We were lucky enough to get our hands on a review copy of the new official Formula 1 game ahead of its release on Friday. After playing testing it out over the last week or so, here’s our full review of the game.

First off, yes it’s the annual F1 game by Codemasters, building on their impressive catalogue of racing games. Take a moment though and realise that it’s only June and the 2019 season game is here already, kudos to Codies for making this happen.

And so, the game itself – in short, we’re impressed. For this version, the headline has been the introduction of F2 to the series and it really is a fantastic addition. The full 2018 F2 season is there (and you can race on all the F1 tracks) with 2019 F2 available soon via a free update. Racing in F2 is really good fun, easier to pick up than F1 machinery and a great way to familiarise yourself with the tracks.

What’s more, the “Career” mode begins with F2 where you pick a team and are put in the middle of a season and several scenarios with an accompanying storyline. Your performance and handling of the media then carry over into your available F1 contracts when/if you’re ready to move to F1. This story mode is really well made and thought through – it was the bit I was most sceptical of, but it’s executed brilliantly. The only issue is that I’m left wanting more because as soon as you get to F1 it’s down to business of completing objectives in practice sessions and then doing full race weekends. Story mode is a win and there should be more in future releases if it were down to me. Maybe even a ‘story mode’ alongside the existing options.

Putting F2 to one side, other tweaks for 2019 include subtly tweaked graphics. I say subtle because it’s hard to see how they’ve done it, but yet again the Codemasters crew have raised the bar again and F1 2019 looks utterly fantastic.

It’s not all visual stuff either – the AI was impressive in my first few races, seems like a further improvement and the car handling is spot on. I say that, I’ve not driven an F1 car, but it handles how I would expect and with some tweaks to the assists, gives me a setup that’s both fun and challenging.

Other features for 2019 include drivers moving teams – a first for the F1 game series and could throw up some interesting lineups through your career. The game features many classic F1 cars too including some real crowd pleasers and these are good fun to have a drive, it’s still a bit odd to be doing a race in ‘92 Williams and have a Rothmans Williams in the same race while chasing down a 1970s Ferrari. What I’d give to have ‘classic seasons’ where all the cars from a year are there, would love to get behind the wheel of a Jordan and it would be nice to see other classic cars, not just the best ones – imagine trying to drag an Arrows around the Hungaroing a la Damon Hill in ’97 – yes please!

There are 2 versions of the game for 2019 – the Anniversary Edition, aka the standard edition with all features and 18 classic cars, or the Legends Edition, aka the premium option which includes some special Senna and Prost features and the 1990 Ferrari F1-90, McLaren MP4/5B, Ferrari F10 and McLaren MP4-25 to make it 22 classic cars in total. The other Legends features include the chance face-off over eight race challenges, and receive exclusive Senna and Prost themed multiplayer car liveries. The drivers’ likenesses have also been added to the Career mode.

I’ve played all the Codemasters F1 games and this is the best yet, there’s no doubt about it – it’s fun, engaging, challenging, rewarding and very well made. If you are looking for a new F1 game, or even if you already have F1 2018, the 2019 game is definitely worth treating yourself too. Let’s face it, with any more races like France 2019, playing this will be a lot more fun on a Sunday afternoon (and then checking your Fantasy GP scores)