F1 24 Preview – Hands on the Dynamic Handling, circuit updates & career

F1 24 Mercedes Header

The last couple of races have given Formula 1 fans a fresh injection of high octane excitement, with Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s inevitability suddenly in doubt thanks to a resurgent McLaren at the hands of Lando Norris. Throw a healthy step forward for Ferrari, and it this could turn into a very fun season to watch. You know what else is fun? Video games, and Codemasters will be glad of the real sport’s entertainment to drum up interest for F1 24, which is shaping up to be another big step forward for their motorsports series.

Once again, Codemasters has committed to making some significant changes to the game’s simulation and physics modelling. Coming under the capitalise branding of Dynamic Handling – something shared with last year’s excellent WRC – there’s a new suspension kinematic system that will more accurately represent how cars move around under the massive aerodynamic loads, modelling of how tyres heat up, improved aerodynamics modelling and more.

It’s difficult to truly quantify how meaningful the all-new suspension model is, but without any tweaking it presents a more challenging drive than F1 23, feeling twitchier and more abrupt than its predecessor. There’s a raft of options though to tailor the handling to your personal preferences, and I was able to dial it in to a point that felt comfortable and responsive.

F1 24 – Eau Rouge Ferrari

Alongside the handling, there’s been several updates made to the accuracy of each track, but in particular the development team has focused on fan favourites Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, as well as giving recent additions Losail and Jeddah another pass, adding extra detail to both the track elements, and the wider setting. You can see this in Saudi Arabia with the arrival of the vibrant colours of the track limits and cut-off areas, making it feel closer than ever to the real thing.

That commitment to replicating the real thing extends this year to the inclusion of speech from each driver, so you can hear Daniel Riccardo’s downbeat response to Lance Stroll causing yet another pile-up, or Lando Norris congratulating his team on their work. Codemasters has been able to draw from broadcast archives for these soundbites, but don’t expect hours of additional dialogue.

Depending on the situation, be prepared to hear the same lines time and time again, and it’s a bit disappointing not to hear them respond mid-race to events that are playing out. It’s an improvement, but an undercooked one. However, your created player can gain additional speech options via the in-game shop, or more can be unlocked via the in-game VIP pass – a premium battle pass for the game which is included if you buy the more-expensive Champions Edition.

What doesn’t feel realistic is the way the game treats its wider simulation, and F1 24 can certainly spit out some very odd results. We’re not just talking about the occasional car failing or crashing out, but races where a driver can have won, despite suffering significant damage earlier on in the session.

F1 24 – Eau Rouge Ferrari

As it stands, there are also some oddities to the more… impactful physics model. While the way rogue wheels behave has always caused some issues, they look particularly weird here. It’s a shame that a high-force crash doesn’t result in a realistic-looking wreck, and while the aim of the game is clearly not to crash, it definitely happens with enough regularity that you’ll witness some very odd physics at play.

The visuals have been given a good scrub-up for 2024, and many of the tracks look better than they ever have. One of my personal favourites, Monaco, just looks that much more eye-catching than it did last year, and that’s gratifying after 12 months with the previous game. Foliage, hoardings and track furniture are fuller, more detailed and just nicer to look at, and at this early stage in our F1 24 career it’s pretty enough to be distracting at times. Luckily, you can still rewind your mistakes.

As part of those visual improvements, the drivers themselves look genuinely phenomenal. If you compare them to the previous year’s versions, the improvements are deeply impressive, with revised skin, hair and facial detail ensuring that it feels as though you’re part of the Formula 1 world.

While the current raft of drivers are stars in their own right – particularly after Drive to Survive has made them household names, even in households that don’t like F1 – one of my favourite additions is the ability to take legendary drivers like Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna into the career mode. While F1 23 allowed you to choose a number of iconic racers as your teammate for the season, now you can play through a further career with them, perhaps returning them to the spotlight after many years away from the grid.

F1 24 brings VR support to PC players, but PSVR 2 will miss out once again this year, which is disappointing given that it’s the most accessible route into home VR. I really hope that this is an update that PS5 owners can look forward to, but there’s no word on that becoming a reality.

Thus far, PC performance is impressively smooth, with my GeForce 3070-equipped rig sitting right on the Recommended specifications. We were able to run nearly everything at ultra-high graphic settings while maintaining a framerate over 100 FPS, and even in the early review build all of the external options and menus operated exactly as you’d hope. One of the clear improvements is the cinematic view, and replays look and perform more realistically than ever before.

If you’re ready for a new season of Formula 1, F1 24 is already shaping up to be a clear step up from its predecessor, bringing smart changes and improvements to what was already an enveloping driving experience.

Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.