It’s 20 years ago when EA Sports published F1 Challenge 99-02. Their newest Formula One game, and for a long time their last one. Lacking the license for the 2003 season the company decided to make the game as it became. Having the licenses for four season (1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002) somewhat of a career could be made with the game. The game became instantly popular within the modding community. Many mods were made in the years to come. Basically all Formula One season are available as well many support seasons. Even today the game has a active modding community! Time to dedicate an article for this amazing game, a game many still have warm feelings from.
EA’s first F1 game was F12000 a game with a lot of bugs and was not that popular. Interesting about F12000 was the fact that data from the 1999 season were available in the maps, were there plans for a 1999 game as well? Anyway, later in 2000 a new F1 game was launched F1 Championship 2000. The game was better and the soild base for F12001 that came a year later. For me personally my interest in modding happened here. F12002 was the big move for many. Modding was never been this easy for an F1 game. Many F1 seasons and other race series mods were published.
Then, there was the announcement of F1 Challenge 99-02. Losing the license the plan was to bring out one last Formula One game representing all seasons they had the license for. F1 Challenge 99-02, or F1C as we knew it, was a hack of a game when it appeared on the shells. Having a game that already had four seasons in it, and was build to have more seasons and mods, was pure gold.
It wouldn’t be long before the first mods would appear for the game. Especially in the early days it were improvements on the car physics and also updates for the season already in the game.
It wouldn’t take long either before the first mods appeared. RH and CTDP appeared with their 2003 season for F1 Challenge. Where RH was known for it’s solid realistic way of modding, CTDP was known for their impressive graphics and use of polygons. The period of 2003 until 2006 was the golden era of current modding teams. F1 Challenge 99-02 was the step up for rFactor to be released. I personally never like this game with it’s micro transactions and therefore never played it.
Were I had most fun with F12002, due to the fact I was modding myself. Though F1C is the game I played the most. Back then there were several racesim communities around there like raceismulations, BHmotorsports, HSW, M4driving and the biggest of all Racesimcentral. Many people shared their hotlaps, discussed settings and obviously dropped their own creations for the game. At some point the community was overwhelmed with leeched mods as they called it. People using others their creations, mostly Grand Prix 4 mods, to publish it. However, the communities used to be fun and pretty much alive. Obviously after 2010 most of the communities moved on or just simply vanished.
F1 Challenge 99-02 it self was a great game to play. You could tweak a lot in the game, if you knew how to read the .ini files you could even change more. There was only a problem with the game, if you had more mods in game the game had the issue that it would simply crash as files became messed up. Besides that problem, it was a great game to pretend to be a race driver. At that time you had also DTM Race Driver which offered a career. Though, F1C game an even bigger career with all the mods that were published. I always loved the 70s mods from F1 Seventies team as well the 60s and 90s mods that appeared during the decade.
It’s twenty years since it’s release, and the game still has an active gaming and modding community behind it. F1 Challenge VB even has a complete Formula One game. With all the years in it from 1950 up to 2022 with the 2023 mod being in WIP. For myself the days I was an active game are long gone. Though the memories I have around this time are the best! I’m glad I have been part of the community. One that felt as one big family!