Basically, if i jump in the car and set competitive times within a few laps without changing anything setup-wise, then i know i will have wasted my money. That’s not how motor racing works. If however, after tweaking suspension, working on camber and toe angles and adjusting downforce for bumps and chicanes i find the sweetspot and start becoming a challenger, then it will be fulfilling my need.
I think you’re going to be disappointed. Codemasters are not making a hardcore simulation here. They need to appeal to the casual gamers just as much as the hardcore fans. And in a straight fight, casual gamers will win because there are more of them about.
If you watch the video where Autosport look into the game, Anthony Davidson reveals all: when you arrive at a circuit, the default setup for that circuit will allow you to set respectable lap times. You will be able to milk a few tenths of a second out of the car by tweaking your setup, but don’t expect to be able to find a setup that will allow you to dominate the competition by several seconds a lap. This has been done for two reasons: firstly, to accomodate the casual gamers who may not want to spend an hour perfecting their tyre pressures and suspension settins. And secondly, because this is the way it works in real life contrary to your beliefs. Whe the teams arrive at a venue, they already know what the basic setup is because their simulators are so good. The practice sessions are spent drawing those extra few tenths of a second out of the car.