F1 Manager Games History Part 5: The Dark Years and Light Appearing

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EA’s F1 Manager killed of the genre, there was multiple indie-games attempts during the 2000’s but no game actually got released. Aztec Games worked on one that seemed to be quite good, but never got released. The main issue being transitions between seasons not working properly, which is a big thing in managergames. I am sure fans of the genre remember the game website and screenshots. However, RTL released some RTL Racing Team Manager games, and there was the shortlived Racing Manager series, but those games made EA’s F1 Manager look like an amazing award-worthy game.

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The menu in Racing Manger 2014 is a nice throwback to the mid 90's German F1 games. This being German as well, possibly some of the same devs? Honestly, I have no idea.

There is a few of these awful games to look at, but I’ll take a look at the one game I unfortunately bought some years ago, namely Racing Manager 2014. I always try to look on the bright side, and see the positives. That usually makes everything more interesting and fun. However, I am not able to find much positives with this game. Like I wrote in my old Steam review of the game (yes, it was so bad that I bothered making a review), you would be better off donating the money to Bill Gates instead of buying the game. The menu-design and game UI is a nice throwback to the mid 90’s F1 Managergames that was not named “Grand Prix Manager”, but there it ends as well. There are clear similarities with TeamF1 in how the game is built, not just UI, but how you can buy parts for your car, as you start with no parts no matter what team you are. However, something that actually could pass as an actual possibility in the early to mid 90’s in terms of F1 was, and how to make a game, certainly doesn’t fly in 2014, or in 2022 as I made the stupid decision to reinstall the game before writing this article. It feels like the game fails in all aspects compared to other manager games, and games in general. It’s even so rushed that it looks like the game is looking up different text-strings for team names depending on what screen you look at, which can cause some funny situations. It’s a buggy game and even after quite a few patches, it seems like very little was fixed.

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"Driver prediction". Never updates during the game. It predicts the same whatever point in the season, and never updates ponts, victories or anything. Also, what's up with the small window?

Now, fake names on teams and drivers isn’t a huge problem in itself as it is possible to figure out actual names based on driver stats and what the names look like. At least somewhat. The game is called Racing Manager 2014, you can choose to start the game in 2010, and the driver stats are some kind of weird mashup between 2012 and 2013, and not consistently at season start or end. It genuinely looks like they worked on the game from 2012 until 2013 and just plotted in the driver stats as they made the drivers in the game. You also have 20 teams(!), all driving at the same time, with no 107% or max grid size. To make it even more frustrating you have a team with fake-Vitaly Petrov and fake-Heikki Kovalainen. Which would be Caterham 2012. However, you also have a team with fake-Giedo Van der Garde and fake-Charles Pic, and that would be Caterham 2013. So they’ve even made fake teams based on the same real team from different seasons. It’s a complete and utter mess. Oh, and when you go to history, and Driver WC (That is Driver World Champion, not Driver Water Closet. Even though that’s where the game should be put), you get the champions from 2008 up until 2012 in the game, so it is quite clearly meant to be “2013” it is based on. Somehow.

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5 years of stats. Based on the names you can clearly see that the real life years are 2008-2012. But why only have 5 years? Was that all they bothered with?

You can choose a top team, with top rating and strength. However, you will never have a car ready, you will not have an engine and you won’t even have any Employees. Except a pit-crew and two drivers (most likely both as test drivers, so remember to assign them to first and second drivers).
This would be fine, if it just had been time to actually research and build a car before the first race, but that’s not possible. You have no time to research, design and manufacture enough parts to build one car, let alone two before the first race of the season. Or, no time to research and manufacture – designing isn’t a part of the game somehow. It’s just… lacking in all aspects of the game. In a race session, the drivers went out of the pit at will when using “Automatic Pitstop”. I know that would cause a driver to pit automatically, which is a failsafe in case you forget to check up on a driver during a race. However in practice, when telling a driver to pit, he would pit and then jump right back to the track, without getting more fuel, or doing any setup-changes. Making it impossible to do any changes to the car during practice. Not that I would know what to do anyway. There is absolutely no feedback given anywhere on what to do with the car, so who knows what you could do to make the car go faster. Not that I know how fake-Pastor Maldonado who had lower rating than fake-Bruno Senna (Remember, the game is supposed to be 2013, but my fake-Williams had 2012 drivers…) was over 2 seconds quicker a lap at Interlagos than fake-Senna, even though they both had the exact same car and setup. Oh, and they somehow used 1m48 seconds on a dry Interlagos…

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This is the race screen. Yes, it is a tiny little window on the menu background. Note that fake-Senna has a speed of 100 km/h while stationary in the pits. Otherwise, it's lacking.

