F1 24 screenshot

“F1 24” reviewed: Does revolutionised handling make or break new F1 game?

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Like so many of you, RaceFans has keenly followed the journey of Codemasters’ official F1 game series through three console generations and 14 major editions.

Over that time, there have been leaps forward and mis-steps – just like those the teams themselves experience in the real world of Formula 1.

The most dedicated simracers among us may scoff at the suggestion that the sport’s official game franchise offers a solid mix of authenticity with accessibility – especially in the current golden age for PC-based hardcore simulators. But there’s also a reason the series has earned regular nominations for ‘best sports/racing game’ at the annual Game Awards – and that’s because when everything comes together in the way in should, there’s some incredibly fun and immersive racing to enjoy in Codemasters’ series.

But with each new edition of the game the new season brings with it, players just want to see improvement from every additional entry. A reason to get excited to leave the previous title behind and enjoy all the enhancements offered by its successor. Where the developers learn from the critiques of the previous title and give players something worthy of spending their increasingly limited disposable income on over and above the many, many other racing games on the market that lack the official F1 stamp of approval.

Having spent considerable time with F1 24, however, it’s frustratingly difficult to make a strong case for why fans of the series should rush to part with £70 for the latest edition of the long-running series.

A controversial change

As a racing game, the driving model, physics and handling naturally sit at the core of the experience in the F1 game series. So when publishers EA announced that the major headline-grabbing feature for F1 24 was not another instalment of Braking Point, historic content, ‘Be A Steward’ mode or some other gimmick but their “largest ever” overhaul of the game’s physics, that was perhaps the most exciting news possible for many series veterans.

While the fundamental handling and feel of F1 23 was far better received than that of its predecessor, there were plenty of details and nuances that could go a long way to drastically enhancing the game if they were addressed. And that is exactly what Codemasters attempted to set out to do with the newest game, introducing overhauled tyre, suspension and downforce models in what they claimed would provide the “most authentic and immersive driving experience ever felt in an F1 title”.

But having had the time to put F1 24 through its paces on wheel and controller, it’s disappointing to confirm what so many in the simracing and creator world have already said about the new handling model – that it feels like a net loss, rather than a gain.

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Out on the track, F1 24 is simply easier to drive in almost every scenario. Cars seem to be immune to understeer, offering copious levels of mid-corner grip even on the default set-up. Catching slides of oversteer is easier to achieve too, but they only seem to occur when breaking traction out of slower corners.

F1 24 screenshot
Handling feels easier – even in the wet
Cars feel so much lighter and are incredibly pointy with the front axle feeling unnaturally overpowered, but the rear of the car seems more than happy to oblige with whatever extreme angles the front wants to take it. It quickly becomes apparent that the quickest way through many mid- and high-speed sequences is to ‘fling’ the car into the corner with unnatural levels of steering lock, because the tyres will always seem to hold on.

The result is a driving model that feels significantly more forgiving than any since the game first moved to the current Ego engine in 2015. Running without any assists feels like much less of a challenge this year, even on a controller, while the reduced sense of weight and momentum allows you to be much more precise with where you position the car. While this might sound like an improvement for some, those who value authenticity and want to have their car control skills challenged will likely find the new handling hollow and unrewarding – especially when cranking excessive lock at high speeds, rather than delicately balancing the car between the limits of its downforce and tyre grip, seems to be the best way of lowering laptimes in time trial.

If you’re primarily a pad player who just wants a casual experience, you’ll likely enjoy the new handling model more than ever before. But for those who want to immerse themselves in the sensations of driving a modern Formula 1 car and feel their abilities put to the test on a wheel, you’ll likely find it a major step backwards.

What’s most frustrating about this is that there have been some genuinely welcome improvements to the tyre model with the new physics. Your driving style and set-up really do make a tangible difference to the level of tyre wear you experience – far more so than in previous titles. Running a five lap race simulation programme in practice in career mode by going flat out and then restarting the session and repeating the programme while taking care not to lean too much on the tyres, the difference in the state of the tyres between the two runs was genuinely shocking – but in a way that felt believable.

