F1 2019 Game: How to drive without ABS

Locking up into corners is easier than ever in F1 2019, here’s your guide to braking without ABS.

George Howson by George Howson

F1 2019 comes with a variety of options with regards to the level of difficulty you want to race at.

There are the classics like AI difficulty, racing line and traction control settings, as well as options more bespoke to Formula 1, such as the ERS modes and parc ferme rules.

Today we’ll be looking at the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and how to avoid locking up on a regular basis and ruining your race. 


ABS has been around in its modern form for just over 40 years now and made its way to Formula 1 in the early 1990’s. ABS works by measuring the pressure that the driver exerts on the brake pedal and distributes the braking pressure to the wheels to prevent them from locking up. This means that the drivers is able to fully brake no matter how intense the braking zone is.

For reference, “locking up” is when there’s an under-rotation in the wheels of the car, meaning that the tyre skids along the surface of the road, due to not having enough grip.

ABS was banned in Formula 1 ahead of the 1993 season, as it was argued the system made driving Grand Prix cars too easy. In F1 2019, however, you have the option of turning the system on, but if you want full immersion and maximum difficulty, you can leave it off. 

It’s always taken some getting used to, to drive without ABS, but in F1 2019, it’s harder than ever. There are some small changes you can make, to make a big difference to how often you lock-up.

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Driving Style 

Braking too late and turning while on the brakes are two of the main reasons for locking up.

Altering your driving style is the best way to prevent locking up. Locking up occurs when you don’t have enough grip for the brake pressure you’re exerting. The key to smooth braking without ABS is to brake hard and firm at first, but slowly release the brakes as you slow down. If you brake 100% for the duration of the zone, you will lock-up, as there’s less grip produced from the front and rear wings at lower speed.

If you’re wondering how you can tell if you’ve locked up, you’ll be able to see the writing on the tyre, as well as smoke and you’ll also be able to hear the scraping noise it’s accompanied by. You’ll also struggle to make the apex of the corner, and possibly need to use the run-off, which will cost you a lot of lap time.

The other main requirement, is to brake in a straight line and not to turn the wheel while braking, as this increases the chance of a lock-up and wears your tyres out faster. When it’s wet, it’s even easier to lock-up, as there’s less grip available on track.

In real life, locking up leaves the wheels with a “flat spot” a burnt out patch on the wheel, which is formed by an under rotation. This makes the car vibrate and can even cause a suspension failure, as Kimi Raikkonen found out in 2005. However, this doesn’t happen in F1 2019, so you only have to worry about increased tyre wear.

Like anything else in F1 2019, practice makes perfect, and spending hours in time trial or career mode perfecting your craft is the best way to adjust to not having the assist. However, it’s not the only thing you’ll have to do…

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You can lock-up and not run off the track. 

Driving style plays the largest role in smooth braking, but you also need to set the car up properly, to ensure that you can brake well. 

Obviously, the main settings that need to be changed are the brake pressure and bias. The higher the brake pressure, the more powerful the stopping power of the car is, but it also makes it harder to not lock-up, as the temperatures of the brake discs get hotter faster. Usually, the brake pressure should be anywhere between 80 and 89%, but this varies from track to track and the weather conditions.

The brake bias sets how much stopping power goes towards the fronts and rears. For example, if it’s at 53% to the front, that means there’s 47% to the rear. When the rears lock-up, the car usually spins around, when the fronts lock-up, you understeer wide of the apex. Therefore, the fronts should also have more bias, as locking the front axle up is far more manageable and recoverable. 

Other settings that can be changed that will help avoiding locking up are lower camber and toe angles, higher tyres pressures and higher wing angles. The latter of which helps because of the increase in downforce it provides at lower speed.

It should also be noted that higher wear on the tyres increases the likelihood of locking up, as there’s less grip available to rotate the wheels efficiently.

Learning to drive without the ABS seems like a small thing, but it can greatly impact a race as tyre management is crucial in F1. As with any assist on F1 2019, if you master driving without it you’ll be faster, so the best way to leap up those time sheets is to peel off layers of assists!


George Howson