The longest game modes are in the Career section. Here you can do a Season Challenge or a Full Career. The Season Challenge emphasizes the concept of rivals in F1. Before your first race, you choose a rival driver. Your objective then, is to finish before your rival over the next three races. If you are able to do this, the rival team offers you a contract to join their team. Then you choose a new rival and repeat the process over a 10-race season. Before each race in the Season Challenge there is a qualifying session to determine your starting position and then the actual race session.
This process is much longer in the regular, full, Career mode. In this option, the seasons span 20 races. Each race begins with a practice session and multiple qualifying rounds to determine the starting position. After qualifying, the actual races last for 15 laps. Because of the length of these races, your pit crew will periodically call you back to refuel and get new tires before sending you back to the track to complete your objective for that race.
In all of the game modes in F1 2012, the mood is consistent. This is a serious game. Unlike other racing games, there is no music while you're on the track. The sounds of the engine revving, your tires on the track, (hopefully) infrequent collisions, and the voices of your pit crew are the only audio you get while racing. There is no humor. There is no violence. This game is all about racing.
F1 2012 is not a casual game. Lap times and finishes are decided by thousandths of a second. A minor distraction can break your focus and cause you to mistime a hairpin turn, sending you off the track into a wall before you can recover. Too much gas when accelerating at low speeds can cause a spinout and an equally frustrating collision. Mistakes like this can cost you the race.