First play: Tackle real-life challenges from the pit wall in F1 Manager 23


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Were you screaming at your screen when Fernando Alonso headed for the pits as rain fell on lap 54 of the Monaco Grand Prix and took another set of slick tyres?

Have Ferrari’s tactical decisions left you with an unshakeable view that all would be well at the Scuderia if only they would hand over the reins on the pit wall to someone else – say, you?

The crucial pit wall calls which can win or lose Formula 1 races made for one of the most absorbing parts of the new F1 Manager series when it arrived last year. For the upcoming new iteration, F1 Manager 23, the idea has been taken a step further, with the inclusion of challenges based on real-world scenarios.

RaceFans had the opportunity to sample a preview version of the game based around one of the most scrutinised tactical calls of the season so far – that memorable pit stop for Alonso in Monaco. This is one of many new features the Frontier Developments team has added to its officially-licensed title, but it looks like being the one fans of the series will have the most fun experimenting with.

The finished game will model scenarios from many 2023 races
I’m dropped into place on the Aston Martin pit wall with the cars running in the same order they did when that rain shower arrived in Monte-Carlo. Alonso is well behind Verstappen in second place, but a well-timed call for intermediates as the track gets wetter could prove a tactical masterstroke.

I take the gamble, summoning car 14 in for a set of intermediates. Immediately it looks like the decision is going to pay off – the television-style footage of the pit stop shows it’s tipping down.

Red Bull, just as sharp as they are in real life, react the next time around. Alonso’s sector times give me cause for optimism as the race leader swings into the pits, takes four intermediates, heads for the exit… and beats Alonso to the timing line by less than three-tenths of a second.

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Any hope Verstappen is going to push too hard too soon on his intermediates is gone as he immediately draws clear of Alonso. I can’t fault the realism on this count – Verstappen pulled away from Alonso when they switched to intermediates in real life too, at least when the track started to dry out.

New visor cam adds to the TV-style visuals
The game doesn’t rigidly follow real-life events, merely uses them as a starting point. So in this alternative reality Nico Hulkenberg bins his Haas and the Safety Car appears. I take the opportunity to gamble again, pitting Lance Stroll from 13th onto a set of full wets in case the rain gets harder. He gets his lap back too, and for the first time ever I experience a sense of gratitude at the delay in restarting the race while the lapped cars are allowed to rejoin the queue. This feature was notably missing from last year’s game at launch.

Soon after Verstappen leads Alonso away at the restart, Pierre Gasly – who has managed to emerge from the pack ahead of his team mate – surprisingly demotes my leading car for second place. It’s inconceivable that a driver of Alonso’s ability would give up a position so easily on a track like Monaco in a healthy car, yet there’s no indication his AMR23 has developed any kind of problem.

As a precaution, I set his driving aggression level to maximum, to guard against losing a grip on the podium entirely. Alas, he surrenders another position. “Sainz gets by without too much trouble,” intones David Croft.

It’s not going any better for Stroll, though he at least has the excuse of being on the wrong tyres. Sergio Perez passes him for 17th and I begin rehearsing the excuses I’m going to tell Stroll Snr. As Verstappen appears in junior’s mirrors, I abandon any notion of racing etiquette and begin interrogating the menus in the hope of issuing a ‘tactically delay leader’ command, but there’s none to be found.

The strange ease with which Alonso gave up those two places was the only moment that undermined my belief in the recreation of the race I was playing. As ever, we’ll wait until we’ve sampled the finished game, which will include many more of these scenarios drawn from real 2023 races, before delivering our final verdict.

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As those who played last year’s game will know, F1 Manager’s simulation extends far beyond what happens on the pit wall. This side of the game, focused more on resource management and long-term strategy, has also seen some revisions.

Now you can develop your pit crew as well as your car
You now have the ability to manage the development of your pit crew and will face more challenging financial decisions in the game. Although we had a chance to see these in action during our preview, the limitations of time meant assessing how they play out over the course of a full game wasn’t possible.

Many players who enjoyed the first game urged Frontier to introduce the ability to switch between teams. This is coming for F1 Manager 23, and promises to add a new dimension to the game play.

Before wrapping up our preview I have time to quickly run a full grand prix weekend in charge of Mercedes. Here the simulation plays out more convincingly. Satisfyingly, after promising the sponsors both W14s will reach Q3 in exchange for an extra pay-out, we come good in a rain-affected session.

