F1 Manager 2022 review: Good management sim that just misses the apex

Matt Porter
F1 Manager looking at the grid

F1 Manager 2022 is the first management simulation the sport has seen in 22 years, and despite some flaws, F1 Manager 2022 is a good game that gives you the opportunity to control the championship’s drivers and teams like never before.

The popularity of Formula 1 has exploded since Netflix dropped their lauded docu-series Drive to Survive back in March 2019. With millions tuning in to watch 20 of the best drivers in the world battle for the coveted World Championship, it’s no surprise that many want a taste of the action in their own homes.

While the mainline F1 22 game lets players take control of their favorite drivers and speed around the 22 circuits included in the Formula 1 season, F1 Manager 2022 gives players unprecedented control over the 10 teams who make up the Constructors Championship.

From driver management and pit strategy to car and team development, F1 Manager 2022 lets you become team principal and run your team, your way. The game is beautiful, in-depth, and enthralling, but a few issues mean F1 Manager 2022 is a podium contender, but not a championship winner.

F1 Manager 2022: Key Details

  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Price: $54.99 / £44.99 / $77.95 AUD
  • Release Date: August 30, 2022
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4

F1 Manager 2022 trailer

Good graphics but clunky animations

When the first F1 Manager 2022 trailer launched, we were all blown away by how beautiful it looked. Thankfully, playing the game today is just as pleasant to look at, as the cars look absolutely glorious on any track.

On top of looking great, Frontier have taken great strides to make the game look as close to what you see on a real race day as possible. F1 Manager 2022 uses the same TV graphics as Formula One Media does, and even uses camera angles that match those used during real broadcasts.

Watching the car’s onboard camera is also a treat, giving you an incredible view as the races unfold. Unfortunately, this is also where the game’s odd animations are amplified.

Watching drivers wait until the absolute last second to apply any steering is a nerve-wracking experience, and the aggression with which they turn the wheel is borderline psychopathic.

Observing overtakes is another strange experience, as your drivers will wait until the last possible second to pull out from behind the car in front. On more than one occasion, I’ve been convinced that Lando Norris has driven straight into the back of an opponent, only for his McLaren to scrape past with millimeters to spare.

Crashes are also odd. Multi-car collisions are well done, even if they reuse the same animation quite a lot, but single-car crashes are truly bizarre. Any time I’ve seen them, it looks like the driver has simply forgotten that the steering wheel or brakes exist, instead choosing to just drive straight into the barrier.

Watching your driver’s onboard camera is stunning.

Enthralling gameplay lets you control everything

Of course, F1 Manager 2022 is a management simulation so, in the end, it’s the gameplay that matters most. While it isn’t perfect, Frontier have built a really solid foundation for the series, releasing a game that can be truly fun to play, and totally consuming.

Things like dynamic weather, safety cars, and red flags all help to keep things fresh and can throw a spanner in your strategy or give you an opportunity to outwit your opponents and capitalize on the situation.

You can choose what kind of team principal you want to be. If you like to watch the action unfold, you can just run the pit stop strategy. If you want to micromanage every move your driver makes, you can. Control his fuel consumption, his ERS battery usage, or how hard he’s pushing the tires. It truly is up to you.

For some, that level of minutia is what simulator games are all about. For others, it’s a little too heavy on the details, and that’s one area where F1 Manager 2022 lacks. Playing a Grand Prix alone at the fastest speed possible will take 15 minutes, not including practice sessions, qualifying, or any of the countless decisions you need to make between race weekends.

This is where games like Football Manager shine, allowing players to just watch highlights or moments the game deems important. F1 Manager as a series could benefit from this in the future if only to make getting through a season less of a time commitment.

F1 Manager 2022’s menu systems could also use some refinement. Outside of a race day, the menus are clean and straightforward and will seem pretty familiar to fans of the Motorsport Manager series.

During races though, the menus can get a little cluttered, and trying to find the information you need can be difficult. During my first race in Bahrain, trying to figure out other drivers’ lap times was tough, and flicking through your driver options at the bottom of the screen can be annoying.

The Verdict – 8.5/10

In the end, though, the most important thing about any game is how it makes you feel. It may be a little rough around the edges at times, but F1 Manager 2022 is a truly immersive experience, and it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of a race weekend.

Securing a 10th place finish with some strategy tinkering at the opening race of the season in Bahrain had me beaming from ear to ear, and getting both cars into Q3 in Azerbijan made me feel like a true motorsport mastermind.

Yes, there are some areas where the game could improve. Yes, the animations do break the immersion a little bit, the menus can be finicky, and they could do with making things quicker. But when your drivers are battling with opponents, none of that really seems to matter.

If you love Formula 1 and sit at home on a Sunday afternoon thinking you could do a better job than Ferrari’s strategists, then this is the game for you.

Reviewed on PC