Fanatec is the premier name in sim racing peripherals, from their steering wheels and wheelbases to their shifters and pedals. Their ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 is probably their most popular wheel, as it’s used by some of the best Formula 1 drivers and sim racers.
The ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 is an expensive wheel that is certainly worth the money. Fanatec uses only the highest quality components in this wheel, including authentic Alcantara and 5mm of carbon fiber, which offers plenty of realism.
In this article, I’ll go over the basics of Fanatec’s product lines and what sets their wheels apart. Then, I’ll discuss what it’s like to actually use this wheel day in day out, so you know what to expect once you get behind the wheel of the Formula V2.
About Fanatec’s Product Lines
Fanatec has a few key product lines that will help you understand where each peripheral they make fits in their catalog. Generally speaking, they have three main lines: the CSL, ClubSport, and Podium series.
CSL stands for “Club Sport Light,” which tells you that it’s Fanatec’s budget or entry-level series. While these peripherals are the most cost-effective in Fanatec’s line of products, they compare with higher-end peripherals from other manufacturers like Thrustmaster or Logitech. These items will still feature high-quality materials and are built to last.
ClubSport products are decidedly middle-of-the-road as far as Fanatec is concerned. However, that’s only because these products are in the middle of Fanatec’s catalog. Everything in Fanatec’s ClubSport line, from the pedals to the gear knobs and steering wheels, is made from luxury materials and feature professional-grade finishes.
Even if they’re in the center of the lineup, peripherals in Fanatec’s ClubSport line are worthy of acclaim. But ultimately, Fanatec’s Podium line is what the pros use. These high-cost, high-value peripherals grace the sim rigs of Formula 1 and NASCAR drivers across the globe. While these products might be out of many drivers’ price range, they’re worth the investment.
The Podium line wheels feature the Advanced Paddle Module (APM), which provides a realistic paddle-shifter experience that replicates the feeling of launching off the line in a Formula 1 race.
Outside of these lines, Fanatec partners with several different automakers to have specially licensed wheels. These branded wheels include those with specifications for NASCAR, the World Rally Championship, a Porsche 911 GT3, and, of course, Formula 1.
Fanatec designed the ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 to follow Formula 1 specifications, giving it all the necessary innovations to keep it in line with Formula 1 specifications.
About The Wheel
As soon as you pull the ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 out of the box, you notice two things. The first thing is that it’s in a special bag to protect it from dust, which makes it seem that bit more exceptional. The second thing you’ll notice is that this wheel is heavy. It weighs just over a kilogram, which is 2.2 pounds.
That initial weight definitely gives you the impression that you’re holding a quality piece of equipment. The wheel gets its mass from its materials, which are predominately carbon fiber and metal. The 5mm plate of carbon fiber on the face of the wheel gives it a sharp, aggressive look. The bright-red aluminum collar and paddle shifters on the back of the wheel helps fill out the racecar appearance.
Finally, I couldn’t forget the genuine Alcantara grips on either side of the wheel. These grips feel amazing in your hands, and while Fanatec assures that they’re easy to clean, I don’t want to risk getting them sweaty or worn. I usually wear gloves when I drive to try and keep them nice. Even with my driving gloves’ smooth palms, these handles provide an excellent grip on the wheel.
I have noticed two trouble spots in the nine months I’ve owned this wheel. Early on, one of the caps for the buttons in the top right-hand corner of the wheel (the Xbox B button) cracked. Luckily, Fanatec provides a few different button caps with the wheel so that you can customize your steering wheel setup. I simply replaced the cap with another in the box. However, the fragility is worth noting.
More recently however, I’ve noticed a much more alarming problem. The number 6 button (a large, red button on the left-hand side of the wheel) has become unresponsive. This malfunction happened suddenly and without any apparent reason (unless I was pressing the button too-enthusiastically due to the fact I wear gloves).
Thankfully, with 24 other buttons on the steering wheel, I’ve simply mapped my settings around this problem, but I felt it was definitely worth mentioning.
Small Form Factor
It’s no surprise that simply out of the box, this wheel turns up the intensity of what would normally be a regular driving session. I attribute part of that to the small form factor of the wheel. At only 10 inches in diameter, there’s no extra weight or space to slow the turn from the powerful motor of the wheelbase.
That small footprint took a little while to get used to, considering the regular steering wheel in my car is easily at least 50% bigger. Gripping the steering wheel’s sides puts you in a perfect position to receive the base’s force feedback. However, after a few sessions behind the wheel, this driving experience started to come naturally.
Perfect For PC Racing
My favorite part of the wheel is the bright rev lights at the top of the steering wheel. While they don’t work on console games, they are perfect for racing competitively on a PC. These lights are very bright, perfect if you’re focusing on a computer screen during a race. That brightness helps you see shift points in your peripheral vision, which I found greatly improved my overall racing experience.
Now that I’ve driven with the Formula V2 for well over nine months, I feel very comfortable with how it operates. However, the seemingly limitless features and configurations on the steering wheel is another story. There are over 24 buttons on this steering wheel, which all can have a purpose if you choose.
