Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Racing

22-year-old drivers, eh? They're a liability. At least, the ones who spend their evenings racing each other round the local one-way system are.

Lewis Hamilton is different. Rather than terrorising sluggish VW Polo owners, he's scaring the willies out of the world's top Formula 1 drivers in his McLaren Mercedes car. Well done him, although it'd be even better if he had a bowel-quaking soundsystem installed in his vehicle.

Vodafone must be pleased, having ditched Ferrari in order to sponsor McLaren Mercedes this year. To celebrate, the operator has commissioned an exclusive mobile game from Digital Chocolate, called Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Racing.

The game lets you race as Lewis or team-mate Fernando Alonso in three locations: Spain, the UK, and Germany. Rather than try to simulate the entire F1 season, the game is more an arcade-style blast around these three tracks.

You can practise a track, or fire up a Quick Race to see if you can beat five other drivers. The game has three difficulty levels – Rookie, Test Driver, and Team Driver – with a noticeable difference between them in terms of what's required to win.

The Championship mode is the meat of the game though. This sees you racing on each track in turn, with a qualification lap determining your position on the starting grid, followed by a full race against the five opponents.

F1 zealots, avert your eyes: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Racing is hardly an accurate representation of F1 racing. By which we mean the tracks are wide and lacking in hairpin bends, there's lots of overtaking, and there's even power-ups to collect on your way round.

It's clearly been inspired more by Nintendo's Mario Kart than by the super-snoresome F1 simulators that clog up consoles once a year, and it's all the better for it.

That's not to say there isn't strategy in this game. The power-ups come in the form of little red Vodafone logos – hurrah for branding – which give you a temporary speed boost. You can also get a boost by slipstreaming other cars.

Your car can also take damage, but instead of a pitstop to repair it, you simply run over blue spanner icons at the start of each lap. Obviously, winning races is your aim, but you also get points along the way according to how many power-ups you collect, and how long you lead the race. Beating your best points total provides some replayability.

The game looks good, with tracks veering from left to right, although never so sharply that you're in serious danger of coming off. It runs smoothly too, with a good sensation of speed. The audio isn't impressive, though; sound effects have been junked in favour of a maddeningly-chirpy theme tune.

Overall, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Racing is a fun arcade-style take on Formula 1 that junks the po-faced realism of most F1 games in favour of racing thrills.

It would be nice to have more tracks and a proper season mode, of course, and the long-term value of the game is doubtful once you've conquered the Championship. But the fact that the game leaves you wanting more is proof that like Lewis, this game will confound the expectations of many F1 fans in a good way.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Racing

Successful attempt to turn F1 into a zippy arcade thrillfest for your phone
Stuart Dredge
Stuart Dredge
Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)