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F1 Manager 22 review: A faithful recreation of the motorsport for die-hard fans – The Independent

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Drive to survive, as you lead your team to victory
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Climb up the constructor standings in the world of F1
It’s all changed in F1, but the 2022 season has proved some things stay the same. Despite the new regulations, changing liveries and driver line-ups, Max Verstappen is still at the top of the standings and Ferrari are still finding a way to be their own worst enemy.
“The Prancing Horse” took to the regulations well – but infuriated fans and viewers with a series of bizarre strategy calls, as well as some truly bad luck. Ferrari highlights the idea races are usually defined by bold – or ridiculous – strategy calls fielded by confident strategists in the pits to drivers flying around the circuit, and that in itself presents a challenge. The 150mph debates between driver and engineer can lead to glory or failure.
Now, one of the biggest changes off the circuit in the 2022 season of F1 has arrived with Frontier Developments’s F1 Manager 22, and gamers will be able to answer the big “what ifs” of F1 strategy.
What if McLaren had demanded that Lando Norris pit for wet tyres in China last year? What if Ferrari weren’t so numb to the idea of letting their own team and very good car win a few races? Well, with you at the helm of one of 10 F1 teams, you can answer that yourself. You’re in charge. You’re Toto, Christian, Ottmar and Gunther, instead of Lewis, Max, George, Lando, Carlos, Mick and Charles.
But how far does that control go? And is it any good to be the boss? Read on for our full review of F1 Manager 22.
Our review is based on the Xbox series X version of F1 Manager 22. We chose Williams Racing as our team in career mode and spent time developing our cars, gaining points on raceday and planning tyre changes on the fly.
Review
Upon loading up F1 Manager, you’re informed of the situation and the Drive to Survive energy is strong – until you start playing.
You choose a team, and you’re told your car parts are rubbish, so are your drivers, you’ve not got much money, and the staff don’t really know what they are doing. Really, you might not know what you’re doing either.
To top it all off, you’ve got a race in Bahrain in a few days. Good luck to you, the new boss.
F1 Manager 22 is almost overwhelming in scope. While F1 22 presented a grand array of technical detail, F1 Manager 22 almost asks you to take up a wrench and make the changes to the car yourself. In gaming terms, this is F1’s equivalent to Football Manager if F1 22 was FIFA.
There’s an impressive array of systems, even if they are a bit overwhelming at first
Unlike Drive to Survive, F1 Manager 22 will intimidate newcomers, due to the avalanche of data, options and possibilities available in the game. However, perseverance will be rewarded, and hardcore fans of the sport will find plenty to love from the get-go.
You’re in charge of the whole team, and you only report to the board. The home screen gives you the basics – your current team situation, the drivers, the standings and the calendar. By flicking through the tabs, you’re thrown into so much more. The cars, the builds of the two separate cars utilised by each team. The drivers, their performance and potential replacements. The staff, their experience and capabilities, and your facilities – where the magic happens.
For Formula 1 lovers, F1 Manager 22 is the perfect sandbox, with drivers and staff members from F1 to F3 recreated digitally and available to fill teams. Your F1 future is whatever you make it. Want to pair Verstappen with Pierre Gasly once more? Sure thing! Fancy having Arthur Leclerc join your team as reserve driver? Why not? Want to offer Nick Latifi a long-term deal at Williams? Go for it!
The home screen will give you all the basic info but there’s much more under the surface
As long as your budget lines up – F1 Manager 22 allows you to do what you want. The direction of the team is up to you. Hiring, firing, facility construction and car design – it’s all yours.
The level of detail is complex – but the amount of feedback, analysis and reports on offer manage to curb the bluntness of it all. Yes, you’re struck over the head with decisions and problems, but you also have an inbox full of car analysis and test reports to guide you through the storm of numbers.
Five minutes into the game, you won’t likely know your front-wing from a sidepod – or at least the benefits of developing new versions of that gear. Hours in, you’ll be chastising yourself for putting 50 hours in the underfloor when you should’ve been focusing on suspension.
