Few grasp the kind of focus and concentration that goes into analysing and finding the fast way through a corner at more than 200 miles an hour. It's a combination of abilities few even come close to possessing. A major difference between those who partake in actual races and those of us who are satisfied to take on a virtual challenge on our flatscreens.
A corner is not just a corner. Each corner is a challenge that sets you up for the next challenge. If a corner is followed by another corner you're forced to calculate the fastest path through both. If the corner is followed by a straight then you have to factor in that every lost fraction of a second will be multiplied over the straight where the speed at which you enter carries over and decides your top speed. On top of this you have to consider tire wear as well as your overall strategy for pitstops.
These are some of the basic details that fans of the world's biggest motorsport love to dissect. And your willingness to dig into them and enjoy these aspects will dictate how much pleasure you will be able to derive from the latest edition of Codemasters' F1 series.
However, if you've read up on F1 2013 you will surely have heard about a feature that has nothing to do with today's sport - Classics Mode - where the developers have included some of the most legendary drivers, cars and tracks. In other words you will be able to record record lap times with a Lotus 98T, a Ferrari F1-87/88C or the iconic Williams FW12.
It's all in the details as you'd expect and the developer has made sure it all looks like a TV production from back in the day when you race with the classics. Sparks fly from the cars, the colours are more sober, and the lack of aerodynamics makes it so that the cars, and therefore also the cameras, move far more violently over the straights and into corners.
The whole Classics offering should appeal to nostalgics, but while the included content should bring a smile to the lips of fans, it's sadly a little lacking. Only two tracks are included with the standard edition, and while Jerez and Brands Hatch are fantastic tracks, they and the few cars available only serve to whet your appetite for more. It comes off as a mode that has been designed to be fleshed out with additional content in the form of DLC in the future.
Classics mode is naturally only a small part of a greater package where you'll find your typical options like Grand Prix, Career, and Proving Grounds, the latter which is once again full of clever tasks. In fact, Proving Grounds has been turned into quite the delicate treat for those who don't have the time or patience for a full race. Codemasters have made the challenges more dramatic and an example of this is when you're given three laps to secure top place as the rain pours down over Spa.
It is in Career where you'll notice the biggest changes, which comes natural as this part of the game offers longer races where all the new tweaks and changes can be showcased.
A lot has been said of improved artificial intelligence, but it still doesn't take long until you find holes in it that can be exploited by those who may not always follow the rules. Naturally you can set the rules according to your liking, but regardless of how you set things up, it will at times feel inconsistent and random. It's up to the player to do a bit of roleplaying, and if you do this you will notice that the opponents are more sophisticated and realistic as they try and pass you as they make better use of slipstreaming.
The biggest change in my book, however, is the revamped tire physics. It may sound like a detail that the diehards would care about, but that is actually not the case. Your driving style is more important that ever before in F1 2013, and mirroring the development of the sport, making sure your tires hold up is more important than ever. You can do this by driving through wet patches in corners, avoid spinning the wheels, and generally drive conservatively throughout.
The result of the improved tire physics are races that plays out and feels far more realistic than what was previously the case. To learn from you Race Engineer that your tires have been spent, 3 or 4 laps ahead of the plan, is enough to make you panic, while Jenson Button-esque abilities always makes for good results. That is, if you've set up the care properly.
From a visual standpoint it becomes clear that Codemasters have pushed the current console generation to its limits, and there isn't much of an upgrade since last year. Once again we opted to review the PC version, and while the game races onto the screen with an unrivalled sense of speed and framerate that holds nothing back, you do tend to miss some details and life along the tracks. That said, there are no games that are capable of recreating rain the way Codemasters does.
There is no doubt that F1 2013 is the most playable edition of Codemasters' Formula One series to date, but there is also no question that the game has gotten to a point where only the most dedicated fans will notice the improvements that are being made. The Classics mode is simply not deep enough to appear a major new feature, and when most of the rest of the game is very similar to last year's product that you have to look hard at the details to decide whether it warrants a new purchase.
The improvements are there in the details, and they are significant enough to make the races more satisfactory and realistic than ever. Whether these incremental improvements are enough for you is up to you to decide, but in the meantime I step into my Williams as I try and bring home the silverware Sir Frank deserves.