F1 Manager 2023 review - Exceeding the Board's expectations

F1 Manager 2023 review - Exceeding the Board's expectations
Images via Frontier Developments

Written by 

Jake Bannister

Published 

27th Jul 2023 14:00

It’s lights out and away we go with this years edition of F1 Manager, with the Frontier team back for a second attempt at balancing very fast race cars with a lot of data and budget management.

As a racing management game, F1 Manager 2023 includes a fully licenced experience from Formula One and now includes simulators of its lower divisions of Formula Two and Formula Three.

Now at its second iteration following last year's first lap, the game has a strong chassis to work from, and it's an impressive improvement that's the closest you can get to managing a team to motorsport glory.

GGRecon Verdict

Frontier has consistently one-upped itself throughout the development process of F1 Manager 2023, making for a consistently engaging, impressively nuanced take on a sport that's all about sweating the small stuff.

F1 Manager 2023 is a lap ahead of its predecessor in nearly every way, and one of the best management sims around.

The old meets the new

F1 Manager 2023 race replay win
Click to enlarge

There are plenty of fresh features in F1 Manager 2023, and many aren't directly tied into the core career mode, either.

One of the headline additions is Race Replay, a chance to rewrite history by flexing your tactical and mechanical brain at races that have already occurred in real life. We jumped into the British Grand Prix and looked to spoil a double podium for McLaren, only to fail the first time - pushing Piastri to the limit and spinning out.

It's a great place to test out F1 Manager 2023's mechanics (no pun intended) and while we were sceptical it wouldn't satiate us for long, we spent more time than expected - especially with an impressive number of scenarios to jump into.

Still, it's disappointing that so many of these are locked to the Deluxe Edition given how it's a considerable new mode. Frontier is rolling these out as optional DLC, too, which is just as well since 'Viva Haas Vegas' is included in the deluxe version.

Viva Haas Vegas in F1 Manager 2023
Click to enlarge

A sprint to the finish

F1 Manager 2023 race win after a sprint race
Click to enlarge

While a lot of eyes have been on the Race Replay and Race Moments features, players will likely spend the bulk of their time in Career.

Your goal is to start with any team on the grid and achieve glory. That comes in different forms for different teams, with board expectations to keep you in check. Start with the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari and you'll be expected to win races. Get behind the wheel of an Alpha Tauri or a Haas, though, and you'll be looking to build your team's reputation on and off the track.

Much of the basic setup remains the same as last year's game, but there are additions - including Sprint Races, which were conspicuous by their absence after their real-world debut last year.

In F1 Manager 2023, Sprint races take on a similar schedule, with a Friday qualifying session, going into a Saturday sprint that makes up the grid for Sunday’s race. It's still not quite the same as the 2023 format for the current season, though, with two separate qualifying sessions for both the sprint and the race.

While using an outdated format and seemingly feeling like it’s a year behind, this is still a well-welcomed feature that adds another layer of depth and a chance to claw in some points.

Revving the engine

F1 Manager 2023 driver standings
Click to enlarge

Frontier cut support for last year's game a little earlier than many were expecting, but it definitely feels as though it's given the team more of a chance to fine-tune and build on that game's excellent foundation.

There's an expanded driver and staff development system, simulated Formula Two and Three Championships, and the inclusion of a current hot topic, the Cost Cap.

On the track, there are additional cameras including the visor cam, new driver tactics, and a confidence system that helps understand a driver's psyche in the middle of a hectic race. None of these are necessarily the kind of huge additions that'll change your mind if you didn't enjoy last year's game, but it'll delight those that perhaps saw the curtailing of support as an indication of Frontier's ambitions for the franchise.

Make no mistake, this is the deepest F1 Manager of the two so far, and its granularity extends throughout every complex piece. Not unlike an F1 car, the devil is in the details - yes, you might win the race and the constructors championship, but are you in the lead in the DHL fastest pit stop award?

Within races themselves, tyres react more realistically, and paired with the visor camera can look a little like wrangling a bunch of horses at once. F1 Manager 2023 feels like it ups the drama of its predecessor at every turn, and it's all the better for it.

With more races on offer and even the Las Vegas Grand Prix ahead of its official debut, F1 Manager 2023 could replace the real thing for players looking to fawn over every detail.

Stuck on repeat

While a great game at heart, there are a few niggling aspects, notably the game's incessant radio messages.

Using real radio messages is a nice touch, but it often feels like overkill; Every practice you hear that the tyres are cold and that the initial setup is bad, and it soon becomes background noise.

F1 Manager 2023 Red Bull drivers
Click to enlarge

Some standard race messages pop up over and over, too. For example, in qualifying you’ll want to instantly skip ahead to let others rubber up the track, yet you’ll go to 16x speed and then be put back to normal by a ‘normal qualifying conditions apply’.

The same can be said at the end of the session - you’ll have both drivers in the paddock, speeding through at 16x speed, and when the chequered flag hits you get put right at 1x speed and have to speed up or wait for all cars to pass over the finish.

The Verdict

Frontier has consistently one-upped itself throughout the development process of F1 Manager 2023, making for a consistently engaging, impressively nuanced take on a sport that's all about sweating the small stuff.

F1 Manager 2023 is a lap ahead of its predecessor in nearly every way, and one of the best management sims around.

4.5/5

Reviewed on PC.

Jake is GGRecon's Co-Founder and Operations Director. You'll find him covering our word game brain teasers, as well as sports games such as Football Manager and EA FC. He's also that teammate on your Rocket League team spamming "Wow!".