Fanatec’s CSL Elite F1 set shows how far racing wheels have come

December 21, 2018
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My very first wheel, I guess, would have been the old Fisher Price one stuck to the back of the passenger’s seat in an old MG Maestro, so that I could drive along on our frequent jaunts up and down the A40. After that, things got a little more serious: a Jocgon bought alongside Ridge Racer Type 4 in an attempt to divine some of the magic of Namco’s over-sized arcade machines in front of the 14-inch TV in my kitchen at home, and then a cheap Microsoft number cabled up to a wheezing PC that was doing its best to run Grand Prix Legends.

Things have moved on since then, if not with my own particular set-up – a primitive Playseat Challenge that is best described as a deckchair with ideas above its station – then with the wider world of racing peripherals. Sim racing is serious business for many people, so it’s small wonder there are some serious tools around to help people do the task – full motion rigs, direct drive wheels that will tear your arms out of their sockets as fast as a wookie, all coming in at a cost not too far off the price of a small family car.

I’m a bit more modest with my own sim-racing, if that foldable deckchair of a rig wasn’t already a giveaway, and for the past five years or so have relied on a relatively humble Thrustmaster T500RS. It’s not perfect – there’s a bulk to the set-up that’s a bit of a pain, the feedback can be little grainy and the standard rim, while hardly cheap-looking, doesn’t feel spectacular in the hand, but it’s done an amazing job of handling everything I’ve thrown at it, from Euro Truck Simulator to iRacing via console games like Gran Turismo Sport and Codemasters’ F1 series.

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