How Alonso inspired the biggest change in the new F1 game

2018 F1 season

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F1 2018, the upcoming new edition of the official Formula 1 game, was inspired partly by the actions of one of the sport’s most successful drivers: Fernando Alonso.

But it’s not an aspect of Alonso’s revered racecraft which the team at Codemasters have been paying attention to. They’ve been keeping an eye on how he handles the media.

The role of the media was explored in the first official F1 game the team made for major platforms back in 2010. However whereas those sequences felt like more of an afterthought, this time the way you handle being interrogated after each session will influence your in-game career. In much the same way Alonso’s commentary on the Honda situation has had such profound implications for him and McLaren.

“We were very inspired by Fernando Alonso,” Formula 1 game director Lee Mather told RaceFans in an exclusive interview.

“He’s reached the point in his career when he can say pretty much anything because he commands such respect that he can motivate a team whether he’s saying something positive or negative. [We thought] it’d be really interesting in the game to work out whether the player could positively or negative impact the team based on what their answers are.”

“People really loved what we did when we had the media back in 2010,” he adds. “We always felt that was really good but it if we were ever going to do it again we would wait until it became a really wide-reaching part of the game.”

So how does it work in practice? A play on a pre-release version of the game showed there are still a few glitches to be corrected. Glance a barrier on your way to a crushing victory and the first question you get asked is about how disappointed you are. Codemasters say this will be fixed for the launch version. (Also for the chop is the rendering of McLaren’s Eric Boullier, who I spotted celebrating an unlikely victory of mine in the same, but in real life resigned from the team last month.)

How you handle yourself when grilled by the media has far-reaching ramifications. Blame a rival for a collision and their team will take a dim view of you. Complain about your car’s performance and risk demotivating your own team. Adding to the pressure, you have limited time to select your answer. And there’s never the choice to ‘Kimi’ your way through an answer with a vague, whispered monotone drawl.

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The media aspect makes for a richer career experience and adds a new level of complexity when contract negotiation time comes around. As teams’ performance levels can vary from year to year – another innovation for F1 2018 – choosing the right time to switch teams becomes a more critical choice. Alonso can probably tell you a thing or two about that as well.

F1 2018 screenshot
The Brawn BGP-001 appears by popular demand
But what’s new for those who prefer to shut up and drive? Naturally F1 2018 delivers the anticipated tweaks to the roster of drivers and tracks (Sepang out; Paul Ricard and Hockenheim in).

All the classic F1 cars from the last edition of the game are back plus a few more. Due to licensing restrictions these are for the most part heritage cars of existing F1 teams, plus classic Team Lotus.

But there’s one more addition which has been in huge demand: The Brawn BGP-001. Jenson Button’s 2009 championship-winning car was by far the most requested addition to the game, and to make it a (virtual) reality the Codemasters team were given access to Ross Brawn’s own car to capture it in painstaking detail.

Will there soon be a roster of classic circuits to match? Mather admits they’d “love to do some classic tracks again – they were always fun” but says the time-consuming nature of building them is one reason why the game hasn’t featured any for a while.

“We’re always considering tracks,” says Mather. “A lot of it comes down to the fact we’ve obviously had Paul Ricard to make which is another significant circuit.

“We’ve obviously had to work on Hockenheim, we’ve had to re-do all that to make sure it’s up to 2018 standards. And there are tweaks to every other circuit as well. Tracks are the longest process in the game to build. It’s very much a case of there’s only so much we can do in that time period.”

With no new tracks expected on the 2019 F1 calendar, perhaps that will change next year. But it’s not hard to see why building the tracks takes so long.

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Whereas F1 2018’s earlier predecessors gave you the impression of driving through a tunnel of graphics with a restricted field of vision, now each circuit feels like its own world. The addition of subtle atmospheric weather effects this year nudges the picture quality perceptibly closer to photo-realism.

The Halo is there too, though you can switch it off in the cockpit view:

At the wheel, the cars have benefited from greater technical input from Formula 1 Management. The suspension model has been reworked with the addition of bump stops and an increased refresh rate which gives greater handling feel. Inevitably this is far easier to appreciate on a proper steering wheel set-up than a gamepad.

F1 2018 screenshot
New, subtle weather effects add to the rich visuals
The driver has more to control as well. For the first time since F1’s V6 hybrid turbos were introduced in 2014, control over energy deployment is now in the player’s hands. There is something oddly satisfying about knowing the winking ERS light at the back is being controlled by you.

“We’ve always had the lights flashing on the back of the car but they were tied to the systems that weren’t manageable,” Mather explains. “So we had some of this under the hood but we hadn’t modelled it to the degree that we have this year. The physics guys went to the full extremes, getting the technical regulations and it works correctly.”

This adds a new dimension to the multiplayer game as well. “It’s brilliant because you do find you can be pushing and pushing and the guy comes up behind you who’s got full deployment and you’ve got next to nothing. It’s a great battle.

“It’s going back almost to when we had the KERS button, you would save it to try and defend. Now you’ve got that but over a few laps it really does cause some exciting racing.”

