The latest F1 22 video game release has been far from perfect, to put it politely. Despite generally positive reviews in some quarters, the game still has a lot of bugs and issues, one of the most prominent being the way the AI is coded for Grand Prix and Career modes.
Put simply, the AI on F1 22 can behave in really annoying and stupid ways, that makes the game really frustrating to play offline (online multiplayer has it’s own problems, which we’ve covered elsewhere). In some contexts, they’re coded in a way that’s not realistic and makes for a less enjoyable experience.
With Codemasters having been bought out by EA, there should be enough money in the franchise now to find and fix these AI bugs. Having played all the Codemasters F1 games for 10+ years now, one consistent problem I’ve seen is the lack of nuance in how AI are coded, and the tendency to swing from one extreme to the other in the way AI behavior is programmed. This is why racing expertise, knowledge and passion is crucial to have in those developing and coding the game, so the behaviors of the AI match real life as much as is possible and isn’t caricatured and unrealistic.
Let’s run through some of the more frustrating things about the AI in F1 22 I’ve noticed so far playing the game offline.
1. The AI Are Way Too Aggressive
This is the first and most broad point on the AI, and the most frustrating – the AI are too aggressive to race against. They don’t show proper racing etiquette or even common sense, and the way they’ve been programmed in F1 22 is way over the top in terms of general aggression levels. It doesn’t match what you see in real life.
See the first few minutes of the video below for a good demo of this (from the 1.35 timestamp):
“The AI’s on this game are like hunter killer drones on Call of Duty – they have aim-bot on you. They don’t want to pass you, they just want to collide with you at every given opportunity.”
This quote from the video above made me laugh, but I’ve got to say, it also matches the experience I’ve had racing them on F1 22.
Here are some examples of this over-aggressive AI on F1 22:
- The AI will not leave proper racing room when fighting for many corners, but instead barge into you, and often barge you off the track. Even when there’s plenty of room for them on their side of the track when fighting a corner, they’ll still come across into your racing line and barge into you. It’s like they’re playing dodgems, not F1. They’re way too aggressive.
- The AI are also too aggressive with overtaking, often trying to make a move literally every single corner of the track. Even if it’s completely nonsensical and can only cause an accident, they’ll still try and stick their nose alongside your car instead of waiting for a proper part of the track where it would make sense. It’s over the top and not realistic; most race tracks have 1-3 actual corners where overtakes are usually carried out. Even the most aggressive real life drivers don’t try overtakes on every single corner; they use racing common sense and wait for a proper chance. This needs to be coded in the game’s AI.
- When fighting for a corner, the AI often do not fairly fight for the corner, but instead just barge into you and use your car effectively as a brake to stop their car and bully their way round the corner. Racing is meant to be a non contact sport.
- The AI also sometimes just do ridiculous dive-bombs from way back on certain corners, smashing into the back of you or T-boning into the side of you and sending you spinning and costing you time. Often-times, when you replay it back, there was NO WAY they could have ever made the move cleanly – it was a dumb, illogical overtake attempt from the AI. See around the halfway mark of this video for one of many examples of this on F1 22.
- See here for another F1 YouTuber video where he gets barged off track by an over-aggressive AI. There’s plenty more examples you can find online.
- They also don’t always leave room when you’re fully alongside trying an overtake, and linger around on at a corner in a weird way after completing an overtake in a way that often causes you to drive into the back of them.
A contributing factor to this is also the overpowered straight line speed of the AI, which we’ll cover in the next point.
However, it’s also an example of what I mentioned above about the lack of nuance in the coding on AI on these F1 games, and the developers going from one extreme to another, without proper balance and realism.
I do remember playing some of the older F1 games, like F1 2013, and the AI were too simplified and easy. They were very soft and passive, almost never made aggressive overtaking moves and you could dive-bomb at the race starts and overtake 10 cars at once. If you used a bit of KERS, you’d basically never get overtaken. It was too easy and simplistic, and Codemasters sharpened the AI up and made it harder in subsequent games – which was the right thing to do.
