Codemasters' F1 games have been pretty good -- their focus on the complete life of a racing driver rather than just the on-track action has made them popular with fans of the sport and racing fans alike.

Next year, the company is entering the lucrative free to play space with a browser-based title that combines online top-down multiplayer races with a substantial management aspect. The game will feature all the official driver names and teams, social network integration and online leaderboards for a bit of friendly competition.

And don't think because the game's browser-based that it will feature the usual McDonald's-style family-friendly soulless cartoony artwork typically found in social games -- the game will be making use of the Unity engine, which powers heavy-duty browser-based titles such as King's Bounty Legions and Battlestar Galactica Online.

"Building on the commercial and critical success of our high definition Formula One games, this is an exciting opportunity to bring our passion for the sport and our expertise in racing to a new audience," said Codemasters Online VP, David Solari. "With a bespoke design for accessible browser play, F1 Online: The Game is a perfect complementary experience to the HD series and will appeal to a broad spectrum of Formula One's millions of fans worldwide."

The game doesn't launch until early next year, but you can sign up now here.

This article originally appeared on as Free to Play Formula One Title Due in 2012