Watching from the comfort of a couch, it’s hard to fully comprehend the number of decisions Formula 1 drivers need to make while racing around tracks in the fastest cars on the planet. It’s not as simple as hitting the apex of a turn or choosing the perfect moment to brake. Drivers have a plethora of information to consider every second, backed up by a team of strategists and engineers punching numbers after each turn to ensure victory at the end. Formula 1 is less about scrappy racing and more the symphony of engineering behind the wheel, and Codemasters have delivered yet another simulation racer that captures all facets of this glorious sport.

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Although it’s difficult to argue against the issues the sport is seeing, F1 2019 leaves mundane races at the door. This is every bit the heart-pounding, stress-inducing racing experience it was last year, which didn’t need that much tuning to begin with. That’s clear from some overly familiar looking menus and sprinkles of the game’s presentation, but it would be criminal to assume this year’s instalment is a quick and fast cash-in on past successes. Its introduction of Formula 2 racing and a host of exhibition events, and a more structured and exciting spin on multiplayer racing and on-going online seasons, meanF1 2019 is the most robust package of the video game adaption yet.

Formula 2 doesn’t hide in the shadow of its more illustrious sibling, opening the returning career mode with a handful of racing scenarios that help flesh out your created character and two other fictional drivers that eventually make the jump with you. These provide a gentle introduction to the racing action, letting you focus on hitting corners with speed before you’re introduced to the more demanding requirements of Formula 1 racing. Since Formula 2 teams all work with the same chassis and engines, the inclusion of the championship in its entirety (which can be played through outside of career mode) gives you an entirely different way to experience racing too. It’s more aggressive, providing you more chances for daring overtakes and risky racing that the gaps between teams in Formula 1 just can’t match.

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Formula 2 itself could’ve been its own game, but it simply compliments yet another great Formula 1 campaign that plays out over multiple seasons. As a custom driver you’re tasked with impressing on the star-studded stage of Formula 1. That means acting with grace on the tarmac and off it, taking interviews that influence your standing with your chosen team while guiding their performance developments to help craft a better car for you to race. The options around both haven’t changed much this year. Interviews can still feel stilted and easy enough to navigate for specific outcomes, while the upgrade tree for your team is almost indistinguishable from last year. While the former could certainly do with more personality, the latter seems like a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, letting you tweak and upgrade aerodynamics, durability and engine performance with ease.

Also returning to the mix is the clever adaptation of mundane testing into effective learning tools during the three practice sessions preceding each qualifying and race events. You are given specific objectives to hit while tuning your car precisely for the track at hand. One such exercise puts gates around the track that you must hit, marking you on both your accuracy and the speed at which you reach each subsequent gate.

This not only helps you learn the racing line of each track quickly, but it offers you crucial information about which corners need some work, and which you’re absolutely nailing. This sets you up for the tests that follow, letting you refine your understanding of each track by letting you experiment with where to deploy harvested kinetic energy for slight speed boosts, or which corners offer the best points for you to lift and coast to conserve fuel (which, if done correctly, can let you fill up less and be lighter during the race).

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For the uninitiated, this sounds like a lot to contend with when all you might want to do is race around a track at breakneck speeds. But F1 2019 maintains the level of accessibility offered last year to let you only chew on what you want, and nothing more. A variety of assists and gameplay options let you tweak your experience to what you want. It’s far more than just switching your gearbox from manual to automatic. You can have ERS (the Energy Recovery System) deploy and switch automatically, toggle assisted braking and traction control on and off and have full racing lines help you always stay on track. That’s outside of options that let you toggle racing from borderline arcade style to full-on simulation, affecting everything from tyre temperatures and their effects, component failures, collision damage and AI difficulty. F1 2019 is best enjoyed when you’re testing yourself beyond just driving, but it also doesn’t expect you to know the sport incredibly well to get yourself started.

There’s also the now standard Flashback feature, that lets you rewind time a few seconds to rectify small mistakes. Aside from being useful when learning the ropes around tight tracks like those in Baku or Monaco, its also priceless against F1 2019’s ruthless AI drivers. There’s a distinct difference here, with more daring overtake maneuvers and sharp defending going into corners that makes each of your opponents feel more realistic than before. But there’s also unpredictability that can sometimes throw off a great race through no fault of your own. This stands in contrast to the more controlled and professional racing that is present in the sport today, and in cases where the rules are broken F1 2019 doesn’t do a good enough job handing out appropriate penalties.

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Your thoughts on Stewards and their role in F1 racing aside, it’s undeniable that controlling one of these fierce machines feels as good as ever when you’re just looking for a straight shot of adrenaline into the veins. The strong motion blur and well-tuned vibrational feedback push the g-forces from the cockpit and into your hands, amplified even more if you’re playing with an appropriate racing wheel. Fine details let you feel cars slipping away from you when you’re trying to drive too much throttle coming out of a corner, letting you test the limits of your grip in tangible ways. You’ll be able to feel the difference between tyre compounds as you push to shave off tenths of seconds from your best times, giving you the confidence that your car is going to hug the road through a high-speed chicane. F1 2019 again lets you focus on the facets that matter to you and disregard the rest if you like, but there’s no denying that tweaking downforce, tyre choices and car weight have noticeable changes on your ability to attack a track appropriately.

Although it’s difficult to appreciate when focusing intensely on racing, F1 2019 also offers a gorgeous recreation of the championships treasured tracks. The biggest improvement is in lighting, especially clear on the handful of night tracks bathed in the warm light from massive spotlight overhead. There’s still room for improvement in details outside of tracks, like the overarching shots of cities they’re house in looking a little plain and flat. But if you’re just hoping for a way to experience some of the best pieces of tarmac on the planet from behind the wheel, F1 2019 serves it up in spades.

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In addition, F1 2019 lets you experience the thrill of F1 racing from multiple eras, across custom race modes and finely tuned exhibition challenges that range from simple time trials to challenging overtaking skirmishes. You can get behind the wheel of some of the most historic F1 cars ever to have graced the sport, and even take part in some pivotal moments in the battles between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost (if you have the right edition and attached DLC). Coupled with the ability to craft your own Grand Prix weekends, full-on championships, single races and more across two tiers of Formula racing disciplines, F1 2019 isn’t skimping on content at any corner.

This extend to multiplayer, which now has more options for structured racing. F1 2019 will host periodic events that act as an online version of the annual championship, which aligns with the growth of F1 within the esport space. Races online are adjudicated using driver‘s license points that keep reckless racers in check too, preserving the calculated nature of races without turning them into dirty derbies. You’ll have access to customisation options for your chosen car and equipment, the latter of which features cosmetic microtransactions that can be earned both in-game and with real money purchases, just so you can stand out a little bit online.

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If there’s a running theme through F1 2019, it’s that Codemasters understands this sport so well that it’s difficult to fault their replications of it year on year. Even with some recycled menus and UI elements, it’s the racing that really makes F1 2019 stand out. It’s precise and exciting, giving you the tools to tune it to whatever style and difficulty you fancy without sacrificing the pulsating corner to corner racing it offers. And with a wealth of content to test it out on, you’ll be hard-pressed to find fault with investing in another great Formula 1 racer for the year to come.

Last Updated: July 3, 2019

F1 2019
F1 2019 is another exceptional racing game that caters to all spectrums of fans, giving you many modes, exhibition events and an exciting career mode to get familiar with its gorgeous tracks. It's simply one of the best simulation racers out there, again.
9.0
F1 2019 was reviewed on PC
87 / 100

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