During the past four Formula 1 seasons, I’ve watched almost every race. Back during the 2019 Formula 1 racing season, a group of my friends and I got really into Formula 1. We would meet up on Sunday mornings (sometimes in the middle of the night), and have a watch party for most races. We even attended our first live race in Austin that year (2019).
Even with my growing love for Formula 1 racing, I still managed to not purchase the official F1 video game over the years. My only experience with these games before this weekend was driving a few laps in an F1 2019 demo.
I’ve been a fan of racing games all of my life — from silly cart racers (Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing, Crash Team Racing) to the more realistic simulation racers (Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, Dirt) and everything in between (Need for Speed, Road Rage, Cruisin’ USA).
Over the past few years I’ve become obsessed with Gran Turismo Sport (PlayStation 4) and now Gran Turismo 7 (PlayStation 5). With all of the time I spend playing the Gran Turismo series, I thought I didn’t have any room for another racing sim. I now know that I was wrong.
F1® 22 is a totally different driving experience than the racing games I’ve played before. In real life, Formula 1 drivers are at the top of the driving/racing list. While Gran Turismo and other racing games usually give you a few chances to make mistakes and still come out on top, Formula 1 has little to no margin for error. One single mistake can cost you a podium, or even ruin an entire race.
Different Ways to Play • Game Modes – Solo, Multi (Local & Online)
F1® 22 features a variety of game modes for both single and multiplayer (local and online) gameplay. The first non-racing game mode that stuck out to me was the F1 Life social player hub, where players can collect and show off their supercars, fashion, accessories and trophies. You can even customize your lobby (or what seems to be a mansion). The F1 Life seems to be some sort of chat room area where you can interact with friends and other players to show off your achievements.
When it comes to the track there are a few different ways to play. I mostly stuck to the F1 single player career mode, which I will go into more detail later on. Players can also create their own Grand Prix weekend, or go straight into a race in any of the famous F1 race tracks, including Miami and other new additions this season. You can even pick your favorite team and specific driver.
Time trial is a less risky mode where players are able to test out certain tracks and vehicles without the traffic. Racing against yourself allows players to go after their best time. Hot Laps is another single player mode, but one that didn’t really interest me. I’m here to drive Formula 1 cars. I think it’s nice that they have “supercars” to add to your collection in the F1 Life mode, but I don’t really care to drive them in this game. I can drive supercars in Gran Turismo 7.
I didn’t get into any multiplayer or online modes, but it’s great to see that the game has some two player, split screen modes. I like the sound of a two player career. It could be fun to have a friendly rivalry, driving for the same team.
I know that the F1 video game series has become a big game in the esports racing community, so I’m sure their online modes are getting better and better each year. I’d think the top online modes would be weekly events, ranked and league races. I don’t really mess with the online modes in racing sims, because I’m terrible against real human players. For now, I’m fine racing against the AI drivers.
The player hub wasn’t really that active yet, but I’m sure it will be a fine way to track your progress through different modes. There is also the podium pass which is sort of like a Fortnite or other online game battle pass, the difference is that you gain points for any in-game activity, whether it’s online or not.
Learning to Drive • Accessibility, Assistance & Customization
When it comes to accessibility, assistance and customization there are so many options in F1® 22. After failing to decide which settings I needed turned on and off, I learned the best strategy is to start on Beginner mode and slowly adjust settings as you play. This helped me actually understand what I was turning on and off in the menu.
At first I had steering assist, braking assist and traction control turned all the way on. I now have them set to off or low. The more I played F1® 22, the more I learned and that’s when you get to shed away some of the assists and get closer to a true racing simulation. I don’t know if I’ll ever get rid of the Dynamic Racing Line completely. I do like the line showing me when to brake and what points to aim for in my cornering.
There were some options that I had turned on but brought back later on. It’s all about finding the right combinations. I like driving manual with the suggested gear, so I know what to gear to aim for on turns. The problem is, when the track is crowded with other racers and I’m looking down at the suggested gear, or being distracted by something else on my HUD (head-up display).
The most drastic change was traction control. Once I lowered that I found myself sliding all over the place. I had to control my throttle on turns, instead of going all out. This is where I found myself seeing more of the crash cam, which is a great device, since it allows you to rewind a bit and try to not crash the second time around.
My Rise (F2 to F1) • Career Mode
I began my single player career as an F2 driver. I was able to complete the Formula 2 season in about two nights and move onto a Formula 1 team. The F2 season feels sort of like a preseason in a game like Madden or NBA 2K, it’s like an F1 season lite. You race on the same tracks, but the cars aren’t as fast, and there isn’t really anything else going on other than race weekends.
The F2 “preseason” is the best time to figure out your proper driving settings. The cars are a bit slower with only six gears (as opposed to eight in an F1 car). You get to use the DRS (Drag Reduction System) in F2, but the ERS (or battery overtake button) is only available once you make the jump to F1.
