programmable buttons.
The wheel could quite easily sit in a display cabinet as a piece of F1 art, but this is not what it is designed for, it was designed to be pushed to the limits as you brave skim the barriers through Monaco on F1 2020 (it is compatible with all racing games that you can use Thrustmaster bases with but will get back to the F1 2020 point later on).
Real carbon fibre faceplate
The design of the wheel features a 100% carbon fibre faceplate (3 mm-thick carbon fibre faceplate made up of 21 layers) providing balanced Force Feedback for extremely precise movements when racing, particularly in games with a focus on single-seater cars.
Being a replica of the real thing, you can imagine the money that has gone in to research to make sure the wheel is as ergonomic as possible, the textured rubber grips and interchangeable Thrustmaster T-Chrono Paddles paddle shifters (sold separately – see below) make this product comfortable to use during those long race sessions.
Which button to press?
As mentioned in the opening of this review, the wheel features 25 buttons, 7 of those including encoders; This comes in very handy if you’ve ever tried changing a setting on a game while you are racing, trying to remember which way to go on the menu as you wrestle to keep the car on track.
Thrustmaster have worked closely with official F1 game publisher Codemasters to bring a perfect interface to work with all of the driving adjustments in the game. Whilst all of the buttons can be mapped to various functions, one of the most impressive things about this wheel is the 4.3-inch (109-mm) IPS LCD display which can show up to 69 items of racing information.
The race dash features different skins for the type of game being played or car being driven, and 21 LEDs: 15 for the engine speed, and 2 x 3 for the race marshal flags.
The display can mirror what you are seeing in F1 2020 on the cockpit view, giving you all of the information you will ever need while you are racing, also allowing you to see what options you are changing at a glance.
Interchangeable T-Chrono Paddles
In addition to the ergonomic design of the wheel it features interchangeable gear paddles, this is another add-on that costs, and at £54.99, but that is a cost worth spending if you are looking to get the most of our the wheel and shave those valuble milliseconds off lap times.
The T-Chrono Paddles feature a bounce time of less than 5 milliseconds and features switches with gold-plated silver contacts — results in even lower contact resistance, giving users a super-responsive gear-shifting feel.
We love this wheel at TCF and we’ve only just scratched the surface with what is possible with it, in the review process we used F1 2020 (driving Charles Leclerc’s Scuderia Ferrari of course!), and it enhances the gameplay of that exponentially, but this wheel isn’t just exclusively for that.
Serious sim racers have their chosen games, be it iRacing, RFactor2, Assetto Corsa, the list goes on… all of these games can be used with the wheel, and all of these games can make full use of the programmable buttons. While we haven’t had chance to test these ourselves, we’ve heard from around the gaming world how much better the wheel makes the experience.
As we said at the start of this review, it’s not a cheap wheel, but it is as near as you are going to get to owning a functioning F1 wheel at home that you can use, and we love it!