Review by Adhoc (2001-06-08)
This was IMHO the first racing game which came up with great graphics, sound and decent realism concerning car handling and setup. Although quite a number of the tracks in the game are not in today's race calendar or have been modified this game is still a lot of fun due to the lots of options.
You can either practice on one of the 16 tracks first, try a single race or go for the big thing - the Championship. Each race weekend consists of a practice round, the qualifying, then a warm-up to test last setup changes and the race itself. You can freely decide how long each of the stages should be; whether you want the full 100% race distance or just a short sprint race - it's up to your liking. Unless in modern Formula 1 where you can be glad to have more than 20 cars racing back in 1991 there were far more teams competing and actually drivers had to qualify to be allowed in the race. In this game we have a total of 33 drivers and with the maximum of 26 cars allowed per race this means that 7 cars won't compete in each race. But no matter how bad your qualifying time is you will always compete in the race (of course from the last position on) which is unrealistic but well...In qualifying you have to take care that you have only 12 laps to get the best out of your car. Any more and your times will be nullified.
Before you start racing seriously you have to look at the setup of the car. In this game it's quite simplistic; you can only change wings, gear ratios, brake balance and tire compound so it's not too hard to find the best setup for each track. But still you have to do many practice laps to get used to the handling and to find out whether you could still get more speed out of your machine by lowering the wings or accelerate better by fiddling around with the gear ratios. You don't have to worry about fuel in Formula 1 Grand Prix: the cars then had sufficient fuel for the whole race, the only stops you might make are for fresh tires and repairs.
You can choose from 5 different opponent levels which also have an influence on the driver aids you have available. There you can make your car invulnerable, display the ideal racing line on the track, have automatic braking and/or shifting and other little tidbits which can make a driver's life easier. You can also select whether you want the cars to be equally good, have random engine power or realistic power like it was in the 1991 season.
The race itself is lacking especially in one point: car damage. It's far from realistic how this is handled here. You can bump other cars around quite a lot without having to fear anything. You must crash into another car or the wall really hard to damage the front or rear wing and you have to crash even harder to lose a tire or two (the only way to DNF). This makes racing a bit more action-orientated because also the computer drivers sometimes don't refrain from bumping you a bit. There are 16 tracks to race at, some are not in today's calendar (like Phoenix) or have been modified (San Marino) but many of them are still original (Spa, Monaco...). Most fun is when you can run one of the quite rare wet races. Then the cars in front of you produce tons of spray which will reduce your vision to almost nill. Absolutely thrilling and sadly something I haven't seen in any other racing game so far.
With all the other options (renaming drivers and teams, saving track records, ...) this game is despite some minor flaws a really good and reasonably realistic racing sim and surely worth a look.
Review by carlostex (2016-05-19)
A classic I will never forget. The year is 1993. I remember vividly watching this game running on my neighbour's computer and I was amazed. Being a huge fan of Formula One this was the game that answered my prayers.
Far away for the arcadeness of Grand Prix Circuit and Grand Prix Unlimited, both curiously published by Accolade, Geoff Crammond's Formula One Grand Prix set the standard for what a Formula One game should be.
Let's start with the negatives. Unfortunately this game did not have a FISA/FOCA license so sponsors, brands, cars, teams and drivers real names couldn't be used. The game uses a system of locked frame rates. The game engine will set that locked frame rate, if the computer does not have enough power to run it full it will play like slow motion. The physics aren't perfect too, but work well enough for this game. It's pretty rare to see a bug happen due to physics.
The goods in this game overwhelm the bads. There's plenty of options to vary the gameplay. You can obviously overcome the silly names by changing teams and drivers' names. In those days you needed a magazine or some sort of information that could give you all the correct names for the 1991 season. Today with Wikipedia... no sweat.
Then you can customize the level of difficulty. You have several driving aids to help you play, and you can adjust the AI's difficulty accordingly. You can also select the way the teams and drivers performance will behave. You can select historical 1991 season performance, random or all the same.
You can do quick races, single races, practice or full season. The tracks are very well modeled and are a faithful representation of the tracks layout for the 1991 F1 season.
The game plays very well, even playing with keys and you'll steadily learn fast enough to get rid of some of the driving aids which will also give you enough freedom to become faster and faster.
The AI is pretty decent, sometimes I feel they are not aggressive enough, but I'm a veteran on this game and while the game has become pretty easy for me the AI was pretty good for its day.
While playing a season you'll do how a F1 race weekend was done. Free practice, Qualifying, Warm-up and Race. You could adjust session time. For full realism you would of course always choose max race distance and session time.
Your tires will degrade during the race and you would notice this by the card not being able to go around corners as fast as when you have fresh tires. At the same time you start with full fuel, and since there is no refuel in game (there was no refuel in 1991 season) you start pretty heavy and if you do your pit stops for fresh rubber accordingly you'll notice your lap times coming down and down. At the end of the race you'll notice the card is pretty light and if you wanna break a lap record pit for fresh rubber and fly!
There's also sets of tires you can choose while on the pits. W is for wet weather, A for hard compound tires, B for medium compund C for soft and D for very soft. Then there's Q which is extremely soft but these are recommended for qualifying only. 3 laps and you'll destroy them completely, so don't use them in a race unless you have to pit and there's only 3 or 4 laps to end the race.
You can also do car setups. Adjust wings, gear ratios, brake balance and choose your set of tires. You can also save your car setup for every race.
This game is a true simulator of its era, a title that will forever be regarded as one of the racing greats. Almost perfect Geoff, almost...