As you might assume, with so many buttons on a steering wheel, they all must have a specific purpose. Maximum customizability is what Fanatec had in mind when they built this wheel, and that’s absolutely what they’ve achieved here. The 24 different buttons each have a function that can be programmed, depending on the game.
There are varying levels of compatibility across the different games that drivers are most likely to play. For example, some Xbox games have limited use of the programmable buttons. Xbox game developers cause this lack of support by not including the Fanatec Software Development Kit (SDK) in their game development.
Despite these limitations, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed playing the full suite of Forza games with my Fanatec wheel (both Horizon and Forza Motorsport). I’ve also had success playing online competitively in Formula 1 2019 and 2020.
You can customize the button layouts in the menus of each game you play. However, there are a few standard layouts that some people use to try and make the most of button locations.
One standard button setup is programming the number 1 button (the joystick immediately to the left of the right grip) to control DRS. Similarly, the dials in the middle of the steering wheel are generally used to manipulate more fluid settings such as fuel mixture and ERS.
To find out what games work best with the Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2, check out this FAQ provided by the company. You’ll find that generally, the most popular games have some level of compatibility with this wheel. Regardless of what console games you play, you’ll be able to maximize your experience using this wheel.
To make the most of the full range of customization available in this wheel, I highly recommend trying out some PC games. The difference in experience between playing Formula 1 2020 on my Xbox and iRacing on my computer is like night and day.
Even Better On PC
When you unleash the capability of the wheel, you can see it come to life. From the bright LEDs of the rev lights to the small 1″ information screen, using this wheel on the PC is an entirely different experience.
You can also customize buttons on the steering wheel outside of a game platform using the FanaLab software. Fanatec developers are always updating this software, giving Fanatec peripheral owners the ability to fine-tune their hardware settings to get the best performance out of their tools.
There are two versions of the Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 to accommodate different consoles. However, both the Xbox and PlayStation wheels have compatibility with all PC games, which expands their range.
The Xbox Version
As mentioned above, it is essential to know that the Xbox wheel does have some limited compatibility on console games. This limit can be frustrating for people who spend the majority of their time gaming on consoles.
However, there’s a much larger constraint with this wheel that potential buyers must know. Fanatec products generally only work within the Fanatec ecosystem. You must have a Fanatec wheelbase to use the Formula V2 wheel.
Wireless Connection System
This mandatory piece of equipment is because Fanatec employs a wireless connectionsystem in the wheel’s collar. When you pull on the collar to slide the wheel on the base, you’ll notice pins from the wheelbase slide into connectors on the wheel. This connection system allows for seamless spinning of the wheel without any limits from USB cords or wires.
For someone looking to build a budget sim rig, keeping everything in the Fanatec family can be a considerable expense. The ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 is compatible with CSL and CSL Elite wheelbases, which can help you save money when building your rig. You can easily upgrade your wheelbase later when you need more oomph in your driving experience.
Who Should Buy The Formula V2 Wheel?
Complex For Beginners
The Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 was my first racing wheel when I started sim racing nine months ago. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. While new drivers will immediately benefit from having more command behind the wheel, it’s incredibly overwhelming to have so many knobs, buttons, and switches directly at your disposal.
It took me months to fully understand this wheel’s customization and true value, and I can admit, I still don’t have it completely figured out. There’s a bit of novelty in learning something new every time I sit in the cockpit of my sim. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like I bit off more than I could chew in the early days of driving.
Fanatec has another option in the ClubSport line that will deliver an F1-style drive with less chaos on the wheel. The ClubSport Steering Wheel F1 Esports wheel is the same size as the Formula V2, with half the buttons.
This slimmed-down configuration gives you only what you need and nothing more and is perfect for beginners who might be overwhelmed by the capability of the Formula V2. The F1 Esport also comes at a lower price point, which is much better for beginners.
It Will Last You
However, for intermediate or advanced racers looking to get the most out of their Fanatec wheelbase (or, for someone looking to upgrade their sim rig altogether,) the Formula V2 might be the last wheel you ever need. Fanatec doesn’t have a Podium Formula wheel but instead sells upgrades to the ClubSport Formula V2 as an upgrade to the paddle module.
The Podium Advanced Paddle Module (APM) gives you four more paddles on your steering wheel (two per side, added to the regular one per side for a total of six paddles), which are as customizable as the rest of the steering wheel. These paddles are machined for an authentic Formula 1 racing feel and can elevate your driving experience.
A Brilliant Experience
Ultimately, what I love about the Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 is how it feels when I drive. Despite being heavy, it’s light on the wheelbase, making cornering and turning feel like a precision movement. Further, because it’s so tight in diameter, I can feel the motor’s power in the wheelbase, making every time I sit behind the wheel an exhilarating experience.
Overall, the Fanatec ClubSport Steering Wheel Formula V2 is a great option for more intermediate and experienced sim racers that are looking for an F1 style experience. Plus, it offers lots of customization and is made of high-quality materials, which can last for an entire sim racing career. While it may be a bit much for absolute beginners, it is still an excellent wheel.