- F1 Arcade in London is a social gaming experience with realistic racing simulators
- The arcade also features several reactor games and race weekend demonstrations
- As the popularity of F1 grows, so does the demand for immersive experiences
When the final Formula One season kicks off in Bahrain on Sunday, 20 drivers will go head-to-head in an adrenaline-pumping competition unimaginable to all but the select few skilled enough to compete.
But can a game ever match the experience of driving an F1 car?
F1 Arcade, a social gaming experience developed by the Formula 1 brand, claims it can “make you feel like a champion” through its “Sims” racing simulators based on tracks from the 2022 calendar be”.
The arcade also offers a range of reaction games designed to test the speed of your reflexes, which are an essential part of driving training.
The simulation offers the driver different levels to choose from, ranging from beginner to elite, where the controller becomes fully manual, with additional paddles and knobs for steering to contend with.
At the beginner level, the controller is mainly used for steering, reversing and changing the point of view.
Not only can this feature help the player keep an eye on drivers trying to overtake behind them, but interestingly the race can also be run from the cockpit, with the view shedding more light on the drivers’ perspective and at the same time with the halo has to fight.
Once the race begins, the sound is overwhelming from all sides as competitors’ cars hum and speed around you.
As with F1, keeping the car on track at high speed can be extremely difficult, but all the more satisfying when the right racing line is chosen and the driver is able to overtake.
But the feel of racing is where the sim feels superior.
When the driver speeds across gravel or grass, the chair bucks and wobbles as if trying to lift you completely out of the seat, and the steering hums and spins out of control.
The game, like sport, is more physically intense than it first appears.
But unlike in reality, the in-game consequences are brief, as even staying in the box after a DNF is over in moments – albeit similarly frustrating.
F1 Arcade visitors and Sims users may not have the roar of the crowd or the threat of career points, but the experience is compelling.
With tons of available data and well-rendered curves from Monza or Spa filling the screen, the simulation gives an immersive feel that makes racing exciting and addictive.
Drivers on the F1 circuit may also envy you the availability of food, drinks and cocktails that F1 Arcade drivers can sample so soon after completing a race or reaction test.
The space itself immerses visitors in the world of F1, with giant screens dedicated to Sky Sports’ racing channel and a ‘pit wall’ showing live data from the pits on race days.
Details were also picked out in the interior, including a mural of famous – and notorious – driver quotes.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity, demand for the F1 experience has grown exponentially.
Winnie Mukamutala, who has worked at the space since it opened in December 2022, has also noticed increased interest ahead of the season.
“When we started, Fridays and Saturdays were booming, there weren’t any places for walk-in customers,” Mukamutala said. “Now the weekend starts on Thursdays.”
Mukamutala, a fan of Lewis Hamilton, also noted the space’s popularity with visitors of all ages.
F1 Arcade will open another space in Birmingham later in 2023, with a view to US expansion in 2024.
As Drive to Survive will attest, F1 drivers are no strangers to playing racing games themselves, not just to relax, but to refine their memories of the circuits where they ply their trade.
While sitting in one of their chairs won’t get you any closer to the podium, the Sims in F1 Arcade can still provide a worthy replacement.