F1 2021: How to Drive With Manual Gears

F1 2021: How to Drive With Manual Gears

F1 2021

Turning on manual gears in F1 2021 can bring a lot of performance, but it’s also a big step! In this tutorial, we’ll show you how.

Photo Credit: Codemasters / EA

When you consider that, at many circuits, F1 drivers change gear upwards of 50 times per lap, the concept of making the switch from automatic to manual gears in F1 2021 can seem like a huge task. This is especially true for players who don’t use a racing wheel, as there aren’t any buttons which are an immediately obvious choice for gear shifting on an average gamepad.

However, if you do it right, making the leap to manual gears isn’t as hard as it seems, and doing so will truly enrich your driving experience.

If you want to see more F1 2021 guides, take a look at our hub!

Controller Setup

As has already been alluded to, most, if not all racing wheels will have gear shift paddles just like real life F1 cars, which are the obvious choice when it comes to your selected gear shifting controls. However, for those of us on a gamepad it’s not so easy.


On an Xbox controller, the A and X buttons (x and square on PlayStation models) for up and downshifts respectively are what most people would find the most comfortable, but it is worth testing various ideas and seeing what is most comfortable for you. After all, everybody holds their controller slightly differently, so what you find most comfortable might be a nightmare for someone else.

Using Assists Correctly

One of the nice things about the F1 games including F1 2021 is the fact that they offer an intermediate option when it comes to gear shifting: manual and suggested gears. This option leaves all the actual gear shifting to you just like the manual setting, but it also gives you a little indicator before each corner, suggesting which gear you should be aiming for. This takes a lot of the stress out of transitioning to manual gears without taking all of the control away from you.


If you’re still finding things difficult to acclimatise to even with suggested gears, then perhaps you can search for aid from some of the others assists. Enabling ABS for a little while may help if you find yourself with too much to think about on corner entry. Perhaps you are struggling on corner exits, if so you might consider turning your traction control setting up to medium, or even full while you learn your gears.

Shortshifting Is Your Friend

Perhaps the single most valuable aspect of enabling manual gears is the ability to shortshift on corner exits. Shortshifting is when you change up a gear before the car really wants you to, and it can cost you a little bit in terms of peak acceleration on corner exits. However, the benefit you gain from it, namely a huge reduction in wheel spin and traction loss, will always make up for it.


This is most valuable of all in two scenarios: race starts and wet races. At the start of races, shortshifting can help you to avoid that horrible wheel spin in second and third gears as you get off the line. In the rain, traction is at a premium, so aggressively shortshifting gives you a massive boost to your car’s drivablility.

Did you find our F1 2021 manual gears guide helpful? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!

My name is Jacob and I have been writing for OverTake since November of 2020. I come from the UK, but I'm now living in Berlin. I love to watch, write about and sometimes shout about all forms of racing.