• Danny Lee

Fanatec Formula Wheel V2 Reviewed

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

The Fanatec Formula Wheel V2 is a rectangular steering wheel aimed at sim racers with a preference for Formula and GT racing. It’s in the upper half of the Fanatec formula range costing 120 euros more than the most basic formula style wheel that Fanatec currently offers, the F1 esports wheel. About 12 weeks ago when I shopped for my current setup I chose this wheel over the cheaper F1 Esports wheel for some specific reasons, so as well as casting an eye over the whole wheel and it’s most prominent features I want to touch on whether that was worthwhile.

When you take this wheel out of the box you definitely feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth, let’s put it that way. The carbon body construction and alcantara hand grips are so cool and as a visual piece it’s brilliant to look at. Upon first handling you will see, nothing about this wheel feels badly made, though I have some extra comments about that later.

The main reason you’ll choose the Formula V2 over the F1 Esports or Formula Carbon is for the inclusion of the extra buttons and dials. The thumb dials, rotating switches and flick switches seen here are all extras that the Formula V2 boasts over lesser models. To me, some elements admittedly do feel as though the Formula V2 is a bit like having a £600 iPhone with a £5 plastic phone case. It’s gorgeous and well put together, but in my opinion some of the switchgear lets it down a bit and crucially it’s the very switchgear that forms the appeal of the V2 over everything else.

I am a guy that loves to tweak brake bias throughout the lap. To do this, you need a way to nudge the bias value up and down very easily, and the thumb dials on my Formula V2 were going to be the answer to this. Unfortunately, I find them to be not quite as positive enough for what I hoped they would do - it’s too easy to make 2 clicks when you only wanted one, and sometimes due to the way the software works it doesn’t register multiple clicks, instead only registering one. This is a quirk I didn't like when I tried to use the red wheel dial on my old G29 and I simply put it down to it being a budget piece of kit so I forgave it. I wasn’t expecting to have this problem with what is meant to be premium sim racing equipment. Don’t get me wrong, I still use the thumb dial for brake bias but I definitely can’t be sure how many clicks the wheel has registered by feel alone, instead relying on my smartphone dashboard to keep track of the bias amount when I shouldn’t have to take my eyes away from the track. I do wish that the thumb dials had more positive feedback so you could confidently adjust values from feel alone. I use the other thumb dial to cycle between in-game displays like the black boxes in iRacing and the problem is the same there, too. The only way to guarantee accurate clicks is to go slower than you should have to. The thumb dials themselves are nicely built and look great, but I can’t say I’m 100% happy with how they do their job.

Onto the next Formula V2 party piece, the multi-position switches or rotating dials on the centre of the wheel. Although there are 3 dials on the wheel, the middle dial is reserved for additional paddle attachment for hand clutch controls, so you only really have the 2 left and right switches to bind to your own control preferences. Unlike the thumb dials these switches are super positive with an unmistakable click between their positions and have no vagueness about them. The switches are able to twist continuously and are not restricted to just 12 positions, so there’s nothing stopping you using them for a wide range of values. I have my multi position switches mapped to Engine maps and Traction Control and they do the job very well. It’s so satisfying to use these switches in the middle of the action in response to a new situation and gives you the sense of impact that I find lacking in the thumb dials. However, my wheel seemingly had a factory defect as the middle dial broke into two pieces one day after I idly twisted it. I superglued it back into one piece and back on the wheel it went. Perhaps the material quality for the dials could have been better and I’m not going to make a bigger deal out of it than that, but it illustrates that the extra switchgear that sets this wheel apart is not quite up to the par of the base level switchgear that appears on all the Formula style wheels in the lineup.

The last of the additional switchgear are the two up and down levers either side of the centre of the wheel. No complaints here, they have a positive registration and feel very robust with a rubber boot near the mounting point to keep things looking neat and tidy. Due to their thin size and distance from the handgrips I find them tricky to locate without looking at them but I can’t punish the wheel for that.

The wheel display is a clear upgrade to those you find on the lower priced Formula wheels and can show you full text options instead of the 3 digit abbreviations. It’s a nice way to elevate the wheel into premium territory but as far as practical use goes, I never find myself taking any notice of the display unless I’m using it to configure one of the 5 force feedback profiles via the menu. In this regard it is more comfortable changing settings when you have a proper display to look at, but it doesn’t make up for those thumb dials.

The LED strip on top of the wheel differs from the F1 Esports and Formula Carbon in style alone, but admittedly the trapezoid shaped lights are a real nice style touch and to go to the effort of this is another way Fanatec have tried to differentiate this as a higher end formula wheel.

At this point let me state that the button caps you see here are from the Fanatec button cap kit and the standard buttons that you get are all black, so it’s a bit of a swizz that you don’t get that with the wheel, so if you want to reproduce something like what you see here you’ll need to chuck that in the basket at checkout too, and at £20 for some plastic buttons it can sting a bit if you’re already laying down money for a once-in-a-while gift to yourself.

The question I’m trying to resolve with this overview is whether that extra switchgear is really worth the 120 euro difference between the standard wheel and the Formula V2 depicted in this video. I can sum it up like this: if I had a standard F1 Esports wheel and Fanatec was to offer a kit to upgrade it with the extra Formula V2 switchgear for 120 euros, it wouldn’t exactly describe it as a bargain. Although I love the Formula V2 in general, if Fanatec brings out a V3 I would hope that they would address the feedback I recount in this video that is probably shared amongst quite a few V2 owners. The vast majority of the Formula V2 is excellent and it is a beautiful piece of equipment that feels very well engineered and solid, but I believe these attributes extend down to the 2 cheaper wheels too.

So if you are deciding whether to upgrade your F1 Esports Wheel to a Formula V2, or you’re just weighing up which wheel to choose with your new Fanatec wheelbase, my advice would be to go with the F1 Esports wheel and put the money saved to better use, unless you really like the amazing aesthetics of the V2 or you absolutely must have the extra dials and switches it brings to your fingertips. If you do, I wouldn’t blame you because that’s exactly why I went for the V2, just don’t expect those extra dials to be quite as good as the price difference would suggest.

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