- Plug and play with the PS4
- Cross compatibility functionality
- Wrist breaking amounts of force feedback
- (Yes, that is a good thing!)
- Industry leading force feedback quality
- Possibly the best F1 style steering wheel
- Very expensive
- Not compatible with Xbox One out of the box
- Requires a strong rig to cope with the FFB strength
- No pedals included
Is the Fantec Podium Racing Wheel F1® the best cross compatible direct drive racing wheel money can buy in 2020? Well, quite simply, yes. That is because it is the only fully cross compatible direct drive racing wheel on the market today. That was a pretty easy win for Fanatec. Become the only player in a marketplace, and you are ensured that you have the best product.
In this review we will take an in-depth look at this direct drive racing wheel. We’ll tell you exactly what it is and what consoles it works. We’ll take a look at its design, its practicality, how good it actually is. And finally, we’ll let you know whether you should save your pennies and actually buy one. And trust me, you’ll need to save a lot of pennies, as this piece of sim racing gear costs rather a lot of money!
What exactly is the Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1®?
Fanatec’s Podium range of wheel bases are all designed to bring wrist breaking direct drive power to your sim rig. Up until recently, both of Fanatec’s direct drive wheel bases, the Podium DD1 and DD2 have only been PC compatible. Yes, they can become compatible with Xbox One consoles if you install the correct module and steering wheel. But never has a wheel base been designed for cross compatibility.
This Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1® direct drive wheel has been designed to be compatible with PlayStation consoles straight out of the box. This is not only the first Fanatec direct drive wheel to be PS4 compatible, but the first ever direct drive wheel to be designed for PS4. Pretty cool huh!
Now those sim racers who like their sim racing games sprinkled with a bit of Gran Turismo can enjoy strong force feedback, just like their PC sim racing buddies.
Although the Podium Racing Wheel F1® is designed specifically to be plug and play with the PS4. It can also be used on Xbox One consoles. Similar to the existing DD1 and DD2 wheel bases, Xbox owners will need to install a different steering wheel to make it compatible. But the option is still there.
READ MORE – Read our complete Podium DD1 review
Unboxing the Podium Racing Wheel F1®
So lets start our journey towards sim racing mastery by taking a look in the box, and what you actually get from your size-able investment. When you first open the box, you will see the Podium direct drive wheel base sitting in all of its glory. As with all Fanatec products, the packaging for this wheel base is absolutely on point.
Once you bring yourself to stop staring and admiring the wheel base itself, which can be hard to do as it is a beautiful piece of machinery… You will find the following things hidden in the box;
- Podium DD1 Wheel Base
- ClubSport Formula V2 steering wheel, PS4 edition
- Advanced Podium paddle module
- Extra set of button caps
- Power Supply Unit (PSU) and cable
- Braided USB cable
- Torque key
- RJ12 connection cable
- A locking bolt (for older steering wheels)
- Quick guide manual
When you start to setup this wheel, you will appreciate how well thought out it is. The wheel base itself comes with pre-drilled mounting points that fit on to any Fanatec wheel base compatible mounts. And just like with other Fanatec wheel bases, the base itself is where you connect all of your Fanatec peripherals.
There are a wide range of connection ports on the rear of this wheel base. Theses are for your pedals, shifters and any other peripheral you fancy plugging in. From there, you just have a single USB connection which runs to your PC or console. This is great for tidy cable management.
Unboxing done. Lets get straight in to how good (or bad) this direct drive racing wheel is. I mean, that is why you’re here. Spoiler Alert – Oh, and I don’t know why I wrote bad just now. This thing is certainly not that. It is mighty impressive!
How good is this racing wheel
As a quick note, I tested this racing wheel on both PS4, and PC, using games such as iRacing, Assetto Corsa Competizione and F1 2019. But before I even attempted leaving the pits in any game, I ensured the DD1 wheel base was mounted securely to my Sim-Lab GT1 rig.
If you don’t do this, it will literally shake itself away from your rig, and cause a lot of damage! Make sure that doesn’t happen. Attach it to a rig that can handle it. You have been warned!
Sensible advice over, lets start driving! The first thing you notice when jumping from a belt driven racing wheel to this direct drive wheel, is how immediate everything feels. It shouldn’t be a surprise, as the motor which generates the force feedback is attached directly to your steering wheel.
By circumventing any belts, pulleys or gears, you feel the force feedback immediately, as it happens. Your steering wheel is essentially the motor, and it feels lightening fast in your hand. To be honest, I’ve never felt force feedback that is as quick as it is with this wheel.
Yes, it is stupidly strong, but you almost forget about that during your first few laps. Instead you are simply hanging on for dear life, trying not to have the steering wheel ripped from your hands. You can of course turn down the strength of this wheel, and for longer play sessions you really should. During long races we had the force feedback strength set to between 60% – 70%. And found this is the sweet spot for most games.
By lowering the overall force feedback strength, you can race comfortably, without sacrificing the force feedback detail you receive. They real beauty of having a direct drive wheel is the sheer range in force feedback.
