The answer is to smoothly coax the car through the turns with smaller
movements of the wheel or stick. Drive with this in mind, listening or
feeling for the moment the tyres lose traction, and suddenly 140mph
corners are no effort at all. And the fast chicanes of Maggotts and
Becketts at Silverstone are now frightening as you hurtle into them - you know how to make it stick, but it really better had.
Above: Keep the tyres in good contact and the cars are amazingly responsive
a massive, fundamental difference to the way the game plays. It takes
some practice, certainly, but when you drive the game properly it’s one
of the deepest, most rewarding handling systems in any racer ever. You
can push its limits, but must respect its boundaries. And driving
properly also has the added benefit of conserving your tyres.
new Champions Mode has been well-documented as it allows you to compete
against each of the six world champions racing in F1 this year (Button,
Hamilton, Raikonnen, Alonso, Vettel and Schumacher) in turn, before
facing all of them in a single race at the enjoyable new Austin track.
Each challenge has three difficulty tiers, and the bite-sized four and
five lap races are the sort of thing you restart until you succeed.
It works really well.
But for all the fanfare around Champions
Mode, it’s Season Challenge that's undoubtedly the best new addition. Taking its cues from
legendary racing games like Super Monaco Grand Prix, this mode sees you
selecting a rival before the race. Beat them twice in three races and
you get signed for their team in their place. Not only that – you even
get to wear their clothes! We beat Grosjean, then his name was on our
racing overalls in cut scenes for the next race. Perhaps it’s another
punishment for causing that accident at Spa…
Above: This slightly off-centre TV Pod camera is a new, playable addition this year
condenses the action down in almost every area. There are 10 races taken
from the regular season’s 20, with each race preceded by a single
qualifying lap. This one-lap qualifying is an option for online races
too, and shows a ghost of the fastest car at any one time. So you might
be following Vettel’s ghost through Eau Rouge, then suddenly it’s Alonso
as the Red Bull’s lower top speed gives up the position down the
With races only lasting five laps, playing and
restarting each race like you would an arcade-styled videogame fast
becomes the norm, not to mention heavy use of the now familiar ‘rewind’
button. It’s so engrossing, we finished the whole mode in one evening.
But again, maintaining that video game sensibility, you’re awarded a
score based on qualifying and race positions, urging you to play through
again and beat your record for the season.
Above: If you can beat Schumacher, you get his car... and he gets nothing! Mwahahaha...
It’s not quite a
full-fledged ‘arcade mode’ as it’s still very much grounded in
simulation-land, but turning on the assists can make it start to lean that way. It’s entirely possible to win on Easy without using KERS or
DRS, so add in automatic gears and anyone can play the game and have a good time.
A few spots of rain
weather system has been overhauled. While we haven’t see anything to
support the claim that it can be raining on one section of the track and
not another, that doesn’t mean the feature’s not in there. What definitely is a feature is variable track conditions that change so realistically, you don’t see it
Above: Hard to imagine this drying out, but it will do, given time
For example, we started one race at Monaco in blazing sunshine but
on a wet track. After a few laps spent trying to avoid the barriers, the
sun dried the track and suddenly we realised we were on dry tarmac - on the wrong tyres. Tyre choice in these conditions has a huge impact on lap times, so it’s more
than just window-dressing.
degradation was one key area that turned out to be a long-term issue in
last year’s game. At Codemasters’ own admission, the degradation was
scaled poorly if you chose to race mid-distance instead of full-distance
races. This year, not only do the tyres last easily until scheduled pit
stops (if you’re driving properly as above, that is), you’ll also
occasionally receive an email from your mechanics telling you what the
tyres were like after the last race and how you could drive to better
conserve them. That’s just brilliant.