F1 2020 races onto our screens on July 10, with Codemasters looking to improve upon the already-spectacular F1 2019 with a glut of new features, cars and circuits, as well as the world’s biggest F1 teams, including Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and the recently launched AlphaTauri, with the latter making its first appearance in the series. F1 2020 also pays tribute to one of the sport’s luminaries: German legend Michael Schumacher.
We speak with Codemasters’ Lee Mather, game director of F1 2020, to find out more about the staggering amount of new content in the latest addition to the long-running series, including the tremendous new mode: My Team.
What can you tell us about the new ‘My Team’ mode?
For the first time in the Codemasters series of F1 titles, we’re giving the player the chance to enter their team into the Formula 1 World Championship. Players will have to manage both the running of the team and produce the results out on the track. As with any F1 team, the player will be responsible for all departments needed to run the team. These range from those which impact on pure performance, to departments who work to get you the best sponsorship and media deals, to those responsible for driver and staff training. Engaging with the driver market and picking the most lucrative sponsors will also play a crucial part in creating a successful team. Not to mention the development of the car, and how you manage the team’s time in between races via the new season timeline.
How does the driver-manager experience work in My Team, and what does it mean for players?
It brings an entirely new experience to our F1 series, giving players a very different way to go about winning a World Championship. You’ll want to put in a strong performance on the track, but if you don’t take care of your second driver, and help them to improve, you’ll struggle to become a constructors champion. As the team boss, you're no longer the commodity in the driver market, and it’s your team-mate and all of the other drivers in both Formula 1 and Formula 2. Another primary consideration will be funding and expenditure. Picking the right sponsors and knowing where to invest will be crucial. You might want a high-profile driver, and have the cash to hire them, but they won’t stick around if you can’t provide the level of facilities they expect of a championship-winning team.
Any beginner tips for My Team?
My Team is vast and works very differently to the traditional Career which players are used to playing. Rather than spending everything upgrading the car, you need to look at investing in the team for the long run, as the last thing you want is to have to shut down a facility to save on spending. Also, pay attention to the tutorials, and the ever-helpful Carl, who will talk you through some of the new elements as you set up and start running your team. Lastly, take the time to create a cool visual for your team, set up a strong colour scheme, with a striking team badge, and make the team yours.
What are the new additions to Career Mode? What do you think are the most exciting inclusions?
As I’m sure most people will recall, we added in driver moves in F1 2019. With the inclusion of My Team and driver market, we’ve brought a similar system to the Driver Career. As part of the driver market, you’ll be competing with all other drivers around you to get the best seat you can, at the best price. We’ve also made some adjustments to how the R&D system works.
How will the three customisable season lengths impact players?
We’ve always been conscious that not everyone who plays the game is massively time rich, so taking part in an entire season, while also doing full race weekends, is very time-consuming. To give players more choice and flexibility in how they play their seasons they can choose to do a 22, 16 or 10-race season. The player will have the option to pick which tracks they want to race in each season and can edit that list in each subsequent season. It will also help new players who might struggle on circuits such as Baku and Monaco. Players can now pick a season based on their skill level and add tougher circuits as they improve.
To give players more choice and flexibility in how they play their seasons they can choose to do a 22, 16 or 10 race season
Can you share some beginner tips for the new Career Mode?
One of the key tips I always like to give in Career mode is; pick a team and difficulty mode which matches your expectations. If you want to be standing on the top step of the podium each race, and fighting for the championship in your first season, then you’ll want to pick from one of the front-running teams. Choosing a mid-table team will give you a longer experience, where you’ll be either looking to develop the car or maybe court the driver market and move up to a more competitive team. Alternatively, some people love the challenge of starting at the back, building up a team as well as traversing the field by moving teams along the way to becoming a champion. Ultimately, think about the experience you want as a player.
Can you tell us more about the new circuits? What unique challenges do these pose to players?
As you probably already know, we love new circuits and this year we couldn’t have two that are visually and physically different. Zandvoort is a traditional-style racing venue, which was last on the calendar back in 1985. It’s located amongst the sand dunes where the coastline meets the North Sea. The track has seen a great deal of work done on it in preparation for the 2020 Formula 1 season, not least in having a unique banked curve added to the final corner. It’s a technical and exciting circuit with height variation, blind crests and unsighted braking points and corner apexes. It’s an onslaught on the senses and doesn’t give the player a break.
Hanoi, on the other hand, is a modern street circuit. The circuit brings the number of anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar up to six. It’s characterised by two enormous straights, with one being one of the longest in F1. Long straights and high speeds also bring with them challenging braking zones and exciting overtaking possibilities. The circuit also features a series of corners where the radius increases as you progress through them, similar to the Maggots Becketts complex at Silverstone, the Esses at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico and turns six to nine at Circuit of the Americas. Being a street track, it’s also a walled circuit, which will mean taking liberties will bring the added risk of damage to the car. Speeds are expected to be some of the highest on the calendar.
You’ve re-introduced two-player split-screen – what was the thinking behind this, and have any tweaks been made since its last appearance?
Split-screen last featured in the series back on the previous generation of consoles, so bringing it back required entirely new tech. We’ve always said that delivering a split-screen experience in a game as demanding as F1 isn’t easy, but we felt now was the time to push for its inclusion. Formula 1 appeals to all ages and levels of gamer, and they all have a love of the sport. Split-screen allows people to have a shared experience, something fun and social. We cater to the competitive end of the scale with our online and esports events, but also want people to be able to enjoy some side-by-side fun playing the sport they love. We also wanted to time its inclusion along with some of the new accessibility options we’ve added to the game this year, such as the steering assist, automatic reset to track and simplified off-track surfaces. Combining those along with split-screen allow players of all skill levels to race together and have fun.
Can you tell us more about the Deluxe Schumacher Edition?
As anyone who’s followed our F1 journey will know, our Franchise Director Paul Jeal is a massive Michael Schumacher fan, so this is his dream come true. It’s also our way of honouring one of the greatest talents the sport has ever seen. Michael also drove some of the sport’s most attractive and iconic cars on his way to taking seven drivers' world titles. With the increase in the way in which the player can personalise their experience in F1 2020, adding in content which relates to a true great was something which we thought was very fitting on the 70th anniversary of the Championship.
What are the four cars included in this edition – why these choices, and what does each vehicle offer?
Some of the cars Michael drove were truly iconic and, in the case of the Jordan 191, also beautiful. Looks are subjective, but the Jordan 191 regularly tops the tables as one of the best-looking cars of all time. Back in '91, the Jordan featured a V8 engine and six-speed manual gearbox, very different to the modern cars. Moving on from the Jordan, Michael took his first two World Drivers' Championships driving for the Benetton team. The 1994 Benetton dominated the start of the 94 season, but Williams’ Damon Hill put up a real fight in the second half of the season, with Michael coming out on top by just one point. The following year the Benetton B195 was an even stronger package in the hands of Michael Schumacher and Johnny Herbert, with Schumacher taking his second title and the car achieving 11 victories on its way to taking the Constructors’ title. The Ferrari F2000 saw the start of Michael Schumacher’s dominance over an unprecedented five-year run of Championships. The car featured a screaming V10 engine and seven-speed sequential gearbox. The F2000 went on to win 10 of the 17 races in the 2000 season, taking both the Driver and Constructors’ titles.
F1 2020 is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC as well as Google Stadia for the first time, on July 10 2020.