Debates and polls
When asked to name the best F1 racing game of all time, F1 Fanatics nominated titles spanning 20 years of gaming.
But which was the best of all time?
Take a look at the most popular picks below and vote for your favourite.
Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix series
Grand Prix 2 (PC)
Grand Prix 4 (PC)
It’s hard to exaggerate how influential Geoff Crammond’s original 1991 Formula One Grand Prix series was on later F1 racing games. And, indeed, F1 game designers, who still refer back to the Grand Prix series as one of the finest example of F1 video games.
It was a somewhat idiosyncratic creation with an unusual physics engine and turn-based multiplayer system. But what was most endearing about the Grand Prix series was its sense of liberty – an aspect which feels refreshing if you fire up GP4 after spending some time in the more restrictive world of modern F1 games.
Here was a game you could treat as you please: as an easy arcade thrash with all the driving assists on, as a tricky simulation taking on a two-hour race at Monaco in the rain, or indulging in the mindless fun of 400mph closing speed crashes that split your car in two.
Surely the greatest sign of its lasting popularity it that people continue to play it and apply lovingly-detailed modifications almost a full decade since the last game was released.
And the intro music for the original game was The Chain. What more could you ask for?
It is just so much fun and so far, the most accurate F1 game I’ve ever played.
The physics seem to be unparalleled and the artificial intelligence actually provided close and exciting racing without being erratic and completely unpredictable (unlike the Codemasters games). With all of the assists off and the AI turned up to the max, it’s nail-biting stuff.
The thing I like about it is that if you make a single mistake and do something as simple as dropping a wheel on the grass, it’s the end of your race. It’s the only F1 game I’ve played where mistakes are correctly punished and the grass has the correct level of adhesion (basically none!). If you’ve not played it, you’re missing out.
Easily the best F1 game ever, in my opinion.
Formula One series – Bizarre Creations
Bizarre Creations only produced two Formula 1 games but the second of these – Formula 1 97 for the first-generation PlayStation – is surely the epitome of arcade-style console racing games.
Its colourful graphics and convincing impressions of the cars and tracks dazzled gamers. The pick-and-up-play simplicity it offered won it many admirers.
And the addition of commentary from Murray Walker and Martin Brundle – ITV’s F1 commentary duo at the time – cranked up the fun factor to 11.
Sure there have been plenty of F1 games released since with better graphics, physics, more immersive season modes.
But for whatever reason, none of these even come close to the sheer fun of playing Formula 1 97. So much so that it still gets a whirl in my PS3.
Grand Prix Legends
Grand Prix Legends (PC)
The awesome attention to detail in Grand Prix Legends’ depiction of the 1967 Formula 1 season was simply stunning, and more than made up for the fact that the game was excruciatingly difficult.
It was one of the first games to feature the full Nurburgring Nordschleife, and the Green Hell has never looked more fearsome than it has from the cockpit of a Lotus 49.
Grand Prix Legends was not a great commercial success for Papyrus, who had previously made IndyCar racing titles. But it has a hardcore following among racing simulator buffs and fans of historic racing in particular. Almost 15 years after it went on sale, the Grand Prix Legends community is still going strong.
Not only it represents one of the golden eras of Formula 1, but it was so advanced when it was released. The graphics were pretty, the cars were astonishing, the sounds were epic, and the feel of the thing: on a class of its own.
Even nowadays it feels modern, nothing like the games of today. As if no one ever cared to design a simulator that accurate, and one has to remember Grand Prix Legends was released when PlayStation 1 was still the way to go for most gamers.
It’s without a shadow of doubt, the best F1 game I’ve ever played.
F-1 World Grand Prix
F-1 World Grand Prix, which first appeared on the Nintendo 64, is about as far from Grand Prix Legends as it’s possible to get.
But this short-lived series benefitted from some well thought-out and original ideas and is fondly remembered by many of those who played it first time around.
Among the most popular was the series of challenges that invited you to recreate famous moments from the 1997 season – such as Damon Hill almost winning the Hungarian Grand Prix in his Arrows.
F-1 World Grand Prix was one of my personal favourites. It was a genuine, tough and satisfying sim on a console which didn’t do racers that well.
