How Max Verstappen Helped Hone F1 24’s New Handling

How Max Verstappen Helped Hone F1 24’s New Handling

How Max Verstappen Helped Hone F1 24’s New Handling

With no new circuits on the calendar or new drivers for fans to root for, 2024 is shaping up to be a forgettable F1 season.

For some developers, this would be a nightmare scenario when working on an annual game series like F1, which relies on new updates to entice players every year. But this wasn't a hindrance for Codemasters when developing F1 24.

“It generally doesn’t impact the way we develop the game,” F1 24’s senior creative director Lee Mather told RacingGames, reflecting on the lack of changes in the current season.

F1 24 Ferrari
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“We’re always looking for those big areas that we can bring year-on-year differentiation for players so that they feel like they have something new or fresh every year.”

“If the sport brings in new circuits, drivers, or cars, that’s a cherry on top for us. We’re already looking at ways to make sure that the game is different and exciting each year."

"Lewis moving to Ferrari next year and Audi coming in 2026 will be amazing. Those are big key moments for the sport, but we always look to ensure that the game offers a different and fun experience each year.”

F1 24’s traction is “way more controllable”

This year’s stagnant season has afforded Codemasters an opportunity to focus on core areas that haven’t had meaningful updates for several years.

Beyond the all-new Career mode, one of the most noticeable changes in F1 24 is the revamped car handling. While F1 22’s handling mirrored the regulation changes, the heavier cars felt cumbersome to drive.

F1 23’s handling was a marked improvement, but Codemasters has gone a step further this year by completely overhauling the driving physics. According to Mather, returning players will immediately notice the difference as soon as they hit the accelerator in F1 24.

F1 24 Red Bull
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“The first change you’ll notice as soon as you pull off the line is that the traction is way more controllable. The rear of the car moves around, but it’s significantly more controllable. We’ve had feedback from the drivers for several years now, and it’s something we’ve worked hard on,” Mather explained.

The driving force behind these handling improvements is F1 24’s new suspension model. “When you’ve got the kinematics that we’ve got now that allows us to do the anti-squat and anti-dive under braking, it makes a significant difference to how the car feels and behaves,” said Mather.

“It’s more authentic and realistic, but it makes it easier to play in some ways. You can moderate the throttle and manipulate the car more effectively. That’s one of the first things players will notice.”

F1 24 Red Bull at Miami
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ERS usage in races is another "game changer." Unlike previous games, every ERS mode can be activated in all sessions, bringing new ways to maximize your racing strategy. “You really need to pay attention to that. You can obviously set it to auto if you just want the ease of driving the car, but it brings depth to the strategy and consideration of when you use it,” said Mather.

“Off the start, for example, the AI is quite punchy. They’re going to want to get away, so you need to use a bit there. You can adjust the harvesting mode as well. You can completely derate it so it’s harvesting significantly, but you’re obviously going to lose performance. It adds an exciting and interesting strategy element to the racing.”

Driving like a champion

For most of us, playing F1 24 on a state-of-the-art rig is the closest we’ll get to experiencing what it feels like to drive an F1 car. To make F1 24’s handling as true to life as possible, Codemasters worked closely with none other than three-time World Champion Max Verstappen, who provided valuable insight.

“We had the opportunity to get Max to play an early version of the game and give us some insight,” Mather told us. “Traction was one of the key points. Braking is always an interesting one that we get a good insight into. Overall, the core model, the speeds that we achieved through the corners, and how we achieved them are well balanced. "

Max Verstappen EA Sports partnership
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Verstappen was enlisted late into F1 24's development, but Mather hints that his feedback will influence the future direction of the series. "Max gave us some good insight into potentially long-term physics updates and areas that we want to develop further,” he said.

“We were obviously quite progressed with F1 24. That was a good opportunity for Max to get hands-on with the new tech so we could validate the direction we’re taking things. He’s given us some good insight, and we can hopefully go back and speak to him further. We’ve taken on board as much as we could in the short term around areas we were already working on."

