I have to admit it, I’ve occasionally wondered what it would be like to run my own Formula 1 team. The engineering challenges of developing the best car possible, the thrill of seeing my cars come home at the end of a race (hopefully in a good position) and the glamour of travelling all round the world.
Sadly, I’m almost certainly never going to find out what it would be like, but a great little game for Android and iOS devices does give me a chance to play around with some of the concepts.
You may remember, just before Christmas, Will Judd reviewed a game called Game Dev Story for us. In that game you ran a virtual software company trying to release hit games. Well, Grand Prix Story is another release by the same guys, and has you running a racing team instead.
So what sort of stuff do you get up to? There’s car development – which starts off very simple as you only have one chassis and a couple of drivetrain options available, but you can also research different body types, drive options, and upgrades like aerodynamic wings and improved engines.
You can hire new drivers, choosing to take on a rookie and train him up, or go for someone with plenty of skill and a high salary. Hire mechanics to repair the cars after a race, and to research and build new ones. All of these people can be upgraded in some way to improve their skills and get the most out of them.
In short, it’s the fun parts of team management without the grind of having to break up fights between your drivers or explain to the FIA why your car’s front wing seems to be flexing a little more than it should! It’s obviously very simplified, but it’s still great fun. It’s worth pointing out that this really is about team management, however – you won’t do any actual driving in the races. After all, that’s what you pay your drivers for.
The key to winning is research and knowing which setups work well at which tracks. Taking a road car to an off-road track will result in a poor finish. Some of the tracks reward cornering ability, while others require a good top speed. Some even need a setup that can cope with ice. Don’t expect anything like an accurate replica of Monaco, but by knowing the conditions at the various tracks on your race calendar you’ll do better than if you just approach it randomly.
That semi-thoughtful approach really works for me. You can pay careful attention to the details if you want, or can just have a bit of fun playing with cars, and it’s good either way.
At the end of the game (which is 14 “years” long) you can choose to start again with some of your technological advances in place. Just don’t think that by taking your most advanced car with you you’ll breeze through the early races… I tried it and still struggled!
Grand Prix Story is a fun little simulation of a racing team. It captures the essence of motorsport management without becoming overwhelming or delving too deeply into detail. It’s a great distraction and, if you do have an interest in motorsport, I’m sure you will enjoy it.