F1 Manager 2023 review: unrealistic in the right places | Top Gear
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F1 Manager 2023 review: unrealistic in the right places

After last year's strong debut, the team principal sim returns with refinements

Published: 04 Aug 2023
 

F1 Manager 2023 makes a big deal out of how realistic it is. Tyre temperatures, which are pivotal to how F1 races play out, are now more accurately modelled across the tyre carcass. This year, the entirety of the F2 and F3 seasons are simulated in the background, so that you can scout upcoming talent based on their performance. The only problem is, if this game were 100 per cent realistic you wouldn't be able to win with any team other than Red Bull. And, by extension, you'd be taking a nap somewhere between laps 43 and 55.

Thankfully, developer Frontier isn't quite that committed to authenticity. In fact, the game actively encourages you to meddle with this season's stultifying predictability via a new Scenario mode.  This allows you to rewind history to earlier in the 2023 season and either lets you play a race from the beginning with the grid and weather matched to the real event, or take control mid-race during key moments. Of course you can't go back and change the biggest key moment of this season, which was back in the late 1970s when Red Bull's Adrian Newey decided to go into engineering.

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Scenario mode is a brilliant addition for two reasons. The first is that the game now has a pick-up-and-play immediacy that the previous version didn't. If you don't have time to get involved in a season-long campaign to haul a team to the top of the championship via R&D and canny hires, you can still drop into scenario mode and start bossing some overpaid drivers around straight away. The second reason is that, in Race Moments in particular, it offers instant repeatability, which is the quickest way to learn what works and what doesn't in the simulation.

Otherwise, F1 Manager 2023 is very much evolution rather than revolution. The presentation is still above and beyond what we have any right to expect from a management game, with broadcast-aping visuals, clips robbed from real life team radio and a new surprisingly exhilarating visor camera option. This new perspective is unlikely to allow you to make a more educated decision on what tyres to give Pierre Gasly at the next pit stop, but it sure does look nice.

We still maintain that, ultimately, management isn't as much fun as actually driving a Formula One car – it's a bit like saying the Avenger you want to be is the computer that runs Tony Stark's robo-suit. If you're fully immersed in the sport of F1, though, and fancy a more cerebral challenge, or just an additional distraction from how dull this season has been so far, F1 Manager 23 is a polished, impressive offering.

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