F1 Manager Review [PC] | Pole Position

Have you ever heard the saying ‘opposites attract’? It’s a tried and proven phenomenon. Sweet and sour, chocolate and chilli, cheese and strawberry jam sandwiches.

Formula 1 has exploded in popularity since the release of Netflix’s docu-drama series ‘Drive to Survive’ in 2019. Packed with fiery highlights from a season to remember, this fast-paced sport has attracted fans from around the world. Compare this to the slow, strategic nature of manager games, F1 Manager 2022 has the unenviable task of striking a happy balance. This new annual release from Planet Coaster developer Frontier takes inspiration from the ever-popular Football Manager series with its detailed analytics and race systems.

Let’s Talk About The Design

Manager sim games tend to focus more on the gameplay and the hard data at the core of it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – I have hundreds of hours in Football Manager, and enjoyed (nearly) every single one of them. So I say this with a lot of love that Football Manager looks… Basic. It’s been basic since it first went 3D, and you can tell Frontier have put a lot of time and effort into the graphics. 


F1 Manager 2022, surprisingly, is very strong in this department. It has mocap animations for the pitcrew during races, including fully motion captured pitstops. However, let me make one thing clear – it’s not winning any awards for graphical fidelity any time soon. Whilst it’s great to see Frontier have created unique models for all of the cars, the animation on track can be a bit hit or miss. During Bahrain, Lance Stroll locked up twice and his car stopped instantly as he left the track. 

I’ve also experienced some minor visual weirdness which did impact my enjoyment of the game. Alongside the cars spinning and stopping, I’ve seen some strange pre and post race camera angles, including one that was under the floor. My favourite glitch had to be the T-Posed models that popped up in some of the replays. These glitches haven’t impacted my score of the game because they’re only small and could easily be patched post-release, but it’s a shame that they’re there given Frontier have focused so hard on visual fidelity.

Most importantly, Max Verstappen doesn’t look as goofy as he does in the 2022 race opening VT. Although, fans will be glad to know it does make an appearance in the game’s introduction.


Audio in games is often such an overlooked detail, and F1 Manager 2022’s audio design is fantastic. I could almost close my eyes and imagine myself back at Silverstone. The cars sound just like the real thing, right down to the wheelspin as they leave the garage. It’s truly immersive when sitting onboard. 

Crofty and Karun Chandhok perform some light race commentary (although I didn’t hear two secs Ted, 0/10), as well as some fairly basic reactions to events on track. Its also worth mentioning that the radio comms between driver and engineer are incredibly engaging. And, unlike the actual sport, I could tell what they were saying half the time thanks to the subtitles. They’re so naturally implemented I almost forgot to mention them here because they feel like the natural future for the presentation of Sports Manager Sims. 

I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the music as I am about the audio design. Don’t get me wrong, I found myself bobbing along to a few tracks, especially the main menu track. However, F1 has such an iconic music history that it’s very noticeable when the right tone isn’t struck. Simply, it’s not very “F1”. Of particular note was the music that plays when practice is sped up – you could almost expect to hear it on lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to. The F1 theme is also limited to just the introductory cutscene, which is a shame. Of course, it’s entirely possible there were design or licensing limitations here, but it’d certainly help with that sense of immersion pre and post race.


Let’s Talk About the Gameplay 

The game begins with a familiar face. Sky Sports Commentator David Croft gives an initial recap to the 2021 race year, which does a fantastic job of building hype. After this cutscene you can choose the team you’ll be playing from one of the 10 official teams. When you select one, Crofty will give a description of their history and their objectives. This also makes the game accessible for those who aren’t avid fans of the sport, or are just entering the world of Formula 1 for the first time. 

Furthermore, there’s a guided tutorial that helps you immediately settle into the flow of the game. This is particularly useful for those looking to start their first experience with sports manager sims. Whilst this is great for those who are new to the genre, I found it frustrating that the tutorial handles practice at Bahrain for you, with no other options available. I understand that practice is the most menial aspect of the weekend, but it would be nice to settle in with it from the start should you want to.

The interface is very reminiscent of Motorsport Manager, but that’s not a bad thing. Despite looking busy, once you play the game it’s clear and easy to understand. There’s huge depth to the car comparison screens, which provide a wealth of information, including comparisons of specific parts. The design element is deep, but accessible. There’s a hugely satisfying amount of control, so you feel incredibly important at all times. 


Everything has a number, with the game marking important stats for the next race. Too much info? You can show rank on the grid instead, allowing at-a-glance comparisons easily.

One gameplay feature I particularly enjoyed was the option to manufacture spares. If you, like me, are big on the strategy side of management sims, this is very interesting. This feature is so important, because F1 Manager does have a crash damage system. It takes time to manufacture spares, which creates scarcity and an extra level of challenge. Whilst playing, I was forced to give Lando Norris my only updated suspension for Bahrain because I had only 3 and wanted to ensure spares in case he went into the barriers.

Alongside manufacturing spares you can design new and upgraded parts. However, this  takes a lot of time, so it rewards careful planning. My front wing would take anywhere from 23 to 50(!) days to complete, meaning I didn’t see meaningful improvements to my car for more than 3 races. In a sport of fine margins like F1 that could be the difference between a podium and failure.


