EA Sports brings back punchable heel Devon Butler to kick off F1 23’s reveal

F1 23 will feature a narrative mode with live-action scenes like 2022’s Grid Legends, if a new teaser from publisher Electronic Arts is any indication. We’ll learn more about Codemasters plans for the latest edition of its Formula 1 video game series on Monday.

To whet that appetite, fans got an extensive (8-minute) trailer introducing the fictitious racing team to F1 23’s grid on Friday — Konnersport Racing Team, whose top driver is yep, you guessed it, Devon Butler.

Butler has been the breakout star of Codemasters’ prior attempts at a narrative: F1 2019’s “taster” of three Formula 2 races heading into a standard career, and F1 2021’s “Braking Point,” a much larger, chapter-based mode which brought Butler back against two new playable protagonists. In a preview for that game, creative director Lee Mather was delighted that fans “gelled with Devon,” despite Codemasters deliberately casting “somebody who’s got a face you wanted to punch.”

So, what does Butler look like in live action? Unfortunately, we only got a look at a still photograph with a voice over. In this fictitious F1 studio show spoke to (very real) hosts Naomi Schiff (formerly of Formula W’s Hitech GP and a Sky Sports personality) and Dickens Junior “durkchocolate” Ngoma, a motorsports Twitch streamer and influencer who just signed with Red Bull Racing’s esports department as a content creator.

His hair looks a little different, but for the record, that is still a punchable mugshot. Adding to Butler’s douchey appeal, it looks like Butler has his own management agency, Butler Global, and it looks like it shares twin-billing with Konnersport on first reference. I’m sure that won’t cause any friction down the line.

Konnersport will be helmed by (again, fictional) team principal Tim Fellows, who did make an appearance to speak to Schiff and Ngoma. And they introduce the Konnersport chassis and livery with all the flashing lights and lingering camera cuts you see when Mercedes or Aston Martin roll out their rides.

I don’t know if that’s a real chassis Codemasters had painted up — they shot in mixed reality for Grid Legends — but it indeed looks swell. Also, if you’re wondering about some of those sponsors, they’re bogus staples of Codemasters games going back about five years now. Back in 2020, the F1 game subreddit tried to take a stab at what kinds of businesses they’re involved in, but this is admittedly non-canonical.

F1 23 has not been dated yet but when it launches — typically in June or early July — it will be on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. We should find out that and more very soon, beginning Monday.

Update: Monday’s portion of F1 23’s rollout revealed the cover stars. For the standard edition, it’s Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes (his eighth cover), Charles Leclerc of Ferrari (third cover), and Lando Norris of McLaren (second cover).

For the premium Champions Edition, it’s double-defending world champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull (sixth cover). Since F1 2015, when Codemasters started using drivers on their box art, it’s been customary for the game’s packshot to use multiple stars.

EA Sports said F1 23’s official reveal trailer, presumably during which we get the launch date, airs on YouTube on Wednesday, May 3 at 11 a.m. EDT.

The image of F1 23’s standard edition cover: left to right is Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes; Charles LeClerc of Ferrari, and Lando Norris of McLaren. All three are wearing their official racing suits and looking straight at the viewer. Image: Codemasters/Electronic Arts

The image of the Champions Edition cover for F1 23; Max Verstappen wearing his official racing suit and helmet with the visor up, celebrates with a fist pump Image: Codemasters/Electronic Arts