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F1 2021 free update adds Imola course, one more to go

Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Circuit will be added in November

Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix 2021 in Istanbul
Red Bull Racing’s throwback livery, celebrating engine supplier Honda’s maiden F1 victory in 1965, will be available in F1 2021 until Nov. 15.
Photo by Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

F1 2021 on Wednesday added the second of three free race courses coming post-launch to Codemasters’ motorsports sim. Imola — official name Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari — is now available in all modes of play.

Imola hosted the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 18, the second round of this year’s Formula 1 World Championship. It and Portugal’s Portimão Circuit were last-minute additions to F1’s COVID-altered 2020 and 2021 schedules, forcing Codemasters to hustle up efforts to build and add them to the game, along with Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Street Circuit, which will be added to the game in November.

Rendering an F1 course with the kind of detail racing fans expect from a video game is only part of the effort involved. Codemasters developers also have to train up their AI drivers to find the optimal line through the course, and then to deal with traffic, overtaking, and any other racing occurrences during the event.

Here’s a look at Imola, aboard Pierre Gasly’s Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02:

Even with the inclusion of Portimão and Imola, F1 2021’s in-game calendar still is not up-to-date with all the races run in real life. Istanbul Park, which held the Turkish Grand Prix this past weekend, is not in the game, and Codemasters has announced no plans to add it at a later date. It, too, was a late addition to the 2020 and 2021 racing schedules when the COVID-19 pandemic knocked out several dates in both years. Qatar’s Losail International Circuit is also scheduled for the Qatar Grand Prix on Nov. 21; likewise, it won’t be coming to F1 2021.

Neither Qatar nor Turkey have a contract to run in the 2022 F1 season, which is probably why Codemasters isn’t in any hurry to build them. Next year’s calendar will feature another new event and course, the recently confirmed Miami Grand Prix. But given the backlog of course work and the fact that Codemasters needed two years to build Jeddah, the Miami Autodrome’s appearance in F1 2022 is not guaranteed. Codemasters will also be coping with entirely new vehicle specifications and rules next year, which touch pretty much everything in a physics and handling package iterated on since 2014.

All this said, F1 2021’s courses in Shanghai, Montreal, Singapore, Japan, and Australia are still in the game (and available in career modes and online racing leagues) despite their races being canceled in real life.

Wednesday’s patch also includes a special limited-time livery for Red Bull Racing: it’s the throwback design Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez drove under this past weekend at Istanbul. Red Bull originally planned to use the livery at the Japanese Grand Prix, to pay tribute to engine supplier Honda’s last season in F1. It’s based on the Honda RA 272 that American Richie Ginther drove in the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix, which was Honda’s first F1 victory. The livery will be in the game until Nov. 15.

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