When I went to look at the season standings after the first race, no teams or drivers had scored points yet, and then the game crashed. To be quite honest, it just made me happy – and I decided to uninstall the awful mess. One thing this game really makes me long for is physical discs. I would happily throw it in acid and set fire to it afterwards. That would be more fun to do and watch than endure one more minute of it. From what I read, it wasn’t that different from the other games around the same years, so it does seem like they were all made by the same kind of shovelware-games that we tend to see popping up. In the late 00’s it was all the different RTL Sport games, Biathlon, Ski Jumping, Alpine Skiing, F1 Manager etc. Then we had the “Insert something with wheels”-Simulator “next year” titles that showed up around 2015 and is still around. Simple games, with basic mechanics so it is somewhat playable if you squint and are desperate, then they move on to the next. If you were into these kind of games from early to mid 2010’s it’s probably no surprise that Kalypso were the publisher of Racing Manager 2014.
In all honesty, I would've liked to had a more "in-depth" look at the game, or at least seen how a season transition goes. But there are just so many bugs, so much missing and a completely un-immersive, boring game, that I quite honestly don't want to spend the time doing it. I have 3.8hrs in the game according to Steam. That is, and I am putting a positive spin on it, around 3 hours too much. I'll happily play any other game covered in this series of articles multiple times the hours I've had in Racing Manager 2014, and it will still be worth more than spending 45 minutes in this.

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The setup screen. You do have some options here, but... what to choose? There's no feedback anywhere, or if it is, I certainly haven't seen it. No guidance, nothing. And yes. That is the livery I chose. Sorry, not sorry!



Then, after surprisingly big success in the art of mobile games, Playsport Games would create Motorsport Manager for PC. They got SEGA on board as a publisher, and SEGA have lots of experience with Football Manager, and know it can be good business to have manager-franchises. I must admit I was hoping for a franchise that would have a new game every second or third year, with possibly getting some licenses along the way. My dream never came to fruition, even though they have released a total of 4 mobile-games in the series, with gradually more licenses and real names.

That doesn’t change the fact that Playsport Games and Motorsport Manager really showed that a manager-game could have good sale-numbers and earn some money, even when it was PC exclusive. Even without a single real name, and no actual real life tracks either the game captured the manager-feeling quite well, and gave a starving fanbase a proper game, the first working and fairly high quality manager game for in 16 years.
Like the vast majority of manager games based on F1 or “F1” without a license, you could clearly see a similarity between the names in the game and their real life counterparts, Motorsport Manager took the slightly controversial route and make half of the drivers in the game female, you could stll make out who the drivers were supposed to represent in real life. When you start the original game you can choose between starting in a team in not-F3, not-F2 and not-F1, all teams have different strength and weaknesses, but are fairly correctly balanced based on their real life counterparts (except of a certain not-F3 team with a certain driver). It’s a fairly easy goal in the game, while the drivers always wants to win the drivers championship, as a team manager you are made aware that it is the constructor/team championship that pays, and thus is the team position that are important. Failing to meet the objectives can result in you being fired. However, unlike any other manager game covered in this article series, it’s not game over in Motorsport Manager, you will just be without a job, and you will have to apply for job when other managers get fired. You can also apply for other jobs without being fired. It’s a more dynamic setting, something never seen previously in these games.

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Added as a DLC. Something seen in some F1 racing games (most notably F1 World Grand Prix and F1 World Grand Prix 2), and the Grand Prix Manager series, there named as short contracts. Challenges made a return. These challenges were a mix of fantasy and based on real life scenarios. The one shown in the picture are based on Brawn GP in 2009.

