Formula One Arcade
If you have followed this blog or indeed follow me on instagram you should know (if you don't what rock are you hiding under?!) that I'm a massive motor sports fan. From doing the triple crown of Le Mans, Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix. This year we also headed to the Daytona 500 - another "classic" race. Basically I can't get enough of anything to do with 4 wheels, a large engine and them going around a track. So when F1 opened the Formula 1 Arcade end of last year - this was definitely on the "must do" list. I've been a couple of times now to the London venue both with my wife and also with a group of friends. So what did I make of the Formula One Arcade??
Situated in East London, just in the shadow of St. Paul's Cathedral is the Formula One arcade. You'd sort of expect this sort of facility to be in central London right in Leicester Square or Piccadilly Circus, but no, it sits out at St. Paul's. However, all the times that I've been to the F1 arcade this certainly doesn't seem to deter the visitors and the many people who are there enjoying the simulators and everything the venue has to offer.
The F1 Arcade is upstairs and as you go up the staircase you can hear the noise of the engines and the lights build the atmosphere to the venue. When you get to the top you can clearly see a big open facility with a nice bar and table facilities as well as a lot of different screens and sounds and Formula 1 themed writing on the wall. You can see all the different simulators around the space. There are a load of simulators in the main room and then in some subdivided rooms and a balcony area as well. These offer you the excitement for your you or just a mate or you and some bigger groups to enjoy everything that the Formula One simulators have to offer.
After booking in, you get assigned to a simulator area. You then scan a QR code to register as a driver and you slide yourself into your car to start driving.
Now don't panic there are various different settings from the easy to full on professional. Easy basically allows you to drive the car with very minimal effort so the car does a lot of steering and braking for you. The hardest hardest level is where there's no track lines, gear changes you have to do for yourself, and there is no break/steering assist.
I've raced on all of the different levels and I can say the hardest setting is hard but also manageable if you play games a lot or know the Formula One tracks. The simulators themselves really cool moving simulators. So you when you brake you lurch forward, when you accelerate or you lurch back and when you turn, you get a sense of a little bit of G force with the simulator moving. The screens are wraparound as well. So in your periphery you have a really good view of the screen. The steering wheel has feedback to it so that you feel when you're going around a fast corner that you actually really are steering the car as you go round as it's harder to drive it. The paddle shifts feel realistic as well.
Once registered and sat in the driving seat, you get given a track to race on. Now the tracks that have been on offer, offer a small limited options of Spa, Silverstone Monza, Bahrain, and Melbourne. These come round in different cycle and there is no formality to which one you yet, you're also not able to select which ones you race on.
If you're racing against one of the person or two other people, you get three tracks that come up as part of your booking. If you're racing in a big group, they just come around in different circles in different orders and you it's potluck, what comes around.
Don't worry for those who fear they're going to crash into the barriers and destroy their cars. There is no damage set on any of these trucks. So even if you spin out even if you flip upside down, even if you vault over 10 cars at the start, you suffered no damage at all.
The races are 300 seconds long, which for from Formula One fan and somebody who enjoys his driving cars, it felt a bit short but after about four or five laps it's perhaps good to start again for those who've crashed or let those who've not had a good race get a second chance.
You're racing against 10 other cars on the track. So if you're, you're racing is just two of you from your group. There's eight computer cars. If there's five of you in your group, there's five computer cars, and so on.
The racing is good fun, the simulators are good, the graphics are great. If you are a Formula One fan and as a gamer gives you a lot enjoyment driving it. If you're not a gamer or you don't really like Formula One there's probably enough enjoyment for you to have a couple of goes and enjoy driving. Certainly the people I've been with who've not been motorsport fans have enjoyed it as well.
At the bar there's a great selection of drinks, and great selection of food and all the food that I've had at the venue has been really tasty. A for the venue the whole bar is decked out in sort of Formula One feel. There's outlines in the ceiling of LED tape, which looks like the some of the tracks. There's areas of the bar, which looks like the pit wall. There's other little activities like quick reaction times games. There are video screens showing motorsport events. It really gets you in the mood!
So for me overall, the Formula One Arcade is a brilliant introduction to Formula One. We've seen in the recent years Formula One really growing globally with exhibitions and obviously Drive to Survive on Netflix. The Arcade also holds F1 race watch parties - a proper F1 fan's event to head to.
If your true Formula One fan I think it's a great few hours of fun and it's a good thing to go and do. You might be a little bit bored after three races of 300 seconds each. But if you're your casual fan it's a good introduction to Formula One. Even if you're not really into Formula One you can still go along have some drinks, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the screams and the shouts and all the cheering that goes on around the venue.
It's not the cheapest activity to do. But given the price of a lot of different activities in London, it's certainly on par with a lot of escape rooms, adventure rooms, things like that.
So for me, would I recommend the Formula One Arcade? Most definitely I would and I would look forward to the next time! For those who want to go make sure you put your foot down and really enjoy the experience!
£18.95pp Off Peak
Book at f1arcade.com/booking/