“F1 2009” by Codemasters (Sony PSP)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The Sony PSP and Nintendo Wii are the first consoles to get the new F1 game
The Sony PSP and Nintendo Wii are the first consoles to get the new F1 game

After a three-year wait, F1 fans finally have an official Formula 1 game.

New licence-holders Codemasters have produced a game based on the 2009 season for the Sony PSP and Nintendo Wii, while a 2010 game is under development for the more sophisticated PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms.

It’s fair to say most F1 Fanatic readers have been clamouring for a simulator in the Geoff Crammond mould. But the PSP and Wii offering is clearly aimed at more casual gamers – it’s an arcade-style title which owes a lot to its Sony-produced predecessors.

2009 season data

As you’d expect from an officially-licensed title, all ten teams are present and correct with the 20 drivers they started the season with. Romain Grosjean, Luca Badoer, Jaime Alguersuari, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Kamui Kobayashi aren’t available to select.

You get all 17 tracks as well and I took the first opportunity to dive into the acid test of any F1 game – Monaco. It’s the most recognisable F1 track in the world, and the large amount of street furniture can make it difficult to render properly.

Codemasters have done a decent job of it – they haven’t gone down the path of making the circuit far wider than it is, as a sop to challenge-averse gamers. But the lack of collision damage on the basic setting means you can ricochet around the principality and still win comfortably.

Another tricky challenge for the designers was simulating the new Yas Island circuit before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had even happened. Here they’ve done less well – there’s a lot more grass in the game than there is in real life. Although they have put in the underground pit exit and the hotel straddling the circuit is there too, the mid-race sunset doesn’t happen – the entire race runs in daylight.

The representations of the tracks are generally good with most of the major track-side scenery in place. The circuits are all up-to-date but some of them feel a bit flat – particularly Spa.

Of the two main technical innovations to appear in 2009 – KERS and adjustable wings – only one is present. Every car has a KERS (whereas only McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault actually raced them) and you get a limited number of jabs per race. The adjustable front wing is not simulated, but given how little we heard about the technology in 2009 it hardly seems worth grumbling about.

On the whole it’s a largely faithful recreation of the 2009 championship. The teams and drivers perform broadly in line with their overall position in the championship standings, but without the kind of extreme fluctuations shown by Force India at Belgium, McLaren at Hungary, or Toyota at Monaco, for example.


As you’d expect practice sessions, knockout qualifying and full race distances available. As well as the usual career, championship and single race modes there’s also a ‘challenge’ option where you have to complete a certain task. This can be setting a fast lap, winning a particular race or overtaking a driver without making contact. As you complete challenges and win races you unlock new parts of the game.

For an arcade game the set-up options have a surprising amount of detail – you can tweak wing angles, gear ratios, suspension and tyre settings and much more, and you can usually suss the difference it’s made to the car’s handling.

But the handling model is very basic, which it has to be given the limitations of the PSP’s all-button control system. Getting the car around the track quickly requires a delicate and rapid touch on the buttons. As you’d expect, the onus is on pick-up-and-play simplicity, not realism. It does make for a fine multi-player experience, with up to four players able to race at the same time.

Racing the computer-controlled opponents is much more formulaic, They cling to the racing line and barge you out of the way without mercy if you dare occupy the square of tarmac they’re heading for (make your Michael Schumacher jokes in the comments). You can happily charge past ten of them at a hairpin while they queue up to go around it, and it’s hard to get overtaken if you don’t crash.

“F1 2009” offers little in the way of killer new features that make it stand out from the game it replaced, other than that it’s more up-to-date. It’s hard to escape the feeling it’s something of a stopgap product for the ‘popular’ end of the market and we’ll only see what Codemasters can really do with the F1 franchise when F1 2010 comes out for the PS3 and Xbox 360 next year.

But while hardcore gamers wait for the more mature title to come along, less demanding players will find a lot of fun to be had from “F1 2009”.

