In Depth

F1 2019 game: reviews, car updates, F2 2019 season and more

Codemasters keeps its latest racer firing on all cylinders with frequent fixes and new features

The latest instalment in the F1 series has been on sale for a while now, but developer Codemasters continues to keep the game fresh with post-launch updates and new features.  

F1 2019 launched on consoles and PC in June, some three months earlier than the Birmingham-based developer’s typical September release window.

Due to the early launch, Codemasters was unable to add the drivers and teams from the 2019 F2 season for the game’s release. This would arrive a few months later, alongside car model updates to mirror the fierce development race that goes on during an F1 season.

With the Lewis Hamilton taking his sixth F1 title at the US Grand Prix over the weekend, there’s no better time to take F1 2019 for a spin: 

F1 2019 review

Fans have been calling on Codemasters to include the Formula 2 championship, the step below Formula 1, in its F1 series ever since the developer acquired the rights to the game franchise a decade ago. 

The Birmingham-based studio has faced an uphill battle in granting that wish, however. The racing sport’s former ruler, Bernie Ecclestone, was never fond of the gaming or social media worlds, making it difficult for Codemasters to implement new features.

But that all changed after F1’s current owners, Liberty Media, took over in 2017. The US-based company is keen to expand the sport’s social media and gaming presence, allowing Codemasters far more freedom when creating the F1 games. 

And that has resulted in the addition of F2 championship modes, which debut in F1 2019

The long-overdue addition to the series means that gamers can play as any of the drivers from the 2018 F2 season, with Codemasters adding the 2019 roster in September.

Now, should they wish, players can jump into the shoes of Brit George Russell to fend off Thai driver Alex Albon for the F2 title, before playing as both drivers in this year’s F1 season. 

In contrast to F1, where the teams develop their own car, F2 is a spec-series. As such, every team and driver gets the same Dallara-built car powered by a turbocharged V6 engine. 

These vehicles are noticeably harder to drive than the F1 machines in F1 2019, so only the very best drivers will come out on top. Codemasters has done an impeccable job modelling the F2 cars, while the sound design is arguably better than their F1 counterparts.

Players can take part in three F2 scenarios - where they go up against two fictional rivals who react in different ways depending on how the race unfolds - before joining an F1 team in their career mod. eFor instance, if you refuse to let your rival past under the instruction of your team, they will approach you at the end of the race to give you a clip around the ear, so to speak. 

The new title is Codemasters’ best attempt yet at injecting a story mode into the F1 series. We’d like to have played a full F2 season before graduating into F1, but there is the option to play a complete championship as one of the existing drivers outside of career mode. 

Meanwhile, players can take their pick from any of the cars from this year’s F1 season, all of which feature the wider wings that were mandated for the 2019 championship. The cars look stunning thanks to an improved lighting model, as do the night races such as Bahrain and Singapore.

There’s also a generic 2019-spec car for online races that can be customised with different liveries and colours. Players can unlock more by playing online and most of the options are free, although gamers can buy “premium” designs with real-world money. 

One slight disappointment is how F1 legends Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost are implemented in F1 2019. Although players can relive the epic 1990 battle between the two drivers, there’s not a lot you can actually do with behind the wheel of their McLaren and Ferrari F1 cars.

Codemasters has created a range of overtaking and checkpoint challenges for the racing legends, but these are essentially identical to the “invitational events” from previous F1 games. It’s a shame, as the addition of some archive footage could have added a greater sense of occasion.

In summary, F1 2019 is another impressive game from the studio, packing a surprising amount of new features for a franchise that launches a title every year. But while the improvements to the graphics are a welcome addition, it’s the inclusion of F2 cars that really steals the show.

What do others think?

F1 2019 has been well received by the critics, many of who praise Codemasters for packing in a host of new features while at the same time releasing the game two months earlier than usual.

F1 2019 has a feature set other racing games would die for”, says Eurogamer. Track evolution, dynamic weather and 21 official circuits to play on, along with “selection of exquisite single-seater machinery from past and present” make F1 2019 game “better than the real thing.”

Trusted Reviews agrees, praising the game for being “bigger and better” than previous entries in Codemasters’ F1 franchise. Arguably the most exciting new feature in the game is the Formula 2 championship, which is made better by the “thick layer of soapy drama” players face when facing their rivals both on and off the track.

However, RaceFans says it “can’t help but feel disappointed” that the post-race animations between the player and other characters, such as the pit lane reporter, have barely changed in F1 2019.

When you do progress from the F2 world into a team in the big league, players will “find what is unquestionably the best-looking Formula One game ever”, says The Guardian. A particular highlight are the night races, such as Bahrain and Singapore, as Codemasters has “nailed the visual atmosphere” of these events. 

“The cars feel incredibly convincing”, the newspaper adds. The single-seater speed machines are “extraordinarily grippy” in the corners, but players need to keep an eye on their tyres. Take too much speed through a turn and the tyres will begin to degrade, forcing you into a pit stop. 