With a normal belt driven racing wheel, you generally have the strength set close to 100%. But by doing this, you often feel force feedback peaks at 100% strength. By having a lot of the force feedback detail emitting close to 100% power, over time a lot of the force feedback starts to blend together. And you find it increasingly difficult to differentiate a large kerb, from a fast bump to a side impact.
When using this direct drive wheel, the pure range in its strength output makes all of the examples above feel different. You really can feel the difference in force feedback when you drift out wide over a large sausage kerb. Or when you drive over a large bump in the road. Everything feels different and unique, and from this you can learn and evolve your driving.
Force Feedback strength
Maybe you like being punished, or maybe you just don’t like your wrists very much. If either of these apply to you, you certainly can crank up the force feedback using the torque key provided and feel the full 20Nm force of this wheel.
When you do unleash the full power of this racing wheel, you start to realize just how impressive the wheel base is. Even at maximum power, there is no loss in quality of the force feedback that you are feeling. Everything still comes through the wheel with the same level of clarity as when running at 60% strength.
Much like other well designed Fanatec racing wheels, you can adjust all of your force feedback settings directly on the wheel. You can even do this while in game. This sounds small, but when you are in the middle of a race session, or between qualifying laps, the last thing you want to do is quit out to a menu screen.
This allows you to tweak the strength up and down instantly, to closely match the type of car you are driving. You can do this just by using the small toggle switch on the front of the ClubSport Formula V2 wheel. It’ll bring up the force feedback options on the steering wheel’s LED screen, where you can quickly adjust settings.
If you find yourself switching between games, or motorsport disciplines often, you can save up to five profiles on to the wheel itself. This allows you to quickly select your F1 2019 wheel settings at the push of a button. Or switch between your GT3 and GT4 wheel settings. This is a great feature to have, although in our opinion, five presets just isn’t enough.
Force Feedback quality
The strength is fantastic, and absolutely will cause you to make some extremely funny noises. Especially when you catch an unexpected bump! But where this direct drive racing wheel excels is in the level of detail of its force feedback.
With the much larger motor of the Podium direct drive, even the tiniest levels of force feedback can be felt. As mentioned earlier, the range in force feedback is what makes this racing wheel special.
You can really feel everything that you would expect if you were in a real car, on a real track. If you drift out wide and put a wheel over a painted white line, you will feel it. Drive over the change in road material, and you’ll feel it. These tiny details can really allow you to grow as a driver, as you will learn the true limits of tracks.
Many other racing wheels, no matter how good, simply can’t offer this level of detail in their force feedback output.
Let’s look at the ClubSport Formula V2 steering wheel
This racing wheel bundle, not only comes with the direct drive wheel base, but includes the already stunning Formula V2 wheel rim. I mean, if it didn’t include a steering wheel, it wouldn’t be a bundle, but hey ho…
The wheel rim itself has been designed to be a very similar size and shape to real Formula 1 steering wheels. The first thing you’ll notice when holding this steering wheel is how small it feels. That is in comparison to other racing wheels. The formula style form factor is a little smaller in width than a traditional wheel.
But the smaller form feels good in your hand, and the lightweight feel of the wheel allows the wheel base to truly shine. It simply feels full of energy to drive with as it zips from side to side. It doesn’t feel cumbersome or heavy in any way.
The front of the wheel features a large selection of buttons and dials. Enough to make real racing drivers jealous! In total there are 11 buttons, 2 multi position switches with twelve-way inputs, thumb encoders, rocker switches and another dial in the center of the wheel.
Most of the buttons are well position and easily reachable without taking your hands off of the wheels. Although to use the multi-position switches we found that we did need to take a hand off the wheel. It was just a little too far to turn it with my thumb. Although some people may be able to do this.
All in all, it feels and performs great. It does a fantastic job of replicating a real formula style racing wheel. The first time we used the DRS button, or the pit lane speed limiter button really immersed me in to the sim I was playing.
This version of the Formula V2 pays homage to its PS4 compatibility by including splashes of blue across the wheel. None more noticeable than the blue Alcantara hand grips. The blue complements the carbon fibre of the wheel and the gold of the shifters really well. And in our opinion is one of the nicer colorways Fanatec have produced.
Pre-installed Podium Advanced Paddle Module
As another bonus, this version of the Formula V2 steering wheel comes pre-installed with the Podium Advanced Paddle Module. This module elevates the game massively by including magnetic shifter paddles and incorporated Formula 1 style dual clutch paddles.
These extra paddles allow you to handle the clutch bite point just like in a real Formula 1 car. Or, if you don’t fancy that can be used as throttle and handbrake buttons. They can even be set up to handle the clutch just like a launch control system.
The magnetic shifters in this advanced module are a vast improvement over the standard paddles that come with the Formula V2 traditionally. They give a very precise feeling when you punch through the gears. And the carbon fiber paddles just elevate the shifting up a gear to match the supreme strength and quality of the rest of this racing wheel bundle.