If you’ve ordered “F1 2009”, or are planning to, tell us what you think of the new F1 game in the comments. “F1 2009” is also available for Nintendo Wii, and I’ll be trying that version of the game soon.

F1Fanatic rating

Buy F1 2009 for the Sony PSP

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F1 2009 by Codemasters – pictures

F1 2009 by Codemasters – videos

F1 2009 by Codemasters

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39 comments on ““F1 2009” by Codemasters (Sony PSP)”

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  1. Did you check out Abu Dhabi. I saw the video and it’s got sand and palm trees :-S

    Wii should be fun. I’ll race Forza 3 online seriously but the wii F1 will just be a bit of fun to play with casual mates.

    1. Get your bum back online, we need to race, damnit.

  2. a 3 out of what?

    1. There are five blocks, so 3/5…

  3. You can happily charge past ten of them at a hairpin while they queue up to go around it

    Not ever written any AI for a racing game, I am wondering why this particular fault turns up time and time again?
    Is it just laziness, or is it too difficult or time consuming to give the drivers that little bit more common sense.
    It does make those early passes very easy, but highly unrealistic.

    Other than graphical improvement, don’t expect too much more from the PS3 \ XBOX versions. Anyone craving more simulation should get a PC and go for rFactor \ GTR2 etc… with the F1 mods that are out.

    1. jeeeeeeeeeeeeeezzzuuuussss

      that looks awwwwwwwwwesome.

      Is that a mod for rFactor? d’you know when they’re planning on releasing that bad boy?

      1. It’s an rfactor mod. Not sure of the completion date for it. The 2008 one is already out.
        Says 60% complete for 2009. Not sure how accurate that is?

  4. I could do with a new F1 game, so can’t wait for F1 2010 on the PS3. Until then my best alternatives are F1 2006 and Grand Prix 3 (which is about 10 years old!)

    1. Indeed. I still need to get a PS3, just so I can get F1 2010. The only other alternative for an F1 gaming fix for me is F1 06 on the PS2.

  5. Guilherme Teixeira
    18th November 2009, 10:56

    Keith said twice that the F1 2010 was to be released for “PS3 and Xbox 360”. But wasn’t it to be released for PC too?

    Now I’m confused…

  6. Where are you Crammond!!??

    1. MicroProse folded years ago. Although we’d all love it, I doubt we’ll ever see a GP5.

  7. I’d love to see a GP5 as well. Hmm, maybe someone is working on a true fans grand prix game. Maybe that person has been working in the games industry professionally for quite a few years and is blending his two passions. Maybe that person is me?

    We’ll have the game we all desire one day soon. I’m trying to make it happen.

    1. I read a while ago that Kazunori Yamauchi (of polyphony digital, creators of the gran turismo series) was going to make an F1 game. I know codemasters has the license for a while, but that sounds promising to me.

  8. If you want to drive a proper F1 simulator rFactor is the best you can get these days, all the F1 seasons from 2005 are available as mods and very easy to install, you should give it a try it’s a really good game, I’ve been playing it since 2006 :)

    1. But the AI is terrible. That’s what would make it a complete ‘game’ as opposed to a simiulator (unless you have a fast connection that is).

  9. If you want a cheap formula 1 game option you will buy it on a console. since the only way to play Rfactor to a decent quality would set you back about £200 for a decent graphics card another £100+ for a wheel to play it properly. While this game on the Wii costs £30 and comes with a wheel to slot in your Wii remote.

    F1 2010 for the xbox360 and the PS3 next year should be alot better then this trial game and would be close on the quality of Dirt 2. I’m getting this on Friday and hopefully 2010 will be better planned out.

    1. Im hoping its at least as good as Dirt 2. I just finished that game and although it definitely isnt a Sim, its very well done and a lot of fun to play.

    2. If you want a cheap formula 1 game option you will buy it on a console. since the only way to play Rfactor to a decent quality would set you back about £200 for a decent graphics card another £100+ for a wheel to play it properly.

