Im a long time racing game addict, and I remember just about all of these which have been mentioned so far. I must admit I do prefer the realism of a sim over the arcadey elements of a game now but back in the day I remember losing entire weekends on F1 97 on playstation with a cheap plastic mad katz wheel, we use to get a load of people together and put the armchair right in front of the tv. We made a stand for the wheel so it didnt have to balance on your lap, get my mates crash helmet on then 2 others holding the chair rocking it all over the place trying to simulate the g forces LOL those were the days.
My list of the best PC Sims are:
Rfactor – massive amount of addons
NetKarPro – best physics
Live for Speed – Best online racing (officially licensed BMW Sauber 07) and 2nd to NKpro in terms of feel and reaction with a decent wheel set up, everything else seems sluggish to respond compared?
But watch this space for the up and coming “Simraceway” for PC, it looks to use the underpinnings of Rfactor so it has great graphics and car models but its not open to everything so its more of a game than much before it, also promises some great online racing and they do organised online events (ala GT5 seasonal online events). No F1 car yet but its only a matter of time, I have seem images of a McLaren MP4/4 !!! And best of all its FREE to download and then you purchase your content in game(very cheap most expensive car is $4) most of the tracks are laser scanned so are very very good to drive on. Plus they have developed the SRW1 racing wheel which is styled to be like an F1 steering wheel using paddles on the back for the gears and throttle/brake, clever set up as it has no base so works a bit like the Wii wheels, but it looks the part. If you could mount the wheel properly onto something like a logitech g27/g25 wheel it would easily be the best selling sim racing wheel!!!
Check out http://www.simraceway.com
F1 2011 – just for the detail in the graphics and the online immersion, plus 2 player co-op championship on its own as a feature nails anything that came before it in my opinion, a great platform which can and will only improve. It just needs some classic F1 car/track DLC packs and its a done deal period.