Tyre temperatures also now fluctuate in a much more believable manner. If you aren’t careful with how much you lean on your outside tyres around fast corners, you could soon find your tyre temps spiking and suffering from increased wear as a result. It all feels much more natural and understandable than before and means you will likely end up attacking a push lap in qualifying in an entirely different manner to how you drive a racing lap, which is how it should be. It is just a shame that it is tied with unsatisfying handling where you’ll need to drive in an unnatural and unrealistic manner to achieve the best lap times.

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Clinching that contract

While the handling may feel inferior to last year, it’s still perfectly possible to drive and race in F1 24. For those who can overlook the driving physics and just want to race, there is a heavily revised driver career mode waiting for them in the new game.

F1 24 screenshot
You can race as real F1 or F2 drivers in career mode
As the core single player mode of the franchise, it’s surprising to think how long it has been since career mode received a major refresh. But there is plenty new for the mode in 2024, and it is almost all for the better.

For a start, players can now choose whether to invent their own created character for career mode, or race as one of the existing 2024 F1 drivers on the grid or even one of the 2023 F2 roster. You can choose to become Lewis Hamilton and begin his pursuit of an eighth world championship, or step into the shoes of Ferrari prospect Oliver Bearman and guide him through his rookie F2 campaign before stepping up into F1 at the start of the 2024 season. If you’d prefer to race as one of the ‘icons’ from the sport’s past – such as Michael Schumacher, Nigel Mansell or even newcomers James Hunt and Juan Pablo Montoya – you can bring them back onto the 2024 grid and continue their legacies in the modern age.

Driver ratings have become integral to career mode. As ever, each driver is rated based on experience, racecraft, awareness and pace. This is now dynamically applied to your driver, as your on track actions will directly impact your rating. If you consistently outperform your qualifying expectations, your pace rating will rise with it. Cause a lot of crashes or earn penalties and your awareness rating will drop accordingly.

While you won’t be any faster or slower on track based on your rating, it is used to determine your standing within your team and within the wider paddock. When you sign contracts, you can negotiate targets for what rating your will be expected to be at by the end of your deal. Naturally, matching these will earn you contract extensions, while missing them could see you out of a drive.

Your standing within the team relative to your team mate is also tracked as you progress. If you become the team’s clear outstanding driver – like Max Verstappen or Alexander Albon – you will earn more perks and opportunities to direct the team in a way you like. Your team mate can also initiate upgrades they want to pursue, but you will both gain the benefit of them.

There are new technical specialists within the team who will provide varying benefits, such as increasing the development points earned from completing practice programmes, if you fulfil certain targets set by them over race weekends. This is a very ‘gamey’ addition to the mode to provide extra incentive to do certain tasks over race weekends you might normally skip over, but it’s not an offensive or especially tedious addition.

F1 24 screenshot
Your driver rating changes based on performance
A more interesting new feature, however, is the introduction of in-race goals. Returning for the third consecutive game, race engineer Marc Priestley will occasionally issue you with short-term goals to complete during races. These could be to pass the car you’re behind within next three laps or try and keep power unit temperatures from reaching a certain limit for no more than ten seconds among plenty of others.

The feature attempts to emulate the regular instructions that drivers receive from their race engineers over a race and are a fun little way of adding some intrigue into longer races, especially. However, they aren’t perfect. Any goals that ask you to pass another car within a timeframe will be accomplished the moment you get ahead of that car – meaning that if you divebomb them into a corner only for them to repass you on exit, it’ll still count as a success. Same too if you pass them because they peel off into the pits in front of you, without you actually having to overtake them.

As you progress through career and look ahead to your future, you will have the opportunity to conduct ‘secret meetings’ with rival teams to gauge how they might feel about the prospect of signing you. It’s a cute little way of adding a touch of the silly season to your own career as well as having a practical benefit too as you can use them to decide whether you want to take a risk on a move or feel you might be better off when you already are.

Adding all these elements together, it all feels more involved and immersive than it did last year. If you don’t want to or lack the time to commit to a career mode save, there is a new ‘challenge career’ feature which offers a truncated experience where you assume the role of a real driver and guide them through a series of races. Each one has multiple stages with the scenarios changing as the games various seasons progress, with unlockable rewards like helmet and driver suit designs available if you succeed.

