You get an inkling things are going to be just fine the moment you're sat in the cockpit of your car, still in your chosen team's garage. From here you get access to the key elements of the race weekend: set-up (both simple and detailed options are available), timing screens, weather forecasts, tyre choice, your team-mate's performance breakdown and your engineer.
The latter serves as a gateway to the track but, in an ingenious inclusion, he also offers you the opportunity to help research and development during the practice sessions. Meet the lap time target and you move the R&D process along. Assert yourself as the number one driver in the team and not only do you get the upgrades first, you also control the direction of the development to suit your driving style.
Having you compete against your team-mate for fastest laps, pole positions, and qualifying and race supremacy is as understandable as it is authentic, but it's nevertheless yet another indication of how attentive Codemasters Birmingham has been to the source material. More obvious is the meticulous – and impressive - recreation of the circuits and cars, but it's in play that the strive for authenticity becomes most apparent. Flat out through Spa's Eau Rouge, turning into Suzuka's 130R at over three times the national speed limit or kissing each of the four apexes of Turn 8 at Istanbul Park draws the sharp intake of breath it would in real life, while any point of the lap at Monaco tenses parts of your anatomy other racing games can't reach.
To this you can add aspects such as tyre, brake disc and engine temperature management, the track bedding in over the race weekend, a loss of grip when off the racing line, handling changes due to temperature variation, the need to cool full wets or intermediates when the track starts drying out by running through standing water, and pretty much every other aspect of F1 racing you can think of.
For the seriously committed, there's the option to go further by tweaking the settings to allow for full rules and flags, tyre degradation, fuel consumption, manual pit limiter, manual pit box control, car damage, maxing the AI and turning off the driving assists.
Not that the game is a leisurely Sunday drive with all the aids on. (In fact, anyone but the absolute beginner will want to switch off braking assist at the earliest opportunity because while it helps keeping you from falling off the track, it also makes progression harder by preventing late braking.) Even with full traction control – three settings exist so you can wean yourself off it – you'll need to watch yourself. There's nothing in F1 2010 that's auto-cruise, no flooring the throttle out of corners while wondering about how you might spend your win bonus and which supermodel you should ask out next. You need to keep your focus on the track, because kerbs and slow corners will catch you out.
Turn everything off and things become a handful but, crucially, not impossible – even when playing on a joypad. But until you've put in hundreds of miles you'll want to roll out of the garage with the comfort of a handful of 'Flashbacks' in your possession (GRID's rewind-try-again mechanic wisely makes an appearance here).