The UI is fairly straight forward, nothing hidden in tabs you wouldn’t expect to see things, they are also fairly self-explanatory. The whole process of developing a car, is also straight forward, even though one can see that the game is built from a mobile game, it’s not very technical, you choose what part of develop, and you have a variety of way to do it. First time you work on part you can just add one extra trait, e.g better braking for brakes. The next time you develop the brakes, you can now add two traits, maybe make it more reliable as well and that’s how it moves forward. However, you might come to a point where there’s no real positives in developing a new part, or all development options comes with a “risk”, which means the part is illegal. You can risk it with an illegal part, but if you are busted you will get a penalty, this penalty will be bigger for each time you are caught. After producing a new part, you can then work on the same part to make it a bit better and/or more reliable. All parts have a certain “max” level, which also depends on what traits you have chosen. In total you can have 5 new traits on any parts. There is one condition on this, other than time, and that is your headquarter and facilities. You can never make an “epic” part if you don’t have the top facility for that part, which would be “Brake R&D Facility” for brakes. The higher level the facilities have, the higher is the cost of upkeep as well, so you can’t just focus on car performance facilities as you can build helipad and other things that will make the team more attractive for sponsors.
Sponsors are also something that is handled the mobile-game way, you have no commercial manager, and no negotiations with any sponsors either. Possible sponsors pop up with you have room on your car for sponsors, and you can have a total of 6 contracted. 3 of them are “normal” sponsors, and 3 are giving a bonus based on where you finish in the race. You choose one of these for each race, so even though you have three bonus-sponsors, you only get paid from the one you choose for the race you are doing. All sponsors may give a signing bonus, and at times it might be better to sign a sponsor that only gives a signing bonus and no race-money, depending on contract-length and how much money. To become more attractive for sponsors and get more money you will need to have good results, the facility upgrades like helipad can help, but you also need two race drivers that have a good marketability. Some have a natural charisma that gives high marketability, some gets a bonus based on a previous championship or a temporary or permanent driver trait.


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A nice clean UI. With meny tabs that makes sense. It's logic, straight forward and nothing weird hidden.

Driver traits is another thing in this game that never was utilized in the same way before. It’s somewhat mobile-game based as well. But they are both realistic and fun. Not-Verstappen have a trait that makes him not listen to team orders, but there is a lot of “random” traits, drivers can be sim racing champions and have a boost from that, they may be taking acting lessons and gets a marketability boost from that. There are events you have to choose from in the game as well, which gives a driver a trait, some can be positive, some can be negative. I’ve even had my two drivers become single, fall for each other, start to date and get married. That gave a huge morale boost… Until they broke up and refused to sign a new contract if it meant they had to drive in the same team. Oups. You have drivers who get a skill boost when they are 2nd in the race, or within a certain distance from the guy ahead, while others may struggle when leading. When all drivers can get traits throughout the game, and some are temporary, other permanent, the game gets surprisingly fluid.

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In a playthrough with Predator, I said yes to every PR and money-making dilemma I had, and that led to Goa Minzhe becoming fed up of Ernie Hecklerock (Bernie Ecclestone). So just 2 days after scoring a win for Predator (see the news article furthest down), he is sick of the spotlight, and blaming me!

The race screen is, like much other in the game, very straight forward. This is, yet again in parts due to the mobile game base. It needs to be very clear cut on a phone, and that is carried over. Car Setups are fairly simple. However, unlike the Grand Prix Manager game series and EA’s F1 Manager, it’s actually an advantage to drive more laps, that gives more knowledge of the car and setup, which makes it easier to find the right setup, it also gives more knowledge of the tyre on the car and qual or race trim (depending on what you are using for the practice run). This makes it more realistic than previous manager-games. The drivers also give you feedback while they are driving, it shows up in text. However, that’s a pointless addition, as it doesn’t actually fit with that is happening. You may have a driver come on the radio saying the gear ratio is much better, however, when you see the setup screen the gear ratio have gone from “OK” to “Poor”. The setup screen had some adjustments that could be made, which all affected how the car acted in different ways. So it you would have to mess about with sliders for a while. Also, each type of car had slight differences in what could be changed and how it would affect the car. GT's and Endurance worked differently than the formula cars.

The game does include a vast variety of qualification rules and race rules, everything from a traditional one-session qual, to knock-out and no-qual is included. Races can be shorter or longer and have VSC, SC, only one of them, or none. It can be mandatory tyres, and in endurance racing it minimum driver stints can vary and so on. There are some votes on rule changes throughout every season, and depending on the trait you chose to have as a manager, you may choose one extra issue to vote on for free. If not, you can choose a rule change to vote on for a sum of money. With some patches and DLC’s, the game also included pit-crew management, where you have to sign pit crew which have different skills on different jobs. Some may be good at changing tyres, some might be good at refueling etc. You cannot train them to get better, and their skill are based on the race engineers you have. You must have a pit crew of more people than needed at the race, as you will have to rotate them to give them some rest to minimize the chance of errors. Depending on race rules, if refueling is allowed, it might be cheaper to have a pit crew, or it might be more expensive. The races, with VSC/SC and varying weather can be very dynamic, and you need to be on your toes at all times to not miss the crucial window were you can overachieve based on team and driver speed. This all works surprisingly well, especially if you upgrade the weather forecast center in your HQ, and you have a better look at the incoming weather.

