F1 2021, the review

Who I am
Valery Aloyants
@valeryaloyants
Author and references

We are writing this F1 2021 review while there is a splendid fight for the world title between Hamilton and Verstappen. Therefore, there could not have been a better opportunity to test our skills on the track and compare them with the best real and virtual drivers.

Codemasters, for the first time under the supervision of Electronic Arts, was able to complete the work on the official video game dedicated to this splendid sport. In a year in which the regulatory changes and the structure of the single-seaters have remained almost the same as those of the last world championship, the developers have concentrated on other aspects to enrich the experience offered. Starting from the new career mode called Braking Point, up to the improvement of the gameplay with a new driving model and a better feeling behind the wheel of our car.



This F1 2021 has pleasantly surprised us both for the general quality of production and for the new modes present. Despite the many similarities with F1 2020, it is still an important chapter for the series, also because for the first time it arrives on the new generation consoles, where the video game manages to express itself at its best together with the PC version we tested. Surprised by the amount of content to explore, we immediately prepared our steering wheel, put on the gloves and hit the track to experience first-hand all the news of F1 2021 that we will describe in our review.

Formula 1 a 360° in Braking Point

The real and important novelty in F1 2021 is represented by the career mode called Braking point in which we play the role of the young pilot Aiden Jackson.



Through three seasons of Formula 2 and Formula 1 we will experience the growth of the protagonist, both on the track and in the paddock. In fact, it will be important not only to demonstrate our skills on the track, but also to collaborate with the team and our teammate, as well as being able to face the pressures of our rivals and the press. Braking Point therefore wants us to experience the world of Formula 1 at 360 degrees, inspired by the exciting episodes of the Netflix TV series "Drive to Survive". In fact, we will face various exciting situations, created specifically to convey the joy and satisfaction felt by the pilots. There will also be the classic dramas and complex situations in which our protagonist will have to bring out his character to grow and overcome any difficulty. Everything has been enriched with the presence of intermission videos in computer graphics made with care, which pleasantly break the rhythm between the race weekends.

Braking Point allows us to choose three different ones difficulty levels, leaving the player full freedom in the selection of classic driving aids such as traction control or ABS on the brakes. There are also five stables with which we can start our career: Alpha Tauri, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams. By choosing one we will also influence our future in Formula 1, for example by racing with the Alpha Tauri we would be observed with greater interest by the Red Bull. Our adventure in Braking Point will begin with the last race of the 2019 Formula 2 World Championship, in which we will have to conquer the first position to be able to win a seat in Formula 1 where we will continue with Aiden Jackson's career.


Filmed between races in Braking Point

The whole mode has one chapter structure, each of them linked to a particular race weekend. The arrival in Formula 1 will take place in the 2020 season, where we will have to work alongside our teammate Casper Akkermann and withstand the provocations of rival Devon Butler. In each chapter we are going to address a certain race situation with specific target to reach. Once the challenge is completed, we will be offered an intermission video that will continue the story of our driver and the chosen team. The objectives proposed on the track are quite varied and will test all our skills behind the wheel. We had to fight to overtake our rival with a few laps to go, to help our teammate defend his position or to react to accidents and breakdowns of the car. Between one race and another the protagonist will be busy answering press interviews and learning to live with our teammate and other riders in the paddock.


On board the Formula 2 single-seater

Overall, the work done by Codemasters on Braking Point satisfied us, especially for the variety of the proposed challenges. The characterization of the characters and the situations experienced off the track seemed solid to us. The goal of the developers is undoubtedly to make us experience the most common situations within the paddock, even if we may have wanted to see some more original episodes. The computer graphics videos excel in situations on the track, while when we move to the garage or the interview area the quality drops due to the not excellent facial animations, as well as for a dubbing in Spanish only discreet.


The classic ways, perfected

Pilot career mode main menu

The classic modes such as the "Pilot Career" and the "Scuderia Career", already seen in the previous editions of the Codemasters title, are also back. While the experience remains the same as it was in the past, the developers have added small refinements and new menus to increase the depth. We particularly appreciated the change ofuser interface within the menus. For example, in the progression tree of the research and development division we can visually admire each component on which our engineers are working.

