After suffering broken ribs and a pneumothorax injury as a result of an accident during the Australian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso was ruled out of the Bahrain Grand Prix as a precaution after medical exams. McLaren reserve driver and reigning GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne made his Formula One début, replacing Alonso. Alonso returned to his seat for the Chinese Grand Prix two weeks later. Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen traded places ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, with Verstappen promoted to Red Bull Racing and Kvyat returning to Scuderia Toro Rosso. Red Bull explained the decision to swap their drivers as being made to relieve pressure on Kvyat following criticism for his role in a first-lap accident in the Russian Grand Prix, and to ease ongoing tension between Verstappen and teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. at Toro Rosso. Rio Haryanto lost his race seat after the German Grand Prix, when his sponsors were unable to meet their financial obligations to the team. He stayed with the team, filling a testing and reserve role. His race seat was filled by 2015 GP3 Series champion and Renault test driver Esteban Ocon, who made his Formula One début with MRT at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Codemasters announced that the players would now be able to play a revised career mode consisting of ten full seasons rather than five seasons in previous games.  The game included the twenty-one circuits from the 2016 season and in-game commentary from David Croft and Anthony Davidson . The game also featured all eleven teams and twenty-two drivers competing in the championship, including the return of Renault , and the brand-new Haas team.