F1 Manager 2023 PC Review

F1 Manager 2023 spends as much time in the office as the racetrack.

By Fragnarok, Posted 09 Aug 2023

Frontier Developments is no stranger to simulation games. They have already made a name for themselves with Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, Planet Coaster, and Jurassic World Evolution. August 2022 was their first foray into the F1 world with F1 Manager 2022. The second title in the series aims to approve various features but not make drastic changes.

As the name implies, F1 Manager 2023 is all about taking care of the business side of a Formula One international racing team. This includes budgeting, hiring new staff, taking part in promotions, training new drivers, buying equipment, and making judgment calls during every step of the race. This may sound similar to Motorsport Manager, but the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile (FIA) did not officially sanction that title.


F1 Manager 2023, PC, Review, Screenshots, F1 Racing, Racing Game, Racing Simulation
 

Frontier Development’s licensing deal allows them to showcase real-world race drivers, coaches, announcers, and other Formula One personnel. Stages also take place on recreations of racetracks across the world. You might find yourself cruising in Japan's Suzuka International Racing Course or in an intense competition across the Albert Park Circuit in Australia.

Because F1 Manager 2023 mimics real-world events, all of the possible teams are related to the winners, losers, and contenders of the 2022 season. This pool makes up the likely organizations you can pick from. Oracle Red Bull Racing was the overall winner, displacing runner-up Ferrari.  AMG Petronas aims to reclaim first place after losing a nearly eight-year winning streak.  BWT Alpine has been slowly rising in the annual ranks and hopes to reach at least third place globally.

McLaren has a mix of both pros and rookies to test the limits. Alfa Romeo had a new paired team in 2022 and wants to prove they are even stronger in 2023. Aston Martin Cogizant has a new team for this year after one of their staple drivers chose to retire. MoneyGram Haas has mostly been in lower standings but hopes to do better this year. Scuderia AlphaTauri had a terrible time in 2022 but did not want to make up for past mistakes. Finally, Williams impressed the world as a FIA Formula Two team and now wants to aim for Formula One.

From the number of real-world brands and names, there are many corporations and logos throughout F1 Manager 2023. It is a little hard not to be bombarded by advertisements for the likes of Shell, Amazon, Cisco, Singha, and more companies. However, this is very on par with FIA and most sports games, where sponsorships are a big part of the experience.

 

F1 Manager 2023, PC, Review, Screenshots, F1 Racing, Racing Game, Racing Simulation


There are three different modes in F1 Manager 2023: Career, Race Replay, and Exclusive Scenarios. The Career mode is the full business experience, including taking meetings, reading e-mails, and planning day-to-day tasks. It allows for planning the employee’s stress, practicing a race track, and qualifiers before a Grand Prix.

Race Replay jumps past most of the pre-management and starts directly during a different Grand Prix. You can either start from the beginning of the race or jump straight into a highlight known as a “Race Moment”. This was a real-world event where a specific team or driver really showed off their prowess or expertise. Exclusive Scenarios are similar but don’t always reflect what happened during the season - sometimes pairing tracks, teams, and other variables together to make a more exciting race.

Most people will probably pick up F1 Manager 2023 for the full simulation. Here you will have to answer the Board of Directors. They have a certain confidence level and review your success, milestones, and finances. If you prove too inept after either the Hungarian or Abu Dhabi race course, you will be fired - essentially a game over. The board will have quotas for the current season, the upcoming year, and even a five-year plan.

You begin with $70 million to manage things. This is used to improve cars and pay drivers and engineering staff. Additional personnel - like the pit crew and scouting agents - are only represented as team size, not individuals, and have an overall salary. Most teams start with two main drivers, a reserve racer, a technician chief, a head of aerodynamics, two race engineers, and a sporting director.


F1 Manager 2023, PC, Review, Screenshots, F1 Racing, Racing Game, Racing Simulation


More staff can be hired, but it first takes several days to scout them out and then negotiate an offer. It might not always be worth it, as still there are only a limited amount of drivers per race or heads of a department. Why would you pay someone who is just warming the benches all year?

