I enjoyed my time with F1 Manager 2022. It had all the sheen of an officially licenced Formula 1 game; combining approachability for the “Drive to Survive” generation with just enough depth to satisfy veteran F1 fans.
I purchased it on release day and spent an engaging 17 hours transforming the tired old nag of Ferrari into a proud, Prancing Horse as I won both Driver and Constructor championships at a canter (apologies).
Was it a perfect game? Far from it, but ‘22 represented an encouraging first outing for developer Frontier Developments, building a solid foundation for this year’s entry. The question is, is F1 Manager 2023 a big enough improvement to justify another purchase?
Out with the old…
F1 Manager 2023 sees you assume the role of an F1 Team Principal responsible for recruitment, facility management and car research and development. You’re also tasked with overseeing the team’s race day performance, making incisive strategy calls that can shape your team’s season.
F1 Manager 2023 refreshes ‘22’s roster of drivers, teams and circuits as expected (including F1 Manager debutants Losail International Circuit and the Las Vegas Strip Street Circuit), with Frontier Developments increasing the F1 fever by adding more nuanced game mechanics like detailed Pit Crew training regimes, the immersive “Visor Cam” and an intriguing “Race Replay” mode, allowing you to right the supposed wrongs of the 2023 season.
However, don’t expect to see Daniel Ricciardo driving for AlphaTauri from the outset – Nyck de Vries still has the seat. Of course, whether you choose to give him a full season’s drive is entirely up to you – Helmut Marko’s not going to stride into your living room to tell you off, is he? (Is he?)
The Formula 2 and Formula 3 paddocks are also embraced tighter in F1 Manager 2023, with feeder series results viewable in the game’s career mode, making it much simpler for players to scout future driving talent.
Scouting is especially important in ‘23, as your drivers’ abilities will noticeably nosedive as they age – yes, even the mercurial Fernando Alonso’s powers will decline. It represents another small, yet realistic, upgrade over ‘22 – you can even elect to sign drivers and staff at the end of the season as opposed to instantaneously, which was slightly immersion-breaking in last season’s game.
Déjà vu sums up initial impressions of ‘23, seeing as it retains the same music, fonts and menu layouts as ‘22. But hey, it feels like an authentic F1 experience from the outset – presentation was one of ‘22’s strong suits after all.
However, the main menu has a couple of interesting new options; Race Replay and “Exclusive Scenarios”. Exclusive Scenarios throw a spanner in the F1 works by throwing up entertaining scenarios with outlandish themes; including races with equalised car performance.
Available for Deluxe Edition owners only (three Exclusive Scenarios are also available for those who pre-order the game), Exclusive Scenarios add a little more intrigue to the F1 Manager formula, providing short and sharp hits of race day action.
They allow players to forgo the minutiae of day-to-day team management tasks to focus simply on managing a race team in a contrived scenario.
Standard Race Replays operate similarly but are grounded within real F1 storylines, ranging from simple “Starting Grid” scenarios for all teams (aim to beat teams’ real-world performance) to the snappier “Race Moments”, pertaining to a specific flashpoint in a race.
One example of this is “Fernando’s Gamble”, based on the Monaco Grand Prix’s lead battle as the rain intensified. If Fernando Alonso had switched to intermediates instead of mediums could he have won? You can attempt it yourself in-game.
Plan for success
One Exclusive Scenario – titled “Tactical Masterclass” – sums up the new game mode perfectly, seeing you take control of Mercedes as they find themselves under attack from the freshly-shod Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez around Interlagos.
George Russell starts off in the lead on heavily worn tyres, with veteran team mate Lewis Hamilton close behind on part-worn mediums.
Given his fading rubber, I immediately decide to make Russell my sacrificial lamb, instigating a position switch that lets Hamilton loose out front. I instruct Russel to defend his position aggressively via the Tactics menu and hope he can hold off the Red Bull onslaught long enough for Hamilton to sneak away.
It works, although Russell has effectively ruined his race to see Mercedes win. As Team Principal, sometimes you need to make the tough calls. Thankfully, it paid off (this time). This is F1 Manager 2023 at its best.
Frontier Developments promise to release new Race Replays after every grand prix weekend, allowing players to experiment with their own strategic takes on the most recent F1 action.
Although the game was mostly a smooth experience, I encountered one or two bugs in my 20-plus hours playthrough. The Monaco tunnel glitch is a disappointing returnee from ‘22 (rain appears inside the tunnel as well as outside), while I encountered a random game crash just after I’d secured my first points of the season with McLaren, which ultimately led to my dismissal – the other 10 terrible races were just bad luck, of course.
Frontier has already announced a Day 1 patch will release on the 27th of July to combat several known bugs and game stability issues, but the Monaco tunnel retains its micro-climate, sadly.
Car movement has been tweaked but retains much of the skittishness of ‘22, making wheel-to-wheel battles a difficult watch.
Also, it’s still not possible to skip to the end of a session if both of your cars have retired. Would Toto Wolff hang around to watch the end if both his cars were out of the race? No, so why should I?
Although F1 Manager 2023 represents a slight improvement on its predecessor it still inherits much of ’22’s structure and feel, with minor increases in difficulty and complexity. The big takeaway is the intriguing Race Replay and Exclusive Scenario modes, both of which add an interesting new way to play the game in bite-size form.
Even if they were designed with the “Drive to Survive” generation in mind I found them to be great fun and free from the career mode’s constrictive cost-cap shackles.
Undoubtedly, F1 Manager 2023 has a few quirks; it still takes too long to manage a whole race weekend, for example. Sure, you can simulate practice sessions but this leaves your drivers short on set-up confidence and track knowledge, making micromanagement essential to success.
Without it, your drivers’ confidence rating – how proficient they’ll be at overtaking, maintaining pace and minimising mistakes – will be too low to achieve optimal results.
On the other hand, fine-tuning your pitcrew’s training schedule is the kind of detail F1 fans requested for ‘23, with tyre temperatures requiring constant monitoring during races – just like real-world F1.
Is it a big enough improvement on ‘22 to warrant a purchase, though? Possibly not, but if you missed out first time around, F1 Manager 2023 is the definitive way to unleash your inner Guenther Steiner.
It’s a couple of sandwiches short of a Red Bull catering budget for me, but Race Replays and Exclusive Scenarios offer a fresh take on Frontier Developments’ F1 Manager formula.
F1 Manager 2023 release date
F1 Manager 2023 is available to pre-order digitally now, complete with three exclusive Race Moments as a pre-order bonus. The Deluxe Edition is also available for pre-order, offering 12 Exclusive Scenarios and early access gameplay on the 27th of July.
F1 Manager 2023 will release digitally on the 31st of July across PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.
|Release date||31st July 2023 (27th July Deluxe Edition early access)|
|Available platforms||PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S|
|Best played with||Mouse and keyboard|
Full disclosure: A game code was provided by the developers for review purposes. Here is our review policy.