ASTON Martin is a disaster when I take over the Formula 1 team at the start of the season in F1 Manager 2022, a new game by Cambridge-based Frontier Developments.
Our car may be clad in beautiful British racing green, but speedwise it’s a tractor.
In the opening Grand Prix in Bahrain, we beat out the even worse Williams, but couldn’t keep up with the rest of the field. There is a lot of work ahead of us.
In the HQ at Silverstone I see some hope: Our budget is quite competitive and our facilities are a good foundation for the future.
Since we have a lot of catch-up to do, I commission some upgrades to our design centre and wind tunnel immediately.
I also sack our chief designer, whose abilities are not rated very highly, after scouting for a suitable replacement.
Putting him to work, I order a new chassis and underfloor design.
If you choose to play as Aston or Williams, you’ll need a lot of patience. Points or wins are very far away indeed.
Races will all be about gathering experience. One way to maximise that is by playing the Free Practice mini-game, a mode built to find a good car set-up for your drivers.
This can net drivers some temporary bonus attribute points for Qualifying and Grand Prix, as well as additional experience points.
Collecting enough experience points will eventually yield a development point. You can invest these into permanent improvements for your drivers.
In this case, our analysts bemoan our deficits in braking in particular, so I invest the development point Lance Stroll earned in his braking skill.
For a backmarker team, things really only get exciting when extraordinary things happen – things like rain.
During the Australian Grand Prix, drops start falling at the perfect time for us, and a pit stop for more suitable tyres nets us some position gains.
I ultimately lose this advantage once again by stopping for dry weather tyres one lap too early. Lesson learned.
Back at HQ our part designs are finalised, so I give the go-ahead for manufacturing. It’ll be a step in the right direction at least.
I try to renew our drivers’ contracts, but both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll make outrageous demands for bonus payments.
You already get enormous salaries guys, you don’t need a bonus for finishing in 19th place.
I, on the other hand, am not paid enough to deal with this. Time for me to head out for greener pastures at Alfa Romeo – which of course is a bit ironic, considering the team colours.
Compared to Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo has built a rocket ship. We can finally go motor racing, Toto!
Here’s where F1 Manager 2022 truly shines.
In a race, you as the player may not drive the car, but you have control over the resources your drivers have access to: You tell them when they can push their tyres, use a higher engine mode, or boost their speed with energy from the battery.
You have team orders at your disposal or can tell one of your drivers to keep the rest of the field back, while your other pilot builds his lead.
And, of course, you have complete control over their pit stop strategy.
At Aston Martin, doing these things made no difference whatsoever.
However, at Alfa Romeo I frantically switch between the views of my two drivers and babysit their tyre temperatures, fuel deltas, and battery charges.
While I sped up most races with Aston to get things over with, I find myself pausing now to study and compare lap times and look at how the tyres on other cars hold up.
I pull off an undercut strategy with Valtteri Bottas, which enables us to snatch 4th place away from Sergio Perez in a breathtaking battle to the finish line.
My rookie driver Zhou Guanyu charges up the field into 6th place, but has to yield this to Lewis Hamilton in the end after some intense fighting over several laps.
Having a competitive car means you have more fun in the race –- who could’ve known?
It also means that we can finally satisfy our sponsors’ performance targets and enjoy some bonus payouts.
While Alfa Romeo does not have the budget of Aston Martin, this will help balance things out and enable us to make investments into the future. A game changer.
There are more in-depth management games out there than F1 Manager 2022, but with its good accessibility and presentation – you get to hear actual radio messages from the drivers and race engineers – the game manages to be something that Formula 1 fans of any background can have fun with.
While experienced simulation gamers may find the depth a bit lacking in the long term, anyone else will have a field day driving and surviving.
Written by Marco Wutz on behalf of GLHF.
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