Formula 1. Possibly the most glamourous motorsport competition ever created and certainly one of the fastest sports the world has known.
Far more important than any of that is its worth as a game. The combination of speed, competition and stamina required to finish a race makes it perfect for play purposes on consoles, but can the same be said for the iPhone incarnation of F1 2009?
Unlike the PSP version of F1 2009, its iPhone cousin doesn't pit you against other famous F1 drivers in a race to the finish. Whichever way you look at this, it's disappointing. Still, instead the focus here is on time-trials across the 2009 season's 17 tracks, with 20 drivers from ten teams at your handling mercy.
But first thing's first: the controls. There are three methods to choose from, each moving the brake, accelerator and the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System – or a boost to me and you) buttons around the screen.
Acceleration, boosting and braking is a simple case of pressing the on-screen pedals, and this actually feels quite natural in some bizarre way. The actual driving sensation has a slight arcade-like feel about it, which is no bad thing, and not unlike a lot of driving games these days, the default option is for your car to automatically brake in corners.
You can adjust the sensitivity of the brake assistance and in this case its intrusiveness is forgiven. The fact is, there's more than enough on your plate with the steering and acceleration.
Time after time
There are two varieties of time trial available: Lap Time, in which your best lap is recorded, and Endurance, a race with your average lap time calculated over multiple laps (you get a choice of total number of laps for both modes). It's definitely not the most comprehensive F1 game package to ever grace the F1 genre, but what F1 2009 lacks in the play options department, it more than makes up for it with the way it drives.
After just a few laps spent on the grass (the scenic route, as I affectionately call it), cutting corners and thus forfeiting the lap, my times got progressively neater. The accelerometer-based steering demands great concentration but the reward felt from a subsequent perfect lap was equally considerable.
There were a few instances that saw the car snake left to right uncontrollably because of excessive tilt, but it didn't happen often enough to cause annoyance – easing off the accelerator ensured the vehicle got back on the straight and narrow once more.
Lowering the steering sensitivity removed this entirely, and this was quickly followed by further improvement in lap times.
In a racing game with no AI competition, it's especially important that the star of the show is enjoyable to launch into chicanes, blast out of hairpins and power down on the straights. Which it is, once you get the hang of things and fine tune the steering and control options.
And while F1 2009 lacks that ability to race other drivers, it's not entirely without competition. You can post your high scores online and see how you fare against other virtual drivers. It doesn't quite justify the absence of a championship mode or the enjoyment from putting an excellent move on a rival, but it does ease the pain while providing a focus for the experience.
Graphically things look reasonable and move at a decent pace, even if it at times the frame rate can suffer – this could be down to using a first generation iPod touch so that may not actually be the fault of the game itself.
Overall, F1 2009 rolls along as an enjoyable and promising ride. Any initial issues with steering sensitivity vanished over time, and even without other drivers to battle it out against on the track the driving experience feels wholesome.
It'll be interesting to see whether the streamlined package will keep interest long-term – that will come down mainly to the draw of the leaderboard-based competition – but for now we've emerged from our first test drive looking forward to more track time.