F1 fanatics have not one but two officially licensed F1 games to look forward to this year. One of them is F1 Manager 2022, the first officially licensed F1 management game in over 20 years by Frontier Developments, the studio behind Planet Coaster Jurassic World Evolution.
F1 Manager 2022 sees you take the role of Team Principal managing one of the ten official F1 teams. As you experience the pressure of being a Team Principal, your key decisions determine your team’s success or failure in the driver and constructor’s championship.
In a preview event, Frontier gave RacingGames a deep dive into an early alpha build of F1 Manager 2022, showcasing the game’s detailed team management features and visceral racing action.
Be the boss
During the event, Frontier played as Team Principal of Ferrari, current leader of the 2022 season. Between race weekends, the main home screen provides easy access to every facet of managing your team.
Here, you can access information on drivers, team standings, upcoming events, race calendars, sponsorship targets, HQ updates, and more.
One of the most essential tools is the email inbox, providing access to team updates on driver improvement, car development, and race debriefings. You can also view current FIA regulations, vote on rule changes, and manage team budgets in the inbox.
Although you can’t create your own fictional team or change official liveries, F1 Manager 2022 gives you the freedom to choose and recruit new drivers and staff.
When managing drivers, contracts are renewed or negotiated. If a driver is nearing retirement age, you’ll need to scout for new drivers to replace them.
Driver scouts will report back, allowing you to compare performance stats with current drivers being replaced. Likewise, staff contracts for race engineers and pit crews need to be closely monitored.
Facilities such as design centres and wind tunnels can also be upgraded but need to be refurbished as they degrade over time.
As you manage your team, the Board keeps a watchful eye on your performance. How you manage your team and budget affects their confidence in your ability.
Keep the board happy by working within the budget, achieving season targets, and performing well on the track, and you’ll receive bigger budgets to improve the team. Completing sponsorship objectives in qualifying sessions and races also increases bonus payouts.
However, budgets and team aspirations are lowered if the Board is unhappy with your performance. Keep underperforming, and they may decide to terminate your contract.
Developing your car is crucial for success on the track. Analysis tools show how performance attributes such as top speed and engine cooling stack up to the competition.
In F1 Manager 2022, you can design, finetune, and assign new parts to make your car more competitive. Experimenting with different engineering strategies can also gain advantages on upcoming circuits.
For example, Frontier showed how developing new side pods improves drag reduction and top speed for Ferrari in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Individual parts are tested in the wind tunnel, but test sessions have time restrictions.
Engineers are assigned to design, develop, and manufacture parts ready for race weekend. Speeding up parts development comes at a higher cost, while longer development times improve the skill of your engineering team.
Managing finances and choosing which areas to invest in are crucial. You need to cover costs for labour, design, and manufacturing parts for the current season, as well as research for new components in future seasons.
Like in Football Manager, there’s no limit on the number of seasons. Rule changes affect your team’s long-term strategy over decades.
To prepare for race weekends, practice sessions increase the driver’s confidence behind the wheel while improving their track knowledge. After practice sessions, drivers give feedback about oversteer, understeer, and straight-line speed. This feedback is vital when setting up the car.
Race strategies are assigned to each driver in your team. Preset strategies are available based on weather and tyre wear predictions. Or if you want to create your own strategy, there's also an advanced Strategy Editor.
Here, you can add stints for pit stops and tyre changes suitable for the track conditions. With the strategy set, you’re ready to race.
An authentic experience
With F1 Manager 22, Frontier aims to create the most authentic motorsport management game ever, immersing you into the world of Formula 1. From what we’ve seen so far, they’ve succeeded.
“The most important thing for us when developing F1 Manager 2022, was ensuring that we took the time to include the level of depth, detail and authenticity that fans of F1 will expect,” Game Director Andy Fletcher and Executive Producer Adam Woods explain.
“The high-energy, fast-paced world of F1 lends itself perfectly to a deep and immersive gameplay experience and we wanted to ensure we brought this to life in-game. By focusing on the role of Team Principal we allow players to step into the shoes of a crucial, yet often overlooked role in F1 games, giving fans a brand-new way to immerse themselves in the sport they love.”
Working closely with F1 enabled Frontier to feature all the drivers, teams, and circuits from the official 2022 season. While you can only manage F1 teams, you can hire drivers from the F2 and F3 grids. Like in real life, F3 drivers can only be hired by an F1 team if they have been promoted o F2 or completed two F3 seasons.
F1 Manager 2022’s stunning visuals set new standards for motorsport management games. Every track on the 2022 F1 calendar is accurately recreated using CAD data for the landscape and high-fidelity satellite imagery.
Driver face scans are also remarkably detailed and realistic – Daniel Ricciardo’s signature smile has never looked more lifelike in a video game.
Adding to the authenticity, trackside cameras are placed exactly where they would be in real life, creating “broadcast quality presentation.” Onboard front, rear, and nose cameras put you closer to the action, showing how your team decisions affect the race.
This authenticity also applies to the audio, as you’ll hear team radio samples as well as pre and post-race commentary from David Croft and Karun Chandhok.
Other drivers behave realistically too, taking authentic racing lines based on weather conditions. In clear conditions, drivers follow a dry racing line but will change their racing line if it rains. Based on real-world data, each driver has a unique driving style – some will brake later, while others are quicker off the line.
The right strategy
F1 Manager 2022 simulates the excitement and unpredictability of a real-life F1 race. Like in real races, incidents can bunch up the pack. Replays let you rewatch racing incidents, showing where an opponent spun off the track.
Thankfully, race strategies can be changed on the fly in response to red flag incidents or a rainstorm reducing track grip levels.
Like in Gran Turismo’s B-Spec mode, issuing driver commands during a race increases or decreases their pace, whether you want to focus on lap times or conserve your tyres. If you want to push harder for pole positions, you can tell your driver to stop lifting and coasting.
There’s an element of risk vs reward here, as you also need to monitor fuel and battery energy levels while maximising lap times.
Likewise, you also need to monitor tyre, powertrain and brake temperatures as high powertrain temperatures can lead to critical damage and mechanical failures.
Instructing your driver to drive in clean air and avoid curbs reduces the risk of mechanical damage. Frontier also confirmed F1 Manager 2022 will have visual damage, but this wasn’t shown in the preview.
Since you’re managing both drivers in your team simultaneously, you can also tell your drivers to hold positions to maximise team points. With Charles LeClerc in pole position, Frontier demonstrated a scenario where his teammate, Carlos Sainz, was commanded to drive defensively and keep Sergio Perez behind the pack.
“We want players to feel like they are sat behind the pit wall listening to the team radio, giving orders to their race engineers, and drivers, engaging with the strategic element of the race,” Fletcher explains.
With extensive team management options, decisions that have consequences, and authentic presentation, F1 Manager 2022 could be the ultimate racing management game F1 fans have been waiting for when it launches this summer for PC and consoles.