Codemasters secures Formula One licence for DS and PSP game

Play as Lewis Hamilton in what could be the biggest thing to hit the world of virtual F1

Codemasters secures Formula One licence for DS and PSP game
| F1 2009

Ah, Lewis, Lewis, Lewis. Just as he's been doing in private since throwing away an absolutely unique chance to clinch the world championship in his first year in F1, Sony must be kicking itself repeatedly at the moment. That's because it's just effectively lost the Formula One video game licence to Codemasters.

Which means it'll be the first time since 2002 (if our memory serves us right) that an official F1 game will appear on a console that isn't Sony branded.

It's a bit of a shock, to be honest. Not that Codemasters isn't up to it – quite the contrary, given that the publisher/developer can be counted amongst the top three studios in the world when it comes to racing games (and in pure console racing – rather than driving – terms, we'd happily argue it stands comfortably at the top of the podium).

The licence gives Codemasters the right to include all the tracks, teams, cars and driver likenesses of the FIA F1 World Championship and will be under development by the dev teams responsible for the excellent Colin McRae DiRT and Race Driver GRID, as well as staff from the recently taken over Sega Racing Studio (who made Sega Rally). In total, a staggering 350 people are said to be working on all the formats – that's handhelds along with home consoles and PC.

Sources say to expect the first game in 2009 but have given no details as to when that will be. We suspect it has to be late in the year, though, particularly if work has only recently begun.

Interestingly, buried in the press release is a mention of online play, which has us wondering if the publisher might instigate online leagues to coincide with the real-world F1 rounds. Yet if any such element is implemented it may still not apply to handhelds, true.

What will, however, is the promise of a hugely exciting F1 game, given Codemasters' racing pedigree. And we haven't had one of those since F1 Circus MD on the Mega Drive. That came out in 1991, fact fans.