Anyone serious about their racing simulators knows you have to have a steering wheel and pedal setup to get the best lap times and the most realistic experience. Well, imagine combining the realism of the racing simulation with the realism of the wheel itself. That’s what Thrustmaster have done with the T500 Ferrari F1 Wheel.
Based on the F1 2011 race car’s own wheel, this full size replica has a scratched brush metal front, a realistic feel to the grip, and a combination of knobs, dials and switches for configuration by the user.
These are not just cheap press buttons layed out to emulate the F1 car, there are rotary knobs spun vertically which you could configure as wing or fuel settings perhaps, as well as push to click side buttons and three solid toggle switches along the bottom.
The paddles on the back for shifting are just like the genuine F1 wheel with both push and pull actions assignable.
Perhaps the most appealing feature is that the wheel itself is detachable when you buy it with the T500 hardware – so next time you crash you can detach the wheel to get out of the car just like the F1 boys do. Perhaps don’t throw it like some drivers tend to. It’s going to set you back around $300 for the wheel alone (shop around you should find it for $240 or less) – and while that’s nothing like the $20,000 plus a real F1 car steering wheel might cost, it’s probably not going to go down well at home shelling out for another.
The $300 wheel can be added to an existing T500 Thrustmaster wheel with a firmware upgrade, alternatively you can buy the whole T500 “Integral” unit with the Ferrari wheel and pedals for around $1000 – but shop around, you’ll likely find them for $800 or so.
Once you’ve mastered the driving experience of F1, you’re going to want to take the game to the next level, this is the wheel to do it on.