F1 2020 Game: Why we need better pit stop information in 2021
Since Codemasters’ first Formula 1 game effort back in 2009, the series has gone from strength to strength. This is due to their commitment to build on each yearly release rather than splash a new coat of paint on the previous outing with only minor tweaks.
When it comes to new features, every fan has a different wish list. Some would like to see the inclusion of pre-season testing; others would quite like a more substantial livery editor or improvements to the ‘My Team’ mode.
Since it’s nearly Christmas, here is the start of my wishlist: the things I’d love to see included in a future F1 title!
Better Pitstop Information
This isn’t so much a feature, but a fix to a minor problem that’s bugged me. It wouldn’t be the most exciting addition to the game, but I think it could really improve the overall race experience.
Currently, the MFD Pitstop Page provides the player with two pieces of information: the pitstop window for the set of tyres you are on, and the race position you would come out in if you stopped now.
The first part is useful: you need to know around about what lap you need to come in to make the strategy work. The race position you will re-emerge in, though, is next to useless if you don’t know what exactly you are being dropped back into.
Say, for example, that the MFD tells you that you’ll be coming out in 12th position. That could mean a number of different things.
READ MORE: IN THE PIT LANE – F1 SEEING DOLLAR SIGNS
You could come out directly behind a driver on hard tyres who won’t be pitting for some time. At a circuit where track position is key, such as Monaco or Catalunya, that could prove incredibly costly. Or you could be parachuted into traffic and have to pick through backmarkers – again, costing you vital time.
The game doesn’t tell you how far ahead or behind another car you’ll be at pit exit, or what tyres they’re on – both crucial pieces of information when you’re adjusting strategy on the fly.
Why this would make a difference
If you had access to better timing information, perhaps through some form of on-screen graphic, you might decide to extend your stint to clear a certain driver or group of drivers before pitting.
Admittedly, overtaking is far easier in the game than in real life. Even at a track where it is notoriously difficult to pass like Zandvoort, you can overtake. Getting stuck behind another driver could still hurt your race, though. And it should, if realism is the aim.
As features go, I don’t think it would be that hard to implement as everything needed is already there in the game. Admittingly, I know nothing about game development, but I did come up with an analogue solution a few years ago to satisfy my curiosity.
How it could be implemented
I’d start by working out how long a pitstop is at a particular track. Then I’d drive a lap at race speed and watch the video back. Stopwatch in hand, I’d work out where I’d be 20-23 seconds down the road after passing a distinct feature on the full track map, such as the start/finish line.
If we used Spa as an example, I’d start the stopwatch at La Source and see the amount of time it takes to complete a pitstop. If I found myself on a stretch of track where I had enough time to glance at the track map, I’d pick out an on-track marker and jump into the race.
By using the track map like this, I was able to see exactly what I’d be dropped back into if I came into the pits.
It worked better at some tracks than it did at others, but it was a simple way of seeing where I was in relation to the other cars a pitstop behind me. Undercuts and Overcuts weren’t just blind luck anymore, but things I could monitor by consulting the track map.
A more refined pitstop display that clearly communicates the race landscape you’ll re-emerge into after a pitstop could really improve the overall race experience for players. It’s not the sort of shiny, new feature that’s going to move units the same way the addition of Formula 3 might, but it’s a quality of life improvement that could really add to what’s already there.