Motorsport Manager: The RaceFans review

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Motorsport Manager makes its long-awaited leap from mobile to full game on November 10th. Will Wood has been playing the final release version.

It’s a peculiar quirk of motorsport that what happens far away from the track is often more critical to determining how championships are decided than what happens on it.

From engineering research and development to the complexities of the driver market, sponsorship and race strategy, what better sport is there to base a management simulation game on than Formula One?

But despite a number of popular and critically acclaimed F1 management sims in the nineties, there hasn’t been a true modern version of classics like Grand Prix Manager or Grand Prix World for almost two decades.

Happily, Playsport Games have stepped up to produce a long-awaited racing management game in the form of the imaginatively-titled Motorsport Manager.

Taking on the virtual role of team principal, Motorsport Manager offers players the chance to take the reins of one of 30 original teams over three original single-seater racing series in an entirely fictionalised motorsport game world.

From managing finances, signing drivers and team personnel, building up team resources, developing your car and coping with the challenges of race day from the pit wall, Motorsport Manager puts the gameplay focus on the factory as much as on the grid.

Learning from the best

Steinmann: The team to beat
The brainchild of independent games developer Christian West – who single-handedly coded the original mobile version in his bedroom – Motosport Manager is a fully-featured retail release that expands on everything that made the mobile game a success.

To bring the game to PCs the newly formed Playsport Games studio have teamed up with Sega. That can only raise expectations, as this is the publisher behind gaming’s most successful sports management series, Football Manager.

Unsurprisingly, Motorsport Manager carries with it so much of the same DNA of its footballing counterpart, meaning anyone familiar with Sega’s flagship series will instantly feel right at home with the game’s front-end menu design and gameplay loop.

But even newcomers to the management genre will find the game surprisingly accessible. An extensive tutorial system walks players through every facet of the game and comes highly recommended for all no matter your experience with the genre.

Creating your character allows you to choose your back-story to determine your manager’s perks – be it a boost to your drivers’ morale if you were an ex-driver yourself, design perks if you select an engineering background or a sponsorship boost if your character has financial roots.

This is a game driven by numbers, with attributes playing a key role in every meaningful action from how quickly your team develops new parts to how effective your upgrades are.

Thankfully, the game features an intuitive menu system that makes it very easy to keep track of the various parameters at play. Emails from your team help you to keep up to date with any potential problems to contend with and the game will highlight any matters of importance before allowing you to progress time, making it easier to keep track of what you should be doing.

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Plugging into the prat-perch

You call the shots during races
Predictably, the actual racing side of the game is perhaps the most enjoyable. You have full control over car preparation, setup and fuel and tyre strategy. You can run practice programmes to earn experience points to unlock boosts to help improve tyre wear or race pace, while qualifying includes a fun mini-game where you attempt to help your drivers reach maximum tyre temperature before they reach their flying lap.

Races themselves are exciting and dynamic. With live telemetry from the car, you advise your drivers to push or back off, turn engines up or down depending on how tyre temperatures, fuel levels or race circumstances dictate.

The game runs on a real-time 3D engine that is smooth and not too taxing on systems, while the plethora of stats and info boxes available on the screen mean that all the data and information you could want to help plan your race is just a click or two away.

You’ll naturally find yourself using this data to play to your team’s strengths. Have a driver with high overtaking ability but low consistency? Put them on an aggressive strategy that may include an extra pit stop and let them pass cars on track. If you have a more conservative but smooth driver, put them on harder tyres and let them make time up while rivals take extra stops.

With AI retirements, component failures, constantly changing track and weather conditions and even safety cars and red flag interventions all factors to consider, you cannot afford to lose concentration for a single lap.

Successfully managing a tricky race and bringing both cars home for a double points finish or snatching a surprise podium can feel intensely rewarding, while losing a $200,000 bonus for a top eight finish after being passed on the run to the line with no fuel left is infuriating.

Fantasy Formula One

The unofficial tracks have a familiar feel
As an unlicensed product, this is not a Formula 1 game. There are no real-world championships, teams, drivers or circuits on offer here. But what Motorsport Manager lacks in authenticity, it makes up for by offering a rich and vibrant virtual world.

The Global Motorsport Association that governs the racing world of Motorsport Manager will regularly change series calendars as well as regulations which, as you progress up the championships, you will have the opportunity to influence in your favour when put up to vote.

The three tiers of championship – starting with the European Racing Series and the Asia-Pacific Super Cup up to the World Motorsport Championship – each have ten unique teams to join. Each team has its own merits and weaknesses that add a different dimension to managing each of the 30 teams which can move up or down the championship tiers.