F1 24 Champions Edition Max Verstappen
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"The way the car brakes and accelerates were areas the community gave us feedback for improvements. Max was able to give us a closer insight into how he experiences that in the real car. He was very focused on braking, accelerating, and how the traction works.”

It also helps that Verstappen is not only a three-time World Champion but also an avid sim racer. This gives him a unique perspective on real and virtual racing, making him the perfect consultant for honing the F1 games' handling. “He’s got the strengths from both sides. It’s so much easier for him to relate those things to what we do because he’s so into the world of sim racing.”

New faces

For the first time in the series, the new Career mode allows players to step into the shoes of Max Verstappen or any of the real F1 or F2 drivers from the current season.

While there are no new drivers in this year's season, you'll see some new faces in F1 24 for the existing drivers. Codemasters has updated the driver character models in F1 24 with EA’s advanced face-scanning technology which is used for other sports titles like EA FC 24.

As a result, the driver likenesses match their real-life counterparts much more closely. Seeing F1 23’s and F1 24’s character models side by side, the difference is striking thanks to full hair rendering and improved skin and eye shaders.

F1 24 Max Verstappen face scan
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“It’s something we’ve strived to do for a number of years,” said Mather. “Like a lot of other racing games, we’ve really pushed the character modeling because they are known faces and celebrities in their own right.”

“When we got the opportunity to make use of all the cool tech that EA has for face scanning, we went with it.” When having their face scanned for the game, drivers sit inside a “significant rig” surrounded by cameras. Because F1 drivers have busy schedules, opportunities to get face scans were limited for past F1 games, but this is no longer an issue.

“It scans the whole head, whereas we previously used a hand scanner. It almost looks like an iron. Somebody would have to take it around the head. It was quite time-consuming. Now we can do them so quickly, and it doesn’t impact their busy schedules,” said Mather.

Will classic cars and Braking Point return?

Along with the current drivers, you can also drive as legendary icons in Career mode such as James Hunt, Michael Schumacher, and Nigel Mansell, who all have authentic likenesses.

Sadly, F1 24 won't have classic cars, so you won’t be racing in Mansell’s Williams FW14B like in F1 2013. Despite being one of the community’s most requested features, classic cars haven't featured in an F1 game since F1 2020.

“I would never say never,” Mather said on classic cars returning to the F1 games in the future. “There’s a lot of excitement and passion around the inclusion of classics. If they make a comeback, they need to be done in a way that’s compelling and exciting.”

Figuring out the best way to implement classic cars is the biggest hurdle rather than licensing issues. “A lot of the big teams are still in the sport, so they’re relatively easy,” Mather explained about acquiring licenses for classic cars.

F1 2020 classic cars
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“When we brought Brawn in, that was years in the making. Just trying to track down who owned the license was incredibly difficult because it had been through multiple hands. Jordan was another one, as the license no longer sat with Eddie Jordan."

"We had to go through several people to try and work out who had the license. There are challenges depending on the teams. I suspect we will never be able to license some of them in a million years. Others are quite simple because they are still present in the sport and we know who to go to.”

Last year’s game also let you play as fictional driver celebrities. Returning from F1 2021, Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler starred in Braking Point 2, racing for the fictional Konnersport as the eleventh team on the grid.

F1 23 Aiden Jackson
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Although their story won’t continue in F1 24, Mather hints that we haven’t seen the last of Butler and Jackson. “I think you can expect to see a return of the duo and the ongoing saga,” he teased.

“It’s a nice cadence to have the year on and year off. It works well for the team. It gives us the opportunity to focus on different areas and keep the game feeling nice and different each year.”

F1 24 races onto PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on May 31. Players who preorder the Champions Edition can get onto the grid three days earlier.

Are you looking forward to getting onto the grid in F1 24? Let us know in the comments below.

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