When Frontier announced F1 Manager 2022, the first entry in what we assume is a new series of sim releases, we were surprised. After all, the F1 games by Codemasters already feature a degree of management, so what was this one going to bring to the table? Luckily, there’s plenty to enjoy, and here are our thoughts on the PC version to dive deeper into the game.
Quick confession first though: I’m not exactly the biggest F1 fan out there – at least not the racing portion of it, which is a pretty big chunk. With 75 to 80% of the cars not able to compete for wins, it seems like an unfair sport almost by definition, and drivers are far from competing at a level playing field. There are a lot of dynamics at work that help shape that playing field though, and being able to take control of many of those aspects is a more engaging proposition to me than watching a pack of 20 drivers where the bulk of them probably wishes they had a different car.
To set itself apart from the likes of F1 22, F1 Manager 2022 is built on a ton more stats that are based on real life metrics. You don’t get to drive around yourself either, but thanks to some TV style cameras the races look great and are exciting to be a part of, even when you’re not behind the wheel. You’re not just a passive viewer either, as you’re in charge of the race strategy and that also involves how you approach the practice and qualifying sessions. With simulations for driver behavior that take the real season and history into account, it feels like you’re actually tinkering with Verstappen, Leclerc and Hamilton when making decisions and seeing what might get you a win or some vital points for the championship.
To help increase your chances, you can hire drivers and staff members, and develop or replace them over time. Your attention will have to be divided when doing this, because you can develop a great driver by improving his driving skills, but you’ll also need a winning car and that means having engineers that can improve key components of your car in time for them to matter mid-season as well – while other teams all try to do the same.
Improving cars and their components isn’t just a matter of pouring resources into them non-stop either – you’ll also have to contend with how much testing, tweaking and replacing is allowed by the FIA’s set of rules. In reality these are attempts to make the big teams less dominant, but while it’s proven to be very difficult to break into a top 3 spot in real life it feels like you have more control in F1 Manager 2022, especially when you play multiple seasons in a row and can build on your long term success more than you’d be able to do in a single season.
One element that’s missing from this first iteration of F1 Manager is the fact that a lot of teams have ‘sister teams’ in other classes/divisions that can act as a testing ground for the F1 team, which can make for some great input in real life. You can recruit some of the drivers from those divisions, but there’s not a lot of interplay between the actual management layers of the teams. This would probably complicate matters as not all teams have this option (to the same degree), but it’s an interesting dynamic that we’d like to see explored in the future.
If you prefer the thrill of getting behind the wheel yourself then you probably want to stick with F1 22, but if (like us) you feel that the biggest keys to success in Formula 1 racing actually lie with creating the right circumstances, then this is the game for you.