It's finally time for our F1 Manager 2022 review!
Anticipation has been incredibly high for this game ever since it was first announced.
With a highly informative release campaign and strong visuals, F1 Manager 2022 is trying to pry players time away from both f1 22 and racing games as well as Football Manager and other simulation titles.
Can it do it? Let's find out!
Reviewed on PC. Review copy provided by publisher.
Starting your journey as Team Principal is pretty simple in F1 Manager. Pick a team, your name, and if you want tutorials on (we didn't).
So we grabbed Haas, said very sorry to the Guenther Steiner stans, and got to work.
Straight away you are presented with everything at your fingertips. You can start scouting staff and the best young drivers, or in our case buy out Kevin Magnussen and bring in Oscar Piastri immediately.
With pre-season testing simply run in the background you can go right into the first race of the season, or start developing new parts immediately.
Menus are relatively easy to navigate and the email inbox acts as a good prompt to remind you about development needs, a lack of parts after crashes, and any upcoming events that need your attention.
Formula 1 is an exceptionally technical sport, and there is definitely a world where you might need a motorsport engineering degree to truly understand this game, but Frontier has done an excellent job of boiling things down into understandable sections.
Your CFD MAU hours and wind tunnel hours are broken down and visible at all times while you plot which part you want to design.
You can tweak areas of focus and assign engineers to work on the design & manufacture stage of each part.
The amount of personnel, along with the efficiency of their time, can be increased by improving your factory facilities, but only if you have the cash on hand.
It's impressive in its depth and simplicity. The whole system feels remarkably easy to interact with even if you aren't well-versed in what goes on behind the scenes in F1.
However, you aren't going to spend too much time within these menus. Everything is a click or two away and nothing is especially buried. If it is you won't be interacting with it more than a few times a season.
Most of your time will be spent at the track.
Race day atmosphere
The race engine has been a huge selling point for F1 Manager 2022 and it really is amazing to watch and pretty simple to interact with.
Your race weekend starts with practice, where fine-tuning the setup for your drivers is crucial. It works very differently from F1 22 though, in that you aren't chasing lap time necessarily. Instead, you are chasing a good balance to the car, and what this is depends on what each driver likes. One might prefer more oversteer while the other wants more traction.
It is very much NOT a case of slap all the wing on for Monaco and pull it off for Monza. The more confidence your driver has in the setup the faster they will be.
Once that's done you're into the business end of the weekend: qualifying and the race. And this is unfortunately where the race engine starts showing its cracks.
While you have an incredible level of control over your drivers when it comes to pushing the tyres, maximising throttle, and burning through ERS, the action on track is far from predictable and can get a little frustrating...
Frustrations on track
For as good as the race engine is to look at, there are a few drawbacks and issues too.
In qualifying the AI cars are a real menace. They don't get out of the way effectively on in- or out-laps, meaning you need to make absolutely sure that you aren't going to come across any on your lap.
They also don't build a gap at all for flying laps, so being at the front of the queue is best, but if you go out too early you'll just end up losing time when you catch the tail of the queue and miss out on the track evolution.
The AI is also superb at getting out at the last minute, so you can't try to leave last as there is absolutely no margin left to make it to the line in time.
They will also all go out at the end of a session unnecessarily. Even Red Bull and Ferrari are out again at the end of Q1, this includes when it's wet and drivers are lapping 20 seconds off the previous times.
In the race cars get stuck in overtake loops far too easily. Even if you've flown up to the back of a car you can get stuck in an endless chain of DRS moves swapping positions back and forth.
It is incredibly hard to break that DRS gap and as a result races fall into groups of cars each slowing one another up.
Any time you can run in free air is like gold dust, and thanks to this races can fall into quite a repetitive feel where there is really nothing you can do to help your driver break away.
We found ourselves just speeding up this part of the race rather than watching the battles, which is a shame.
Another issue F1 Manager has is in its weather prediction system. There is no radar showing you incoming rain, a sight we see on every pitwall in Formula 1, and very little visibility about future weather events.
All you have in your race view is a bar in the top right showing time until a certain percentage chance of rain.
This gives a very uncertain view of the conditions and doesn't let you proactively prepare like you could with a full radar setup as Gran Turismo 7 has.
Instead, everything is reactive, which would be ok if you could also see into the future, but because your only long-term view is more percent chances you can't predict if you should go straight to wets and skip inters. You can't even get a sense of if a decrease in rainfall is permanent or temporary, which means reacting to crossover points can be extremely costly.
We're not saying that F1 Manager should give you a perfect view of the weather. But having a radar system rather than a countdown to a percentage would be more realistic and allow Principals to act accordingly.
Detailed weather data is something every team has, and while you can upgrade the accuracy of your reports it seems bizarre not to have a radar provided to on the virtual pitwall.
One thing to mention is that F1 Manager 2022 is not a light game to run. Despite comfortably meeting the recommended specs on Steam, the PC fans kicked into high gear and the 3070 Ti went into overdrive every time the game opened.
The smart meter usage spun into the red, and the PC sounded like I was trying to play Assetto Corsa Competizione in 4K/120 fps.
For a management game this is wild and was an issue both before and after the Day 1 patch landed. Hopefully there is a future optimisation patch on the way, but you might need to consider cooling options if you are wanting to play on a laptop.
There is also an issue on the horizon around regen drivers. While the current 20 F1 drivers have their voices, helmets, and faces in the game, others do not. Oscar Piastri is represented by only a helmet and a generic voice with fewer lines than Mick Schumacher has.
This goes for every other non-F1 driver too. We put Nyck De Vries & Stoffel Vandoorne into AlphaTauri and look what was waiting for us on the home screen...
While this is ok at the start with just one new driver, get a few years in the future and turn your drivers over entirely and suddenly you have an anonymous avatar in your car rather than a real driver with a personality and that is a big shame.
For all those negatives, F1 Manager 2022 is an absolute blast.
It manages to blend the technical challenges of Formula 1 with a high degree of accessibility.
It doesn't quite live up to expectations, but that was never a likely outcome given the hype this game received.
What F1 Manager does best is put you at the heart of everything. All your decisions and choices matter. If you leave your driver's ERS on it just goes, there are no checks or balances. YOU are in control. You can even have a driver just run out of fuel on the road if you aren't paying attention (yea, we did that. Sorry Mick).
The parts that don't quite work as well like the race flow are likely to be continuously tweaked and updated both this year and into the future. F1 Manager 2022 is great, and it's hard to believe this is just the first installment of a multi-year franchise.
As frustrating as some races can be, they are also tense and thrilling affairs. A driver error can be as costly as any strategic mistake you make, and that's where the joy of the management game comes in. No matter what you do, things might not go your way.
It's a game that will have endless replayability too. Staff are tough to develop, but you have total control over how drivers grow and improve, giving you the chance to create a driving god as well as a car that is the envy of the grid.
It's going to take over your life, just remember to pause your race to catch the real thing on a Sunday!
RacingGames Rating: 8/10