The Fanatec Formula wheels have proven to be a popular choice for sim racers in recent times.  With an extensive list of features, each of the three currently available formula wheels are sure to add to your sim racing experience for a competitive price. But which of these wheels is right for you?

The “ClubSport Steering Wheel F1® Esports V2” which is the current entry level formula wheel and offers some exciting upgrades from the older Formula Carbon wheel?

The ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2.5 which boasts some very useful additional features?

The ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2.5 X if you are after XBOX compatibility or just like red things?

Or is there something else that could better suit your needs?

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Lets begin with the F1 Esports V2 wheel and how it compares to the older Formula Carbon wheel.

There are three big differences moving up from the Formula Carbon to the F1 Esports V2 wheel.  First of all the F1 Esports V2 includes the same removable and upgradable quick release system as can be found on the previous Formula V2 wheels, whereas the Formula Carbon quick release is integrated and can not be swapped out.  This could become quite an important factor when Fanatec releases the highly anticipated QR2 system.  If you wish to upgrade your wheelbase to the QR2, your wheel will also need to be upgraded, which is not possible with the Formula Carbon.

F1 Esports V2 Quick Release
Formula Carbon Quick Release

The second of these major changes is the introduction of magnetic shifters to the F1 Esports V2 and Formula V2.5 wheels.  These shifters are a significant improvement over the spring loaded shifters of the Formula Carbon and Formula V2 wheels.  In our experience the spring loaded shifters often lead to sloppy driving habits which could result in miss-shifts.  This is a problem of the past with the magnetic shifters, which provide a very positive and mechanical feeling shift. They are dampened with small rubber inserts which keep the noise level down without impacting the feel too much.

F1 Esports V2 Shifters
Formula Carbon Shifter

The other big upgrade from the Formula Carbon is the addition of a fully customisable LED strip with individually assignable LED’s and an additional 6 LED’s for flags and other alerts.
This gives the wheel a great level of customisation available through the Fanalab software.  These can be assigned to give you visual feedback for loss of traction, DRS status, Pit Limiter and more.

F1 Esports V2 LED Strip
Formula Carbon LED Strip

It is also worth mentioning the 7 segment LED display is now blue on the F1 Esports V2 as opposed to the red display of the Formula Carbon.

We have an open bottom design on this wheel as seen on the Limited Edition Formula V2 wheels. This doesn’t have any impact on the driving experience and does not introduce any flex in the wheel.  The alluminium build has a high quality and solid feel and appearance, and the alcantara grips feel very plush.  We have however seen this style grip wear a little more over time than the leather alternatives.

The F1 Esports V2 has the same basic but well designed button layout as the Formula Carbon, with 11 push buttons (6 of which are very easy to reach while driving) , a 7-way funky switch, and an analog hat switch with push button functionality.  This gives you plenty of options for button mapping, however to make the most of the available in-car controls of a formula 1 car you may find yourself wanting more.

Which is where the ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2.5 comes in.

Fanatec Formula V2.5

The obvious added value in this wheel comes from the additional buttons.  We’ve got all the same buttons that we have on the F1 Esports V2 plus 2 toggle switches, 3 rotary encoders/multi position switches (one of which is dedicated to mode selection of analog paddles if you have upgraded to the advanced paddle module) and the star of the show, 2 thumb encoders!

These thumb encoders are genuine game changers for F1 sims to adjust parameters such as brake bias and ERS deployment on the fly.  The ability to make adjustments mid-corner at times is a feature which will genuinely improve your lap times.

These thumb encoders are the same as we have seen on the previous Formula V2 wheels which have received some criticism for being too lite, and easy to bump unintentionally.

They are indeed very easy to turn, and do not have the same positive detents as we’ve seen on other high end wheels, however this is a subjective thing which some people may prefer.

The next most significant upgrade from the F1 Esports V2 to the Formula V2.5 is the inclusion of an OLED display rather than the basic 7 segment LED display.  This gives added clarity and ease of use to the on wheel tuning menu as well as a few more options for displaying telemetry while driving.

Formula V2.5 OLED
F1 Esports V2 LED Display

The Formula V2.5 uses the Clubsport Magnetic Paddle Module which brings a completely aluminium housing as opposed to the plastic housing on the magnetic shifters of the F1 Esports V2 wheel.  This isn’t a noticeable difference when driving, but it is an upgrade in quality. The plastic housing on the F1 Esports V2 does have some flex if you pull quite hard on the shifter paddle.

We have a genuine 5mm thick carbon fibre face on the Formula V2.5 and V2.5 X which has a nice high quality look but does not offer any practical benefits over the aluminium F1 Esports V2.

Formula V2.5 Genuine Carbon Face

The Formula V2.5 comes standard with leather grips which we really like.  They feel nice and smooth and are much easier to keep clean than the alcantara which is standard with the F1 Esports V2 and Formula V2.5 X wheels.

Unfortunately Fanatec do not offer an option of grip material for each wheel, however there are aftermarket mods available.  It is not a particularly easy process to switch over the grips and may void your warranty. You can check out the process in our review of the Pineapple grip mod on our Formula V2.5 X.

If you prefer the alcantara grips, the red colour scheme, or need XBOX compatibility, then the Clubsport Formula V2.5 X could be the best choice for you.

Fanatec Formula V2.5 X

XBOX compatibility in the Fanatec ecosystem comes from a security chip inside the wheel itself, while PlayStation compatibility comes from a security chip in the wheelbase.

So XBOX users will need the 2.5 X if you want one of these three wheels.  Playstation users can use any of these three wheels provided you have a PlayStation compatible wheelbase, and PC users can also use all three wheels on any Fanatec wheelbase.

Overall we are really happy with the build quality and functionality of all three of these wheels and ultimately the choice of wheel for you really comes down to personal preference of which features are important to you, and whether or not they are worth the jump in price.

For us, the thumb encoders alone bring enough added value to justify the jump from the F1 Esports V2 to the Formula V2.5. Particularly after spending a lot of time in the F1 codemasters games, we found these to be a standout feature and tend to steer clear of any wheels without thumb encoders when driving F1.

But if you are looking for a wheel with a little more versatility that you can use in GT or Formula cars, you might want to consider this.

Fanatec CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2

The Fanatec Mclaren GT3 V2 has got to be one of the best value wheels in the sim racing market.  This feature-rich wheel lacks thumb encoders, and some of the build quality of the other wheels we’ve looked at today, but it is incredibly good value for money.  The 300mm rim size is small enough for Formula cars and big enough for GT.  We have found the 270mm formula wheels make GT cars feel somewhat twitchy, and while it is definitely possible to drive a GT3 car with a 270mm wheel.  The 300mm McLaren wheel definitely feels more at home if this is something you want to do and still works really well in an F1 car.

AMERICA

F1 Esports V2

$269.95

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Formula V2.5 X

$369.95

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Formula V2.5

$349.95

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EUROPE

F1 Esports V2

€269.95

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Formula V2.5 X

€369.95

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Formula V2.5

€349.95

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AUSTRALIA

F1 Esports V2

$499.95

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Formula V2.5 X

$599.90

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Formula V2.5

$559.90

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