Formula One series – Psygnosis/Studio 33/SCEE
Formula One Arcade (PlayStation)
Formula One 2000 (PlayStation)
Formula One 2001 (PlayStation 2)
Formula One 2002 (PlayStation 2)
Formula One 04 (PlayStation 2)
Formula One 05 (PlayStation 2)
Formula One 06 (PlayStation 2)
Formula One Championship Edition (PlayStation 3)
After the departure of Bizarre Creations, and following an unloved 1998 game produced by Visual Science, the Formula 1 series for PlayStation passed into the hands of Psygnosis, which later became SCE Studio Liverpool. Their series of F1 games endured largely because Sony eventually obtained an exclusive licence – bad news for F1 fans without a PlayStation.
Although they stood accused of churning out games that were little changed beyond annual updates to the cars, drivers and tracks, they did boast some popular features such as unlock-able bonus circuits.
Early PS2 titles were notable for including DVD season reviews that were far better quality than the commercially-available video tapes. There were also versions of some of the games for hand held consoles.
F1 06 on the PS2 is in my opinion pretty underrated… it has pretty good gameplay and a very clinical feel to it, which I always appreciate.
EA Sports F1 games
F1 Championship Season 2000 (PlayStation 2, PC, others)
F1 2001 (Playstation 2, Xbox, PC)
F1 Challenge ’99-’02 (aka F1 Career Challenge) (Playstation 2, Xbox, Gamecube, PC, others)
EA Sports’ series of F1 games is best remembered for its final instalment, which spanned four seasons from 1999 to 2002.
This proved a major hit with game modifiers, and has proved a popular platform for expansion. Unofficial packs have been produced for dozens of different seasons.
I enjoyed [F1 Challenge ’99-’02]: the graphics were quite realistic and the features were many.
You could drive the car in the pit lane; you could jump the start; you could lose a wheel and continue; you had all the sessions of a Grand Prix, a grid walk-through, mechanical failures, aggressive AIs (if you had a certain difficulty level – admittedly, when you were alongside, they dived out of your way), AIs crashing, tyres wore out, fuel decreased, your speed increased as your fuel reduced and your traction decreased as your tyres wore out.
rFactor was among the first of the modern generation of racing games where much of the content is community-created.
There is plenty in the way of modern cars and tracks but one pack created by users which stands out is the superb 1979 season.
Being free of commercial restrictions, you can do pretty much as you please with it. So if you want to drive a 1979 Ligier JS11 on a combination of the modern Monza F1 track plus the old oval – you can (see video).
With rFactor you can pretty much race any season of F1 you can think of and has great physics to match with great sounds and fairly good graphics as well
Codemasters’ F1 2010 and F1 2011
F1 2011, the latest F1 game from Codemasters, brings the official series bang up-to-date with modern features such as DRS, KERS and even the appearance of the safety car.
Taking advantage of the capabilities of today’s hardware and exploiting the benefits of the FOM licence including access data supplied by the teams, virtual F1 has never looked better than in the latest title.
It’s hugely popular among F1 gamers online – that much is clear from the number of threads given over to it in the forum. The latest edition permits up to 16 people to race simultaneously.
F1 2010 and F1 2011 are the games I’ve enjoyed the most. They are the games which I’ve been the most engaging for me.
The thrill of taking tenths of your previous laps (yes, I’m sad) was just great and something that wasn’t as enjoyable in past F1 games. The Collantine Cup has also vastly increased my interest in the game.
I’d say F1 2011 is the best I’ve played simply because it has a bit more than F1 2010. However there are still many small problems which stop the game from being perfect.
Vote for the best F1 racing game series ever
Which of these is your favourite F1 game or Formula 1 series? Cast your vote below and explain your choice and tell us which of them you’ve played in the comments.
Which is the best F1 racing game / game series?
- Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix series (25%)
- Formula One series – Bizarre Creations (5%)
- Grand Prix Legends (6%)
- F-1 World Grand Prix (3%)
- Formula One series – Psygnosis/SCEE (6%)
- EA Sports F1 games (8%)
- rFactor (9%)
- Codemasters’ F1 2010 and F1 2011 (38%)
Total Voters: 508
“But what about…?”
Where’s iRacing? What about Grand Prix Manager 2? How could you forget Super Monaco GP?
If your favourite F1 game is not listed above either it didn’t get nominated or it wasn’t popular enough.
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