Although the career mode has received these major changes for this season, it’s important to point out that they only apply to the driver career mode. MyTeam remains largely the same as last year and does not include many of the changes introduced to its sister mode.

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Additions…

Aside from a revised career mode and new handling, there are other new additions to the game for this season. While there are no new circuits on the calendar for 2024, there are four tracks whose modelling in game have received extensive revamping: Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone, Jeddah and Losail. The former two have had their track geometry reworked to be more accurate to real life, while the latter pair have received visual overhauls to bring their trackside environments more in line with their real life counterparts.

F1 24 screenshot
Spa has received a major update
In keeping with trying to remain authentic to real life, actual radio clips from drivers’ team radio will now be played when racing as real drivers. Gianpiero Lambiase will congratulate you in his typically blasé fashion when you take the chequered flag as Max Verstappen, while Lando Norris will have various unimpressed comments if he finishes outside one of the top positions.

Players now have full freedom to choose between several ERS deployment modes when on track, beyond just hot lap or pressing the ‘overtake’ button. It allows you to be more strategic about how you want to make use of your energy available, however it also feels like the car recovers energy much more than it did last season, meaning you’ll be less likely to find yourself running low and having to spend multiple laps building up the battery again.

VR play returns for PCVR headsets, but RaceFans was unable to test the VR functionality and if it was any more improved over F1 23, where many players complained about performance issues. Sadly, PSVR2 players miss out once again, and though series director Lee Mather has stated that his team are continuing to have discussions about porting the series over to the PlayStation hardware eventually, it’s honestly beginning to feel as though this dream may be dead.

It was very pleasing to play through a weekend in Formula 2 in career mode and not encounter the same tyre bug that has been present in multiple recent titles. One particular longstanding annoyance, asking your engineer for a weather update only for them to tell you “dry tyres seem best for now”, also seems to have been addressed as you will now receive a forecast first when you ask.

…and omissions

Sadly, however, it is hard to ignore the overall feeling of how ‘light’ F1 24 feels at launch, especially compared with many more recent titles. For a start, Paul Ricard is no longer available as a track in the game, likely for licensing reasons, with only the Algarve circuit remaining as an additional track beyond the 24 on the calendar. While for many, losing Paul Ricard is hardly a tragedy, it is a shame to have one less option than last year’s game.

There is no Braking Point instalment this year either, as expected. A story mode based around fictional characters may not be the reason why players buy the official F1 game, but as entertaining content, the mode was at least something substantial you received for the price of admission that is lacking in this year’s full-priced released. Similarly, the five Braking Point drivers from last year’s mode are no longer available as icons to race with in MyTeam or grand prix mode, with the Konnersport livery not carried over also.

Supercars have also vanished from the game, although it’s unlikely that will be of particular concern for many players. Also, there are no more coffee tables and carpets to purchase with your pitcoin to deck out your player’s apartment as the feature appears to be removed entirely. You can still buy clothes for your avatar if you’re that way inclined, but now they simply just stand around in the background without a customisable sofa to sit on.

F1 World returns from last year, but in largely the same format as F1 23. It may have appeal for those who enjoy investing time in building up the stats of their car and team, but it’s honestly hard to see how serious F1 fans would enjoy that over a more realistic, immersive experience in career mode or MyTeam instead.

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But what is genuinely frustrating is how customisation in F1 24 appears to have regressed, rather than progressed in this new title. Players have been left feeling stifled by the limited customisation to liveries, helmet designs, suit designs and emblems for many years now, especially compared to the likes of Gran Turismo, Forza Motorsport, the Moto GP series or even Codemasters and EA’s own WRC franchise. Sadly, nothing has changed this year – except options are more limited than ever.

F1 24 screenshot
Customisation options are more limited than ever
During the review period, there was just a single customisable livery available by default. One. To design your emblem, you have a choice of just three standard options. To acquire more, you are expected to either unlock one of a handful of designs in the Podium Pass or purchase others in the shop using Pitcoin. But either way, the options are woefully limited – more so then they’ve ever been before.

It’s truly disappointing to see what feels like a combination of the worst of both worlds – that players are being increasingly encouraged to have to shell out to personalise their cars and drivers in the way they’d like, but also have fewer options available to choose from. After five years of this system – three using the current generation of F1 cars – how is there not a large library of designs from multiple games available to pick from? New and unique designs could still be unlockable through the Podium Pass as a badge of honour for those who put the effort in, but having such a scant selection at the launch of a new game will be a major disappointment for those migrating over from F1 23.