Numerous options have also been added to customize the experience such as the amount of resource points obtainable in free practice, the difficulty with which we go to develop the car and the frequency of power unit failures. In F1 2021 we are given the opportunity to face career modes with a friend, both online and offline, alongside him in our team as a companion or challenging him as a rival. Also, Codemasters allows us to start the mode Pilot career based on the real Formula 1 season. For example, if we want to replace Bottas in Mercedes starting from the race in Spain, we will be able to do it with the same scores and results obtained in this year's Formula 1 championship. A nice addition that links the video game even more to real sport.


After the success of last year Codemasters has also revived the mode Stable career in which, in addition to having to fight on the track and develop the car together with the engineers, we will have to manage the team with the hiring of the drivers, sign contracts with sponsors and carry out other typical jobs of a sporting director. During the career mode each driver will receive detailed scores in real time based on their performance on the track, which will then determine the drivers market for the following season.

Pit menu during free practice in career mode

Could not miss the classic "Quick Race" fully customizable, as well as the evergreen "Time Trial". Even the modalities multiplayer have not been distorted compared to the past, with the return of the "Online Leagues" (customizable championships to be played with other players), the "Ranked Races" and the presence of "Friendly Races". Given the low number of players connected before the game's release, we were unable to further investigate these modes to experience any improvements in matchmaking and lobby management. Following last year's debut, the events section returns once again eSports. Here we will be able to tackle arduous challenges and compete with other drivers in the world to be able to compare ourselves with the amazing performances of the Pro Series drivers.

The gameplay gives everyone satisfaction

TV Pod camera on the Alpine car in Bahrain

The Codemasters series has always had an important goal to achieve in terms of gameplay: Making a title suitable for Formula 1 fans with little driving skills in video games, but at the same time meeting the needs of experienced drivers racing in eSports championships. On the one hand, therefore, a simplified control system is needed with adequate driving aids to be able to enjoy a genuine and fun experience even with the classic pad. On the other hand, a complex physical engine is needed to create a driving model that is as close to reality as possible. After trying it both with the pad and with the steering wheel, also experiencing the facilities present for less experienced players, we can say that Codmasters did not disappoint our expectations. The amount of options present in the game can be adapted to any skill level of the player, as well as the choice of the difficulty of the artificial intelligence.

On board the Aston Martin in Belgium

Having made the necessary tests on the driving system with active aids, we have deactivated every facility to experience the physics offered by the single-seaters in F1 2021. Compared to last year's chapter, we found a better feeling in the control of the car at low speeds, as well as when braking where it is much easier to avoid locking the front wheels. In general, the cars turn out to be very understeer, so we will have to balance the aerodynamic load on the front wing well in the setup configuration. The rear of the car, on the other hand, seemed more stable to us, allowing us to have better grip under acceleration even at low speeds.

However, it is difficult to manage the car in traction, especially when driving unaided: in a moment we could lose control of the rear and fly against the barriers, compromising the race. Overall the difficulties driving has decreased, thanks to a better response of the single-seaters in different situations on the track. Although we have never tried a real Formula 1 single-seater, we discovered from the interviews with the drivers (who contributed to the creation of the video game with their feedback) that the driving model needed to be improved in terms of control of the car. Many will perhaps turn up their noses reading these words, because they expected a more complex and less arcade game. But we can assure you that, despite the perceived higher downforce, the driving model still remains challenging when you want to give your best on the track.

The superior control of the single-seater translates into a 'more fun experience and a much better driving feeling being able to react better to unexpected car behaviors. After some initial difficulties, mainly due to a non-optimal standard configuration of the steering wheel, we immediately felt at ease in the 2021 Formula 1 single-seaters, which were able to give us an unprecedented feeling corner after corner. F1 2021 therefore remains a mainly arcade game, which however gives satisfying satisfactions even to players looking for a more simulative title.

Pit stop at the Red Bull Ring

Following the regulatory change that took place last year, in F1 2021 it is no longer possible to manage the type of mixture used in the race. This means that we no longer have any control over the use of the fuel, if not through less aggressive driving in terms of braking and acceleration. At the start of the race we have to carefully plan the amount of petrol in the car, based on our driving style so that we can get to the finish line.

Instead, the commonly called electric power management returns ERS. In the race, by pressing a button, we will in fact have the "Overtaking Mode", which will offer us several more horses to be exploited on the straights. In F1 2021 it is much easier to accumulate this energy in braking and then exploit it with the delivery of the ERS. It is therefore essential to learn how to manage the "Overtaking Mode" well in the various sectors of the track, trying to reach the best race pace from our car. Remaining on these more technical aspects that are certainly interesting for more experienced pilots, we would like to mention even a better one temperature management, both of the tires and of the power unit. We don't have to worry so much about the engine temperature in the race, as, having only the "Standard" fuel mixture available, the heat is dissipated more easily.