      Nonsense. You can play RFactor on full details at 1600×1050 running at 70+ fps with 30 cars on screen on a 4670, a £50 graphics card. A basic wheel will set you back £30/40.

      You could get a PC for £300 with a monitor and buy a £50 card. Or you can get a Wii for £150 and buy a 20″ TV for it for another £200. Shockingly, thats the same price…

      Plus you’re getting an actual simulator. Not a faux sim like this, Dirt, or GT. Yes, the AI does suck at the moment.

      I’ve got GT on my PSP and it moves so slow it feels like you are driving at 40mph not 140mph. Plus you can simply cut every corner by driving on the grass, which seems to give just as good grip as the road.

  10. How could they call this an “official” release?

    The speed and RPM gauges aren’t the same as the FIA’s. Even F1 2006 for the PSP had that. Thumbs down for dropping the ball on that one. :(

    And to be completely honest, the graphics in F1 2006 for the PSP look better, more realistic and truer to what we see on TV.

  11. Anyone know when F1 2010 is out on PS3??

    I know next year but does anyone have anything more specific?

    This game looks very N64y.

    I’d be expecting better graphics from this. I realise it’s only a handheld console but still…….

    I’ll wait till next year thanks.

    Nice review Keith.

  12. Help needed plz!! Wouldn’t mind being guided about Dark Alex’s custom firmware & chickHEN 5.03. Some of the UMD’s are too expensive for this poor man :(

    Any PSP experts ?


  13. Thanks 4 da review keith, i wasn’t sure about buying it cause i have the 2006 but after this i will definitely get it, just waiting for the 25, lol.

  14. You say it’s not very realistic. How does it compare to Gran Turismo on PSP? Is it in the same league?

    What is the best racing simulator on a game console? I’m looking for one.

    1. Although I’ve not played it, I’d take a good stab at Gran Turismo 5. Forza 3 seems to be pretty popular too, but I know very little about that game.

      1. Im a huge fan of both the Forza and Gran Turismo game series. I havent yet played Forza 3, but GT5 Prologue is excellent, and you can unlock the Ferrari F2007 in it. GT5 prologue has incredible graphics, running at 60fps in 1080p, and very good gameplay. I would say buy Forza 3, since its out now, and the full-fledged GT5 game is not releasing until March (at least).

  15. I think I’ll wait until the proper version next year.

  16. Only in the videogame can anyone overtake in Valencia lol

  17. I wouldn’t be terribly excited about anything in the mold of the most recent Crammond work – anyone who was using sprites and writing cycle-dependent timing code in 2002 needs to be hauled out back and shot.

    If you want a serious simulation, look to iRacing. I’d rather run an SCCA spec racer at Limerock in iRacing than a badly-modeled F1 car at Silverstone in the flavor-of-the-month console arcade racer.

    Forza3 is a pretty good compromise between the two, though.

  18. great PSP game :) really :p

  19. Given Codemasters’ past record which includes Grid and Colin Mcrae Rally which became the Dirt series, there is no reason to believe that 2010 will be anything other than excellent. To many, possibly the best f1 game ever made from a gaming mechanic point of view. As people above have said though, the level of simulation they use will very probably be considerably less than any of the Crammond creations. Probably. Judging by Grid and Dirt tho, I would wager they will be a hell of an experience. No one makes racing games like Codemasters. Should be truly, truly spectacular.

    1. R u serious, the grid was the most awful driving game, and the biggest let down in gaming for years. The games you list are not for racing enthusiasts, they are for casual gamers with little appetite for real simulation or even real racing. Forza 3 is the best out there at the moment. I am praying that codemasters sort out the console versions with f1 2010, but from what i’ve heard we are going to see a redressed grid.

  20. Are the new games available here in the USA? Because I have yet to find an electronics retailer selling them.

    If they aren’t for sale here, then Bernie and all these fans who complain that Americans don’t like F1 have nothing to complain about- how do they expect people to develop interests in the sport when the game is kept away from the world’s biggest consumer market?

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