Formula For Success: F1 Manager 2023

I’d say the odds are a smidge better than great that if you’re reading this review of F1 Manager 2023, your mind is already made up about whether to shell out the cash to get your copy. At best, I’d say you’re reading this review to see if Podium Life’s assessment is in line with what you’ve already decided about the game. Perhaps you’re only reading this in the free minutes of your day between so-called “work” while you count down the minutes until you’re back to managing your Formula One team.

If that sounds like you, don’t consider this article a review. Consider it as a list of pros you’ll undoubtedly release on all the folks in your life who have yet to indulge in the chaos of making split-second decisions to insure your drivers climb the leaderboards and your opponents’ do not.   

Everyone should give F1 Manager 2023 a turn or two around the track. That’s right, everyone. You need not be a diehard management game master or a formula one fanatic-though both might help power you through the game’s somewhat tedious tutorial. If you have half a mind for strategy, love the thrill of a good race, or can enjoy the smug satisfaction that comes with achieving victory because of a thousand tiny decisions you’ve made, this game is for you.    

F1 Manager 2023 earns its designation as the official race management game of Formula One, Formula 2, and Formula 3 championships, with its pain-staking attention to detail. The game features faithful recreations of all 23 tracks from the 2023 season including the Las Vegas Strip Circuit from the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix happening in November. Direct from Sky TV, F1 commentators David Croft and Karun Chandhok narrate key moments in the game. 

On start-up, F1 Manager 2023 beckons you toward its career mode with promises of building a lasting legacy for one of ten constructor teams ripped right out of the 2023 season. Each has a unique objective, such as making it into the points or maintaining a hard-won victory from the previous season. Each also comes with different budgets which will affect a whole host of things ranging from the racing tech you can develop to the sheer amount of spare tires at your disposal. 

Your team selected, the game enters the primary hurdle that newcomers may struggle with: a lengthy tutorial. Before a car ever hits the track, there’s loads to do from running the pit crew through drills to decrease pit times and researching new parts to increase how aerodynamic your cars are, to checking in on the confidence level of your drivers and reading through email for tips on how to succeed. Helping you get a grasp on this mountain menus and submenus is the inelegant one-two punch of audio recordings and a small army of pop-up text boxes.

The temptation to smash the skip button and proceed to a race may be high, but it is imperative to see the tutorial through.  Even at this early stage, players are already in an intricate game of shaving milliseconds off the clock. These are the steps players take in advance of race weekend that mean the difference between poor performance for the season, and a spot at the podium.

Nowhere does the game shine brighter than on race day. The realistically detailed depiction of a Formula One race combined with a generous selection of camera angles to take in all the pulse-pounding action feels like conducting your own racing broadcast. And if you’ve ever principled from the comfort of your arm chair, you’ll find absolute delight in barking orders to your drivers to minutely orchestrate their success. Everything ultimately depends on you, from deciding when drivers should pit to determining what tires they should use based on the track conditions, to easing up fuel consumption and even engaging the energy recovery system. The game gives you every opportunity to let things play out automatically by allowing your crew to handle qualifiers and increasing speeds by several magnitudes like you’re fast-forwarding through the race. Ultimately, though, these automatic systems will never achieve the same results that you can if you stay in the race for every turn and every minute-to-minute decision. 

To put your management skills to the test, F1 Manager 2023 offers Race Replay mode that sets up specific conditions based on actual races from the 2023 season and challenges you to rewrite history with your managerial expertise. Race Moments offer a chance at puzzle solving by setting up specific scenarios and asking the player to achieve a certain result before the end of the race. For more on these modes, check out our interview with Game Director Andy Fletcher.   

These new modes greatly expand the game from its 2022 outing, a trend we’d like to see continue in future versions of the game based on upcoming seasons. Perhaps more animations could be added to the research and development part of the game to actually see your good work put in place. We’d also be game for a few more lines from the race engineers which, despite adding the feel of authenticity, began to repeat a little too often after a while. 

Nitpicks aside, our time with F1 Manager 2023 was an eye-opening look at the world of management games. Despite a tutorial section that reads a bit more like stereo instructions than we would have liked, we were all in by our first race weekend, shouting instructions to virtual drivers, watching and reacting to every make or break moment, and grinning from ear-to-ear with every lap. 

F1 Manager 2023 is currently available for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 4, and PlayStation 5. 

For this review, Podium Life received a digital review copy of F1 Manager 2023 for the PlayStation 5.