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First Impressions: F1 2011 - v1.02

F1 2011 v1.02 is now available as a free title update on Xbox 360 and PlayStation. I have just completed my first post-patch 50% distance race at Hungaroring on the Xbox 360. You can read an account of this race below and my original review for GameSpot UK here.

In qualifying especially the AI is much better and closer to real life. Results were mixed up in each session and it certainly wasn't the same top 10 as usual in Q3. Got pipped for pole by Vettel in the dying moments of the session as well - so plenty of realism there :P

However, in the race there were A LOT more retirements than I have ever seen in this game before. By half distance the following drivers had all crashed out: Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Massa (the only one who didn't crash, retired due to a puncture), Schumacher and Liuzzi. More AI mistakes/failures is nice, but 3 of the top 6 drivers failing to finish is a bit OTT.

Another weird thing was that tyre wear seemed MUCH more severe in the race. Not sure if that's down to this circuit specifically (haven't tried any others yet), but I had to make one extra stop compared to the same race pre-patch as neither compound lasted as long as before.

Before the patch at this track I stopped on laps 6 (prime), 16 (prime) and 28 (option). After the patch and thanks to much higher tyre wear my stops were on laps 5 (prime), 13 (prime), 21 (option), 27 (prime). And I had to work hard to make the last set make it all the way to the finish on lap 35.

UPDATE

I have now done a second 50% race, at Spa this time.

Tyre wear is definitely more significant since the patch. I had to 3 stop, whereas I 2 stopped pre-patch.

There is a massive problem with the game now though. The AI failures are ridiculous. After having both McLarens, one Red Bull and one Ferrari retire in my first race, something similar has happened in my second.

In my second race (Spa) Webber retired after 4 laps, both McLaren's retired on lap 6 and later in the race Massa retired (with a puncture as in my first race) and Vettel retired a lap later.

Clearly something has gone wrong with the AI failures, so much so that I might delete my Xbox system cache so that I can play offline without this patch installed, as I don't play online anyway.

UPDATE 2

I've finished a third 50% race now, at Montreal.

Only had two retirements this time: Schumacher and Perez. I also managed to use the same 3 stop strategy that I used pre-patch without any noticeable tyre wear problems.

Hopefully this will be the pattern going forward and those first two races with the bizarre retirements were unfortunate freak races.

UPDATE 3

I am now beginning to hear more reports from fans who are also seeing very high DNF rates for the top three teams. If this becomes the norm over the coming days then F1 2011's realism will be severely damaged.