The weight of the world championship

Wet weather driving takes extra skill and nerve. Should you lose control of your car, you will quickly become familiar with F1 's detailed damage system. With a big enough impact you can knock off your front wing or lose a wheel, but the game also helps you understand that F1 cars are sensitive even to minor incidents. If you lose your entire front wing, you will notice a massive loss of grip, but you can also lose smaller pieces of your car through minor contact. You lose less aerodynamic grip from these incidents, but they still have a subtle negative impact on handling.

Puncturing a tire is a much less random occurrence this year as well. If you run off the racing line you will find that your tyres pick up small amounts of dirt and debris; do this too often and a tire might deflate. It is almost a shame that AI cars make very few mistakes in F1 , as it means you rarely get to see one of the game's most welcome new features: In Formula One, following a major accident which leaves debris or even a stationary car blocking part of the track, the safety car is released from the pit lane to drive in front of the F1 cars for up to two laps while the track is cleared.

In the game, you do not have full control behind the safety car.

F1 2011 Video Game Gameplay (PC HD)

There's a speed limit, but you can weave from side to side to keep heat in the tyres and brakes. Once the track is clear, the safety car pulls back into the pits, and you can resume racing. It might sound like a dull prospect in a video game, but it has become an important part of modern Formula One and is believably implemented in the game.

You can turn it off if you would rather not use this feature, but serious F1 fans will really enjoy the need to quickly consider changes to their race strategy since the slow speed behind the safety car removes any gaps between cars that were built up during the race. All this detail may prove too complex for casual F1 fans, but if you just want to play short races with fewer of the strategic factors in play, then F1 allows for that. Career mode now lets you choose three-lap races as well as the previous minimum distance of 20 percent of a real Grand Prix.

Setting up the car is also relatively simple. You can pick from preset car setups based on the weather conditions, or if you have more mechanical knowledge you can alter almost every aspect of the car to fine-tune a custom setup. You can also choose short or long race weekends.

Publisher's Description

Long includes the real format of three practice sessions and three qualifying sessions, whereas short reduces practice and qualifying to one session each. Players looking for medium distance races will be disappointed to find the 30 percent race distance has been removed from the game this year; the choice now jumps from 20 percent about 15 minutes per race to 50 percent 45 minutes per race.

The career mode is very similar to that of last year's game. You must start with a low-ranking team and meet qualifying and race objectives to improve your reputation and attract interest from the front-runners. Along the way you can also opt to complete research-and-development objectives by beating a set lap time in practice sessions. Doing so awards you with upgrades to your car's performance. In addition to competing, you answer questions from the press between race sessions. How you answer each question from the three options available affects your relationship with your team and interest from others.

The effects of your responses are made clearer in this year's game through press clippings shown at the end of each weekend, so you can see how your comments are being reported in the media. Career mode and indeed all of the other race types have been made more rewarding by new cutscenes depicting your driver celebrating in the parc ferme if you place in the top three. It's nice to see your efforts celebrated, though it's strange that Codemasters decided to implement this style of cutscene instead of the more iconic podium celebrations.

The AI drivers provide stiff competition.

Key Features

Though Career mode has changed very little, the wheel-to-wheel racing is now much better. AI cars aggressively defend their position on most difficulties, intelligently moving to the inside line to protect the obvious overtaking route. As in last year's game, they can sometimes move to defend too early, giving you the chance to overtake them on the outside, but this happens a lot less in F1 The AI drivers are also much more consistent across all of the circuits in this year's game.

You no longer find that they are too fast at some tracks or too slow at others, and they certainly don't struggle in fast corners like they did in F1 Just as in real F1, you have two new overtaking tools at your disposal in F1 KERS offers you a power boost at the touch of a button. You can use only a certain amount each lap, but if timed correctly, it can help you keep up with a faster car or defend your position from someone coming up behind.

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It's also a terrific aid in qualifying, as finding the best places to use it on each track can shave valuable tenths of a second off your time. Pressing the DRS button opens a flap in the rear wing to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase top speed. This can be used only when you're less than a second behind the car ahead and only at certain points on each circuit.

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Combined with KERS, it can make overtaking much easier on the harder difficulties. Today in '07, Jacques Villeneuve released an album. Quite a departure from F1, what was the first single called? Webber eases himself gently into the race.

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