In Line With Team Targets
HIGH The innovative non-racing simulation elements.
LOW The eternal DRS train in all races.
WTF Ferrari winning the 2022 World Championship.
In a year of real-life Formula 1’s actual reboot, which introduced a new F1 car prototype and regulations, my main interest was what this year’s F1 game would do with this opportunity to change things up. As we’ve already seen in my F1 2022 Review, this chance was left underexplored, as the game felt like the first stale reissue of the known formula. Most of my hopes therefore rested with F1 Manager 2022, a second official F1 franchise that would enter the game industry this year – could this game provide the novelty that F1 2022 lacked?
In F1 Manager 2022, there is no player-controlled driving. Instead, we’re only controlling options outside of racing, mostly browsing menus and manually selecting management options such as which staff to hire, which car parts to design, manufacture or maintain, and also how our choice of team’s headquarters may be refurbished or upgraded. Herein, we see the influence of developer Frontier Developments, known for the beloved Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo series, which featured similar managerial elements.
However, a clear distinction between Manager and Planet games is that this time around, the simulation of action is separated from the managerial elements. In those theme park tycoons, we would see the immediate impacts of placing new props, shops and hiring new staff as our park’s visitors would immediately be able to visit them. In Manager, we have to wait to see the results of our managing kick in when the official F1 race weekends arrive, and this is always something more unpredictable as we compete with opaque AI-controlled competitors.
Generally, the game features a dual dynamic of managing the team structure outside of race weekends, and trying to impact the performance of the team’s AI-controlled drivers during competition. Often, this means that we’re stuck with the established level of our team within the pack, which in F1 is very much known – a lower-ranked team in the actual F1 season simply cannot be guided to victory in the first season of managing.
Still, the player’s impact is easily felt, as I was able to complete my first season by bringing the 8th-ranked team of AlphaTauri to 4th byand making the race podium several times, and we even managed to pick up one victory. This felt quite unrealistic, and even though Manager encouraged me to delve into the managerial aspects to try to develop the most advanced car and help my drivers prepare for their races, these results came too easily and too quickly to consider my achievements genuine.
Why? The dynamics of racing simulation. As players, we can only control whether our drivers should push to the limit or reserve tires, fuel and battery life, and when they should come in for a pit stop. Yet while this limits player input on the race, the fact that every race somehow results in unbreakable DRS trains makes it all the more impactful (and the races less realistic). I merely had to situate my drivers in the correct DRS train and charge past at the end of the race to outperform targets.
To explain, DRS means drag reduction system and allows F1 cars to gain immense speed boosts on straight parts of the track (there are usually two or three per circuit). In races, DRS is disabled unless cars are within one second behind the car in front, i.e. an overtaking position. This can also lead to DRS trains, however, as slower cars may follow faster cars due to straight line speed difference. However, in actual Formula 1, simply following cars within one second is much more difficult. Therefore, DRS trains hardly dominate races.
Here, however, DRS trains do dominate. They form at the very start of races, and can be as long as eight cars (out of 20 in total) which allows worse cars to stay in touch with the frontrunners. The fact that the AI also makes some questionably inorganic strategic decisions helps the player to make that final push to end up much more achievable than a realistic simulation would be. In other words, while Manager’s managerial side is engaging and feels realistic, the racing simply does not do it justice.
Therefore, Manager suffers similar issues to F1 2022, as races fail to feel convincing, and any immersion in realistic simulations is canceled out. These issues are somewhat exacerbated by lackluster presentation – the ‘commentary’ variation ahead of races and in-between weekend sections is embarrassingly nonexistent, and the visuals are also a step down from F1 2022. Also, the intrigue of managerial simulation as the strongest feature could just as well have been added to the latter title, which already (underwhelmingly) experimented with manager modes.
F1 Manager 2022 is a refreshing new take on F1 games, underscoring the intense out-of-racing dimensions to the sport, and the managerial modes are expansive and engaging. Still, the premise feels undercut by an unimpressive racing simulation. Therefore, the title’s path up the grid requires improvements in its immersive qualities — as much as playing manager is about putting in work behind the scenes, nothing is more satisfying than witnessing the results of all that effort on the track.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Frontier Developments and published by Frontier Developments. It is currently available on PC, PS4, PS5, and XBO/X/S. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 45 hours were devoted to the single-player mode, and over a career season of the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E, and contains Mild Language. The Rating Summary reads: “This is a racing simulation game in which players assume the role of a Team Principal for a real-world Formula 1 team. Players can manage the team’s facilities, set racing strategies, and race various cars on tracks. Some language in the game is partially censored by audible bleeps (e.g., “For [bleep] sake, man”; “Ah man, that was such [bleep]”; “I am a [bleep] idiot!”).”
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized. This game is menu-driven, so the vital information is readable. No audio cues are of relevance to the gameplay. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.