Sponsors provide an enjoyable risk/reward gamble if you choose to give out performance incentives. You’ll earn an increased payout for meeting objectives, but pay a penalty for missing them. You also set required objectives for them during pre-season (except 2022). These have no penalty for missing them, but a huge reward for meeting them, so there’s still a bit of a gamble.

Qualifying has some enjoyable intensity, and it’s surprisingly difficult. My poor driver management led to Daniel and Lando ruining each other’s second Q2 runs. There’s no guarantee but I think I likely cost myself a Q3 appearance as a result. I found myself holding my breath as my McLarens barely scraped through Bahrain’s first qualifying session, and I yelled at Alonso as he blocked Norris’ first Q2 run. It’s really easy to fall into the “role playing” aspect of the game, which I often struggle with in management sims. 

Going into this, I knew the pace would be key to Frontier’s success with F1 Manager 2022. I’m happy to tell you that races do have a nice rhythm, especially if you choose to set strategies ahead of time. Frontier’s work to create an engaging experience can lead to you sitting and watching races unfold at 1x speed, when usually I blitz through them like Charles Leclerc. This fantastic pacing means I actually care about all the sessions. I ended both of my first 2 races yelling as I lost a place on the final lap, and found myself celebrating point finishes like I’d won a championship. I also think that using real teams helps with that aspect a lot – it’s much easier to feel engaged when racing with and against actual F1 teams and drivers.


All that data you can access from HQ is equally important on race weekends. Each driver has 4 mini panels on their side of the screen that show massive amounts of information at a glance. It’s also where you order them to adjust their pace, or to deploy their hybrid energy in different ways. If that’s not enough, there’s also the strategy screen and the data screen. Both light your display up with everything from lap charts, to track events, and a live table of the drivers/constructors championships. This is all vital information, as you will be fired if you fail to meet a certain position in the constructors.

The kicker? Unlike Football Manager or Motorsport Manager, you can not switch teams mid-save. Now, I’m not sold on the fact that you’re locked into a single team. It limits your options – you can play as Ferrari and try to take them to the title or play as Williams and… Not come last. There’s no variety in long term saves, because your ability to continue to the next season relies on you meeting your board’s demands across the current one. As for how much this limits your long term saves? Unfortunately, we didn’t get the review code in enough to find out, but I imagine it could lead to people burning out quicker than on other genre leaders. I find it hard to see anyone making it 1000 seasons into F1M, for example.

That said, a whole race weekend can take around 90 minutes, minimum. The race itself can be a significant portion of that, unless played at 16x speed, in which case the strategy is kind of lost. Personally, I enjoyed sitting at 1 or 2x speed during close races, before speeding it up to 4 or 8x (which replaces the slick broadcast presentation with an old-school map) as the stints progressed and the race opened up. A race would take me 30 or so minutes, which worked for me, but for people who are less invested in F1 (and who Frontier are clearly hoping to engage) I could see it being a little bit too much to commit to.


Growth has seemingly been heavily rebalanced since pre-release, and there’s a real incentive to having your reserves take a P1 slot, with major XP boosts on offer. However, it definitely hurts the replaced driver; you’re likely to sacrifice a performance boost from your track acclimatisation programme, which can be worth 3 points in a stat during qualifying and the race, not insignificant.

While we’re talking drivers and driver development, Frontier have decided to take heavy inspiration from Motorsport Manager’s approach to staff signings. You can only sign a staff member or driver immediately – there’s no option to delay the signing to the end of the contract. It means that you’re going to be facing a lot of people fighting for contracts at the end of a season. Furthermore, it also means you’re inherently disadvantaged against a team wishing to resign their driver, as they can do so for essentially free at any point in the contract. You, on the other hand, would be facing a bill for millions of dollars as you buyout the remainder. 

Let me make myself clear, I’m not suggesting it should be possible to sign someone for free at any stage in their contract. Instead, perhaps pre-contracts in place from the summer break of the final season of a staff member’s contract would be a happy compromise. This would allow for a similar setup to F1’s real world “silly season”, the point in the year where teams tend to announce their new driver line-ups. It’d be nice for immersion and would also reward pre-planning, something Frontier do often through other areas of the game.


Just like Friday’s in the real world, Practice feels like a chore. I enjoyed the tinkering required to extract the maximum from the 3 sessions, but found my hand twitching to speed things up. Luckily simulated sessions are viable, though not optimal, should you wish to skip them. I will say, I don’t know how much longevity there will be in practice. I can see people quickly getting tired of fine tuning setups to an inch of their lives. Motorsport Manager ultimately ended up with a mod that had drivers always sat on perfect setups, and I could see that happening here too.

My major disappointment comes from the lack of F1 Sprint at launch. It might not be the most tactically engaging aspect of F1, but it is a major component of 3 weekends (6 from 2023). I think it could provide a really interesting challenge with players only having 1 session to work on their setup before parc ferme locks the majority of changes, something that real team principals are forced to contend with. A shame, but as a foundation F1 Manager 2022 is an incredible triumph that has me excited for the future of motorsport management. 


For our F1 Manager review a code was provided by Frontier Developments.

Tested on a PC featuring:
Intel i7-10700k
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090ti Video Card

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Featured Image: Frontier Developments