F1 2017

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For years now the Code­mas­ters

For­mula One games have let the player be­gin their ca­reer in any car they like, and for years I’ve donned the caps of the sport’s slow­est teams. That says a lot about what I want out of the game: a rags to riches story told in plucky points­pay­ing po­si­tions and an even­tual con­tract sign­ing to a cham­pi­onship­win­ning team, re­ward­ing my hard graft and ob­vi­ous prodi­gious tal­ent. This year I signed for Toro Rosso, the Red Bull feeder team who were once Ital­ian min­nows Mi­nardi, and have a sin­gle vic­tory (Vet­tel’s 2008 wet Monza drive) to their name.

Ex­cept, there’s a bit of a prob­lem. In their con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to add depth and au­then­tic­ity to the game’s flag­ship ca­reer mode, the Code­mas­ters devs have made my favoured path to as­cen­dancy par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult this year. And by par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult, I mean I’ve bel­lowed in im­po­tent rage at Chris the R&D guy, my con­de­scend­ing agent, and Ro­main Gros­jean mul­ti­ple times, and I’m only a few races in.

The first prob­lem – and this is a strength of the game, re­ally – is that my Toro Rosso’s in­ter­nal parts ap­pear to be made from eggshells, ice sculp­tures, and those Sam­sung Gal­axy Note 7s that kept catch­ing fire. Af­ter three rig­or­ous prac­tice ses­sions my var­i­ous en­gine parts are al­ready show­ing se­ri­ous wear, and by qual­i­fy­ing my race en­gi­neer is warn­ing me not to drive over apexes or shift gears too many times in case some­thing busts. Nurs­ing my car through Mel­bourne’s 13 turns like a Fabergé egg courier on a uni­cy­cle, I man­age a re­spectable mid­field qual­i­fy­ing po­si­tion.

Then two laps into the race, I lose fourth gear. Gros­jean and his Haas smell blood be­hind me, and he’s soon within DRS range and lung­ing down the straights, draw­ing level in the brak­ing zones. Tak­ing some cre­ative lines and test­ing the def­i­ni­tion of sports­man­like be­hav­iour, I man­age to stay ahead, but now there’s an em­bar­rass­ing queue of five cars form­ing be­hind me. By the time we’ve all made our pit stops each of them have got ahead. I take the che­quered flag de­jected and out of the points.

Drive an­gry

And that’s all fun and games, un­til Chris the R&D guy sits me down be­fore prac­tice 1 at China two weeks later to tell me the reli­a­bil­ity up­grade I spent 1,000 points on has failed. Do you know how hard I worked for those 1,000 points, Chris? Do you? I de­cide to chan­nel my anger into my driv­ing and once again put in a de­cent quali per­for­mance, this time on all-new en­gine and gear­box parts. The next day, some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary hap­pens at the Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit. A race that be­gins wet but which dries out around half­way through of­fers a tempt­ing tyre gam­ble. The race en­gi­neer is on the blower ask­ing if I want to come in for ul­tra soft dry tyres now, be­fore any­one else has dared to try it. In P13 and with noth­ing to lose but the sight of Nico Hulken­berg’s rear wing, I go for it.

No one else pits in for three more laps, most wait­ing even longer. When they do go in to change to dry tyres, I in­herit the race lead by de­fault. And then… no one comes and takes it back from me. Not Vet­tel or Raikko­nen in their charg­ing Fer­raris, nor the Mercs. And cer­tainly not Gros­jean. Some­how I be­come Toro Rosso’s sec­ond ever race win­ner just like that. Just as well too, be­cause af­ter my en­gine blows up the fol­low­ing race in Bahrain, I’m al­most ready to hand in my no­tice.

Any­thing can hap­pen in For­mula One , as a wise man once said, and it usu­ally does Phil Iwa­niuk Pub­lisher Code­mas­ters / De­vel­oper Code­mas­ters / for­mat Xbox One / re­lease date Au­gust 2017 “My in­ter­nal parts ap­pear to be made from eggshells and ice struc­tures”

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