F1 Manager 2023 wants you to rewrite history

F1 Manager 2023 wants you to rewrite history
Ford James Updated on by

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F1 Manager 2023 is taking the solid foundations laid by the debut title last year and doing everything that the first instalment did, but a tiny bit better this time around. There were plenty of criticisms aimed at F1 Manager 2022, including no difference between tyre compounds and weather conditions so strategising isn’t as important, the AI not pitting behind the safety car, cars don’t unlap themselves under safety car, and more. While the short two-hour stint I played of the F1 Manager 2023 preview build wasn’t enough time to determine whether these issues have been fixed, one thing is clear; Frontier wants to rewrite history with the game this year.

F1 Manager 2023 preview: The sun sets around Bahrain as cars drive round the track.

This is all thanks to Race Replay mode. Somewhat poorly named – it implies simply replaying your own races, surely – but what it actually brings are key moments from the real life 2023 Formula One season so far. Starting Grid scenarios will allow you to take charge of any team you like at the start of a single race, with the real weather conditions and grid positions simulated. Race Moments, however, will place you in the shoes of any given team principal during a specific scenario that occurred in real life, with the aim of improving their performance.

For example, I became Mike Krack in charge of Aston Martin as soon as the rain started pouring in Monaco earlier this year. If you cast your mind back, Alonso was running in second place, and pitted alongside almost the rest of the field when the heavens opened. However, he opted for another set of mediums, which he quickly realised was a mistake, as he pitted again on the following lap for the intermediates.

F1 Manager 2023 preview: A camera view from the chassis of Lance Stroll, driving behind Lewis Hamilton.

It goes without saying this was a major error, but it was made even more painful because Max Verstappen, leading the race at the time, didn’t pit when everyone else did. So had Alonso chosen the inters to begin with, he would’ve almost certainly shot in front of Verstappen while Max was in the pits and taken his first race win in 10 years.

F1 Manager 2023 gives you the chance to right this wrong, among many others, with Race Moments. It didn’t go swimmingly for me – I completely misremembered how the race went in real life when playing the scenario for the first time and made, quite literally, the same mistake Alonso did in going for another set of dry tyres. However, a red flag later in the race thanks to the rain allowed me to change compound again – but as it looked like the rain was starting to slow down, I went for a fresh pair of softs to see out the final 10 laps or so. Nope, the rain kept coming, and Alonso dropped down to the back of the field, alongside Stroll who I had on the same strategy.

F1 Manager 2023 preview: Max Verstappen overtaking Charles Leclerc at Baku with Sergio Perez close behind.

Mistakes were made. I gave the scenario a second attempt and made the right call this time, but it just wasn’t enough to get in front of Max – Alonso ended up bringing it home in second that time. So close, yet so far. My attempt at Starting Grid didn’t go too smoothly either, as I took charge of McLaren at Barcelona, when Lando Norris started in P3. Defending against Lewis Hamilton is possibly the trickiest task imaginable in F1, and he was in front by turn two. Not ideal. After every real race weekend, new scenarios will be added to Race Replay mode, so there’ll always be fresh challenges to take on.

While this flagship mode is impressive, and connects the game to real life events in a way even the main F1 23 game doesn’t, that isn’t the only improvement worth shouting about. Sprint races are finally included, as are fully simulated F2 and F3 seasons so you can scout targets to sign properly, and see the results. You can’t take control of a feeder series team yet – please add this to F1 Manager 2024, devs – but the added realism and depth is very much appreciated.

F1 Manager 2023 preview: Designing a new chassis for Ferrari, with the wind tunnel option selected.

Driver confidence is now a thing too. If a driver is performing well over a race weekend, thanks to successful overtakes and defends, their confidence will increase which means they’re less likely to make mistakes or have incidents. On the other hand, if they’re on a poor strategy and being overtaken as a result, expect them to make errors. You can increase a driver’s base confidence by preparing more in practice sessions, and ensure the driver knows the track as much as possible.

There are also more options for driver tactics now, including telling your drivers to let their teammate through or not, just how aggressive to be when going for overtakes, and to avoid clean air or dangerous kerbs. Incidents have been improved too, as a common complaint in the previous game was a lack of overtake spots on a track – each one felt scripted, with identical animations. Whack the all new visor cam on and experience these high-speed crashes from the perspective of the driver.

F1 Manager 2023 preview: George Russell trying to overtake Valtteri Bottas for the lead.

F1 Manager 2023 is looking like a must-play for Formula One fans, but is it a must-upgrade-from-F1-Manager-2022 deal? We’re not sure yet. It all depends on how many of the major community gripes have been addressed, but at surface level, Race Replay is certainly the mode I’ll be diving into first before taking the glorious Williams back to their heyday.