The game’s AI drivers are also impressive, offering “the best wheel-to-wheel racing in any driving game”, according to Top Gear. “They’re so smart it wouldn’t surprise us to switch the console on one day and find them quietly plotting a Skynet-style rebellion against humanity.”

F1 2019 is so good, in fact, that it’s arguably better than the real thing, the motoring site concludes.

When does it come out?

F1 2019 launched on 28 June, the same weekend as the Austrian Grand Prix, on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

Where to order

Orders are open now on Amazon, with prices starting at £45.99. 

Gamers who order the “Legends Edition” gain access to Senna and Prost, as well as their F1 cars from the 1990 season. 

Meanwhile, the “Anniversary Edition” includes with the Alonso’s Ferrari F10 and Hamilton’s McLaren MP4/25 from the 2010 season. These cars are also available in the “Legends Edition”, and will be available for purchase at a later date by fans who miss out this time around.

F2 championship debuts

For the first time in an F1 game, players can access the cars and drivers from the Formula 2 championship.

Unlike Formula 1, where all the cars are designed by teams to meet a set of technical regulations, F2 features identical cars. All the vehicles are built by Italian racing car maker Dallara and driven by young talent hoping to step into F1. 

The junior series has spawned some of F1’s biggest stars, including Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. There are also three former F2 drivers on this year’s F1 grid: Williams’s George Russell, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Toro Rosso driver Alex Albon. 

At launch, the game featured all the drivers and teams from the 2018 F2 championship, says Polygon. Codemasters updated the game with this year’s drivers and liveries in September.

Can you race F2 cars in the career mode?

Yes, to an extent. Games will be able to play a series of F2 races as part of their F1 career, but a full 12-race long season will only be accessible in other modes. 

The game’s director, Lee Mather, told fans on Twitter that the career mode will feature three F2 races “with a narrative”. The story is expected to feature two fictional rivals, both of whom join the player when they progress into F1. 

According to racing news site The Checkered Flag, one of the fictional rivals is aggressive while the other is more reserved. 

Senna and Prost are new playable characters

Gamers will be able to get behind the wheel of Senna’s championship-winning McLaren MP4/5B from 1990 and go wheel-to-wheel with his arch-rival Prost driving the Ferrari F1-90. 

The “explosive” rivalry between the two drivers is seen as one of the greatest battles in F1 history, says motorsport news site RaceFans. The drivers had fought each other all season long for the 1990 championship before arriving in Japan for the penultimate race. There, they collided at the first corner, putting them both out of the race and handing the championship to Senna.  

Fans can return to the Japanese Grand Prix with digital versions of Senna and Prost to see whether they can make it past the first turn.

Customisable cars

While previous entries in the series have let players tweak only a few elements of their virtual character, such as helmet design and vehicle number, F1 2019 offers a host of new customisation options that can be unlocked by racing online. 

In a gameplay stream [above], game director Lee Mather revealed some of the options fans can expect in the new title - notably the new, generic 2019-spec machine that players can use in multiplayer races. 

The car has been developed with the assistance of Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds, who have both been involved with championship-winning F1 teams, and meets this year’s new car regulations, reports gaming news site GTPlanet

Players can choose from a range of liveries to adorn their F1 car. Codemasters, the developer and publisher, also allows gamers to change the colour of designs, in a similar fashion to the helmet editor from the past three F1 titles.

The Birmingham-based studio has also introduced an in-game currency for F1 2019. Players who race online can earn “competition points”, which can be spent on new liveries and helmet designs. 

Not all designs can be unlocked by racing online, though. Mather told entertainment news site Screen Rant that there will be some “premium” options that can be unlocked only by spending real-world money.

Classic car list

All but two (the 1995 Ferrari 412 T2 and the F2002 from 2002) of the classic cars from F1 2018 will be carried over to the new games, including Nigel Mansell’s Williams FW14B from 1992 and the McLaren MP4-23 that Lewis Hamilton drove to the title in 2008. 

Codemasters is adding four more machines to the roster for 2019, most notably Senna’s McLaren MP4/5B and Prost’s Ferrari F1-90.

Here are all the classic cars you can drive in F1 2019:

  • 2010 Red Bull RB6
  • 2010 Ferrari F10 (F1 2019 Legends and Anniversary Edition bonus)
  • 2010 McLaren MP4-25 (F1 2019 Legends and Anniversary Edition bonus)
  • 2009 Brawn BGP 001
  • 2008 McLaren MP4-23
  • 2007 Ferrari F2007
  • 2006 Renault R26
  • 2004 Ferrari F2004
  • 2003 Williams FW25
  • 1998 McLaren MP4-13
  • 1996 Williams FW18
  • 1992 Williams FW14
  • 1991 McLaren MP4/6
  • 1990 Ferrari F1-90 (F1 2019 Legends Edition bonus)
  • 1990 McLaren MP4/5B (F1 2019 Legends Edition bonus)
  • 1988 McLaren MP4/4
  • 1982 McLaren MP4/1B
  • 1979 Ferrari 312 T4
  • 1978 Lotus 79
  • 1976 Ferrari 312 T2
  • 1976 McLaren M23D
  • 1972 Lotus 72D

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