Let's get one thing clear: if you’re searching for a high-speed simulation racer that puts you toe-to-toe with Max Verstappen, F1 Manager 2022 isn’t for you. Marking the first entry in a new F1 Manager series, Frontier Developments takes a different approach from Codemasters’ F1 22, swapping the driver’s seat for the pit wall. More akin to Football Manager, racing management games are a rarity on PlayStation — Motorsport Manager never jumped across — but Frontier’s filling the niche well.
F1 Manager features all ten of F1’s current teams and twenty drivers, each with varying budgets and two objectives from the board. As team principal, our immediate goal regards the constructors’ championship but there are long-term aims too like regular podium finishes. Expectations align with real-world performances, so anyone missing top results for Red Bull won’t last, while Williams is just happy scoring points. Like picking your local side in FIFA, choosing a smaller team and working your way up the ladder feels more rewarding. Unfortunately, you can’t create your own team, so we chose Aston Martin, whose lofty aims involved taking eighth in the constructors' championship.
Management isn’t granular in Frontier’s sim; the big decisions are your only real concern. With car performance, engineers can improve your existing car or focus on research projects for the next season. Anyone choosing less competitive teams may find research more beneficial since that can yield significant long-term benefits. Facilities are upgradeable too for a hefty cost, providing benefits like improved team morale in exchange for increased upkeep fees. There’s plenty to consider and F1 Manager 2022 eases you in well thanks to its optional guidance system.
After finishing your daily business, race weekend will soon arrive. Alongside those board expectations, every team has set performance targets from sponsors and hitting these earns a nice payout. Optional targets can be included, ranging from recording the fastest lap to hitting Q2 in qualifying, but failing to achieve any you’ve selected incurs a small fee. Still, the potential payout is significantly greater, so for anyone feeling confident, it’s a risk or reward situation. Once everything’s been reviewed, it’s time to hit the tracks.
Just like a real Grand Prix, there are three practice sessions that let you fine-tune car setups and familiarise the two drivers with the circuit. Main drivers can be swapped out for your reserve driver in first practice, letting them earn experience. It’s a great place to test your setup, allowing drivers to familiarise themselves with the circuit and car alike. The more confident a driver feels with the car, the faster they’ll drive. Qualifying uses a three-stage knock-out format, seeing the five slowest drivers eliminated until we reach the top ten. As a quick aside, sprint races aren’t included. If you’re not worried about managing every detail during practice or qualifying, though, the team can automatically handle it, but you can’t skip the main event.
Come race day, select a pit stop strategy, check the weather forecast, wait for the lights, and you’re off. Once a race begins, you’ve got no direct control over drivers; your role is better summarised as nudging them through orders. As team principal, you can issue pace commands which affect fuel consumption, direct how aggressively they drive — which impacts tyre degradation — plus maintain battery life for DRS. Should you wish, you can issue team orders like avoiding fighting teammates or asking one driver to hold up any cars behind. Each decision counts to gain that competitive advantage, and because you can pause the race, there’s no need to rush.
F1 Manager 2022’s a game of patience — especially when choosing a lower-end team — but pulling off successful strategies and securing those crucial points is incredibly satisfying. We lost count of how many times we finished a race, only to find ourselves going “one more round” before suddenly realising it was 3am. Even smaller things like that last lap overtake prove tense and you feel pride in your efforts. Controls are well adapted for consoles too, feeling slightly fiddly given the breadth of options but easy to learn. Accessibility options like alternative UI colours for the colour blind are also a welcome addition.
This isn’t all just stats and graphs either: everything’s handled through an impressive 3D engine that conveys the action well. Sure, these visuals don’t quite match F1 22 – a few character models veer towards uncanny valley alongside the odd graphical pop-in – but F1 Manager 2022 captures the spirit of watching live races brilliantly. Not only did the actual drivers provide voice lines for radio messages, but incident replays feel like they’ve been pulled from a Sky Sports highlight reel. Should you fast forward the race, it'll swap to a map view, reverting back whenever action is required.
Our biggest problem is that on-track events don’t always feel realistic. On several occasions, drivers barely going wide received an overly enthusiastic response from commentator David Croft. Though, to his credit, that’s entirely on-brand. More egregiously, we noticed significant crashes on several occasions which would see a driver go straight into a wall, only for them to keep going. These aren’t major complaints — F1 Manager 2022 does a great job of keeping you immersed — but small things like this can chip away at that.
Once the race is done, drivers earn experience that eventually reward development points, used for improving skills like braking or defending. If anyone’s consistently underperforming, you can scout replacements and negotiate contracts. So, by 2023, we’d replaced Lance Stroll with Valterri Bottas. We recommend not being a stingy boss; every failed negotiation sees them lose patience with you, eventually shutting you off. Come the season’s end, you'll be ranked against the board's prior goals, wrap up any outlying business, and before you know it, we’re doing it all over again. Maybe Aston Martin will take sixth this time? We’re aiming high, make no mistake. Future seasons are mostly similar, only this time you can negotiate sponsorship deals and engine suppliers.
F1 Manager 2022 is a strong first entry in Frontier’s new series, filling a niche that’s been sorely lacking on PlayStation for years. Capturing the spirit of Formula 1 with its strong attention to detail, there’s some thrilling races to be had and we’re impressed by how well it handles race days with its 3D engine. As a management sim, it’s a slow burner and we do wish you could create your own teams, but it still holds a distinct charm of its own. If you've got the patience for the long haul, F1 fans won’t want to miss this.