Gamespot UK have got an interview with the developers and producer of EA's F1 2001 racing sim, heres a bit:
GameSpot UK: What improvements and advances have you made to the game engine?
Joe Campana: F1 2001 features two major technology advances - graphics engine and game engine.
The graphics engine is completely new - our fourth generation, hardware only, DirectX 8, possibly one of the fastest triangle pushers I've ever seen. We support very high triangle counts, as well as complex material properties such as specular highlighting, environment mapping, vertex colour, multiple alpha blending modes, and many other material properties which give the tracks and cars nearly photo quality at high frame rates.
The game engine is completely redesigned, including completely new vehicle dynamics based on pure mechanical physics (beams, joints, springs, etc.). The dynamics code runs at over 200Hz, and is by far the most realistic simulation of a race car you will ever experience. When you see the way the car interacts with the driver and the environment, you'll see what I mean.
The weather system can recreate pretty much any weather from dry and sunny, to torrential downpours.