Home F1 24 Driver Career preview: A staple mode gets an overdue overhaul

F1 24 Driver Career preview: A staple mode gets an overdue overhaul


  • Driver Career mode revamped for F1 24.
  • New features: more off-track intrigue, playable real-life drivers.
  • Overall enhanced realism, replayability, and a new wrinkle on multiplayer.

By far the driest chuckles, among those present for a sneak preview of F1 24, came at the mention of “secret meetings,” a new wrinkle that Codemasters is using to add flavor to an even bigger overhaul to its Driver Career mode. After all, we just saw a whopper of a secret meeting back in January, when seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton announced he would leave Mercedes to drive for Ferrari next year.

It’s the kind of soap opera story arc that F1 fans find so titillating, even when it’s the off-season, that has been largely missing from the video game series’ otherwise deep driver career mode. Internal friction was condensed to a linear beat-your-teammate rivalry; you led the development of your car whether you were the team’s first or second driver, and contract negotiations ended in jarring mid-season changes or didn’t pose much challenge to extracting the best deal out of a cagey team principal.

If all goes as promised, that will change in F1 24’s new Career, which has been overdue for a big upgrade considering it’s been a bread-and-butter mode for 15 years. More recently, Codemasters has introduced new features like a captivating My Team, which allows users to create their fictitious team and drive for it, or F1 World, which is more of an online career that unifies the game’s multiplayer, Grand Prix, and Time Trials modes.

F1 24 Driver Career gets much more than a new paint job

Good ol’ Driver Career last saw a big update when Codemasters introduced a co-operative/competitive option with another friend as either a teammate or a rival in another car. That was in 2021, and even then the mode’s linear development, rote free agency, and lack of sports tabloid sizzle have been the same for nearly a decade.

Creative director Lee Mather pointed out that the last big refresh of Driver Career came in F1 2016, as if to assure fans Codemasters was aware the mode had waited too long while innovations like a narrative, F1 World, and My Team joined the game.

“Career is where the true authenticity and Formula One season really shows through,” Mather said. “And that’s why this year, we felt was the most appropriate time to do a new driver career in F1 24.”

F1’s real-life drivers finally join the playable roster

For starters, fans will now be able to play a career mode as an existing driver. I was taken aback to realize this has never been an option since the last big overhaul in F1 2016. But that’s because I always played as my created avatar and assumed others did the same thing, too, finding that type of fantasy competition more appealing.

Boy was I wrong. You can find fans complaining about this rather consistently. “We want the players to be able to play the way that they want to play,” Mather said, acknowledging the feedback. Driver avatars are still there for those who prefer that, “but now you can also play as one of your F1 heroes,” Mather said.

“You can choose one of the drivers from the existing Formula 1 roster,” Mather said, “a Formula 2 driver, or one of the icons,” which are all-time greats who usually show up as premium or deluxe edition content.

F1 contracts and team choice are less of a sure thing

Formula 2 is still part of the Driver Career, should players want to begin there, but Mather said the ability to sign with one of the 10 Formula 1 teams will be more strictly governed and dependent on your performance in the junior circuit.

In the past, it was as simple as selecting one’s preferred team, and choosing a driver academy in F2 simply meant you got a development bonus, as opposed to shutting off certain teams or making others want you more.

Driver academy choice will be more necessary to landing your preferred seat. “Your progress there will impact your ability to negotiate your contract, and the kind of level you get when you move to Formula 1.”

Driver contracts will now be a lot more varied, and broken down into classifications, to give up-and-comers an idea of what’s reasonable, rather than everyone asking for the limit and having it pretty much rubber-stamped. Contract values will be affected by a driver’s ability to meet the in-season goals a team sets for him. Other factors go into it as well, one of which is a driver’s Recognition. This is where the secret meetings come in.

