Formula 1 is the first racing game in Sony's Formula One series. Unlike later games in the series, this game's cover has no specific driver on it. In the United States version, the game's cover features Michael Schumacher who drove for the Benetton team during the late 1991 Formula One season, using Pirelli tires.
Published by Psygnosis, Formula 1 is based on the 1995 Formula One season, although it was released in 1996. It is distinct from its sequels because it was made after the end of the season, meaning that it features driver substitutes. The game also allows two-players to compete against each other either head-to-head or with other computer cars via the 'Link-Cable'. Both players may then compete over a 17-race Championship season, or in a single race of the players choice.
Formula 1 follows the 1995 Formula One season, with 17 tracks, 13 teams and 26 drivers. The teams are:
The circuits are:
If a player is to complete a season after winning every race, and leading the Constructor's Championship, a special hidden circuit is unlocked. The track is a lower-level city circuit, which when viewed at the Race Preview page is in the shape of a Formula One car. As there is no definite way of saving game data, the track is lost when you turn off the console, but is nonetheless a nice extra feature. There is a cheat code to unlock the hidden circuit.
Later tracks have 24 competitors on them instead of 26 because Simtek pulled out of the actual championship after the Monaco Grand Prix. It is still possible to drive a Simtek on any course after Monaco, creating a field of 25 drivers. If two players are playing the game via the link cable setup (where players would connect two PlayStation consoles together with two copies of the game), it is possible to play as both Simtek cars, thus creating a field of 26 drivers on any course after Monaco.
This game saw the introduction of in game commentary, which was done in the English version of the game by Murray Walker, the German version by Jochen Mass, the French version by Philippe Alliot, the Spanish version by Carlos Riera and the Italian version by Andrea de Adamich.
Along with songs created by Psygnosis' in-house composer Overdrive, the soundtrack also features the songs "Juice" by Steve Vai (from his Alien Love Secrets album), as well as "Summer Song" and "Back to Shalla-Bal" by Joe Satriani (from The Extremist and Flying in a Blue Dream, respectively).
In the North American and all European versions besides Great Britain the alcohol sponsors are censored, but in all versions the tobacco sponsors are censored also:
- On the Benetton cars, "Mild Seven" is replaced by "Benetton".
- On the McLaren cars, "Marlboro" is replaced by "McLaren".
- On the Williams cars, "Rothmans" is replaced by "Racing".
- In some versions, "Foster's" is replaced with a stylised barcode.
- In all versions, "Marlboro" is replaced by an image of an F1 car under the Marlboro logo (as in real life).
- In the North American PlayStation version of the game, at Monte Carlo coming out of the tunnel one of the "Marlboro" advertisements was left largely uncensored. It is missing an 'o'. It is noticeable if the player is in the view mode directly behind the car and slows down immediately coming out of the tunnel and looks up to the right of the screen. It is a very large banner that is the largest "Marlboro" banner at Monte Carlo. This is the only tobacco advertisement in the game that closely resembles its original form.
- In all versions of the opening, "Kremlyovskaya Vodka" is noticeable on the Jordan in the opening.
- In the English version of the game, the tobacco sponsors are not censored on the Car Select screen for some reason.