But now they’ve gone too far to the opposite extreme, and now have super-aggressive AI that don’t leave room or show any racing etiquette. It’s not fun to race against; I’ve likened it to racing against a quick but annoying 10 year old in an online lobby who can’t be patient and is constantly barging into you, trying overtake moves on you every single corner. In real life, drivers know they have to wait for a proper chance on a corner where overtaking is actually possible. They don’t stick their nose in every single corner.
This nuance needs to be coded into the game’s AI on a track-by-track basis. Where are the real overtaking spots on each track? How are overtakes typically carried out at these spots? What differential in pace/tyre grip/straight line speed is typically needed to pull moves off there?
Code some of this subtlety into the AI on F1 22, and you have a chance of fun racing. At the moment though, it’s just a dodgem style barge-fest, and not very enjoyable on most tracks.
2. The AI Are Too Fast On The Straights
This is another factor that contributes to the over-aggression point above – the AI have way too much traction out of corners and straight line speed compared to human players.
It’s massively over-powered and it’s one of the main reasons why the AI keep sticking their nose in on most corners – they have insane straight line speed which means they can always seem to get alongside you and try overtakes on most tracks.
This straight line speed issue was always there a little bit, but also seems to have been made worse since the 1.06 patch, and is still there after the 1.07 patch as well, though human player traction has been improved to offset it a little bit.
It’s just frustrating when you’re driving at maximum speed with a decent car setup, not making any mistakes, and getting good exits off corners. But the AI always seem to get even better exits and still blast past you on the straights, easily overtaking you with insane straight line speed.
What’s going on with the AI on F1 22?
It’s the same with race starts as well – you almost always get swamped by the AI and lose places no matter how good a start you get because of their insane traction and acceleration.
And the last 2 laps of the race, they can seem to turn their already overpowered straight line speed up even more, still pulling away from you even if you’re the only one with any battery left, plus DRS activated behind them (see the last lap of this race for an example). I remember my first race at Canada post 1.06 update, where a Haas easily blew past me on the back straight even though I had the DRS and was also deploying the battery all the way along it to defend. Bottom line – the AI speed on straights is too powerful.
The best way around this is to lower the AI difficulty – see our guide on finding the correct AI level post the 1.06 and 1.07 updates on F1 22.
But lots of players are finding they’re having to lower it WAY down from what they’ve used before. Some gamers used around 100 on previous games are having to go down to 80 or even 70.
It’s also difficult to find an AI level that consistently works for many players – see point #4 below. But it’s another frustration of the F1 22 AI that they seem to live in their own parallel universe with their own rules, boosted straight line speed, better traction, less tyre wear and temperature issues etc.
EA/Codies – Please impose exactly the same rules and restraints (straight line speed, traction, tyre wear, temps, wing levels) on the AI as on human players so it’s a fair and realistic racing experience. No artificial boosts for them – just what their own car setup would give them.
3. The AI Behave In Idiotic Ways
This one had me shouting at my TV as recently as last night. The AI can do really annoying things in practice and qualifying sessions as well in Career mode.
Here’s some examples I’ve seen:
- Weird mirroring – When you’re on outlaps, if you come close to an AI, they can get “stuck” to you, where they neither fall back nor pull way ahead of you to create a gap. They just copy what you do – if you slow down, they slow down. If you speed up, they speed up. They follow you round the lap, right on your rear end, and often ruin the qualifying lap you do next, because they’re stuck on your rear end and haven’t created a gap. Or, after all this nonsense being stuck up your rear end, they peel off into the pits anyway at the end of the lap and don’t even set a flying lap. You find yourself shouting at the AI – “either fall back or go ahead, but just get lost!!!”. But no, they have to stick to you like a turd to a blanket. It can’t be that hard to code AI’s to understand how to create a gap for qualifying laps on outlaps.
