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Gaming: Podium Racing Wheel F1 review

Fanatec's direct drive game controller brings torque to the masses

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If you’re deadly serious about sim racing, like Formula One’s resident gamers Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, a ‘direct drive’ wheel is essential. Rather than belt-driven, the rim is essentially bolted directly to the motor, offering stronger force feedback, but also more detailed and immediate response. Up until now though, direct drive wheels have required a) a degree in electrical engineering to set up and b) a gaming PC.

Not so with the Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1. This numpty-friendly wheelbase plugs directly into your PS4 or PC (and even Xbox One, with an Xbox compatible rim) and is instantly capable of generating up to 20nm of torque. That’s the same amount you’d find dragging a gen-one Citroen 2CV up a muddy French vineyard.

The big draw though, is the feeling of less slack in the system as you race. Using the Podium base is much more like operating a real steering column and rack than regular gaming wheels and there’s a reason why industry-grade sims use similar tech. If you really must test those muscles, there’s an optional ‘torque key’ included to unlock the full shoulder-wrenching ability of the wheelbase, but that’s not terribly realistic unless you’re specifically driving a turbocharged 1980s Formula One car with no power steering on fat slicks. And if you are, we hope you’re also sporting a fake Mansell moustache for maximum authenticity.

This Podium Racing Wheel F1 bundle pairs the wheelbase with Fanatec’s sturdy Clubsport F1 rim which is constructed using carbon fibre, bristles with buttons and arrives in pleasing, mid-noughties BMW Williams blue. It’s one of the best rims we’ve used, particularly with the included uprated paddle module which gives a more positive action on shifts and adds a separate pair of clutch paddles for manual control of race starts. Yet another element of being a modern F1 driver for us to get comically wrong, then.

The Podium Racing Wheel F1 bundle is pricey at £1,412, requires pedals to be bought separately and weighs about as much as a collapsed star, so mount it somewhere secure, but it’s also probably the last sim racing wheel you’ll ever need. Something you’re probably going to need to patiently explain to your significant other when they spot the smoking hole in the family finances…

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