Choose from one of 10 teams and lead them to podium position
Thankfully, the entire experience has been dumbed down slightly. The grand designs, scheming and strategising of Formula 1 have been distilled and gamified by Frontier Developments. You’re told of the repercussions and benefits of anything you can do to your car. It’s not guesswork.
All of these numbers, tweaked through part development, practice sessions and experience points feed into a raceday algorithm – which is dressed over with extremely effective Formula 1 presentation when you hit the track. While there are some rigid animations, there’s a level of immersion that can’t be beaten here, which is deep to the point of distracting, in the best way.
F1 Manager 22 has realistic audio captured from engineers and drivers. I almost gasped when Nicholas Latifi started talking about tyre oscillation to his engineer. When Alex Albon sighed because of his tyres, it was deja-vu. Crofty is there on commentary, and the data and time tower comes straight in from the race you’ve just seen on TV. It’s all here, from the onboard camera angles to the sounds of a raceday.
Experience raceday like an actual broadcast, complete with halo cameras
All of that is happening as you’re planning tyre changes, keeping an eye on the weather, keeping an eye on timings, managing ERS deployment and fuel loads and adjusting driver tactics. All it takes is one big crash – Schumacher spearing Vettel into the boards at Bahrain – and your plans are up in the air.
Thankfully, F1 Manager 22 allows you to pause, rest and plan. It’s a breather that is more than welcome. Especially when one decision can ruin a raceday – a critical loss to most teams, be they scrapping for a title or even just for points.
Some of these racedays turn into processions, and you’ll be frustrated if you’re in charge of Haas or Williams, as it’s likely going to be a case of watching your teams duke it out for the gain of nobody, and no points.
However, when the racedays work, they work. A bold strategy call to get in laps at the Spanish Grand Prix allowed my Williams cars to make Q2 for the first time in the season, as rain hit and scuppered everyone else, all while Alex Albon rode his soft tyres to the bank. A wild four pit-stop race with intermittent rain spurts in Monaco turned the race order on its head, with bold pit gambits being rewarded.
But as much as F1 Manager 22 allows you to feel like a genius, it’ll let you know you’re a dunce just as quickly. Demanding Albon to push on hard tyres in Baku, only for him to lock up (a constant issue) and spanner his FW22 into a wall, cost us our first chance of points.
Between the ecstasy of nicking a top-10 finish, and the agony of being ploughed into a barrier – F1 Manager 22 is a faithful recreation of the motorsport. For better or worse. The game won’t convert people to the sport in the way Drive to Survive has, or in the way FIFA and Football Manager work magic, but there’s a serious simulation here and die-hards, above all, will appreciate it the most.
The people who follow the sport week in, week out will have the most fulfilling experience out of any possible userbase. Novices may find it a little tough to get into if they are blinded by the data and the sheer volume of information on offer. However, there’s a rewarding experience for all to be had, and genuine thrills on offer. It is fast-paced and brainy, with plenty of meat on the bones.
There are a few gripes, though – it feels like there’s a lack of depth in finances and sponsorships, and in race goals, where a few arbitrary objectives are thrown at you. Customisation options for your team are lacking – an annoyance when considering this game lasts multiple seasons.
F1 Manager 22 is a bright start for Frontier Developments, and it’s worthy of picking up points and plaudits alongside F1 22. The future is bright, and if the envelope is pushed a little more in the years to come (Frontier will develop a yearly game until 2024), we may have a true sporting great on our hands.
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The Independent
Frontier Developments
There’s an impressive array of systems, even if they are a bit overwhelming at first
Frontier Developments
The home screen will give you all the basic info but there’s much more under the surface
Frontier Developments
Choose from one of 10 teams and lead them to podium position
Frontier Developments
Experience raceday like an actual broadcast, complete with halo cameras
Frontier Developments
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