Diminishing returns

If you consider it in a vacuum, outside of the wider context of the series, F1 24 is a perfectly acceptable light-simulation F1 game that offers an enjoyable career mode and fun AI racing – albeit with a peculiar handling model. But it’s when you consider the game alongside its various predecessors that it becomes increasingly difficult to justify recommending a £70 purchase for series veterans.

It’s absolutely impossible to ignore the feeling of how ‘samey’ the game feels. Navigating the same options in the same menu layout with the same customisation options and the same MFD screens and the same custom driver models and the same MyTeam format as four years ago truly ends up diluting that inherent joy that you should get from those first few hours with a new F1 game. That’s not to say that change should come for the sake of change itself or that there is not a lot that F1 24 does right, just that what F1 24 does right was also what F1 23, F1 22, F1 2021 and F1 2019 also did right.

F1 24 screenshot
It’s hard to ignore that sense of deja vu at times
It’s understandable why Codemasters want to stick with their tried and tested custom Ego engine and why EA does not want to throw money and time at rebooting a series that continues to enjoy success, but it’s getting almost impossible not to feel like something needs to change to make this series feel fresh and exciting again. As ludicrous as it feels to be complaining about the state of the official F1 series given so many little details that make it superior to any other official console-based F1 game series before it, you cannot help but wonder what these developers could be capable of if they were designing the game in 2024, rather than still building upon a game system first introduced when Nico Rosberg was still competing in the sport.

Ultimately, it’s a question of whether there is enough here for players who enjoyed or continue to enjoy F1 23 to front up £70 for the standard edition – or even more for the Champions Edition – given what is available in this latest game. Based on what RaceFans has experienced during the review period, the answer, sadly, is no.

There are suggestions that Codemasters are already working on making adjustments to the handling model following feedback from elite simracers and creators in their community and it’s natural that F1 24 will be improved and enhanced over its lifespan, but on release day, it’s a shame to say that this does not feel as worthy an investment as many of its predecessors were at launch.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5 with a wheel and DualSense controller

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RaceFans rating

Rating two out of five

F1 24

Platform(s): PS4/5 Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Steam, EGS
Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: EA Sports
Released: May 28th (Champions Edition), May 31st (Standard edition)
Price: £69.99 (Standard), £89.99 (Champions Edition)

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Author information

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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26 comments on ““F1 24” reviewed: Does revolutionised handling make or break new F1 game?”

  1. As ever, if anyone has any questions about the game, I will do my best to answer them.

    1. How is the wet to dry transition? Previous games you could drive for ages on slicks as it starts to rain, when in real life you’d need to change to inters a lot sooner. This always bugged me in these games.

      1. I have only had one experience so far, but it felt like moving to intermediates too early will be punished more due to the more sensitive tyre temperature modeling.

    2. How would you compare the handling to Gran Turismo 7, if you have any experience with that?

      Having spent 500+ hours on GT7, F1 23 feels like driving a boat to me. I’ve played all of the F1 titles since 2010 and 23 was the first version I really couldn’t enjoy in any way.

      1. GT7 isn’t a bad comparison in terms of how stable the cars are, comparing them to the Super Formula cars, but I much prefer the natural sense of grip offered by GT7, personally.

        It feels like the grip fades away in a believable manner through the corner in GT7, whereas this does not.

    3. Do you know if they have anyone from F1 providing feedback in the design process? I remember when Codemasters first won the license they had Antony Davidson who helped dial in the handling variables and give it a bit of legitimate F1 feel.

      1. They said they’ve had feedback from an unnamed driver who does a lot of simracing, which leaves an obvious candidate.

        However, suggestion was more like it was casual feedback rather than some kind of official consultation.

  2. Something I miss are the days before anyone had an exclusive licence & we tended to have a couple of official (And at times unofficial) F1 games each year that all had something different to offer.

    More often than not i’ve enjoyed the Codemasters offering, Been a few i’ve not enjoyed for one reason or another but for what I want from them I mostly enjoy my time with them. But when they have no competition there’s no reason to do anything too different, Find a basic formula that works & just update & tweak it a bit each year.

