The new Formula 1 season is fast approaching, and as rule changes get confirmed and teams reveal there cars it is clear that Codemasters has to add one feature to the F1 2022 game... Sprint races.
Sprint races return for 2022
After a trio of trials in 2021 and much speculation over their inclusion for 2022, Formula 1 has finally decided that we will once again have three F1 Sprint format races in 2022.
Fan reaction was certainly mixed last year, but the added viewer figures and attendance at tracks made it almost guaranteed to return. While it won't be as regular as first thought, the format will be rolled out at Imola, Austria, and Interlagos for 2022. With extra points all the way down to 8th, winning the sprint will be more crucial than ever before.
All of this means it's time to get the format into the game.
The sprint weekends feature qualifying on a Friday afternoon followed by the 100km sprint race on Saturday which sets the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix.
While F1 is implimenting it into three races, for the feature to work within the game players need to be given the option to increase or move around the location of the sprints. Having them in the same three races every season of your Career Mode or My Team save would get frustrating, and is very unrealistic. While Interlagos hosted a sprint in 2021, the other two were at Monza and Silverstone which will not get one this year.
Calendar flexibility is in the early stages for F1 games. While we hope that we can start fully rearranging the calender before the start of each season, at the moment it's likely that if sprint weekends were included in F1 2022 that they would be fixed to Imola, Austria, and Interlagos.
However that's not an awful thing. Private leagues have already started to impliment a sprint weekend format. Often using one-shot qualifying, a 5-lap race, and then their normal race length to somewhat mirror the sprint format. Having it actually in game as a lobby option would certainly speed things up!
The barriers to sprint weekends in F1 games
Unfortunately, it's not likely that the sprint weekends will be coming to F1 2022. The format obviously poses some challenges for Codemasters. The biggest one is balancing tyre degredation, engine component wear, and AI strategy over new race distances.
Getting those aspects in place for a new race distance is a tough and time consuming challenge. The AI needs training and everything needs balancing. It's why we've only got a few options for race distance and not a sliding scale of laps.
Then there is everything else Codemasters needs to add or update for F1 2022. There's a brand new Miami circuit to create, several circuit updates that need to be made, and of course the brand new cars.
Perhaps most worrying for Codemasters' workload is that it looks like teams have taken some different directions with design and process. Leaving Codies with a lot to do before release.
We hope the sprint format makes the F1 2022 game, it really should now that it's in its second year as part of the sport. But it may end up as a post-release update if not left out all together just due to the amount of changes needed for this season.