Codemasters and EA Sports will release the latest edition of F1’s official video game on 16 July after releasing the first gameplay footage and announcing more details about the title on Wednesday.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers took part in a number of official events in place of the cancelled real-life races using the F1 game.
F1’s Virtual Grand Prix series saw Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Alexander Albon, Nicholas Latifi and Lando Norris all take part in races, as well as a number of drivers from F2 and F3. The events led to greater engagement between the current F1 grid and the F1 game developers, strengthening the relationship that ultimately led to added input for F1 2021.
“I can’t go into too much detail, but we’ve got a fantastic relationship with some of the teams now,” said Codemasters F1 franchise game director Lee Mather. “One of the big benefits off the back of the first lockdown is there was a lot of teams, a lot of drivers who had a lot more spare time.
“We were able to spend a lot of time discussing things with them, and as that’s continued now and the season is back in full force, we’re continuing those discussions. We’re having regular meetings with them.
“We’re getting amazing feedback and insight into things that we traditionally didn’t really have such great visibility of. We’ve always had such a great relationship with the teams, but now they’re coming to us on a regular basis, wanting to have more input into the game.”
Williams F1 driver Russell was crowned the unofficial champion of the Virtual Grand Prix series last June after scoring four consecutive victories.
Mather felt the way in which Russell could immediately jump onto the game and be on the pace so quickly proved how close it had now got to real life.
“Every year so far for the last two years, we’ve had feedback that the handling model is improving, every time it’s getting closer and closer to what they expect,” Mather said. “I think we’ve seen, obviously in the Esports, George Russell jumping straight into a game and his skill being as impressive in-game as it is in real life. I think that’s only possible because the game now mirrors very much what they’re used to.
“So yeah, we’ve had a great deal of input. And that’s something that we’ll continue to use in future titles, as we’ve got here in F1 2021.”