F1 2021 needs to bring red flags back to the series

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Another race in Italy, and another red flag.

It had been a few years since a red flag was required, but this weekend saw the fourth use of the race-stopping decision in a year.

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However, the red flag is not in the F1 games. That's something Codemasters should change.

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It's not about safety

Red flags are usually used because there is track-blocking debris or barriers need to be repaired. In short, they are for the safety of the remaining field.

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As we all know, safety in gaming is not an issue. There is also the fact that in F1 games the virtual barriers don't deform and the cars don't explode into a shower of carbon fibre. That quickly limits the need for any virtual red flags.

f1 2021 red flag crash
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EASY DECISION: There are plenty accidents in F1 games that are worthy of a red flag

However, the F1 games are meant to be reflective of the real Formula 1 series. And every time the red flag is used in a real race, its absence is more and more obvious to F1 gamers.

There can be reasons for a red flag in the F1 game, from a multi-car crash that leaves several wrecks by the side of the track to the classic "blocked road" problems that Monaco and Singapore sometimes suffer from.

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Getting the balance right

Given the complex reasoning behind the FIA using a red flag rather than a safety car, or opting for a rolling restart rather than standing one as they did in Imola, it would surely be very tricky for Codemasters to implement the red flag properly into the game. We haven't seen red flags in the F1 games since F1 2014 after all.

But surely the time is now? Crashes like the one at Mugello last year are a semi-regular occurance in unranked lobbies, but just like with the safety car it could be an option to switch off in the menus.

f1 safety car
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SAFETY CAR: Not everything is suitable for the safety car

With the addition of co-op career mode in F1 2021 there is more chance for mayhem and chaos in every offline race, while hopefully the aggression of AI drivers takes another step up this year too. As a result, there could well be more red flag-worthy incidents going on in the new game than ever before.

Sure, systems like "ghosting" remove the risk of hitting a stranded car that has spun back onto the circuit, but if the aim is to create a game that can accurately provide F1 racing for gamers, then it needs to have a red flag in those moments and provide a restart rather than just a few laps under the safety car.

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F1 2021 release date

Codemasters' next game has an official release date of 16 July.

Players can start their F1 journey a little earlier though, as the Deluxe Edition comes with three days early access.

You can see the announcement trailer below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrJ8PddAMIw