Let's be clear here: You should think of this as 'F1 2013 ver 2.0' (or 'F1 2012 ver 3.0' if you want to be cynical). Codemasters is making a brand new F1 game for earlier-than-usual next year, but this old-gen version is mostly unchanged. Nonetheless, with new and returning tracks, rule changes and tasty team dynamics like Rosberg/Hamilton and Ricciardo/Vettel offering so much potential for gaming fun this year, there's plenty of reason to go for another lap on the out-going generation. So let's fire up the Xbox 360 version and see if there's any more performance left in this old engine.
The driving model is still excellent, blending hardcore simulation depth and nuance with pick-up-and-play accessibility. With all the assists switched off and cockpit cam enabled, it's a wonderfully involved and tactical driving experience. Actually using your wing mirrors (which are oddly low-res on the Xbox 360 version) to keep your rival behind you instead of the on-screen arrow icon is surprisingly fun. And the victory of beating even a minor team goal in a long race is massively rewarding.
The handling is clean and clinical when you treat your grip levels with respect, with cars slotting neatly into racing lines at the right speed. This makes perfect laps look very close to real life on the TV Pod camera, though it's not quite as natural-looking in TV-style replays as it could be. Direction changes look a little too 'digital', but the important thing is how it plays and this ultra-responsive steering makes for a highly rewarding driving experience. The more care you take to drive properly, within your car's capabilities, the faster you'll go.
Last year's feedback from the front tyres has been refined, and tyre-punishing cornering techniques have audible squeals and tangible rumble to let you know you're pushing too hard. It's a clever solution to the problem of not actually having your bum in contact with the car you're supposed to be driving. Even with this hardcore-pleasing finesse, it's noticeably harder to actually spin the car now under acceleration, which should make the game much less frustrating for newcomers too.