A big part of F1 2018’s career mode is the new contract negotiations that take place throughout the season and give you far more flexibility and opportunity to move should you be unhappy with your current team. Where in previous years you had to wait for an offer to be pushed under your nose by your agent, now you have 5 windows throughout the year to not only move teams, but renegotiate the perks and expectations of your deal which can have a big impact on your ability to keep your seat and develop your car. So how can you maximise your contract negotiations?
You don’t have a chance to discuss the terms of your opening contract, and it starts as low as it can possibly be. You have zero perks, are listed as a #2 driver, and regardless of your team the expectations are very low. Basically, it’s like the team had no other option but to give you a seat and are paying you appropriately.
As a result you need to get some good results early on to earn some respect and improve your value to not just your own team but everyone else around the paddock too. You get five windows to renegotiate your deal, they come around every 4 races, with the last being a 5-race gap to the end of the season. This means you have to race the Australia, Bahrain, China, and Azerbaijan on your basic contract so you have to work hard to increase your value. So pay attention to the attitude preference of your team as that will make you more attractive to them, while beating your expected qualifying and race position as frequently as possible and meeting your team goals.
Pushing the Limits
So you have 5 chances every season to re-negotiate your deal. After the Azerbaijan race is your first shot, then you get another after the French, Hungarian, Russian, and Abu Dhabi grands prix. You can adjust every single aspect of the contract, and your aim should be to get the white "proposed contract value" bar as close to the "your value" line as possible without going beyond it.
The major factors that move the contract value bar are the perks. These are Race Bonus, Upgrade Speed, Simultaneous Development, and Pit Stop Efficiency. Moving one of these from None to Level 1 and beyond will dramatically shift the value of your contract.
You get three attempts to negotiate your deal, but if you fail with all three then you revert back to your old deal. This is a nightmare early in season 1 because the longer you are stuck with no perks the harder it will be to develop and improve your car, leaving you struggling to make your contract targets.
You can add perks and mitigate the impact to your contract value by raising your expected qualifying and race position, but this only increases the pressure on you come race day. You can also lower the contract value by making the team goal tougher or setting yourself as a 2nd driver. This does rob you of the 1st driver bonus resource points though.
The four contract perks impact your racing ability very differently. The Race Bonus perk increases the amount of resource points you get for each race you take part in, however compared to what you get from practice programs it is very little. The one that most directly impacts your race, especially if you are using 50% or 100 % race distance, is Pit Stop Efficiency. You can save as much as a second in stationary time with the Level 3 perk, and at tracks like Monaco and Singapore where track position is vital this can be exceptionally good. However, with most races using a 1-stop strategy (especially if you get the tyre wear upgrades through R&D) this is does not result in as big an advantage as you would think.
The two most important perks are Simultaneous Development and Upgrade Speed. These two affect the rate at which you can get upgrades onto your car, which impacts your performance remarkably. Simultaneous Development perks allow you to explore branches across the departments and use your resource points to stack upgrades in one department. The Upgrade Speed perks reduce the time it takes to order an upgrade and have it fitted to the car. This is the best perk to have, as it gets minor upgrades installed at the very next race and makes waiting for those rare ultimate upgrades less painful.
The way to maximise your contract, regardless of how far you are in your career mode, is to keep things pretty simple. If you have a good understanding of your pace relative to the rest of the grid you can set achievable targets that will end up impressing the team, and achievable goals which will result in a nice haul of resource points as well as more value for yourself at your next negotiation. Add the Upgrade Speed perk first and then a Simultaneous Development one, leaving the Pit Stop Efficiency perk until you have already convinced your team to max out the others. Using this method will help keep you at the team of your choice for longer, and also help push them up the grid even faster!