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Race screen picture from Steam, as for some reason my ShadowPlay stopped taking screenshots. Anyway, it's a nice in-race UI. Easy to see tyre life, driver info and fuel. Same with track conditions.


Now, it’s not all perfect. You don’t really design a new car, the new car is based on the performance points on the old one, and here comes a bug they never fixed. If you develop a new part which is completely illegal. Every trait of the part is illegal but due to this is very fast, then that counts for the new cars. The next years cars and based on the parts of the current car, and takes the two parts with highest performance ranking. So if you have 5 different brakes, it takes the two with most performance points for next seasons car, any legal issues are just gone, and you suddenly have a great, legal part. This is very easy to exploit. There are also no real engine deal. When you do your small changes to the new car (changing nose height these things), you get to choose engine supplier, brake supplier and similar. But it doesn’t show up anywhere, and it’s only for one season. No factory, customer or partner contract here. The game does lack a bit in the technical department. It’s a fairly straight forward, somewhat simple game, which makes it really accessible, and probably why it’s been a great success on phones, and also why it sold good on PC. It brought in quite a few players that never really got into manager games. It’s a lot easier than a game like Grand Prix Manager, but that also means that it doesn’t go deep into different aspects either. Another feature that people both liked and disliked were the promotion and relegation. Each season the winner of the feeder-categories were promoted up a level, and the last placed in the category above was relegated. As a player you could say no to promotion. This made the game less stale, but with it being locked to 20 cars, 10 teams in all categories, it felt like a band-aid to not having anything new appear during the many seasons you could play. A band-aid that works better than many types of gaming band-aids, but a band-aid nonetheless.
Later in the life of Motorsport Manager, GT's and Endurance were added as well, each with their own unique feeling. Endurance particulary with fewer races, 3 drivers per car and longer lasting racing. This added some extra depth, and a use for the huge amount of drivers in the game. That's at least one advantage of not having a license, the freedom to add these things.

In the end, the game wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t a particularly deep management game. It did however scratch the itch for many, and while Playsport have said they want to make a Motorsport Manager 2 on PC, this seems unlikely to happen, even with the FE license onboard. I have no doubt that they would be able to make a good multi-discipline management-game if they got the licenses. What about a combined FE, IndyCar w/feeder series and NASCAR management game? Playsport surely could pull that off. Well, one can dream.
One that that we know will happen though, is F1 Manager 22, which will go on full release 30th of August 2022. A huge management game fanbase are waiting and holding their breath. It’s been 22 years since the last officially licensed game, and the big question is: How will F1 Manager 22 fare, will it be closest to the Grand Prix Management-series, Motorsport Manager or EA’s F1 Manager. Or will it be too similar to their Planet-series. We’ll soon find out!

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So, what happened to the unhappy Geo Minzhe. Well, 7 days after saying he was sick of the spotlight. He retired, and I had to go hunt for a new driver, mid-season. I guess one should take more care of the drivers.
About author
Ole Marius Myrvold
I've been a motorsport-fan for as long as I can remember. Initially a rallycross-maniac, but got into F1 around the time I started school. Got my first sim when I was 7, but didn't start properly until I got a wheel when I was 12. Been a staff at RaceDepartment since 2012. Mainly the dirty-guy who does rally-stuff here. But also management-titles and rFactor 2.

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Besides MM2 and MM3 there is iGP manager which is another good manager game. They deserve another part before F1M22
 
Club Staff
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Besides MM2 and MM3 there is iGP manager which is another good manager game. They deserve another part before F1M22

Ye. I've kept it to PC or "home consoles" before PC became what it became.
Even Motorsport Manager Online is worthy of a try. Quite fun, but much more basic and filled with MTX.
 
Motorsport Manager should remain a good game to go back to for a long time to come. The F1 licence limits you to a single series, whilst MM was able to offer 3 types of racing and a league pyramid to climb in each.

Granted, GT was basically single seat racing with minor changes, but the endurance mode was unique in the genre, and will likely stay that way unless we somehow get a WEC game. Not to mention that it helps make the game world feel alive when you see all of these other championships happening, instead of just having to imagine that non-F1 drivers are competing elsewhere.

Plenty of mod support for the game too, and with Denuvo making F1 Manager 2022 a hard pass for some, I expect that people will still be modding MM for a while to come.
 
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I have played the Game Motorsport Manager, I had fun with it for about 2 weeks and then it felt really Monotone and nothing really memorable. Something like that lives from the Iconic things like Cars, Tracks, Names and History. It was a good Game from my Perspective but it felt dull relativly quickly. The main problem I got with the Cars that they do not change in Appearence at all.
 

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