The new damage screen on the car

Another important novelty in terms of gameplay is the new damage system. Now our car can be damaged in several sections, causing permanent breakages for the duration of the race. In the past, the only part of the car at risk was the front wing. It could break with a contact on the track, but through a prolonged stop in the pits the mechanics were able to replace it. In F1 2021, additional elements of the car capable of breaking in an accident were added. For example, it is no longer possible to push opponents by hitting them sideways, because we risk permanently damaging the bottom of the car or other aerodynamic appendages. The rear wing can also suffer serious and permanent damage, which could compromise the entire race.

Speaking instead ofartificial intelligence, the developers have perfected the on-track behavior of our opponents. While offering a great level of challenge and realism, AI still suffers from a few minor imperfections. For example, it has often happened to us to see an opponent defend himself from our attack, going himself to attack another driver extremely far away in a dangerous and useless move in order to maintain the position.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Operating system: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • Memoia: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage space: 80 GB on SSD

Minimum requirements

  • Operating system: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2130 or AMD FX 4300
  • Memoia: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GTX 950 or AMD R9 280 | for Ray Tracing: GeForce RTX 2060 or Radeon RX 6700 XT
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage space: 80 GB
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible

Recommended Requirements

  • Operating system: Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 9600K or AMD Ryzen 5
  • 2600X
  • Memoia: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics card: NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti or AMD RX 590 | for Ray Tracing: GeForce RTX 3070 or Radeon RX 6800
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage space: 80 GB
  • Sound Card: DirectX compatible

Technical sector for the first time on next-gen

Wet race in Brazil on F1 2021

F1 2021 is the first video game in the series to land on next-generation consoles. The developers have welcomed the power and other features offered by the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X | S, creating a solid technical sector. In particular, the speed of the SSDs was exploited to ensure fast loading and the ray tracing for greater fidelity of the visual sector, especially in the reflections on the single-seaters and in the puddles formed on the track by the rain. The additional computational power was used for some texture in high resolution, as well as other elements on the track including grass and trees now available in greater detail. A new one has been introduced on the new generation consoles 120 FPS mode for superior fluidity in the most tense situations.

The sound sector has been further refined. The power units sound virtually identical to their real counterparts and you can clearly hear the difference between one manufacturer's engine and another.

The video game excels particularly in situations of wet track, where, however, we have felt the lack of a dynamic management of the water on the track, which remains immobile as the cars pass. Excellent visual performance even in circuits where you race at night such as Singapore, Bahrain and even Abu Dhabi. Speaking of the tracks present, we would like to underline that i traced of Imola, Portimao and Gedda will not be present at launch, but will be added later via a free update. All other tracks of the 2021 championship are included (including those canceled from the calendar such as Canada and Australia) with minor changes to curbs and curves compared to the past. However, an overall update of the racetracks is missing to adapt 100% to the real counterparts seen in the Formula 1 championship (for example in Spain the curve 10 has not been modified).

Comment

Tested version PC Windows Resources4Gaming.com

8.9

Readers (19)

8.9

Your vote

We were expecting a very similar game compared to the last edition, but we were pleasantly surprised by the contents and the driving model brought by Codemasters in this F1 2021. We faced the new Braking Point adventure with a lot of curiosity, pleasure and sense of challenge, then launching ourselves in the classic and more complex career modes. The driving model with the pad or the steering wheel seemed simpler at first glance, but trying to push the car to the limit, we were still able to enjoy a good level of challenge. Also promoted the new damage system, which increases the level of depth and complexity in the gameplay. The visual sector, while receiving an evident improvement on PC and on new generation consoles, still has room for improvement for the future. Also missing are all the tracks present in the official Formula 1 championship, which will be added later with a free update. Finally, we also want to commend the high amount of options and driving aids present, thanks to which it is possible to live a satisfying experience with any level of driving ability.

PRO

  • Driving model gives great satisfaction
  • Many well-structured game modes
  • Excellent levels of challenge for any level of driving skills
AGAINST
  • Visual compartment can be improved
  • Some imperfections of artificial intelligence
  • Physics engine still too arcade
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