The race proves more challenging. Lewis Hamilton is happier with his set-up so I put his car on softs and tell him to attack, only for Logan Sargeant to punt him off. Hamilton leans on it hard as he regains ground early on so he has to do a lot of pace management at the end, but to my relief his fuel projection rises from negative numbers to zero on the penultimate lap. Seventh at the flag is a decent result under the circumstances.

George Russell has a more productive day. Using the car’s superior tyre management he pulls off a one-stop while others come in twice, he is quick enough at the end to avoid being caught and finishes third behind Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. Aside from one notable graphics glitch which I’m sure will be tidied up before launch, this provides a deeply immersive experience.

Switching between day-to-day team management and the intensity of running the pit wall gives F1 Manager sessions a clear rhythm. But for those who want more pick-up-and-play fun, the new scenarios mode has plenty of potential and taps into the major talking points from real-life race weekends in a way which enhances the game and takes it in an interesting new direction.

No, it’s never going to end those ‘should-they-have-pitted’ arguments, but it looks like being a fun new way to approach them. We look forward to finding out once the finished game arrives.

F1 Manager 23 will be released later this year on current and last-generation consoles and on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store.

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    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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    10 comments on “First play: Tackle real-life challenges from the pit wall in F1 Manager 23”

    1. Sounds more promising than last year’s version. Looking forward to seeing if the finished product delivers this time around!

    2. Until they add the ability to create your own team, this game will have limited appeal for me, but its good to see at least that they are fixing some of the things from last year.

      The replay scenarios from real F1 mode might be good, but often all these sorts of modes do is serve to show how badly these types of games replicate the real world. It’s much easier to suspend disbelief when theres a level of detachment from the real world goings on.

      1. Jockey Ewing
        15th July 2023, 1:21

        “Until they add the ability to create your own team”

        Maybe it was omitted from the game, because Frontier Developments thought, that this way the game will be a more realistic reflection of the real world.

        1. New teams in F1 are a realistic possibility. At least it used to be and still is on paper. They didn’t want to spend resources, that’s all.

      2. Just crack it open in Unreal and a database browser.

    3. Electroball76
      14th July 2023, 21:01

      press X to fire (another RedBull driver)
      press Y to make a Ferrari strategy blunder
      press $ to pay for catering within the budget cap

      1. Jockey Ewing
        15th July 2023, 1:47

        Hm funny, I had many ideas while I have thought of this game too.
        A managerial game could be good or enjoyable with so many approaches.
        For example it can be good if it is serious, no fuss, and very realistic. But it can be good if it is very funny, something like borderline trolling either.
        For the latter I have more ideas:
        Let the player allow to impersonate his/her favorite team bosses, like Günther Steiner, or Paul Stoddart or Bernie Ecclestone in his heydays as a team boss. Then, in the age of AI generation, and things like ChatGPT, the game could have so many approaches. The player could be the biggest baller at the meetings, and the conversations, storylines could be incredibly colorful. Practically every gameplay could differ storyline- and conversations-wise. Although, as AI could generate inappropriate content, inappropriate chats for example, maybe the real world counterparts of the game’s personalities would not even give consent/allow to represent them like that, or something even worse could happen. But it could be quite funny. The game even could be a Machiavellianism-simulator, making some fun of the dark side, or with a different approach giving the opportunity to be bad and the biggest baller. Practically every person in the game could have realistic moods or emotions, while of course having a very detailed model of running a team at the same time too. I have thought whether I should share this, as an idea, how to make an excessively funny manager-simulator game. I hope if I ever want to create such, the competitors’ sense of humour will not beat mine, so it’s all fine, let them try :D

    4. Make the right strategy for Ferrari

      … Only in F1 Manager 23!

    5. I found the gameplay loop a bit boring. In something like Football Manager, I felt I could impart my own decisions and could win matches using lots of different strategies and players. There isn’t a “right” way to do it and each game is different.

      F1 manager doesn’t seem to work like that… Each playthrough is the same – just with a different logo at the top of the screen.

    6. It’s nice to see this take on F1 get some more attention in games again, but the lackluster reception last year’s game got – and especially the swift abandonment of it by its developers – should probably make one cautious about this new entry.

      At least wait a bit to see some proper reviews before purchasing.

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