It’s time for the year’s official Formula 1 game and, just like the sport itself, F1 22 brings some big changes. We find out more from the game’s senior creative director, Lee Mather.

The first thing that we all noticed this year was the name change. Mather tells us that there’s good reasoning behind this.

“This is a very significant change to the series, especially for me, having to adjust to no longer saying 20xx when speaking about the game! In seriousness though, this marks a new era in the sport, the series, and also in our journey as a development team. F1 2021 came out with great support from EA, but it wasn’t delivered with us being part of EA for the entire project. F1 22 is the first title which we’ve developed and published entirely as an EA team. That’s a really big thing for us, and we’re incredibly proud of it. To have our game placed alongside the likes of FIFA, Madden etc. as an official EA Sports title means a lot to us.”

Despite this year seeing some big rule changes and new cars in F1, nothing proved too challenging for Mather and his team.

“We worked closely with our partners at Formula 1 and spoke with a number of the teams to help us understand the physics changes we’d need to make,” says Mather. “We also scrutinised the rules and built our early physics model around them. The biggest challenge for us has been ensuring our physics and performance changes are in line with the performance levels of each of the teams. Now that the season has started, we’re able to make some minor adjustments to the levels of performance. And of course, we’ll be updating vehicle performance during the season along with the driver performance stats.”

F1 22

We’ve come to expect, each year sees incremental changes that add to the racing realism.

“As we’re already seeing in the sport this year, following the car ahead closely is something which is noticeably improved,” Mather explains. “This is due to the increase in reliance on downforce being generated by the underbody of the vehicle, as opposed to the wings and adornments attached to the upper surfaces of the car. The aero changes and the new wheel and tyre packages, alongside our physics updates, have really improved the on-track experience in F1 22. We’ve also opened up the opportunity to experience a number of the key parts of an F1 race in a different way. The safety car periods, formation laps and pitstops are all key to an F1 race. This year we’ve expanded the functionality of these three features, to have both immersive and broadcast style implementations. Broadcast places the player in a TV style scenario, where they’re able to view the formation lap or pitstop, or an abridged safety car period. This way players get to experience the features, but in a way that suits how they wish to play. For players who want the full immersive experience, they can now park the car effectively in their grid slot after the formation lap and time entry to their pit box, to ensure a successful pitstop.”

F1 22 marks a new era in the sport, the series, and also in our journey as a development team.”

As well as these smaller improvements, the F1 games usually introduce something new and exciting each year, and F1 22 is no exception.

“There are changes to the on-track experience and the immersive and broadcast style formation lap, pit stops and safety car periods, which really reinforce the new era for the game and the sport,” Mather tells us. “We know how much our players enjoy My Team and Driver Career, so we have some new additions here too. Department Events, which were previously only part of My Team, have now been expanded to cover multiple race weekends, and are now present in Driver Career. We’ve also added the new My Team start point. In previous years, players would start out as a new team, with little resource or finance. F1 22 gives players the opportunity to start with a team with midfield potential, or in a position to challenge at the front. We’ll be adding cross-platform play to the game in a post-launch update too, which we’re very excited about delivering to our players, as we know it’s a feature they’ve been requesting.”

Another big new addition this year is F1 Life.

F1 22

“F1 Life covers several exciting new developments,” says Mather, enthusiastically. “The F1 hub is a customisable location for the player to showcase their progression through a 3D trophy cabinet, alongside their supercar collection. They’ll also be able to show off their style by customising their avatar with a wide range of branded clothing items from recognisable fashion brands. The space itself is also customisable, giving players the chance to really make their F1 experience their own. F1 Life is also where players will be able to showcase the supercars they own. Playing F1 22 will unlock tokens which players can use to unlock collectable supercars in-game. The supercars will feature in some very cool and exciting invitational events in Career. Taking inspiration from the Pirelli Hot Laps which feature over the course of an F1 weekend, the player will have the opportunity to showcase their skills on track in a number of different events such as Autocross or Drift. With the intensity and pace of the F1 events, it’s a great chance to kick back and take a breather, while preparing for the next race weekend.”

Last year’s model gave us the narrative-driven Braking Point, but it’s taking a break this year.

“We saw great success with Braking Point across both new and returning players, and we’re committed to this feature as a studio,” Mather explains. “It was never part of our F1 22 plans due to our two-year development cycle with our internal teams, but it’s definitely coming back.”

F1 22

Naturally, all of this year’s circuit updates, including Melbourne’s Albert Park, have been included.

“This year we’ve updated Melbourne, Abu Dhabi, and Catalunya,” Mather confirms. “It’s amazing how the changes really impact on the flow and feel of the circuit. Melbourne was always a very stop/start circuit, with several tricky traction zones. With the changes, it feels faster and more flowing. It really feels like the recent updates to these circuits have been made to showcase the true potential of a modern F1 car.”

We couldn’t finish our chat without asking, “Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull this year?”

“This isn’t the easiest of questions to answer! It’s no secret I’m a big Lewis fan, and now it’s Lewis and George, I’d love to see Mercedes back at the front,” Mather muses. “I’ve also had some great experiences with the team at Red Bull, being lucky enough to meet and film with Max on several occasions, so I enjoy seeing them do well too. But Ferrari has been a long time away from the front, so I’d be really happy to see a team with such an amazing history, two incredible young drivers, and arguably the best-looking car this year, take a good shot at the title. There’s no doubt this is going to be a very closely fought title this year.”

F1 22 releases July 1 on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.