Traxion enters the world of Formula 1 with the goal of making Ferrari great again. With just a signed photo of Dennis Taylor for inspiration, can Ross do the job?
IIn the words of Martine McCutcheon: “This is my moment, this is my perfect moment”.
Thanks to the recently released game F1 Manager 2022 by Frontier Developments, now is the perfect moment to take control of a Formula 1 team. F1 Manager allows players to take control of each of the official 2022 Formula 1 teams and direct recruitment, race strategy, car development and the future of the F1 rulebook.
And just like the former pop singer’s glory days in the late ’90s, my goal is to bring Ferrari back to the good times. Led by Ross Brawn and Jean Todt, Ferrari was F1 Constructors’ Championship six times between 1999 and 2004, with Michael Schumacher taking five drivers’ titles.
In recent times, however, Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters has become less of an F1 powerhouse and more of a meme factory, thanks to its frequent strategic vacillations and bizarre mid-race decisions.
Between the driving mistakes and strategy blunders of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at the British, Hungarian and Monaco Grands Prix, Scuderia Ferrari has had a torrid 2022. What must really hurt is the fact that Ferrari had the fastest car early in the season. Ouch.
I know what I have to do: I have to get Ferrari out of the strategic doldrums and turn it back into an agile winning machine – more Cavallino Rampante than an annoyed horse.
Carlos Sainz, with his best glowing pose
Be More Ross (Brawn)
So Mattia Binotto goes out and Ross McGregor comes in, a man with no motorsport experience, middle age and terrible dress sense. I imagine the Ferrari board is unfazed by my appointment and my lack of experience – their hands are tied by invisible video game rules. But my goal is to flip the good ship Scuderia in the blink of an eye.
I grimace as the directors explain that all their 296 GTB company cars are gone, leaving only Luca Badoer’s rickety Fiat Panda 4×4. I reluctantly grab the keys and leave.
Luca Badoer stands next to an absolute legend. Michael Schumacher is also in the photo.
2004 Marlboro Ferrari Ski Weekend Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy. January 15, 2004. Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer stand next to the new FIAT Panda, ID: 1012820530, Photographer: Unknown, Motorsport Images
The board has set me the short-term goal of becoming team champion in 2022. My long-term goal is also to become a team champion.
Wait! My short-term and long-term goals are exactly the same? Mamma Mia! The pressure is there immediately.
I envision myself settling into my new office at Ferrari headquarters: placing my inspirational autographed photo of world snooker champion Dennis Taylor on my desk; Analyzing our budget for 2022 as we figure out F1 Manager’s network of menus and stats.
Then I look at key members of my team to determine who to blame when things go wrong.
The facial scans in F1 Manager 2022 surpass the efforts of EA Codemasters in F1 22
Insert motivational phrase here
On the driver front I have Leclerc and Sainz rated 88 and 87 respectively. It’s undoubtedly a strong line-up. Antonio Giovinazzi is the reserve driver but at the age of 28 I believe a younger driver will be more beneficial in the long run. But that’s a task for later in the season.
It’s my first playthrough of the game, so I decided to let Team Engineer Audrey Mensah guide me through my first days on the job. Your instructions are helpful at first but end quite abruptly. I didn’t even get a chance to ask her where my panda’s spare key was.
Thanks Audrey Where is the spare key for my panda now? Audrey?!
However, before she left, I managed to start my first design project: a new suspension. Race cars need suspension, right?
Smug at successfully identifying a car part, I feel like I’m already on my way to an airplane. I consider playing around with the autoclave some more but opt for Round 1 at the Bahrain International Circuit instead.
Not fully up to speed on how the game works, I simulate all three practice sessions and allow race engineers Xavier Marcos Padros and Riccardo Adami (supporting Leclerc and Sainz respectively) to take control of the car setup.
In terms of pace, we’re in the stadium. Red Bull is our main competitor, Mercedes is clearly third fastest. So far, so realistic. But qualifying will show where we really stand.