Just in case the steering wheel doesn’t feel close enough to a Formula 1 wheel for you. Fanatec have included their classic quick release system in to the rear of the wheel. This allows you to easily change this wheel out, and install another Fanatec racing wheel on to the wheel base. Although you will need to apply a bit of force to get the wheels on and off.
Will a Fanatec direct drive wheel make me faster?
Well, this is up for debate. We would argue that the increase in force feedback detail will allow you to learn cars and tracks in a way that isn’t possible with lower level racing wheels. The extra detail that you feel through the wheel, can allow you to adjust your driving style, and learn track limitations better than if you were using a belt driven wheel.
If you already race at a high level, you certainly wont find tenths of a second just by switching to a direct drive wheel. What you almost certainly will get, is more enjoyment out of your racing wheel setup. The extra details will immerse you in to your racing sim game of choice more than ever.
Combine this Podium direct drive racing wheel with a good VR headset and you will be gone to the world! You’ll be so immersed that you could almost be driving that IndyCar around the Circuit of the Americas in real life!
How does this direct drive wheel compare to other Fanatec wheel bases?
When making the jump from a CSL Elite or ClubSport wheel base to this, you will instantly notice an upgrade in the force feedback. As mentioned earlier, that improvement doesn’t just lie in the strength improvement that direct drive offers. The quality and range of force feedback are the parts which you will find most improved.
The ClubSport wheel base already boasts some of the force feedback of any belt driven racing wheel. However this Podium wheel base offers force feedback that is absolutely stunning in comparison. The amount of customize-ability that this wheel base offers is unparalleled, even compared to other Fanatec wheels.
This Podium direct drive wheel base allows you almost endless ways to configure the wheel to ensure it fits and compliments your style of driving.
Fanatec Podium Cross Compatibility
So as mentioned, one of the major selling points for this direct drive wheel is its console compatibility. Out of the box, it is instantly compatible with PS4 consoles and PC. And all you have to do to get it working on Xbox One consoles is attach an Xbox compatible wheel rim.
This is the only direct drive racing wheel on the market that can boast this level of console compatibility. And it is probably the main reason sim racers will buy it. If you are a sim racer who exclusively uses PC, you can always pick up the wheel base separately and attach any wheel rim you fancy.
As of the time of this review, we are unsure whether this racing wheel will be supported by PS5. Sony haven’t released any information about peripheral compatibility so we just don’t know. Microsoft have been a little kinder by confirming that this wheel and all other third party Xbox peripherals will work on the Xbox Series X consoles. Yay Microsoft.
How does the Podium DD1 compare to the other direct drive wheels?
Comparing this wheel base to other direct drive wheels on the market is tricky. In terms of performance it offers a very comparable driving experience to other products. The strength output is largely the same, as is the force feedback quality.
However, the reason I say it is tricky to compare, is that no other wheel base offers console compatibility in the way this does. It is for that reason that a sim racer will buy this wheel base over any other.
Yes, you can pick up other direct drive wheel bases cheaper than this Fanatec version. But you wont be able to enjoy the plug and play, cross compatibility that this wheel base offers.
This is the part of the review which hurts us a little. Well, it hurt us a lot when we finally placed our order for this wheel base!
The Podium Racing Wheel F1 comes in at an eye watering €1,799.95 / $1999.65. Yes, that is the price of an old second hand car. Or the price of a decent high end gaming PC. In the case of Fanatec, it costs a lot of money to enter the world of direct drive. But is it worth it?
When you break down what you get for your money, we need to remember that you’re getting a steering wheel and the advanced paddle module included. On it’s own the Formula V2 wheel costs €369.99 / $410. And the advanced paddle module costs €179.99 / $200.
That is €549 / $610 worth of accessories included in the bundle, bringing the wheel base cost down to under €1250 / $1400. That brings it in line with how much the wheel base costs on its own through Fanatec’s online store. Given that other direct drive wheel bases start from around $800 upwards. The jump to this premium Fanatec wheel bundle isn’t huge.
The main question is, do you take sim racing seriously enough, or enjoy it enough to spend $2000 on your wheel setup. In truth, no other direct drive wheel on the market offers what this PS4 and Xbox compatible wheel base does. And the Fanatec Podium Racing Wheel F1 does everything supremely well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Fanatec Podium F1 the same as a DD1 or DD2?
The Fanatec Podium F1 wheel uses a DD1 wheel base.
Is the Fanatec Podium F1 compatible with Xbox One?
You can use the DD1 wheel base with Xbox One and Xbox One X consoles. However you will need to use an Xbox compatible steering wheel. The Formula V2 wheel that is included with the Podium F1 is not compatible with Xbox One consoles.
Is direct drive worth the upgrade price?
Direct drive is without a doubt the closest thing you can get to driving a real race car. It delivers the strongest and most accurate force feedback. And it is worth upgrading if you can afford the cost.