You can also use various funds to research and design new car parts. This includes custom chassis, suspension, wings, side pods, engines, gearboxes, and more. Each new part takes time and money to make. Because there is always a team of racers, their cars do not always have to match up. You can mix and match designs to fit a driver’s strengths or anticipate random occurrences on the track.

Additionally, you are also responsible for the headquarters maintenance. Over time facilities will decay, making them less effective. Further improvements can also increase employee happiness or make things smoother on race day. For example, one might want to have an onsite factory to build cars, a team hub to let people relax, or even a tour center to gain extra income from visiting fans.

Under most circumstances, money is made from sponsorship deals. This can include merchandising or hosting events on different dates. These obligations often also come with some sort of penalty at the same time. For example, someone may offer to pay over $500,000 for the use of the pit box, but this will cause the pit crew to be heavily distracted. Is the money worth the potential poor performance, or will you decline entirely?


F1 Manager 2023, PC, Review, Screenshots, F1 Racing, Racing Game, Racing Simulation


Qualifiers and Grand Prix occur on set days, so you will have ample time to plan things over a week, month, or more. If there is nothing major left to do, time can be advanced. This will auto-pause if an important meeting, e-mail, or something else comes in.

When a race weekend takes place, it is divided into three parts: practice, qualifying, and the full race. Practice allows three one-hour sessions to test car and driver combinations and make last-minute changes. Qualifiers require a driver to have faster lap times than competitors, with the lowest five being fully eliminated; it also determines starting position. The entire race day has a set number of laps, where the drivers and pit crew will be tested.

Fans of Gran Turismo’s B-Spec mode will feel right at home during race day. The pair of drivers will be AI controlled while you give them orders on how to perform. This can include speed, handling, fuel management, and aiming for clean air. Weather, other drivers, and even the other teammate can cause wear and tear.

Calling a car into the pit box can be essential to prevent crashes, fix tires, or refuel. This needs to be well timed, as maintenance in the box takes time that competitors can use to catch up. It typically is best to do repairs when having a major lead or during a red flag call when all racers must pause and reset due to an emergency.

 

F1 Manager 2023, PC, Review, Screenshots, F1 Racing, Racing Game, Racing Simulation


F1 Manager 2023 has multiple camera views, including the total racecourse overhead, rearview, and full first-person. The action can also be paused to make tactical choices or sped up if nothing major happens. However, only the bird’s eye camera can be selected at four speeds and higher.

The driver AI is a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from very cautious to near suicidal. There can be some races where no one is in danger and others where ten cars suddenly crash into each other. Even odder is that the actual driving is a bit off. Cars whip around and zigzag far too quickly, then easily stabilize. The front wheel axles also look like they do not animate their pivots for such rapid motion.

While F1 Manager 2023 is eager to show off the cars, tracks, and arenas, the human character models are a bit off-putting. Everyone has rather dead and soulless eyes and hair meshes more akin to PlayStation 3-era games. Character animations are also rather stiff. These models are even more jarring by how much real-world footage and photos are used for cutscenes and UI.

Saving depends on the gameplay mode. Career can only be saved between qualifiers and races, making it more crucial to make critical decisions. The single autosave is rather aggressive and updates every day - players should be sure to save to prevent being in a bad situation manually. Race Replay and Exclusive Scenarios are much more lax about saving, allowing you to suspend the action during any part of the race. This can make things easier to undo past mistakes.


F1 Manager 2023, PC, Review, Screenshots, F1 Racing, Racing Game, Racing Simulation
 

F1 Manager 2023 is a neat take on the sports management genre. It has enough systems and complexity to appeal to anyone that got a kick out of the Football Manager series. However, it seems like the series is poised to be an annual title. It may be that consumers will soon just be paying for different rosters and scenarios rather than updated gameplay.
 

Kurtis Seid (@KurtisSeid)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Frontier Developments
Developer(s): Frontier Developments
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Racing, Business, Sports
Release Date: 2023-07-31

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