Once you make it to Formula 1, you get to work with the R&D team to build new parts for your car, there are hot lap events in between race weekends, and you even have to “attend” media events (or at least make some decisions as a driver). The game is basically showing you that no one cares about F2 drivers, while F1 drivers get to have all of the perks.
At the time of creating my driver, I chose to create a French driver named Francois Fugazi. We don’t see many American drivers (or any at all currently in Formula 1), so I decided to go European with my character. Once I made the jump to F1, I told myself that an F2 driver would not go straight to one of the top teams. This is why I chose Williams, the bottom team. Also, I wanted to be teammates with my favorite driver, Alex Albon.
If I can win some races, or grab some points as a Williams driver, then I know I’ll be great on one of the better teams next year.
A Full Event • Race Weekends
One reason I never purchased an F1 game in the past is because I wasn’t ready for two hour long, 50+ lap races. I really love the customization of race weekends to make them last as long as you want. Also, it’s great to be able to change it and not be stuck to one format for the entire season.
In F2, I had a single thirty minute practice session, a one shot qualifying lap (to make it challenging), and a five lap race. In one short practice session I was able to run some laps to get acclimated to the track, practice some qualifying hot laps, and try to learn the corners. I’m not a track and corner memorizer, that is why I prefer to keep the corner guides set to on.
I haven’t used sprint races in any of my race weekends yet (a sprint is a new pre-race to determine driver positions in the real race). While in real life a Sprint is about ⅕ to ⅓ a full race (in laps), in the game the Sprint and Race are the same length, as of now.
After making my way into F1 I started using the three thirty minute practice sessions, even if I wasn’t using them all to the fullest. I stuck with the single qualifying lap, because I like the challenge. Right now, my main races are still set to five laps. In a five lap race there’s no need to pit, I would like to extend these at some point to add a pit stop within the race.
I know there are ways to make tire wear more prominent so that drivers have to hit the pit. I was happy that the Formula 1 season had a bit more to it than the Formula 2 season. If it was just race weekends, that could get a little repetitive after a while. There’s a lot going on with vehicle customization and parts management. Also, driver media, marketing and merchandise plays a role in the game.
While the race weekends are the main part of career mode, I still like that there’s more to do. I could have chosen a shortened season, but I decided to go with a full season because I want to drive all of the tracks.
Even though you find yourself driving the same track over and over for a full weekend during a race weekend, it’s still exciting because each event is a bit different. During practice there are some mini games that help you learn the track. Qualifying is all about driving perfectly around the track as fast as possible. Those first two events usually involve little to no traffic. Every car is driving on their own.
One thing I love about these races is that you get to start from a stop. In most racing games I play (other than Mario Kart) races begin with a rolling start. I like concentrating on the lights and waiting for them to go off. A bad start can totally ruin a great starting position.
Final Thoughts (for now)
Although I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle a second racing simulation game, I think that F1® 22 is much different than Gran Turismo 7 (which I’m currently playing most nights) in many ways. One main difference between F1® 22 and Gran Turismo 7 is the way races are handled. In the Gran Turismo series, you are always starting from the back, fighting against the clock (and remaining laps) to get to the front of the pack.
In F1® 22, you earn your starting position during a race weekend. The work that goes into getting a great starting position is just as important as the actual race itself. Although it’s ideal to start at the front of the pack (in pole position), it actually is fun to battle it out with other cars in a race.
In Gran Turismo 7, passing a driver can usually be done pretty quick and easy. Once you get close you can usually pass an opponent in a turn or a few. Formula 1 racing requires longer battles: consisting of DRS, drafting, late-braking, many close calls and other useful tools. You may even find yourself fighting another driver for a couple of laps.
Although I usually stick to one racing sim at a time, I think I will keep F1® 22 in my roster of games to play. It’s quite different and fun to play. I also have the familiarity factor from watching F1 races most weekends.
I really enjoy playing a video game version of something I enjoy in real life. Back in 2020, during the NBA bubble season, I ended up playing NBA 2K that year because I started watching basketball again. Earlier this year, I got into watching the WWE again (Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown), this also happened when the new WWE 2K22 came out, which is another game that is currently in my rotating games roster.
I will say that the familiarity factor in gaming only really works if a game is “good enough” to play. Loving something in real life cannot make a terrible game into a good game. I guess I should explore more of this familiarity factor in a later post, but for now I will continue to play through my season in F1® 22 with Francois Fugazi.
F1® 22 Champions Edition releases today (June 28, 2022) on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and Windows PC, with the standard edition releasing this Friday, July 1, 2022.
*myVGBC.com was given an F1® 22 Champions Edition review code for PlayStation 5.