The new generation of Formula 1 has delivered some great racing already, and now it is coming to gaming as F1 22 approaches.
Codemasters has gone through several sweeping regulation changes in F1. While F1 2014 was a tricky transition, F1 2017 ushered in something of a golden generation.
So how will F1 22 cope with a new era of Formula 1? We got hands-on with a preview version of F1 22 to try it out!
A heavier ride
Before we get started, it is important to note that all our observations are from a preview build of F1 22 and could well change ahead of the full release at the end of June.
The new cars for this year are heavier than the previous generation. Minimum weight has gone up by 43kgs over 2021, with teams struggling to hit that mark and coming in overweight.
There are plenty of reasons for this, with the bigger wheels and tyres making a huge difference.
This weight difference makes the cars feel heavier as you drive. It's not that you are wrestling to get them into corners, but they are less responsive at slow speed.
The tracks on offer in the preview build (Imola, Miami, Silverstone, Red Bull Ring, and COTA) were not the best to test this, but it feels like the slower speed sections and tracks will be trickier to navigate in F1 22.
You also can’t just throw the car over kerbs now. Smaller tyre sidewalls and lower ride heights mean you really feel the car bottoming out and the problems that creates.
Overall though, these cars still feel good. Codemasters has a philosophy of balancing realism with accessibility. While some cry out for more emphasis on the realism, F1 22 has retained a good balance in our opinion.
"We had predominantly understeery cars [...] but we wanted to bring in that front-end bite, that feeling of turn-in." Said Senior Creative Director Lee Mather.
"We've always been trying to find that balance between a car that is on a knife-edge, as F1 cars are, but for a player to have that margin to manipulate the car through a corner. To come on and off the throttle, to adjust trajectory and rotation."
It's still early days, and there is likely to be some changes to the handling model of F1 22 but it seems like Mather and his team have done just that.
One big thing from this season is porpoising, which is the way the cars bounce up and down at high speeds as the aero attaches and detaches from the car.
This is NOT in F1 22, and we are thankful for it! Especially a VR is finally make its appearance in the F1 series this year for PC players.
While it could probably have been done, it would have been unpleasant for drivers and potentially problematic for the implementation of upgrades in Career Mode and MyTeam.
As a result, the Mercedes is fine to drive and won't give you a headache.
While it does somewhat reduce the individuality of cars in the game, overall it was a good decision from Codemasters not to put this into the game. With teams working hard to eliminate it from their cars anyway, it could be gone by the time F1 22 releases.
New game, new setups
Formula 1 games have had the same setup systems for a while now, but F1 22 is about to shake all that up.
While the 1-11 scale for suspension remains, and the options for camber and toe are the same, the aerodynamic balance of your car is much more open this year.
We asked Mather about setups, and what we can expect in F1 22.
"We definitely expect to see [different setups to last year]. That's something the handling guys have been playing with this year. [...] We've opened up the variables that we change, the aero being the predominant one, so that there is now a broad range."
"We've broadened that original range of 11 slider positions for the aero to give you the full range that's available in the handling."
What this means is that there is now a 1-50 scale for aerodynamics on both the front and rear of the car.
This will better reflect the challenges of Formula 1 and the way teams attack circuits like Spa, Monza, Monaco, and Singapore. It also means even more refinement for aero balance across each track and make setup testing a little trickier for F1 22!
Overall our preview of F1 22 was very enjoyable. The cars feel alive thanks to that added inertia. The inability to throw them across chicanes and have everything hold is great, if challenging! We can't wait to get stuck into MyTeam and Career Mode when F1 22 releases on 1 July this summer.