Recognition brings more sizzle to a long F1 season

Recognition is affected by on-track and off-track actions and is basically a score that reflects whether your driver is a good teammate, a loyal second-seater, or a pain in the ass back at the factory. Secret meetings will come when another team is interested enough in your skill they want to lure you away, Mather explained. There’s a risk of this being found out, however, and if it is, watch that Recognition score plunge as the offer is pulled and your existing team now resents you.

“One of the perks of Recognition is that you’re recognized, within your current team, as being the lead driver,” Mather said. “And that’s important because you want to be ahead of your teammate, you want to make those calls, you want to be the one who’s determining the direction of R&D for your team.”

If you’re not, or if you don’t have the truck to even get in on the conversation, your teammate may focus on developments that don’t interest you — power unit instead of aerodynamics, for example. With a high enough Recognition, drivers will unlock perks like the ability to choose R&D staff, or an “R&D rush” perk that means better parts come in faster time, and even secret vehicle upgrades.

It doesn’t sound like a breakup is inevitable if your driver’s Recognition drops suddenly, but at the least, I’d be willing to risk that just to make Driver Career’s role-playing elements more challenging. That also dovetails with another Codemasters goal for Driver Career, which is making it replayable beyond a single, full, and very long season.

F1 24 Driver Career
Recognition brings a new aspect to F1 24’s Driver Career mode.

Two new twists to increase F1 24’s replayability

I’ll confess, most of my years in the past ended with my car developed to perfection, my team either Constructors Champion or with a very satisfying second or third place and little incentive to throw myself back at it again. To solve that, Codemasters will give players the chance to choose an “R&D Scenario” to start their next year off on a more challenging note.

“So, you might have financial difficulty; you might have R&D problems that make it more challenging for you to progress,” Mather said. It also works as a kind of cheat code for those who want to blow out year two altogether. “You could have unlimited funds. It’s a great way to adjust the way that those subsequent seasons play once you’ve completed the first season.”

These are by no means the only upgrades coming to Driver Career. But they are the ones that touch probably the most features of that mode, or at least the success one sees over the long haul. Shorter-term changes include things like Accolades (which feed into Recognition) and are basically milestone events that reflect where a driver is in his career. Nico Hulkenberg’s list of accolades (finally getting a podium!) is nothing like Lewis Hamilton’s (getting an eighth championship and breaking the joint record held with Michael Schumacher).

Rivalries will now come in short, medium, and full-season terms, among different drivers, to reflect the varying storylines of a real-life F1 season. Race engineers will also give drivers specific instructions during a grand prix that, if met, will pay off both in Recognition and overall progression.

Challenge Careers: A multiplayer leaderboard for who runs the best team

And finally, Codemasters feathered in an ability to play a Career against friends, without the hassle of coordinating a start time offline that everyone could attend. That’s in the Challenge Career, in which drivers will compete asynchronously in smaller “episodes.”

“So you’ll get maybe three weeks of certain tracks and then move to another set of tracks, and another set of tracks. And what we do is curate that story,” Mather explained.

Honestly, it sounds a lot like some of the multiplayer challenges the game has seen over the past several years, just beefed up with more of a career-style wrapper that includes a lighter R&D component. Unlike the multiplayer challenges, this is measuring who is best at running a virtual team.

Of course, the moneymaking F1 World returns. And My Team, unupgraded, is still there to gobble up hours for those whose created-team headcanons stretch back years (raises hand). So F1 24 does look to be an incredibly deep package of racing action — assuming all of these features are as engaging as advertised.

Fans will find out when F1 24 launches May 31 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Owen Good
Gaming Editor (US)

Owen Good is a 15-year veteran of video games writing, also covering pop culture and entertainment subjects for the likes of Kotaku and Polygon. He is a Gaming Editor for ReadWrite working from his home in North Carolina, the United States, joining this publication in April, 2024. Good is a 1995 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2000 graduate of The Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, in New York. A second-generation newspaperman, Good's career before covering video games included daily newspaper stints in North Carolina; in upstate New York; in Washington, D.C., with the Associated Press; and…

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