For the first time in twenty years, we'll soon have two official Formula 1 games based around the same season. F1 Manager 2022 is set to launch next week and we sat down with the developers to discuss the upcoming title.
With anticipation so high and a continuing appetite for Formula 1 gaming, despite a certain other game having just released, it feels like a seachange is about to hit the virtual racing world.
The complete F1 experience
F1 Manager 2022 centres around you assuming the role of Team Principal at one of F1's ten teams. Your goal is to take them to the very top by overseeing everything both on and off the track.
Management games are nothing new to developers Frontier, but they’ve never done a sports management game before.
Adam Woods, Executive Producer for F1 Manager 2022, told RacingGames in an exclusive interview:
"We are very well-versed in the management world. Across all of our games [...], there's a common thread where people can immerse themselves in our worlds. Obviously, the F1 world is very immersive. With the management side of things, it's a very drama-filled job to manage one of these teams."
Frontier has been able to transfer a lot of their expertise across to F1 Manager. Understanding which parts of a world they need to dive into and present in a management game is at the core of what they do. But the F1 genre has also given them room to grow and develop as well.
A collaborative journey
The world of Formula 1 is notoriously guarded and secretive, even today with Drive To Survive and huge social media presences across the teams and drivers. But the F1 world has opened up to Frontier.
“Working with F1 and the official teams has been really exciting and really easy-going. They are as excited as we are about bringing this side of the sport to players again.”
It was a long time before Formula 1 would allow driver transfers in the Codemasters game, but F1 Manager goes deeper than just the pilots. There are Technical Chiefs, Aerodynamicists, and Race Engineers in the game, and all of them can be hired and fired by the player.
To have such depth in the first year of the game is a mark to just how collaborative the world of F1 has been for this game to happen.
“We’ve worked really hard [...] working with the teams to get them to understand what our objectives were for the game and they were on board with that.” Says Woods.
“They want to see this kind of game come back to the players. It’s been a really good, positive, experience with them.”
The life of a Team Principal
Anybody who watches Formula 1 or Drive To Survive will know how many twists and turns there are in a season both on and off the track. To manage your favourite team and driver like this will be more in-depth than anything we've seen before.
Woods went into detail about how Frontier have made the life of a Team Principal as authentic, yet accessible, as possible in F1 Manager 2022:
“F1 is a very complex and deep sport to manage. One of our objectives was to replicate as much of that management and technicality of development into the game.”
That doesn’t mean you need a motorsport engineering degree to understand what is going on, or to enjoy the game.
"We've focused on some of the core loops of what makes being a principal. Some of the core decisions such as driver development, key staff development and making sure you get on that top step [of the podium]."
When you realise that F1 teams are comprised of hundreds of personnel, you get a rough idea of how nuanced the job is. That's before you add in the aspect of staff retiring and needing to hire regen staff, which Woods has confirmed will be in the game.
The only thing that comes close to this from other F1 games is F1 2021's Braking Point. However, this is a linear story-driven game mode and hasn't returned for f1 22.
Can it claim the crown
There are big differences between F1 Manager 2022 and F1 22, but they will both appeal to fans of the sport and vie for attention and time.
F1 22 focuses on the driver and the team, whereas F1 Manager encompasses the entire sport while not centring on the driving itself. That being said though, those who have seen the trailers will know how beautiful F1 Manager's graphics are.
The time to be a rival to the Codemasters-produced F1 game though has never been better. While F1 22 isn't a bad game, it certainly isn't better than F1 2021 nor 2020.
F1 Manager will not only attract Formula 1 fans, but gamers who love to play management games as well. There's a wide net that F1 Manager has cast when it comes to their target audience and we wouldn't rule out it being one of the best racing games of the year.
So, while F1 Manager 2022 is certainly different to F1 22, its obvious crossover with F1 22 will mean that the two titles will be competing with each other. If F1 Manager lives up to the hype, EA and Codies will have to step up their game for 2023.