F1 2021 is as smooth and satisfying as it gets | Hands-on preview

by on June 2, 2021

Formula One is more than the Hamiltons and Verstappens. Companies spend millions on developing the latest technology to win the race. To get to the top of the podium, it requires a well-oiled team built around skill and science. Sponsorships, champagne, and championships. Whatever moment you love the most, Codemasters has crafted something very special. F1 2021 is a tight, balanced, and authentic take on the motorsport that offers a mixed experience for whatever level you’re coming in at. If you like racers but can’t tell the different between your ERS and DRS, or what’s best for your R&D development, don’t fear. If you want a hardcore F1 experience that gives you total control, you’re in luck.

F1 2021: Complete control

Whatever you’re after, F1 2021 is a clear and concise simulation racer that gives you the tools to craft the type of experience you want. I was fortunate enough to preview Codemasters’ latest entry in their F1 series. Sometimes it can be tough to distinguish what’s new in sports titles, but this time around it’s noticeable from the start. Outside of the tidy UI, the Career Mode has been given plenty of improvements. The new research and development structure sets out the four main areas of improvement clearly. Aerodynamics, Chassis, Powertrain, and Durability can be developed with the resource points received on a weekly basis, or through successfully completing tasks during race weekends.

You’re shown how your vehicle compares to all of the other organisations. This lets you see where your team stands with the likes of Red Bull, Alpine, and Mercedes. Improving R&D categories obviously makes your car better, but there are risks in doing so. For example, if you’re wanting to improve power output so there’s less worry on the wear of your car, you can buy a new crankshaft. However, if you choose to rush the improvements, there’s a higher chance it fails. If you’re wanting to get it fitted for the next race rather than letting the engineers take their time, it can have a detrimental impact on your entire career.

Engaging race weekends

To give you insight into how your car is likely to perform in the big race, Practice Sessions have been given new life. Each session lets you take part in three challenges. Each one is designed to assess how you treat your tyres; what the ideal fuel load and pit stop strategy is; and how speed is managed. By completing these challenges, you’ll gain boosts to your car’s development and resource points to spend how you like. Completing team’s secondary objectives will reduce the cost of development as well. Taking part in the race weekends aren’t just about the final race. Everything you do feeds into your progress as a racer and a member of an organisation.

Enhancing practice sessions help to make the thrill of the championship feel real. By having this focus on hitting objectives, it provides a reason to think broadly about every facet of performance. The presentation of the Career is stunning. From the presenter segments to your pit management screen, Codemasters has thought of everything. It isn’t just a basic formula of practice, qualify, and race. Everything has layers to it, and the way it looks helps to bolster your excitement for the final day.

F1 2021: Handling is a dream

When it comes to driving the car, it feels so smooth. With the new Expert setting, veterans can adjust everything from braking assistance; whether they want the Dynamic Racing Line on to help with when to brake and accelerate; or if they want Drag reduction enabled automatically. Firstly, these options can be tweaked however you want, and secondly, they’re there to make it as realistic as possible. If these are things you don’t want to have to think about, Casual and Standard can still be selected. Whatever you require, F1 2021 has everything you could ever need to fully personalise your driving experience.

As someone who isn’t particularly good at sim racers, I never struggled to keep a handle on my car. Going around a track at speeds exceeding 180mph never felt terrifying. Thanks to the assists, I was able to brake at the right time and accelerate after leaving a corner with no problems at all. In fact, the handling is superb. If the AI isn’t quite good enough for you, or you need it to be less punishing, the option is there to change. The realism in every track is sublime. Whether you’re in Australia, Bahrain, or Britain, driving around the tracks of so satisfying.

A real treat on the senses

F1 2021 isn’t just authentic in how it lets you manage everything in the career. The sounds of rubber on the tracks and the powerhouse engines roaring as you race around the tracks is wonderful. With each stadium, track, and animation, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen in a Formula One game. The level of detail in the pit stops and on the computer terminals is ridiculous. The signs, track detail, and fan representation has gone one step further than last year.

So far, F1 2021 is an excellent Formula One experience. The adjustments in Career Mode are going to please a lot of fans, and the handling is second to none. Its presentation is by far the greatest I’ve seen in a racing title, and I can’t wait to fully embrace the game when the Braking Point story mode is available, as well as the thrill of multiplayer. If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on Codemaster’s latest, this is going to blow your socks off.

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