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D&H Games
1989
Sport: Management
£9.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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76,77
James Leach
Chris Bourne

I could have been a Formula One driver, you know. It's true. I was very unlucky, because on the day I was due to sign with Ferrari in Italy I had a cold, so had to stay in bed. An unknown dude called Nelson Piquet happened to be on holiday near the team workshop. He didn't have a cold, so got picked instead - and look at him now! Life can be very unfair, readers.

Anyway, the Formula One business is very exciting. Probably more exciting than running a football club (if that's possible), which explains why D&H Games have decided to do a management sim about it. The main idea is the same. You pick a 'GP' team, con a load of sponsors into paying for your tyres and fuel and win as many of the season's races as you can. And, er, that's it, really (at least in Grand Prix it is).

At the start, most of the selection bits are done from big lists of companies who'd just lurve to supply you with engines, gearboxes or other oily bits for your 2 racing cars. Some are more generous than others, so it pays to shop around (as my gran always says).

Grandstand view (sort of)
Once the team is set up the fun really starts. Get a huge overdraft from the bank, pour some cash into engine development and go to the circuit (or simply disappear to Brazil forever). And here's where the graphics come in. You have a top view of about 30 feet of the circuit and the pits. You see the 20 cars line up in 2 rows. There's a long pause. A very long pause. Perhaps the computer's crashed... But no! Eventually the cars edge off the screen You'll see them again in a few seconds as they whizz past on another lap. Thrilling stuff. A box at the top shows the race positions. Crashes and spin-offs are shown at the bottom.

Most of the races are about 50 laps, so take about 10 real minutes to run and during the race all you control is the pitstops. The cars come in anyway if they get knackered or their fuel runs low. You can speed things up by selecting the Refill and Change Tyres options, but you still feel a bit useless. (You are anyway. Ed)

Annoyingly, you don't control the cars at all when they're going - you just set them up with the correct tyres, fuel etc before the race. But unless you've been playing for hours you'll probably finish last (if at all).

The race graphics are jolly (but rather old-fashioned), and they're the best thing about Grand Prix. And if you're determined to win it can be quite exciting watching the battle unfold, especially in 2-player mode.

But when each race is over you just fiddle with your team, hiring better mechanics, drivers and directors. There isn't much else to do except make small improvements for the next 10-minute race (in contrast to last month's D&H offering Soccer Manager, which gave you lots of control). And so it goes on. And on. If it was a budget game it'd be well funky. But at £10? No way, Jose

Looks like a cheap and cheerful management sim. Except it isn't cheap, and there isn't that much to do.

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Screenshot Text

The main menu and the excitement's killing me. Let's go practice to see if we can qualify.

The race is on. Senna leads, bit some people have stopped in the pits already.

The grid is worked out after qualifying. My bods are 12th and 17th. (Could be worse!)