I’m actually super knowledgeable about technology and such. I know exactly what a suspension does.
I send both drivers out early in Q1 while traffic is minimal. Banker laps are set and I’m happy we have enough lead in P16 to do just one run. I’m doing the same for Q2 and again the bottom half of the top ten doesn’t have the pace to keep up with the top three teams. My drivers are 1st and 3rd in both sessions.
Next up is Q3. I again instruct drivers to do banker laps but manually swap tires to used soft tires (to save a new set for the race) and it’s enough for Leclerc to finish provisionally P1. Sainz comes into traffic and is almost seven seconds behind.
Your second flying laps are therefore crucial. On the open track and new soft tires, Leclerc is unable to improve his lap. Disappointing. Sainz then slams just three thousandths in front of Monegasque, Verstappen only twelve hundredths further behind. Firmly!
Get in, Charlie boy!
Excited to have taken pole on my debut as team manager, I now need to find a race strategy for both of my drivers. The game automatically creates three strategies for you, A, B and C – you can even create a “Plan D” if you feel like it. Ignoring the temptation to build a Ferrari, I also create plans E, F, G and H.
So I go with my engineers’ recommendation and go with Plan A as it’s (theoretically) fastest. The opening stint will be on softs, with a longer middle stint on mediums before finishing with a sprint stint on softs again.
I vow to be strong and determined on my strategy calls, hoping the virtual tifosi will at least respect my quick thinking if not the bottom line. Significantly, my riders aren’t particularly confident in their setups, so I vow to pay more attention to that in Round 2 by taking more control of the free practice sessions.
Some last minute pre-race polish work. “Hey! Be careful not to over-tighten the suspension, boys!”
go go away
‘Lights out and let’s go!’ I doubt I’ll ever tire of hearing David Croft’s signature slogan at the start of the F1 manager’s races.
I let my drivers compete freely in the first few laps: Leclerc got a good start and leads into Turn 1, Sainz pushes Verstappen into second place. It’s the perfect start for the team and I’m already thinking about outfitting the Panda with some luxury hubcaps with my win bonus.
After a few laps, Sainz benefits from being within DRS range of Leclerc. He does a pull stick and pulls out a gap of two seconds. I see through my fingers, sure the Ferrari curse will strike soon. Curiously, Leclerc’s tires are in better shape and while Sainz has less confidence in his setup, he’s doing so much better than Leclerc in terms of race pace.
Stay clean guys I need this…
Verstappen catches up with Leclerc and takes P2 while Sainz continues to control the pace up front. I decide now is the time to do my first pit stop in F1 Manager so I bring Leclerc in for another set of softs as I think the grip advantage in the early stint will put me ahead of Verstappen again. Yes, I go against my given strategy and think on my own. Very un Ferrari.
It worked! Verstappen emerges behind Leclerc and Sainz is still in the lead. The Ferrari train thunders on, holding a lead of about three seconds over the Red Bull Racing Flying Dutchman before my two drivers box for Pirelli’s medium-compound tires to end the race.
The gap to Verstappen is increasing again – we sewed this race – so I say to Leclerc: “Don’t fight your teammate”. He follows suit and is still a frightening tenth of a second behind the Spaniard. It stays that way until the checkered flag, Leclerc looks the Pacier of the two at the end of the race.
Si! Si! Both engines are 1600cc.
This is my perfect moment.
My spontaneous decision to change strategy and initiate team orders is sufficient. Back in Maranello, they are already preparing a party in my honor, where my panda will receive a full command and a servant for my return. Dennis Taylor would be proud.
So this is a one-two in my first F1 Manager race. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Surely this result is an indicator of great things to come for Ferrari and its controversially competent new team leader in 2022?
Find out how the season is progressing with Part 2 of our Making Ferrari great again series, coming soon!
Great job guys. Seriously, you can take off your gloves now. People?