F1 2013 – classic cars and tracks from the 80s and 90s return for a virtual victory lap

Codemasters has unveiled F1 2013, to no-one’s surprise. But among the usual list of tweaks, minor additions and improvements comes an all-new mode that brings legendary drivers in their iconic cars back into the game, along with a handful of retired but treasured tracks. For an annual release series, it’s a surprisingly substantial addition.

F1 2013 preview


Check out this F1 2013 PS3 screens gallery here for F1 cars new and old.

Codemasters’ F1 series has provided the last call on many a pub debate, a bargument if you will: “who’d win between Webber starting at the back of the pack, and Grosjean on pole with no traction control?” Spectators, that’s who. Also, obviously Webber. But how about Andretti in his 80s heyday versus Mansell in that championship-winning Williams, around former calendar mainstay Imola.

No longer is this the stuff of futile bickering – F1 2013’s classic cars and tracks give you the chance to hop in some of the sport’s most iconic cars (tough break, Minardi die-hards), explore forgotten treasures from the old regime like Brands Hatch, Estoril, Jerez and the aforementioned Imola, and even check how the old turbo-charged death-mobiles of the 1980s fare against Hamilton’s Mclaren lap-for-lap.

F1 2013 ps3 screenshotGame director Paul Jeal explains the team’s approach to the classic cars’ handling model: “If you go back in time, it’s not neccessarily about recreating the experience perfectly, it’s about your memories of it. It’s similar in some ways to what we do with the current physics.

Once we drop the real numbers in that we get from the teams, they handle well anyway but it might just be that we fine-tune things so that the Lotus is easier on its tyres, so that the Mercedes engine’s faster, so that the Renault engine’s easier on the fuel.”

In total, ten legendary chaps from the 80s and an unannounced number from the 90s will comprise the all-new Classics mode, which even boasts a Murray Walker-voiced intro. There’s the usual list of AI tweaks and improvements to the core game in F2013 of course, but it’s the promise of turbo boosters and non-ironic moustaches that really pulls at F1 fans’ heartstrings.

Jeal reveals this content has been on the team’s mind since it acquired the F1 license back in 2009. It’s been a matter, he says, of picking the moment when they could do it justice: “We’ve wanted to do classic cars for a long time. In your downtime, you’re always aware of it, how those cars would handle, there’s readily available information for some cars, for others not so much.”

“Could we have possibly squeezed something into last year’s game? Yeah, maybe just a time trial. Don’t get me wrong, people are gonna love doing the time trials, but for me Formula One is about the names, the drivers, the passion, the rivalries.”

F1 2013 ps3 screenshotAnd now, the day one downer: F1 2013 will be released as two separate editions, one with all the classic content and one with the 80s drivers and just one vintage track, with the rest available as DLC. What’s next, FIFA 14: Improved Menus Edition?

It’s a shame, because the vintage cars are such a rush to drive. Their engine sounds are the fruits of recording the real cars out on track, and the turbocharged go-kart sensation of throwing one around a corner feels just as you’d want it to, as Jeal says.

“The hardest part,” he continues,  “is actually balancing the driving experience compared to lap times. Take a game like Gran Turismo or Forza, and when there’s not a real-world benchmark, it’s very easy to be able to do things here and there to make the driving experience better. But when we have fans that say ‘you know what, we should be able to do a 1.24.568 around this track,’ you’ve not got quite so much freedom.”

“The hardest part is actually balancing the
driving experience compared to lap times”.

Of course, this isn’t the only new feature in F1 2013. You can save sessions midway through now, making 100% race distances easier to manage. The AI’s apparently been tweaked to hold its position on the track with more vigour, and push you harder when trailing. It’ll recreate the 2013 season in all the fine detail you’ve come to expect from the series now – but with like likes of Mansell, Andretti and Villeneuve luring you over to Classic Mode, it’ll be a real dilemma which era to rack up the laps.