- Ruining Qualifying laps – Even on qualifying laps, they’ll still try overtaking you, instead of just falling back, creating a gap and trying again next lap. They ruin your lap and theirs. There’s no common sense to the AI – they just behave in really stupid ways.
- Strange Strategic decisions – They move from soft to hard tyres in a 25% race, when the mediums would do fine. Not so frustrating as it helps us out with them running a dumb strategy, but still another example of illogical coding of the AI. They also sometimes don’t pit and stay out in an obvious safety car window, costing themselves a free pit stop – dumb AI logic that’s been in all the games since 2016 and still hasn’t been fully fixed.
4. The AI Difficulty Is Inconsistent (Hard To Find A Baseline)
As well as the AI being over-powered in general, it’s also actually quite hard to find a consistent baseline AI level that fits you as a player. An AI level that might have worked fine one weekend in career mode is either way too easy or way too hard when you go to the next weekend.
Some F1 Youtubers also run into this problem, and are constantly having to re-adjust the AI difficulty for each race weekend and even between qualifying and the race, because AI performance can vary so widely on each track, and even sometimes between qualifying and race sessions, since there seems to be a discrepancy there as well.
But it doesn’t really add to the enjoyment having to keep doing this. As much as possible, AI difficulty should be a set-and-forget thing, where you find an AI level that properly captures your own skill level, and you can leave it there for the rest of that season, and it works on most or all sessions, all tracks.
In other words, based on your current skill level, and car performance in career mode, you can pick an AI level that allows you to:
- a) Qualify roughly where your car should qualify given where it stands in the development/pace chart versus other teams.
- b) Finish roughly where it should finish in the races, given it’s performance relative to other teams, assuming you race properly and don’t make many mistakes.
without having to keep adjusting it, on most or all tracks. It would be great if we could find a baseline AI level, and be able to leave it there, only adjusting it if our own skill level or car development improves.
Yes, there might be the odd exception (eg. Monaco – where it’s really hard to be consistent AND fast), and you might be slightly more or less competitive from race to race at a set difficulty level (everyone has stronger and weaker tracks), but none of this constantly having to adjust AI difficulty after patches and between sessions and race weekends just to get a realistic experience.
The AI has been all over the place for me so far on F1 22 career mode – at a set AI level, one race I can be stone dead last and miles behind the next car, the next race I can be qualifying and finishing 6th on the same AI level. Not very realistic, but it’s not always been like this. On games like F1 2013 I could set an AI level and largely forget about it – none of this having to adjust it all the time because AI performance was so unpredictable. It would be great to get back to this set-and-forget model for AI level on the F1 games.
5. The AI Find Speed Out Of Nowhere
This is another problem that adds to the realism problem and makes it harder to find the baseline AI level that fits you. The AI just seem to find massive amounts of lap time out of nowhere, particularly towards the end of qualifying sessions in career mode.
You can be thinking you’re competitive, setting qualifying times somewhere near your teammate, and then suddenly they (and all the other AI cars) suddenly find several tenths, half a second or more, out of nowhere right at the end of qualifying, and leave you for dust, last by a mile, when you thought you were quite competitive until that point.
This effect seems to be more pronounced the longer the qualifying sessions you run. If you run full qualifying, they can suddenly go way faster right at the end of Q3 in a way that you can’t anywhere near match on that AI difficulty, but it also happens at the end of short qualifying as well.
It’s another frustrating thing with the AI difficulty that makes it harder to find a level that just works for you, giving you a challenge but also allowing you to compete. You think you’re alright at the current level, but then you suddenly get blown out of the water by your teammate and everyone else.
Again this effect is overpowered versus real life – cars sometimes (not always) find a few tenths at the end of a qualifying session as the track rubbers in – why not keep it at that instead of them finding HUGE, unrealistic chunks of time that can leave you stone-dead last?