    I’d love to go back to when we had more options. Imagine having something on PC that’s going for the pure simulator market, Something on Switch that’s pure arcade & then some other stuff cross platform that offer varying levels of in-between. If you didn’t like what Codemasters put out then maybe one of the other F1 games would grab you instead.

    I think back to renting F1’98 on PS1 & thinking it was terrible but then F1 World GP had come out on the N64 around the same time & was brilliant. And then I also had GP2 on PC which was amazing. Would be great to go back to that.

    1. There’s absolutely nothing stopping anyone from making an F1 inspired game, but realistically it’s a Very small market. You’re looking at people who like F1, but who are unhappy with the official game, don’t like the modded PC sim games, and who also aren’t already satisfied with the current arcade offerings.

      There’s hardly a massive hole there that’s begging to be filled.

  3. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    28th May 2024, 16:41

    A bare minimum change to f1 23 on career mode and the handling gets worse is exactly what I expect from EA. Hopefully the sales are low but much like FIFA it will still sell.

  4. There are suggestions that Codemasters are already working on making adjustments to the handling model following feedback from elite simracers and creators in their community and it’s natural that F1 24 will be improved and enhanced over its lifespan

    This seems like a mistake too many developers make. The most prominent voices among the players are not necessarily a great way to make decisions about the direction of the game. There is a marketing incentive to keeping said people happy, sure, but if you look at the Steam achievements for F1 23, the two most popular achievements are for a podium (76%) and a race win (70%). So it seems reasonable to take that as a baseline of people who have spend some hours genuinely playing the game. The achievement for playing the first (!) ranked game in F1 World is down at 16%, so about 1 in 5 people who played the game in earnest. Achievements for reaching the highest online ratings Gold (0,9%) and Elite (0,2%) way, way down the list.

    It seems developers constantly over-prioritize the online game modes that most people don’t even want to play. And if they do, it’s only for a few games before they stop. As so often, it’s probably more interesting to hear from the people who dropped off than those who are among the 1% of online players. They tend to only be representative of their own little group.

    1. Handling changes would affect all modes, but the people who put the most time into a particular genre of games tend to be the people who give the most detailed feedback about them. As long as good effort is made to also listen to other groups (something that is likely to have happened during beta testing given EA’s size), this is a good thing.

      1. We’re all limited by our own experience in some way. Somebody who plays racing games for many hours a week, for many years, likely has a bunch of specific hardware for that purpose, and is so good at it that they build up an online following and attract developer interest will have a hard time relating to the experience of the average gamer.

        Ultimately it’s a choice the developers make. I don’t think the genre has benefited from chasing these “simracers” and their wishes for the past decade or more, at all. But it is what it is; there’s thankfully plenty of choice and plenty of games that prioritise racing action over the idea you can translate racecar handling to a simple controller.

        1. I don’t think the genre has benefited from chasing these “simracers” and their wishes for the past decade or more, at all

          Your argument would make sense, except they haven’t done this at all lol.

          The engine has always been simcade and they have never worked to make the formula 1 games a proper simulation racing game. You can’t say they’ve been chasing sim racers for a decade when they simply do nothing but pay lip service to them, and it will be exactly the same this year too.

          1. I’d disagree. From surface simulation with rain and rubber, multiple metrics on tyres alone, arcane setup options that I’d bet most people can’t even explain (from differential, anti-roll bars to camber), and many more such things, F1 games have for decades tried to “simulate” the real thing down to the details.

            Part of that focus is to be expected: it’s easier to simulate car behaviour than human behaviour, and while a series like Forza: Horizon or Need for Speed or what have you can get away with rough and tumble computer opponents, more ‘serious’ titles cannot; hence the infamous train of cars all following the exact same line and refusing to overtake even when purposely showed down.

            I know this will never happen, but a Need for Speed: F1 has so much potential to do cool stuff and celebrate racing culture. Just go crazy with it. People love racing, not toe-in setup or the charge of the battery.

  5. What about a comparison between GP4 and F1 24? are there still things better in GP4?

    1. Haven’t played F1 24, but I’d guess the damage model is still better in GP4. So no cars breaking in half and tyres detaching and bouncing or debris damaging other cars.