There’s the plucky, cash-strapped underdogs who still enjoy a strong team morale, the perennial midfielders who have built their best ever car but lack the driving talent to fully exploit it, or the well-established front-runners who have all the resources to succeed but are running into debt.

Drivers and team personnel also have various traits that influence their performance. Some drivers are arrogant and refuse to obey team orders to move aside, some are exceptionally marketable and will attract more sponsors, while some may even experience a mid-life identity crisis and temporarily lose focus, reducing their attributes.

Your attempts at perversion may be thwarted by the GMA
The game’s characters are also diverse, with an impressively wide range of nationalities and ethnicities on display. In a welcome move, women drivers are healthily represented and will regularly challenge for podiums, wins and titles.

There’s a sense of wit and humour that permeates throughout the game too, with a social media feed where fans praise or berate your team’s performance, drivers having their radio messages censored by the GMA or the tutorials being run by a strangely familiar moustached and flat-capped ‘former racing legend’.

It all works to give Motorsport Manager an immersive fantasy world where the characters are more than just hollow names governed by attributes and actually have a sense of personality.

A long-term investment

Aside from the career mode, players have the option to run a single race on any circuit with any team in any series for fun or for practice, while a challenge mode offers particular scenarios to take on with more promised to be added to the game in future.

There are some minor gripes with the game. There’s no option to customise team identities, names or logos or create an entirely new team from scratch. While you can edit your car’s livery using a simple but effective editor, it costs an eye-watering $500,000 of your team’s cash for the privilege.

Races can take a while to complete in the ‘medium’ or ‘long’ race lengths, but thankfully you can change this setting at your leisure. With all the information on the screen, it can be easy to drown in data at times and struggle to work out exactly what you need to react to, while pit stops can be fiddly at times with having to enter a separate menu to click through the number of laps of fuel and tyres to be added to each car on every venture through the pits.

The sound design is decent, but engine sounds aren’t a patch on Grand Prix World’s real-world captured samples. An interactive press interview system is interesting at first, but answer choices usually consist of either ‘arrogant’, ‘professional’ or ‘pessimistic’ responses where it quickly becomes clear that the best option is to always go the middling, non-committal route.

Rules changes opens up the possibility of oval racing
But none of this takes anything away from the fact that Motorsport Manager is a very well realised game. Seeing your team develop over the course of a season can be very gratifying and it’s accessible enough that you don’t need an A-level in business studies to be able to succeed in the cut-throat world of professional motorsport.

It goes without saying that fans of the original mobile version will greatly enjoy this expanded version, while anyone who may still enjoy the classic F1 management sims of old will be delighted with this new offering. But this is a game that require weeks or even months of investment to really get the most out of, seeing your team and the world itself slowly evolve as you gradually build towards conquering the world championship.

It’s been a long time since we had a game that allowed us to channel our inner Toto Wolffs. Ultimately, Motorsport Manager offers a deep, rewarding and fun gameplay experience that will scratch a long itch for armchair team principals across the world.

F1 Fanatic rating

Buy Motorsport Manager for PC or Mac

Motorsport Manager

Author: Playsport
Publisher: Sega
Published: November 2016
Price: £22.49


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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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25 comments on “Motorsport Manager: The RaceFans review”

  1. Already pre-ordered on Steam. Loved the mobile version. Waiting for this one. And on Steam it’s cheap too only $10-12.

    1. Not over here (aus), closer to the $30 mark :(

    2. Wow. I thought I got it cheapest for my area ($17 for CIS-KG). Where do you live?

      1. It is for India where the price is lowest, equating to $10.37 at the time of this comment.

  2. I was really interested in this as something I could use on my laptop when working away from home. But according to the minimum requirements, the game does not support Intel Integrated Graphics Cards. It’s a shame you can’t get a more graphically reduced version of these games, for the those of us that want to play on the move.

    This seems to be the norm for any management games nowadays. The same seems to have happened to Football Manager when it went to version 2013. I just remember when a management game was not such a visual experience.

    1. @chalky The minimum is Intel HD 5000 so it does support igc. You can always buy it on Steam and get a refund if it doesn’t work in your laptop though.

  3. I wonder if it’s long-playable. You can play football manager for hundred hours, but I’m afraid that racing genre can’t be so addictive, because it less depth. What do you think?

