Ever since its announcement F1 Manager 2022 has captured the imagination of fans and gamers everywhere.
Frontier Developments has a good history with management games, but as a new franchise and their first sporting venture, F1 gamers have a lot of questions about F1 Manager.
We can now answer some of those following a hands-on preview of F1 Manager 2022!
An all-encompassing experience
We arrived at the Frontier offices and were treated to a preview build of F1 Manager 2022 set up for us as Alpine boss two weeks before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
With limited time to explore the game we started clicking around and were amazed by the detail included in F1 Manager 2022.
Frontier has not skimped on opitons, menus, and depth, but it is all presented in a fluid and intuitive way.
Everything from development & fabrication of parts, HQ facilities, and staff performance is a click away, while a contextual button in the top-right keeps you aware of the crucial things that should be done before you move on to the next day.
There is plenty to do, as every staff member and dollar spent is key to the overall success of the team.
You can go super-deep into the performance gain of a new part with all the data a real team would gather, or get a brief overview of the key improvements like reduced drag or greater cornering performance in a way that doesn't require a motorsport engineering degree to understand!
Frontier has gone to incredible depth with driver ratings too. Everything from braking, cornering, defending, adaptability, and smoothness is given to you, but only if you scout the driver.
There are also separate attributes for their development and aggression, making young drivers like Jack Doohan or Richard Vashoor an interesting option if you want to invest in youth.
With new parts being created one at a time you could have tough decisions to make about who gets that new front wing, and if one gets broken in practice that's it!
Seasoned managerial gamers will LOVE what they find in F1 Manager. New players might get overwhelmed to start with, but everything flows well, and there is plenty of help for those new to both the sport and the genre of game.
After simming practice and qualifying we got to race day at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with Alpine.
There was a temptation to put Oscar Piastri in the car, but we stuck with Fernando Alonso (P9) and Esteban Ocon (P11).
Frontier has promised a broadcast-level presentation for race day, and they were not overplaying their hand.
The pre-race shots of the grid, garages, and pitwall comes with a Crofty voiceover and looks like the real thing.
F1 Manager comes alive when the race gets underway though. There are real-world TV angles you can watch from, but also onboard (T-cam and nose) angles as well as a track map to get a sense of the overall race.
Then you can watch in real-time, or speed the action up 2, 4, 8, and even 16 times if you want to.
We found ourselves mesmerised, and without a time constraint we could easily have done the whole race in real-time.
When the race starts the adrenaline really kicks in. As team boss you have an incredible sense of power over proceedings but also a total lack of control.
You can direct your drivers on their ERS usage, fuel use, and tyre management, but you can't drive the car for them. You can't orchestrate a divebomb or Perez-in-Abu-Dhabi-style defence.
Thanks to all this you are on tenterhooks for the whole race.
Safety cars throw up amazing in-race decisions. Do you break with your original strategy to get onto fresh tyres, or do you stay out and get track position?
When an early safety car came out I split my cars and called Ocon in for new tyres. This sent him to the back, but he was soon able to carve back through the field.
Deciding to overcut with Alonso gained him a few places as others got stuck in traffic. But then another safety car gave us further choices to make.
Overall it was a thrilling experience, one that I can't wait to try again!
There is finally an official release date for F1 Manager 2022.
The game will launch on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on 30 August.
Those that pre-order can get FIVE DAYS early access, meaning your F1 managerial journey can start on 25 August.