Additions such as the media interaction undoubtedly make this more than a racing game, but its core appeal will always be the chance to drive a full field of current F1 cars. And even as the sport becomes more mind-bogglingly complex, Codemasters appears not to have forgotten the essential ingredients of a fun game. What that adds up to we’ll see when we get our hands on the full release version to review.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 37 comments on “How Alonso inspired the biggest change in the new F1 game”

    1. Omg looking at these pictures/vidoes i just realized the thong is gonna ruin the games aswell….. just great. I guess there will be an “unofficial” patch that handles it but it wont be userfriendly.

      1. They say the Halo can be switch off in the article.

        1. I prefer the cockpit view but Halo is definitely distracting. I imagine it’s much worse than in real life because you’re looking at a 2D image.

          1. @keithcollantine

            Absolutely, having your vision limited to a small 20-30inch and most of that filled up with a static halo is not gonna be nice. For this reason i thought it would be a nobrainer to have an option to race without it but i guess Codemaster are powerless to change the cars in any way because of silly business deals.

            1. Luke Harrison
              5th August 2018, 22:07

              The Ferrari clip shows what it’s like with it disabled. And i can live with that. There’s not much going on at the top of the screen anyway, save for all the HUD. So i don’t mind losing that play area.

        2. Too bad you can’t switch off the halo in T-cam view as well! That’s my favorite view to drive in.

      2. Michael Brown (@)
        4th August 2018, 23:13

        I don’t see the issue since I’m not looking straight ahead all the time

    2. It sounds and looks really good. However, the addition of the halo is keeping me from buying it. I’d rather play F1 2017.

      1. It’s in the article: “The Halo is there too, though you can switch it off in the cockpit view:”

        1. @nathanbuilder Yeh and in the videos you can see what “off” looks like.

        2. I barely ever play in cockpit mode. Should be the option to not have it there at all. It is ugly enough to have it in real F1. No need having it in the game as it’s not going to save anyone.

          1. I always play in cockpit mode but not the others. They should do away with those completely…..

        3. @nathanbuilder, you will find that doesn’t matter to those who want to complain.

          For those who have already decided that it has “ruined the sport” – a line that has been repeated so many times for so many different changes that it’s lost all meaning – being able to switch it off doesn’t matter: they want to get their complaint in anyway and will find a way of crowbarring it in.

    3. Forgotten about the halos, makes it really difficult to see on that camera

    4. I was never a fan of all the media/interview stuff or a lot of the other similar fluff in some of these games. Things like having to answer questions before you start a career & after races etc… I just hate all that stuff regardless of how well integrated they are I just never find them fun.

      I just want to get in the car, get on the track & drive/race & anything that distracted from that was always a big turn off for me.

      1. Perfect. You’ll be Kimi then!

    5. Unfortunately, until they can negotiate for a license that allows at least a few driver changes and/or altered race calendars, any career mode in a Codemasters F1 game is an unimmersive fool’s crusade. It doesn’t matter if you can do fancy interviews, develop the car or whatever, it’s impossible to really enjoy a career mode where you are seemingly the only being in the universe that has not fallen into a state of entropy. I would prefer if Codemasters put all that effort into making stuff that actually helps, like a F1 2015-esque season mode where announcers react properly to situations and have much more pre-race talking points. Instead of doing a wannabe-career mode, they should bring back a scenario mode, for example.

      1. Yeah, that’s true, but with the changing nature of F1 with sponsors, regulations, liveries and completely unpredictable new drivers coming in from other categories it would always be hard to do that justice.

        They could however possibly go backwards, where you could choose to start a career 5 years ago and then play through until the current season. Especially considering they already have all the data from those years across their games. However as they say, it’s a lot of work to bring their past content up to the higher realism standards of today.

        1. You can simulate that if you buy all their games and just use different game generation for each season. Double win – they don’t have to modify content and you pay much more :)

    6. I still haven’t got entirely over the fact Renault R25 got wholly ignored for the 2nd time in a row.

      1. maybe: they would have to rebuild the gear changes, as the r25 only had 6 gears.

    7. “People really loved what we did when we had the media back in 2010,” he adds. “We always felt that was really good but it if we were ever going to do it again we would wait until it became a really wide-reaching part of the game”

      Yet it still sounds like a simple yes/no answer to increase/decrease a simple variable of how much the team likes you… How about you actually develop a media relationship and how truthful and open you are, or deliberately terse and unhelpful determines what light they paint you in based on your results (ie Verstappen this year) also that can determine your fan following and what sponsor opportunities there are.

      There are so many possibilities but it sounds like just another annoying tack on and not staying true to even how they already know it should be done properly…

    8. Looks like this isn’t the only thing they have taken inspiration from Alonso for. With regulation changes coming every few years, you have the perfect opportunity to make a sensible team choice, only for it to go catastrophically wrong and you end up with less titles than your talent probably deserved.

