Tag Archives: PC

F1GP tips & circuit guide: San Marino GP @ Imola

Following on from the race in Brazil, we’re at another fast, challenging and dangerous circuit, the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola in northern Italy. The race has a lot in common with the one at Interlagos so the same general advice about being cautious applies. Here are some specific tips:

  • Know your overtaking points. They exist on nearly every corner, but most opportunities only open up for a moment so you have to be committed.
  • Be careful where you try to overtake on the long run from the grid down to the Tosa hairpin. Use slipstreaming to get by on the left into Tamburello or on the right on the long section afterwards. Never overtake on the right into Villeneuve or you’ll get cut up; hold back and go by under braking on the inside.
  • There’s nearly always a big pile-up on the first lap at the hairpin. Avoid this by keeping to the left and holding well back.
  • The sharp Acqua Minerali chicane is a good place to overtake, but no more than one car at a time. Out of traffic, the key to taking this corner steadily is to keep stable under braking and stay well away from the right-hand kerb as you turn in.
  • The Variante Alta chicane is fast at 130mph+ on a good lap, but in a long race take it steadily as it’s an invitation to an accident. Being slow through the middle means you can get the power down early on the exit and maybe slip past a backmarker.
  • The slight right under the bridge before the run down to Rivazza is a death trap in the wet. Lift off the throttle as you go through.
  • The final fast esse at the Variante Bassa is best taken smoothly with minimal braking and without changing down. If you want to overtake going into the slow final corner you can, but will find the controls won’t respond unless you’re almost on the gearbox of your opponent, and gaining on him too. It’s like the slow infield right-handers at Interlagos in this respect.

Here are my car settings for this circuit. The wing settings are low to allow easier overtaking, but you’d be advised to crank the rear up a couple of notches to make it less tail-happy. Tyre wear is low, so take the D grade and stop twice (perhaps even just once) over a complete race distance.

Settings for the San Marino GP at the Imola circuit

Quick 3 lap race – F1GP @ Imola

F1GP tips & circuit guide: Brazilian GP @ Interlagos

It’s the second race of the Championship and we’re at the spectacular Interlagos circuit in São Paulo, Brazil. This will be a lot more exciting and challenging than Phoenix. Here are some driving tips

  • Brake late for the first corner a fraction after the 100m board and let the speed wash off as you drift towards the apex. Take it easy in the middle of the esse so you can floor it as you move into the long left-hand section.
  • The left-hander at the end of the second straight is similar to the first; brake just after the 100m board, but the corner itself is faster and smoother. Don’t try to overdo it mid-corner, concentrate on getting a fast exit.
  • The fast right-hander in the infield is a challenge. Change down a gear, but be ready to really go for it on the exit. It’s possible to overtake on the inside going into this one if you’re confident, but be ready to back off if you mess it up.
  • The two slow right-handers in the infield are similar. Take them easy, clinging to the apex, just dabbing at the throttle to keep the revs up. Want to overtake here? Using the keyboard to jink past means taking advantage of a steering quirk; you must be both close to the car ahead and gaining on it for the steering to turn more than it already is on the gentle curve. This means hanging well back, suddenly advancing so quickly you risk a collision.
  • Be patient on the final left-hander onto the main straight, concentrating on getting a clean exit. Be patient along the straight too, holding back from overtaking until you’ve passed the final kink alongside the pit entry. Beware the car ahead may be getting a tow as well, and you get double the slipstreaming effect!

This is an exciting but dangerous race. Accidents are likely on the long main straight near the pit entrance if you don’t drive cautiously in traffic and think ahead here. Overtaking on the straights is easy, but you can lose a lot of time in the infield if you don’t learn how to overtake there too.

Here are my suggested car settings. Tyre wear is moderate, go with the D grade, and expect to make two stops at 100% distance.

Settings for the Brazilian GP at the Interlagos circuit

Quick 3 lap race – F1GP @ Interlagos

Take care, and corridas feliz!

F1GP tips & circuit guide: US GP @ Phoenix

I thought it would be a nice bit of nostalgia to revisit the circuits of the original Microprose F1GP and share a few tips and car settings. I’ll illustrate them with some YouTube videos of quick races I recorded a while ago. First of all, the golden rule, the one tip that overrides them all:

  • Don’t try to set a fastest lap, but see how many laps you can do without having some sort of drama (brushing a wall or other car, or going on the grass etc.). Concentrate on driving smoothly and eventually the speed will come.

Some more specific driving tips that apply to all circuits:

  • Brake a little early and in a straight line. Spot the apex (the sharpest part of the inside of the corner).
  • Lift off the brakes and turn towards the apex, again a little early.
  • Now you should be dabbing at the throttle to keep the engine revs up, before flooring it as you straighten out.
  • Don’t overdo it on the exit – you should feel the car moving back towards the middle of the road rather than staying glued to the outside wall.

The distinguishing feature of Phoenix is the sharp symmetrical 2nd-gear corners. It’s quite easy to overtake going into these. Just be bold, plant yourself in the middle of the road behind your rival, brake earlier but not too early; get off the brakes early instead. This will give you the line into the corner.

Here are my suggested car settings. Tyre wear is high on this circuit, but go with the D grade anyway, though it does mean making three stops at 100% distance.

Settings for the US GP at the Phoenix circuit

Quick 3 lap race – F1GP @ Phoenix

See if you can win from the back of the grid in a 3-lap race. Then scale it up until you’re seeing how many times you can lap the field over a full race distance. Happy racing!

