The latest instalment of Codemasters’ 'F1 2018' racing sim is as smooth as Murray Walker, as intricate as Ferrari’s gear box and as slick as the Albert Park track during a late summer Melbourne shower.
For the last decade or so, sporting simulators have endeavoured to not only capture the on-field or on-track experience, but also the minutiae that confronts the CEOs in the front office; and in 'F1 2018’s case, the mechanics in pit lane.
F1 tragics know that success in their beloved sport, perhaps more than in any other, hinges upon technological prowess and scientific advancements. Nigel Mansell’s record-breaking victory in a pimped-out Williams in 1992 famously led to much controversy and subsequently regulatory reform.
For this reason, 'F1 2018' meticulously caters to the chassis fiddling, data crunching, split second slashing rev-heads that are the game’s core demographic. This year, for example, snap regulatory changes to vehicle design are a major reform to the game’s impressive career mode.
Every stint on track during your career earns rapidly accumulating points, which can be used to tinker with the performance of your chariot of thunder, and each adjustment will be immediately apparent from the moment you accelerate out of pit straight.
When you clamber out of the cockpit after a mediocre spin around the track, you are confronted with a journo wielding a mic who will try to send your relationship with your team into a tailspin.
Do not be overwhelmed by the seeming complexity of this game though. While the game necessarily caters to adrenalin junkies who furnish their man-cave with a solid steel frame home driving simulator, 'F1 2018' does not preclude the novice.
To get started, you only need to know how to accelerate, brake and steer, which will take less than a minute to learn.
Few games require such little preparation to get started, but triumphantly surviving a bingle-free lap while notionally keeping to the racing line as much as possible is just the beginning. Each circuit offers corner after corner of opportunities for improvement, for the shaving off of hundredths of seconds, for tighter manoeuvring around the hairpin.
While the challenge of mastering each picturesque and metro-logically accurate circuit is satisfying enough to have you hooked, there is a litany of game modes to augment the offering and add life and diversity to the game, even for those that purchase this title every year as soon as it hits the shelves.
This year, you can hurtle down memory lane in an abundance of classic models, dating back to the early 1970s; you can compete online in regularly updated scenarios or customise your own championship season.
'F1 2018' is more than just a change of tires; it is an aerodynamically enhanced new model, with a career mode that has plenty of grunt under the hood.