    9. Josh (@canadianjosh)
      4th August 2018, 16:05

      I’ve been given permission to play a couple times a week before CSI Miami comes on the last few years, the game gets more realistic every year. I remember 2010 and thinking wow, now 8 years later the 2010 game looks like N 64!
      I would love to see however in the future of this game, at least 10 years worth of cars and being able to play, say 2008s season and work your way to 2018. A big ask but in today’s technology it could be done.

    10. Why does everything have to be turned into a reality tv show.
      We had documentaries on Discovery, History etc, but now we have reality tv.
      We had racing simulations, but now it seems we will be having some racing-themed reality tv game. Codemasters never really managed to make a genuine racing sim, which THE top racing category deserves. From the first one, in 2010, it’s always been a bunch of superficial fluff, like media interviews, and how much your team likes you and irrelevant stuff like that, while never really improving on the sim side of it.

      1. Err what? They haven’t had much media fluff interviews at all in the series, they’re bringing it back…

        As for making it a genuine racing sim that has never been the goal of the official F1 games, they want it to be an approachable experience for fans. If you want a more sim-like experience check out all the other sims which feature F1 cars. They are out there…

        1. If it was a true F1 simulator, I imagine most people simply wouldn’t be able to play it.

          I know I haven’t got the time to sit behind the wheel and do a few thousand laps to get up to skill building speed.

          Not sure if you’ve noticed, but F1 cars are pretty hard to drive. Making them difficult in a game would only hurt sales. Needs to be accessible and make the casual player “feel” like they’re in F1; not actually force them to require the skills only a few dozen drivers around the world have.

    11. Paul Strawbridge
      4th August 2018, 20:06

      The game is a fail as drivers cant change teams. Imagine fifa career mode with no transfers. Absolute joke.

    12. Michael Brown (@)
      4th August 2018, 22:50

      Addition of the ERS management is pushing me towards this game. After 4 years they did it.

      1. Yeah same, they were so slow that it’s kind of unbelievable, but I’m glad it’s finally caught up with the actual cars.

        1. Michael Brown (@)
          5th August 2018, 20:55

          Especially considering that they had KERS from 2011-2013

    13. I say it every year (since 2015 was released anyway) but yet again I won’t be buying their F1 game, solely because there is no 2 player mode. Sad face.

      2 player mode with me mate was one of the most fun things I got up to in my simple little life. So competitive. Created our own spreadsheets even to get all the stats over the year of playing loved it. RIP sociable F1 gaming.

    14. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      5th August 2018, 16:25

      Not that I play these games, but if games are getting more and more realistic and like the real sport, then being able to race the current cars without a halo makes them less like the real thing. I understand the 2D problem. But it will still be closer to what the drivers now see than not having one in the game at all.

      The think I find strange about the video just above the helmet is that the graphics are smaller than when we see them on the TV. Now that is good. But what I get really annoyed about is how humongous the text with he graphics and other things has got in the past couple of years. There are names and numbers and flashing things cluttered all over the screen at times and it makes watching the real coverage it feel like a computer game with an excessive amount of information.

      An example from several years ago: https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=F5nKw65E&id=2C3843A934219B91679448B5E391279EC3A3FC9D&thid=OIP.F5nKw65ESCEah0g1ryg2CQHaEK&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2ff1broadcasting.files.wordpress.com%2f2013%2f10%2ff1.png&exph=768&expw=1366&q=Formula+1+TV+Graphics&simid=608028218910117558&selectedIndex=0&ajaxhist=0

      The writing is bold and easy to read, but it nicely fills the gaps given in it. The other two things are smaller than they are now but still dead easy to read.

      https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=F7LbXqkr&id=DB10C0322EA2BFB730C9D349E36DBF921A42360B&thid=OIP.F7LbXqkrAbbKem8tJbyuZwHaEK&mediaurl=https%3a%2f%2ff1broadcasting.files.wordpress.com%2f2018%2f03%2f2018-australian-gp-qualifying.png%3fw%3d1366%26h%3d768&exph=768&expw=1366&q=f1+2018+coverage+graphics&simid=608023095065117591&selectedIndex=6&ajaxhist=0

      With this, the text is smaller and in what i find a rather awkward font to read. And yet, there is a huge gap between the driver name and the times. This is just unnecessary wasted space. Then the fact they enlarge the driver in danger and go as far as showing their team symbol, nationality, face and driver number is just overkill. We don’t need any more of the coverage blocked. Just change the colour of the text and that will make it obvious enough. Even the other 2 things at the bottom just look huge now. I know they show more information, but they just don’t need to be this size. There is similar problems during races but these were just the screenshots I found.

      I only mention this on this page as it was computer racing games that the last few years of F1 remind me of. I wish there was an option to be able to see more of the screen. At least you have that option in games.

      1. You’re assuming everyone has a nice big HD screen and 20/20 vision.

    15. YellowSubmarine
      6th August 2018, 0:57

      Meh.

    16. RIP T-Cam 1950-2019

    17. How wlll they emulate Riccairdo being ignored by the top 2 teams?
      Didn’t put a foot wrong in the media. Probably the most likeable driver and marketer’s dream.
      Several posters here still believe Lewis and Seb’s contracts were open to him joining them.

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