We started sitting side by side on the sofa. A period of almost unbearable tension followed. This could have included incredibly childish going back and forth with a single Xbox controller (I fully incriminate myself with these childishness accusations) . Now, at the crucial pit stop that will decide the outcome of the Australian Grand Prix, as we watch the red-hot Ferrari accelerate down the pit lane for the doomed first corner of his date, we can bounce up and down, or do weird things. Alternate between squatting and standing fetal position. …

When we finally relented and allowed Santa to bring my youngest son an Xbox, I feared it would drive a wedge between him and the rest of the family. Spending too much time is usually described as the equivalent of frequenting modern opium dens.

But this week? I was also sucked, so all restrictions were lifted. Strictly speaking, F1 Manager 2022 isn’t his game for multiplayer, but my son and I have appointed ourselves as joint team principals, helming his digital version of Ferrari F1. team.

It had to be a Ferrari. Now he could manage any of his 10 F1 teams (and I’m a big Williams fan for many years), but given that his son is a big Charles Leclerc fan , really had to choose a red car. On top of that, given the terrible performance of Ferrari’s strategy on the track so far in 2022, it’s possible that the master plan could actually be executed better than actual Ferrari team manager Mattia Binotto. There were enough.

And our strategic bet seemed to pay off when a pixelated Carlos Sainz commanded Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to take the lead at the Australian Grand Prix.

You can also take full control of your car’s setup, including wing angles, suspension settings, engine modes, and more.

With only a few laps to go, our dice decision to switch from hard to soft to medium tires and make three pit stops paid off big. Sainz is now ahead of Perez, who is held back by a set of hard tires past his best. Win!

I need to calm down. I also have to stop playing a little winning jig on the living room rug and turn to my youngest son sternly to remind him that this is just a video game, not real life. I would have been as engrossed in the moment as he was – maybe more.

If I had a hat, I would have whipped it in the air celebrating in 1970s Colin Chapman style when Carlos took the checkered flag and the win. It leads the table, with Ferrari itself leading Red Bull in the race for the Constructors’ Trophy.

This is a complete reversal of the real world, but that’s the magic of F1 Manager 2022. Designed by game company Frontier Developments, this game is a dramatic leap from previous games of its type. The last time I played the F1 management game, I was playing it on my phone, and honestly, his little cartoon F1 car was spinning around, speech bubble messages spewing out stats, It was pretty boring.

This is completely different. In fact, the quality of the digital images probably wouldn’t change the look of the weekend that much if in real life he was a real live F1 race engineer on a F1 track. There were TV screens yelling at F1 cars (yours and others), constantly juggling information, data and intuitive guesses to help drivers outrun others.

The number of parameters that can be changed and adjusted is frankly disconcerting. You can also fine-tune your car’s setup (wing angle, suspension settings, engine mode). You’ll also be able to manage more administrative stuff like setting up development programs for new parts (to stay within budget, of course. Ferrari deep pockets), and even hiring drivers and even fired. Shall we take George Russell out of Mercedes? Hmmm…

The best fun, though, is the second-by-second run of the race. These unfold lap by lap in real time (although you can fast forward the parts if you’re trying to cram into the Spanish GP with a short lunchtime…), it’s up to you — again, like the real thing .Race Engineer — Sending drivers a constant stream of instructions, with staccato calls when to push hard, when to back off to save tires and fuel, and when to jump into the pits for new rubber. Say: ‘Box, box, box!

Honestly, it’s gloriously immersive. I thought my gaming days were over, but it’s safe to say this really gave me and my son something to do together. Well, I have to finish this work. At Imola he just lost third and needs a strategy to get back on the podium. If Ferrari really needs a pair of overly enthusiastic F1 fanatics to improve its strategic performance in 2022, they know where to find us. I hope I can be of some help…

F1 Manager 2022 by Frontier Developments is available now in the shop and available for download starting at €44.99. Available on Steam, Epic Games, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Xbox One.

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