Last year, Frontier Development’s first foray into the glamorous high-speed 200 miles-per-hour world of Formula 1 with F1 Manager 2022 provided a solid platform to build upon.
Now, a year later, the pressure is on to deliver on that promise with F1 Manager 2023. We’ve had an early sneak peek, and here are what we think are the most important new features the follow-up will bring.
Slicker race presentation
While amazing for a management game, the in-race car animations were sometimes uncouth in F1 Manager 2022 and more repetitive than a Benny Benassi song.
The top-down dots and a track map once the race speed was increased would have suited us just fine. But Frontier went the extra mile and included TV-style presentation and fully modelled vehicles.
The genie was out of the bottle, and thus, it’s hard to not compare what you see in an F1 Manager title to a driving game. Unfair, yes, but natural.
So, for the sequel, how the cars move on track is said to be closer to the real-world. Based purely on some early work-in-progress footage, there’s still a skittishness present, especially on the corner exits, but it looks much smoother.
When you ask a driver to push, you should now see them attacking kerbs in a more aggressive fashion. There is said to be greater variation in the racing line used, too – sometimes in the prior title, it could all look a bit too familiar.
Drivers should now be able to react to light contact in a more realistic fashion, catching slides or recovering from being off the track more effectively.
Tying into this are further changes to the pitstops. Once again motion captured, only this time with greater authenticity. The squad is also fallible too, with the potential for jammed tyre guns, for example.
To avoid this, there are deeper pit team training and skill trees. A schedule is now accessible, with several different drill types selectable – such as removing tyres or releasing the car. Your aim is to reduce pitstop times without tiring out the team and thus increasing the chance of mistakes.
To oversee their progress is a new job role within the game, that of the Sporting Director and they each come with their own ratings.
More detailed in-race driver systems
After several tens of hours with the previous title, you may have noticed the ability to excessively save tyres, ERS and fuel in DRS trains.
To try and avoid this, and hopefully aim for more dynamic racing in F1 Manager 2023, there are potentially significant changes to how various systems behave.
There is a fresh ERS ‘battle assist’ option to be used in both overtaking and defence, although how this plays out at this stage remains to be seen.
Next, tyre temperature is now simulated through a race across both carcass and surface. Longevity is not just affected by the ambient temperature or if a driver is pushing for long segments of a race, but also their overall ability and even confidence levels.
The said confidence level is a new visual representation, showcasing if a driver is under or over-performing. If the level is low, then the chances of pulling off a stunning last-lap overtake are reduced.
How you oversee the tyre wear, via pace commands through a race, is key to maintaining a high level of confidence and predictable performance.
Revised contract negotiations and driver development
We called for it in our wishlist video for F1 Manager 2023 which we published last year, so happily, the contract system has been updated.
The ability to sign a driver immediately remains but you can now sign a new driver a season ahead of time. Rejoice!
Much more realistic, and so too should be driver development. A significant component to not just F1 Manager, but titles such as Football Manager too, scouting fresh talent and watching younger sports people develop into the next generation is hugely satisfying.
But, in 2022’s release, older drivers didn’t seem to fade quickly enough. In fact, sometimes they still developed at a similar rate as more youthful opponents. You could end up with Fernando Alonso still increasing his abilities way into the 2026 season.
Well, to be fair to the Spaniard, that may very well happen… but hopefully you see the point. Elder competitors of the grid should now tail off in form more obviously as your career progresses, placing a greater emphasis on spotting new blood.
While you cannot manage a Formula 2 or Formula 3 team, the junior formula races are at least now simulated behind the scenes, and you can view far greater detail on race results and performances, helping you pick a star who could turn into the next Sir Lewis Hamilton.
2023 season updates
This is a game that’s replicating the current F1 season, so the teams and drivers are rather obviously included.
But, also part of the roster from launch are the new Las Vegas Strip Street Circuit and Qatar’s Losail Circuit first seen in 2021, missing in 2022 when the first F1 Manager was released, and now back for this year.
Sprints will also debut within F1 Manager 2023 for the first time, six in total. These happened in the real-world last season, notable only by their absence in F1 Manager 22. These appear alongside the ‘Revised Qualifying Format’ tests, where a tyre compound is mandated for each stage.
Further team and driver radio clips have been added, alongside a tweak in their contextual usage and the car models look to be more detailed with greater distinction between teams. Of note, the steering arms and suspension move independently, noticeable when using the halo camera – something even F1 driving games don’t simulate. It’s well worth watching our video embedded above to see it in action.
Smaller tweaks and release information
The more significant updates sit alongside a host of smaller changes. These include the ability to save during any session, stricter cost cap implementation, the introduction of a ‘dilemmas’ system where you must select what you think is the right course of action and aerodynamic part development now including a weight vs durability equation. No, you cannot create a fictional 11th team.
There will be more details about additional features later, such as a brand-new game mode separate from the career: Race Replay. It’s said to “bring players closer to every twist and turn in the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship, allowing them to rewrite key moments.”
It’s also worth noting that once again, the latest F1 Manager game will be released on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. There’s no firm release date yet, other than a ‘summer’ window.