RACING

F1 Manager 22 review: The perfect game for Formula 1 obsessives

ADVERTISEMENT

In October 2000, EA Sports released F1 manager, a racing simulator in which players take on the management of a real Formula 1 team. 22 years later, it finally has a sequel. And it’s fantastic.

Netflix’s Outstanding Docuseries Drive to survive led to a massive increase in the popularity of F1, especially in the United States. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and there’s another new game hoping to capitalize on the wave of interest. F1 Manager 22the new simulator from Frontier Developments (best known for the Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo series) brings the intricate and detail-rich world of Formula 1 to life with tons of data, a beautiful layout and a user-friendly interface that welcomes players of all levels of experience and familiarity.

ADVERTISEMENT

In F1 Manager 22, players lead one of 10 F1 teams. As Team Manager, you control race strategy and team preparation, improve staff (through development or new recruits), improve team car and facilities, make deals with sponsors, and more. Since this is a management sim, you won’t do any of the driving yourself – but you still have a lot of control over how the driver performs in the race by defining his strategy, giving him the right setup car and even by micromanaging its consumption of tires, fuel and energy.

Image: Border Developments

In the time between the original F1 manager and the new version, motorsport management simulation enthusiasts contented themselves with Head of Motorsport. Initially a mobile game, Head of Motorsport did not have the rights to the actual F1 drivers, teams or tracks, instead existing in a fictionalized version of the F1 world. The game has finally received a PC release, and it has an active modding community that regularly adds drivers and teams (but not race tracks) from real F1 into the game. had a gap between what the game had to offer and the level of immersion that fans wanted.

This is one of many areas in which F1 Manager 22 prosperous. In addition to securing the rights to the names and likenesses of teams and drivers, the game also features real-life team engineers and personnel. Their inclusion is a boon in itself, especially in the attachment you form while improving their stats over time. Drivers can get the glory, but F1 is a team sport at heart. And the use of in-game audio takes that connection even further.

The pleasant hum of a racing car is an integral part of any racing game, but F1 Manager 22 adds another layer of realism: real team radio exchanges between pilots and engineers. Every time you give your driver an instruction (such as “release the pedal again” or “push for a position here”), you will hear the voice of the (real) engineer from your (real) team giving that instruction, and the (real) driver’s (real) voice responds. It’s one of many little flourishes that combine to absolutely envelop you in what is essentially a role-playing fantasy. (If the chatter gets on your nerves, you can always change your audio settings.)

In-game image of F1 Manager 22, watching an Alpine about to climb Eau Rouge at Spa-Francorchamps

Image: Border Developments

Screenshot of a night race in F1 Manager 22

Image: Border Developments

The game doesn’t just look like the real deal, though – it looks better than any sports management sim to date. With a heavy emphasis on statistics and data, most games in the sports management simulation genre tend to feel like spreadsheets. But F1 Manager 22Racing footage ‘is nearly indistinguishable from EA Sports’ F1 22 racing game. Cars and tracks come alive with stunning visual clarity, making racing fun to watch as you try to chart your way to victory.

The presence of real tracks greatly contributes to this visual immersion. All the sights and sights of some of the world’s most famous race tracks are in the game, from the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco to the rolling hills of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Data-rich management simulators can be overwhelming for new players, and one of the most commendable parts of F1 Manager 22 is how customizable the experience is. The game has all the fine detail that F1 obsessives will want to delve into, but almost everything in the game has some degree of automation available for people who just want to dabble. Just want to define a tire strategy? You can do it. Want to micromanage every sector of every tower? You can do that too.

Team selection screen in F1 Manager 22, with Aston Martin selected.

Image: Border Developments

Team selection page in F1 Manager 22, with Red Bull selected

Image: Border Developments

Maybe F1 Manager 22The brand’s crowning glory is its accessibility to so many camps, from veteran managers to F1 enthusiasts to the many new fans the sport has attracted in recent years. The management sim genre can be overwhelming for new players, and F1 Manager 22 solves this from the jump. The opening team select screen gives you an overview of the strengths, weaknesses, and goals of each of the potential teams you could play with. As you hover over each team, a voiceover from F1 commentator David Croft tells you more about the team’s current status and how they got there. When you set up your first game, the game will teach you as much about its own systems as it does about the general rules of F1 racing.

It’s been a long, long time since F1 fans have had a licensed management sim to match the dramatic heights of the real thing. The recent explosion of interest has paved the way for the perfect time for a return to this F1 style of play. But even more impressive than its timing is its execution, which leaves extremely little to be desired. It’s been over two decades of waiting – but it was more than worth it.

F1 Manager 22 was released August 30 on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Frontier Developments. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.

ADVERTISEMENT