F1 22’s Miami Circuit Will Delight The Veterans And Frustrate The Newbies

F1 22’s Miami Circuit Will Delight The Veterans And Frustrate The Newbies
Image: F1 22/EA Sports

Last week, I sat in on a preview session for Codemasters’ F1 22, and its new Miami circuit. While there’s certainly plenty to talk about, I’m still under embargo for a lot of what is in our playable preview build. While I’m free to take you on a bit of a digital track walk for the Miami circuit, you’ll have to wait until next week for more info on handling and simulation.

What I can talk about right now is F1 22‘s new Miami circuit, which I’ve been driving in a preview build for about a week now. I’m going to talk a bit about what it’s like to drive a track that (checks watch) uh probably won’t be finished IRL until hours before the first practice session. For those who like to know about peripherals, I used both an Xbox Elite Controller and a Logitech G923 Trueforce wheel for this preview.

f1 22 miami
Image: F1 22/EA Sports

Miami is the newest circuit added to the Formula 1 calendar this year, a track constructed in the car park of the Hard Rock Stadium. The track made headlines across the F1 press pack this week for its ostentatious decor, including a fake marina down at Turns 7 and 8 that was ruthlessly mocked online. The track also drew attention to another unusual landmark at Turns 15 and 16 — the track passes under a nearby freeway (which will be closed for the race, lest anyone decide they want to park up and watch for free).

Codemasters is justifiably quite proud of itself for getting the F1 22 version of Miami together in time for the IRL race. It says its digital track was constructed based on raw data provided by the F1 and the Miami Grand Prix itself. It’s a bit of a funny situation: press can drive the track in-game now, but we won’t know what it’s like for real-world racing until the Grand Prix on Sunday (or VERY early Monday morning if you live in Australia). What I can do, however, is step you through how it felt to drive it in the flashy new F1 22 sim.

Here’s a map of the track so you can follow along:

Image: F1

The track has a short start-finish straight at the doors of the Hard Rock Stadium, leaving you with time to find a line in the first lap scramble down to Turn 1. The first sector is comprised of a series of fast, sweeping left-and-right handers of varying intensity. It took me a couple of laps to fall into a rhythm in this sector because it seems simple but demands incredible precision. If you miss the apex on any one of them, you’ll be completely off-line by the time you hit Turn 7.

Turns 7 and 8 are where I expect a lot of the in-corner overtaking on the Miami circuit to take place. It’s wide, and there’s a lot of run-off, providing an ideal moment to get the jump on the car ahead.

Coming out of Turn 8, you’ll hit Sector 2, and the first of the track’s three DRS detection zones. For the new F1 fans in the crowd, DRS is the Drag Reduction System. This is a manual release that opens the car’s rear wing, allowing more air to pass through. It’s used for overtaking and can grant between 15 and 20 extra kph in a straight line. If you’re within a second of the car ahead of you at the moment you arrive in the DRS detection zone, you can activate it and mount an attack to gain track position.

Image: F1

The stretch between Turn 8 and Turn 11 can be taken flat out. It remains to be seen how the drivers will use this section IRL but I was able to get by the AI a few times on this run. You’ll want to be careful though because Turn 11 comes up very quickly indeed. We’re now into Turns 11 to 16, what I feel is the wildest section of the entire track. The circuit abruptly narrows and the walls close in until it almost feels like Monaco. The chicanes are so tight that they’ll need to be taken slowly and in single-file. There won’t be any overtaking in this section because it requires all your concentration just to pick your way through it safely. If there’s a section of the track I expect will be modified next year, it’s this bit.

Heading into Turn 16 takes the cars beneath the freeway overpass and onto the back straight to commence Sector 3. This is a pure straightaway and the home of the second DRS detection zone. Another opportunity for overtakes if you’ve got that straight-line speed to spare. Brake hard into Turn 17 and, surprise, the third and final DRS detection zone lies in wait to carry you through Turns 18-19 and back down to Turn 1.

f1 22 miami
Image: F1 22/EA Sports

What’s the takeaway from F1 22‘s version of the Miami circuit? It’s a track that will fool you into thinking it’s much easier to drive than it truly is. Sector 1’s weaving left-and right-handers are designed to prod drivers into mistakes, and the technical bastardry of Sector 2 will catch even the most experienced runners out. It’s one that the die-hards and the sim racers will love because it takes serious practice to perfect before you can start chasing faster and faster lap times. Newer fans, or those unused to circuits that evolve with this much drama, may find themselves feeling frustrated and too penned in to make a move.

It’s a track you can use to illustrate the process of learning how to drive a new circuit. First, you memorise the circuit. Then you identify your ideal line through each turn, and you nail it down. Then you start building that confidence. You look for the limits, the places where you can push the car without getting into trouble, and where you can mount an overtake if the opportunity arises.

And then, finally, you just fucking send it.

Like a lot of fans, I will be watching the IRL Miami Grand Prix with interest. I look forward to seeing how Codemasters’ vision of a track it had to create from pure theory maps to the real thing.

F1 22 launches July 1, 2022, for PlayStation, Xbox, and Windows PC platforms.

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