    1. I know I certainly can’t play football manager for hundreds of hours, although I’ve tried, I’m just not invested in those rules and nuances of that competition at all. Pretending to be on the pit wall though? Or even back at mission control… Sign me up :D

    2. I’ve played the mobile version of motorsport manager for 100’s of hours. I don’t think I could manage a football manager game for more 12 seconds.

    3. I have reached season 2050 on mobile version. I think approx 50-75 hrs.

      1. I picked up the game on iOS just in the past fortnight and I am close to winning the top tier now in season 2023. It is has certainly become a chore over time and I am investing my hours purely to vanquish the game. However, I have come across many cases where I have been unable to fathom the AI or game behaviour in general. For example, in one of my recent races, I was on soft tyres on a track that had tried completely and yet I couldn’t overtake the leading car on worn out Wet tyres for the win. In other cases, I have been able to win most wet-to-dry races by simply conserving my wet tyres during the initial wet spell and then switching to Hard tyres just after half rain distance which is when the rain stops predictably most of the time. Also, I won my first race at the top tier with a car that is low on specs and without 2 of the engineers whom I fired after the last race of the previous season.

        I hope that if nothing else, the game is more consistent in rewarding strategies and the statistics that it presents. In the same breath I hope the weather conditions are more unpredictable with less emphasis on having wet sessions in more than half of the races considering that there is only one Wet tyre choice that significantly reduces strategic options.

  4. I’m so excited! Been eagerly awaiting this… It’s finally here! Time to start a motorsports empire :D

  5. petebaldwin (@)
    7th November 2016, 15:19

    I can’t wait to have a go – it looks absolutely amazing! I hope it’s designed to be easy to edit like Football Manager where you can put real players, teams, kits, logs etc in the game. It’ll be great anyway but fingers crossed.

    1. West said there will be Steam Workshop support, so I have no doubts we’ll get mods to make it a rea F1 sim pretty soon.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        8th November 2016, 11:50

        Great news – didn’t know they’d said anything about Steam Workshop yet. :D

  6. Really can’t wait for this to release I’ve put so many hours into the mobile version. Also the team building it are literally right next door to where I work which is cool :)

  7. spafrancorchamps
    7th November 2016, 19:01

    Too bad they don’t make it for iPad, or PS4. I would have bought it if they had. I don’t use a pc anymore.

    1. It’s on iPad

  8. I love the mobile version and was ready to plunk down my cash for the this PC but the graphics requirements are the killer. I have an ASUS UV51 high end laptop with an nVIDIA 650 graphics chip and that still isn’t enough to run MS Manager, which requires a nVIDA 660!? I can full on 3D LIVE action racing games on my laptop but not a motorsport manager?

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      8th November 2016, 13:35

      There’s a good chance it’ll work anyway and with Steam’s refund policy, you might as well give it a go. I played Football Manager for years with a computer under the minimum requirements and I just had to turn a few settings down. It’s only this year where if finally wouldn’t work so I got a refund on it.

      You can have a refund on any game purchased on Steam no questions asked providing it’s within 2 weeks of the purchase date and you haven’t played it for more than 2 hours.

  9. I just noticed that the on the Facebook group, there was recent post that stated the PC requires nVidia GT 440 though the website still lists the GT 660. Hopefully the devs will clear this up.

    1. From Steam page:
      OS: Microsoft Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit).
      Processor: Intel Core i5-650 @ 3.20GHz, or AMD FX-7500 APU, 2.1Ghz.
      Memory: 6 GB RAM
      Graphics: nVIDIA GeForce GT 440, 1GB or AMD Radeon HD 5670, 1GB or Intel HD 5000 series.
      DirectX: Version 11
      Storage: 16 GB available space

      I’d suggest you just buy it on Steam, since they have no-question-asked refund policy if you played it under 2 hours and before 2 weeks from your purchase date. It’s designed to help users to test if a game would work in their PC.

  10. I hope CW would update the mobile version. I don’t have the cash to replace my 8 year-old laptop. I have reached season 2049 in the mobile version but once you reach the World GP Championship after a like 4-5 season it starts to get thin from there. On the otherhand the handheld or now known as mobile versions of Football Manager is highly enjoyable even after like 20 or so seasons no matter what tier you start if they can somehow imitate the FMM progression on CMM that would be great.

  11. petebaldwin (@)
    8th November 2016, 13:38

    I just noticed on one of the screenshots, the guy telling you off for using illegal parts on your car is called Ernie Hecklerock. Brilliant. :D

  12. I’ll wait to see how the patches work. If its as easy as Football Manager to upload edits you make to the game we’ll have a proper F1 Manager game at last with lets face it is what were all looking for rather than made up teams & Drivers

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