Consider AI to be human and treat them accordingly.
Drive like you own it and your life depends on it. Obviously, incidents happen in real life and also trading paint is part of (at least tin top) racing but it shouldn’t be a destruction derby either. If you are struggling to discipline yourself to use an appropriate level of caution for the type of racing you are doing then it may help to simulate a few track days where you are driving a vehicle borrowed from someone who is never going to let you drive it again if you damage it.
Make every race a single attempt and never re-start and always finish. Restarts…
- kill immersion because there are no consequences
- make winning less meaningful because it’s much easier to win if you keep trying over and over and also it’s unrealistic because you can’t do that in real life
- prevent learning opportunities, looking at your consistency or overall race time or best laps/sectors/possible time or learning that you focus/perform better as the race progresses so maybe you should add/extend practice session, etc. etc. etc.
- eliminates possibility of great experiences and comebacks
- prevents gap analysis which could help determine a more appropriate AI strength
Avoid unnecessarily short races. Longer races allow for more race dynamics / position changes and also time to catch up if you have an incident. If you have thirty minutes of time to race, then do a thirty race instead of two fifteen minute races, for example.
Set a challenging AI strength. For my purposes, if I pass more than one car in a lap on average then I will consider raising the AI strength.
Progression can be a very strong motivator and provide meaning for some sim racers. If progression is important to you, then be sure to monitor progression through identifying new personal best lap times, new personal best race results against a given AI strength, similar results against stronger AI, faster overall race times, improved consistency / fewer incidents, etc. etc. Keep in mind, however, that intense focus on a single combo may shorten that combo’s “replay value” because you will more quickly surpass the AI’s ability to provide a challenge.
Consider other possibilities that might better motivate or immerse you. For example, as a gentleman racer, I am much more concerned with “being worthy” and increasing my competitive level and improving my overall championship results through improved consistency and strategy than I am in winning any given single race. Thus, I usually race against stronger AI which makes me more of an underdog with intense pressure to keep up, prove I belong, and remain on the team. But that’s just what motivates me. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to win, either. Different strokes for different folks.