Formula 1 returns this week with a bang. We have seen big driver news with Valtteri Bottas confirmed for Mercedes in 2020 while their reserve driver Esteban Ocon will take over from Nico Hulkenberg at Renault next season. Another big announcement we saw was the release of the 2020 Formula 1 calendar, and it is set to be the busiest in F1 history.
With 22 races across every corner of the globe, teams will have to take it up another gear to make sure the cars are running at 100% at every race. Likewise, Codemasters will have a challenge on their hands putting 3 new tracks into the game. Vietnam will make its debut as a Formula 1 venue, while the enormous popularity of Max Verstappen has seen the Dutch track of Zandvoort will return as the Dutch Grand Prix, which hasn't been run since 1985. The Brazilian Grand Prix will also move location from Interlagos to Rio de Janeiro. To make room for that the German Grand Prix is once more taking a sabbatical.
These new tracks mark the first major change to the F1 calendar for a while, and will present a welcome new challenge for racers that are used to the current crop of circuits.
Which brings us to here. It is time for Codemasters to expand the game and provide classic tracks on the F1 game.
Classic cars have run their course
The classic cars the F1 series has added over the years have been welcomed by fans, especially those that miss the roar of the old V10 & V12 engines. Jumping in the Ferrari F2004 for a time trial is still an amazing experience, but the lack of care for the "Championships" section of the game, together with the lack of a full grid for any one year, means that racing in these cars quickly becomes a rare multiplayer experience.
So if Codemasters are to cycle down the addition of classic cars and move toward classic tracks, just how could they do it?
Keep the old tracks
Building a track in an F1 game is a big task. There is a reason that F1 games haven't had extra tracks since 2013 when Estoril and San Marino were made available as a DLC.
With three new tracks to make next year Codemasters will have their hands full. One way to add tracks into the game without increasing the workload too much would be to simply keep Interlagos and Hockenheim in the game as time trial and multiplayer locations. Giving them the usual yearly face lift should be easy enough, and making it a 24-track game would at least add to the gameplay for racers.
Another option for Codemasters would be to produce classic versions of the older tracks on the calendar. Plenty of these storied European circuits have seen facelifts and alterations over the years. Silverstone had a total reboot in 2010 with a new pitlane and arena section that saw the removal of the beautiful Abbey chicane and Bridge corner. Building in the classic version of the track would not take too much additional work.
The same can happen at Spa where the famous Bus Stop chicane was removed from the end of the lap. Bahrain's short-lived long version could come back, and if they were feeling ambitious the massively long original Osterreich version of the Red Bull Ring could make an appearance, and even the old Hockenheim that featured a blast into the forest. These track versions could supplement the rather unnecessary short circuit versions of Britain, Japan, Bahrain, and USA that exist on the game simply for classic car overtake and checkpoint challenges.
The DLC option
If Codemasters feel that producing new tracks would be too much they can always go down the DLC option to get some extra revenue. As someone who has played F1 games for years I would happily pay another £5-10 to jump on the truly iconic tracks that have fallen off the calendar. The likes of Imola, Nurburgring, and Sepang would be a welcome addition, while even some of the wilder Bernie Ecclestone experiments like India and South Korea would add extra life to the game and spark more interest from the community.
Just imagine trying to take the 2020 Mercedes around all 73 corners of the Nordschleife loop of the Nurburgring. There is a world of amazing race tracks out there that Codemasters could dip in to what would take F1 games to a whole other level. Laguna Seca has never hosted a Formula 1 race, but now it could.
Taking F1 to another level
The lack of variety is one of the main reasons racing fans choose games like Gran Turismo over F1. The last Gran Turismo game, released in 2017, featured over 50 tracks which is enough variety to keep racers playing for years, nevermind months. Gran Turismo has sold roughly 3 million copies more than F1 2018, which is all the proof you need that extra content can sell.
The addition of F2 cars has been a welcome one for fans, but they race on the same tracks as F1. While they pose a driving challenge, once you have figured out their nuances your are still using the same tarmac as the F1 cars, which means the same overtaking points and same frustrations. If Codemasters really want to push the F1 series to another level they need to add tracks to it. F1 fans have missed racing around tracks like Imola and Jerez that have so much history behind them, and there is a whole new generation of racers that haven't experienced them. It's time they did.