Microprose Formula One Grand Prix (PC, 1992)

This is the first game I ever bought for my PC. It cost £45, which hurt, but in hindsight was a bargain.

Microprose Formula One Grand Prix first wowed players on the Amiga, but the 486 CPU by then having clearly outstripped the old 68000 machines for power the PC version was much better. It was written by Geoff Crammond, whose first racing game was the well-regarded REVS on the BBC Micro. I’ve never played that one, but I did play the Amiga version of his Stunt Car Racer and found both the physics and gameplay of this deceptively simple racer to be remarkably good.

Writing a full review would be a bit daft at this distance in time, but I’ll try to point out a few things that made F1GP special. First of all was the manual; it’s such a good introduction not so much to the game as to the world of F1 in general it would be a good buy on its own. As well as a readable introduction to the current F1 teams and drivers (as of 1991, the last year Mansell, Prost & Senna raced together) it covers the mechanics of racing car design and the theory of optimal race driving including the all-important racing line.


Getting started, type in the right word from the manual and you’ll be rewarded with the attractive main menu against a backdrop of the Monte Carlo circuit. Come to think of it there was a snazzy-for-the-time title animation sequence, but I quickly de-installed that to regain the disc space. It has all the options you would expect, basically coming down to choosing between a single race and starting a new season (all 16 circuits are present), plus load/save and configuration options. The game is very easy to navigate, though it does become a bit slow and mushy once you learn exactly where you’re going.

But the terminally impatient have their very own option: ‘Quick Race’. So we will choose that. This sets you down straight on the grid, no need for qualifying or any of that. I think the circuit was Monza by default, but of course you could change it. Right away (or, more likely, once you’ve given in and looked up what the controls are instead of trying to figure them out for yourself) you start to notice the good points. The car is very easy to control, even with the keyboard. And there are help features too. They go beyond the ubiquitous automatic gearbox / immune to damage stuff. How about automatic brakes, and a racing line painted on the road? To a seasoned gamer these sound like the sort of cheats that make a game worthless, but they’re not. Rather they take away the sort of frustration at flying off at every corner that makes you start to hate a game. Very soon you’ll be turning the cheats off – you have to on the higher skill levels anyway.

Graphics are attractive and functional, if not exactly realistic. Take the cockpit layout: it combines all the help options, the lap timings, and the real controls in a way that makes perfect sense. The steering wheel doesn’t turn though, which is a shame. Captions will come up overlaid at the top of the screen from time to time to report things like fastest laps; it’s very like watching a race on TV.


Outside the cockpit the graphics (by the standards of the time) are even better. Though brightly-coloured and Legolandish (perhaps in homage to Pole Position) they are fast moving, have consistent physics, and are accurate to the real circuits. Not in the has-the-right-number-of-corners-in-the-right-directions way of earlier games, but the trackside trees and buildings and even gentle undulations in the surface are faithfully rendered. This was a big step forward for the time; Indy 500 had done this, but naturally only for the one circuit. Unlike the Amiga version the track surface is texture mapped which really helps convey a sense of speed (but turn it off by pressing ‘T’ if the game is getting too much for your old 386 PC). Sometimes it will rain, and the track and cars become washed out in spray.


But the all-important question is: What are the crashes like? Pretty good as it happens, though not quite on the cataclysmic scale of some of those in Indy 500. Lots of cars can get involved, and bits of wing go flying around, but there are no fireballs or anything like that. A nice touch is the animated marshalls waving flags at the side of the track. (Mustn’t forget the supplementary to the all-important question: Can you drive the wrong way around the circuit and cause pile-ups? Yes of course you can, though the steering feels a bit wonky and the graphics can glitch).

Once you’ve got the hang of racing, and are fed up with being beaten, you’ll want to return to the garage to change the set-up of your car. You can load and save set-ups to have different ones not just for different circuits but for racing and qualifying too. The changes you can make are (mercifully some will say) simpler than the Byzantine complexity of the Indy 500 options. You can change wing angle (front & back), brake balance, gear ratios and tyre compound. Changes make a real difference; on a circuit like Hockenheim you want a car that can top 210mph on the long straights, but at Phoenix you must add a lot of wing to keep your speed up through the many tight corners.

I have a host of minor niggles with the game, but that’s actually a good sign: it means I’ve been playing it far too much to have noticed that many. There are two complaints big enough to single out. The first is the sound, which is very thin and reedy. It’s actually very like the audio from on-board cameras of the time, but I want my cars to go NEEEEEAAAAAOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!! (especially when I’m overtaking someone). Then there’s the AI of the ‘enemy’ cars. The cars are very aggressive, but their one weakness is they don’t know when to brake safely amongst other traffic. Instead they compromise, being either too early, thus too easy to overtake, or too late, causing guaranteed first lap pile-ups at chicanes on the faster circuits.

Overall F1GP gets the balance between game and simulation just about right. Arcade fans will find it action-packed enough to enjoy, and may even mature to become committed sport sim devotees. The race distance can be adjusted from 10% up to the full whack, so can last nearly two hours. It wasn’t long before I was doing full seasons at full race distance, and loving it. The long term appeal is vast. Even when you think you’ve mastered a circuit there always seem to be ways of squeezing an extra tenth out of your lap-time.

F1GP @ Wikpedia