If there is one topic in Formula 1 that is guaranteed to spark debate and it is how best to improve the show.
Everyone has a different answer, from the sensible – less tyre management, simpler engines – to the more radical – binning blue flags entirely.
In a Motorsport Magazine article last year, Tony Dodgins put forward one such radical solution: a proper drivers’ championship where drivers are rotated between teams during the season, rather than driving for a single outfit.
While perhaps too radical for real-life F1, it would certainly make for an interesting new mode alongside Codemasters’ usual fare.
A True Drivers’ Championship
A season where every driver gets the opportunity to get behind the wheel of each car at least twice could provide a truly dynamic championship battle. The ebb and flow of results provided by drivers swapping machinery each weekend would throw major swings into the championship table.
Drivers would pick in last year’s championship order, with the World Champion picking 1st for every round. 2nd place would then pick their team, followed by 3rd and so on. For the final three races, drivers could pick again in either the same order or current championship order, with the championship leader picking first.
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This reimagining of what a Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship could be could force the player to make some interesting and difficult decisions when it comes to selecting which car to take in each round.
If you’re playing as Hamilton, which races do you decide to take in the Williams? And which do you decide to take in the Mercedes? These are all questions that players will have to decide for themselves to ensure they achieve the greatest possible haul of points.
A weekend in the Mercedes is an opportunity to take maximum points. An outing in a slower car, such as the Williams or HAAS, is all about damage limitation, where a single point is a victory unto itself.
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For Monaco, do you go with the Red Bull and try to make up the difference to the faster Mercedes with skill alone? Or do you try to pull a slower car into the points at a track where the driver can make the difference?
The likelihood of you actually making it through Turn 1 in each car at each track would also be an important element to consider. Something else to take on board are your chances of actually finishing that race in that car. A retirement in a Mercedes would be incredibly more costly than parking an Alfa Romeo.
Add to this the likelihood of the Safety Car making an appearance, or it raining during qualifying or the race, along with the component management system that exists in the main career mode, and there is potentially a lot of strategic depth there.
How would you play your hand? How would the car you’re in change how you approach certain races?
Something On The Side
Given that Codemasters has already introduced driver transfers, I imagine a mode like this shouldn’t prove too difficult to implement.
There are certainly some things that would need to be fully thought through, such as how many races ahead drivers can pick their cars for and whether they can change their selection once it’s locked in, amongst other things.
It would certainly provide a new way to play a season, managing risk and reward as you hop in and out of different seats, scraping together the maximum points your car will allow at each venue.
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And what better time to introduce it than after a year where we’ve seen numerous drivers, including George Russell and Nico Hulkenberg, called up at last minute to perform in machinery they’re in no way familiar with.
For the die-hard purists, it’s a nonsense, a waste of time and resources that could be better spent on improving the already stellar first-in-class career mode. But if it could be done on the side, with little time or effort required to get it out the door, it could be just the thing to jump into once you’ve burned through the more serious stuff the game has to offer.