Legendary drivers and their cars have been a factor of Formula 1 video games for the past several installments now, but previously you could never have those drivers on your custom team. That’s changing for F1 2021, which also happens to be the first entry in the series to be published by EA Sports.
I bring this up because a popular point of contention among fans of games like Madden and FIFA are the overall ratings of various athletes. The seven “Icon” drivers Codemasters is including in the Deluxe Edition of this year’s title have their own ratings as well, and I think they’re worth a good-natured scrimmage in the comments.
First off, I have to commend Codemasters on settling on a unique mix of drivers that spans generations (to a degree, anyway) and, more critically, talent levels. Including seven S-tier drivers would have been predictable, but it also would have limited the pool to a group of competitors who each would have commanded top dollar to join your team.
Conversely, the chosen approach offers lots of leeway in how much you’d prefer to spend — from $13 million for Michael Schumacher all the way down to $4 million for David Coulthard or Felipe Massa. I also appreciate the nod to slightly more modern talents, like Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, though it would have also been nice to see a star or two from the ’70s as well.
But what about the ratings themselves? Well, predictably Senna and Schumacher are tied for the top spot, which is a defensible cop out. It gets more interesting when you take a look at how these overall scores break down. I reckon giving Senna 79 experience is a bit unfair; sure, he didn’t have as many years in the sport lodged under his belt as Schumi did, but Senna competed at the top level for 10 years against a collection of storied names. That’s got to count for a bit more!
Critically, in last year’s game Lewis Hamilton was pegged at a 94, while Max Verstappen sat at 90. We don’t yet know where they’ll wind up for F1 2021, though it’d be pretty amusing to see Hamilton at a 95 above Senna and Schumi, if for no other reason than to rile up the old heads. I don’t see it happening though.
From there, the only other rating I’d take issue with is Jenson Button at a 90. Dude was fast but not the fastest, and while I understand becoming an F1 world champion is 50 percent down to being in the right car at the right time, he’s arguably one of the biggest beneficiaries of that good fortune in the sport’s history. Once Red Bull figured out Brawn’s tricks they absolutely clobbered the British team in the back half of the 2009 campaign, and Button didn’t win a single race after the seventh round of the season. I’d personally put him equal with his countryman Coulthard’s 87 points, but what do you think?