Much of the game is played out in the aforementioned Career Mode. In that mode you join a lower ranked team as the number two guy and have to hit objectives in order to get better and join more prestigious squads. You can also do a single player Grand Prix mode which allows you to play as an actual F1 driver or in Time Trial mode which, as the name indicates, is about you racing the clock (or downloaded ghosts or times put up by friends taking turns). The game also offers two different multiplayer options, an Online XP mode which has rankings or a Quick Mode which has four different race types (Pole Position, which is looking for the fastest lap over the course of 20 minutes; Sprint, a single three lap race; Endurance, a race 20% the length of a real race; and Grand Prix, a seven lap race with positions determined by a 15 minute qualification section).
If you've been following along reading the times discussed above, one thing should be abundantly clear – F1 2010 is not a game designed for you to pick up and play for 30 minutes at a shot. It's possible to do short stints by doing time trials or a Sprint online, but to really play you're going to need to devote time to not only learning how to drive initially, but also to actually doing full practices (to learn the course and unlock improvements) and races (a very short race would be 10 laps with lap times exceeding two minutes, and the numbers go way up from there). It's a deep game and there's a lot to do, but it won't be accomplished quickly.
The great thing about Dirt 2 was that it was a game that you could pick up and play for a few minutes and really feel as though you had learned something and improved. With a huge variety of race types and all the races taking far less time, it wasn't as hyper-focused. It also was more arcade oriented than a simulation and it definitely didn't have anything to do with F1 racing. It thus catered to a slightly different crowd. F1 2010 will find fans among those already interested in the sport, but will not succeed at drawing in new people, an ability Dirt 2 did have. That's not a knock against the game, simply a reality of the simulation given here.