A good set of pedals goes a long way. You spent the majority of a lap on the throttle, and being able to have that control goes a long way. Your tires will love you if you roll onto the throttle minimizing wheel spin and pro-longing the life and condition of the tire.
The tires will thank you again just moments later as you hit the brakes hard. The brake pedal provides enough resistance and feedback to quickly reduce your velocity without locking up any wheels. It's all done with your feet.
It's often overlooked, but a good set of pedals can really help reduce your laptimes, add to the immersion and make every braking zone more challenging and fun than ever before.
Affordable and the best bang for buck when it comes to enjoying your racing games. For pedals this often means that they are part of a set. The quality of pedals in this category widely differs. Things to be aware of is the build quality and particulary the choice of material. Metal pedals aren't the cheapest option, but a plastic brake paddle will need to endure a lot of heavy braking zones and (hopefully) a ton of outbreaking spectacular overtakes.
Protip - Avoid hard plastic models as they might easily break.
Besides the materials that are used, one of the main things you miss out on with cheap pedals is often the clutch pedal is missing, which leaves you with just the throttle and brake. The latter is where the budget market really struggles, getting a good brake resistance to help reduce your speed as fast as possible for that tight chicane, or just brush off some speed as you trail brake into the corner.
Luckily there are some options to help add resistance to your first, or at least more budget, brake pedal kit. From something as easy as a tennis ball cut in half, to aftermarket springs or rubbers that often require you to open up your pedals or set in order to install these new firmer springs or rubbers.
Looking for a good starting point for affordable pedals? Check out Fanatec's Starter Pedals
At the Sim Enthusiast level we start to see high quality products, which is really where the pedal segment starts to shine. A common route is to replace the included pedals of the combo set that you loved and raced with from the Casual & Gamer category. We also start focussing more on the mounting options, which is important since you want your pedals to be compatible with the rest of your setup.
Fanatec has something for the upper region of the enthusiast section in the form of their advanced pedals
The final category really is a the sky is the limit kind of bucket. These Here we can go full custom and find professional simulator gear as well. This is what most people dream of having, yet you might need to remortgage your house for funding and make sure you have a spare room available for all this fancy equipment.
In the high end tier of Sim Racing Pedals we see a whole new technique used. Instead of using springs, dampers or rubbers to resist the player's foot as they try to slow the caar down, these pro pedals use haudrolics.