Golden Lap features a stripped back and casual F1 experience | Hands-on preview

by on June 12, 2024

Golden Lap features a straightforward and minimalist approach to F1 management, which is perfect for those who don’t want to spend lots of time fine-tuning every aspect of your car or career. This will either entice players to keep progressing through a career or push them away due to the simple progression and layout of race days by watching all the action unfold from an overhead map of the track. It’s an odd one, but there’s something about this basic structure that made me enjoy keeping tabs on my drivers and ensuring their safety in this dangerous time for formula one.

The demo I played wasn’t flush with features, but I got to dive into a career where I chose a team, two drivers, an engineer, and a crew chief. You have a small pocket of cash to hire your team, and each member has certain stat boosts or reductions based on who you choose. Once you’ve picked who you want to take into a season, it’s qualifying time on your first race. You have little control over what happens in both the qualifiers and the main race itself, but you’re free to change tires and pit when necessary.

There’s a flood of messages from your drivers in the top right of the screen, letting you know if they’re going to have a bad lap, whether they’re struggling to overtake, or feeling confident. Accidents happen, and sometimes prove fatal, so keeping a close eye on weather conditions and tyre conditions is vital. I won my first race, and due to the sponsor I’d picked, I earned some additional funds to improve my cars between races. Here, you can improve different elements of your car or choose to build new parts entirely, and with little cash at first, you’ll need to be careful where you distribute your funds.

I found Golden Lap quite easy, and rarely did I run into any major problems during my first season. Due to the stripped back and casual experience, I was grateful there was an option to change the speed of races because there was no way I wanted to sit and watch spots fly around a track for anymore than five minutes. It would be a perfect game for mobiles because of the quick in-and-out nature of play, and while it’s not something you’ll likely spend hours with at a time, dropping in and taking part in a few races helps to pass thirty minutes here and there.

Golden Lap is a simple management sim that has just enough moving parts to make it engaging. I enjoyed the pacing and fundamental structure of race weeks, and having just enough control to make it feel like my choices made a difference allowed me to enjoy short bursts with it. I’m excited to see what the full game offers and hopefully get to do a bit more with my car and my drivers. I kept everyone alive which was a bonus, but you do feel that sense of vulnerability that the golden era of F1 provided.

Golden Lap is set to come to PC in 2024. You can check out the demo now via Steam.