  6. “Navigating the same options in the same menu layout with the same customisation options and the same MFD screens and the same custom driver models and the same MyTeam format as four years ago truly ends up diluting that inherent joy that you should get from those first few hours with a new F1 game.”

    Yep. But what will happen? People will rush out to buy it, will complain that it’s all the same and then when F1 25 rolls along, they’ll do the same thing all over again.

    I don’t even blame EA at this point. They’re a business and their customers have told them that releasing the same game every year with a couple of minor tweaks is perfectly acceptable. They do it with Madden, with FIFA and now with F1. As with any other business, they’ll react to sales, not to words.

  7. Bobby Taylor
    29th May 2024, 5:09

    I don’t really care for the opinions of “elite sim racers” regarding the handling. I would be interested in the opinion of actual drivers of the cars. Mastering a game and driving the real car are not the same. Surely EA and Codemasters can afford to get some driver input.

    1. That’s what I’m also interested to know. Couldn’t care less if a sim racing gamer thinks a car is appropriately difficult. Much more interested if it feels at all like the real thing.

    2. Would an honest answer not always be: nothing alike at all. Racing a car is not like flying civil aviation or trucks or farm vehicles (some other popular “sim” genres). So much of it is about the bodily sensation that results from balancing the weight of the car between the four tyres. Having a wheel that gives some feedback is just a small part of that.

      Real drivers tend to say sim games are harder than the real thing. Probably in part because it takes away so much of the feedback.

    3. Very good point and spot on.
      The only comparison I can offer is between a BMW at Brands Hatch in Rfactor – and driving a real BMW M3 at a track day on Brands Hatch some years ago.

      Having practiced Brands Hatch beforehand in Rfactor helped to an extent. I got the brake points and lines through the corners relatively right. It was a good way to learn a track before going there for real. But the forces involved can never be simulated.

      The only racing sim where I felt very genuine fear is still Grand Prix Legends from Papyrus. Particularly old Spa, Nurburgring and Monza 10k with the oval. GPL is just insane.

  8. Señor Sjon
    29th May 2024, 10:40

    I’ve had 2022 as the latest one. Played it a few hours and didn’t want to do everything I did with 2021 all over again. It seems every version has a new handling ‘bug’ introduced to the cars that sometimes is fixed, but other times isn’t. Iirc, the 2022 had green soap kerbs where your car would spin on a dime when touching any kerb. That didn’t get fixed so I left the game.

    You also know the value of these kind of games is by its year. If the season goes on, the value drops quite fast and it will be about 15 euro’s near december in a Steam sale.

    I rather enjoy AC(C) these times. With mods, you can have the F1 experience as well with proper handling cars. AC has the GT license and does season packs as DLC over the base game. iRacing uses a similar model for its classes.

    That model seems a lot better for the F1 games. Buy the base game and add the DLC for seasons with cars/tracks per year. The game gets expanded every year so you can truly have a Career mode if you have enough season DLC’s. Another advantage is you get more and more tracks and cars of different era’s.

    1. +1, I also have AC and enjoy it a lot. Lots of possibilities and few limitations.
      If I was to do simracing regularly I’d probably go with iRacing.
      I have nothing against the F1 series, I’m sure it’s good too.

  9. For me nothing beats Project Cars 2. Easily the best game I’ve ever played in my 25+ years of PS1 to PS5.

    But it can also be destroyed in an instant Project Cars 3, is easlily the worst ever game I played – I considered asking for my money back.

    My point is that the F1 series, is pretty solid and I thought F1 23′ was a step up from the previous series. I’d just like it if they added some of the very old tracks, i.e. Spa, when it was 8 miles, Hockenheim – pre 2002 and yes add the likes of Le Mans on there as well. Of course it will never happen, due to licences.

    1. You mean this track…? :)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxQZcA191UM

      This GPL driver has beaten the 3.20 time since the video was made.
      The Grand Prix Legends Honda 1967 record for Spa is currently 3:18,962 according to GPLRank.
      (Hope it’s OK to post a Youtube link – I will not make a habit of it. Solemn promise.)

      GPL: still going strong even after 26 (!) years.

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