Last updated: October 3rd, 2023
If you’re planning to buy or build an F1 sim racing cockpit but you’re not quite sure where best to start, this definitive guide will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed choice. Just as there are many motorsport disciplines in real life, so too are there many shapes and styles of sim racing cockpits and seats on the market to accommodate different forms of driving.
I’d like to preface this guide by stating that no matter what type of F1 cockpit you use, it’s essential to check if your racing hardware – i.e., your wheelbase, pedal set, etc. – is compatible with the solution you choose. While you may prefer the aesthetics or materials of one cockpit/seat over another, it’ll be no use if you can’t even bolt your wheel to it, so always check the fine print to confirm compatibility, and if it’s not mentioned, contact the manufacturer before making any final decisions.What are the Best F1 Cockpits and Rigs:
- FR (LusoMotors 2S Seat Optional)
- TREQ FORMULA Rig
- Alpine Racing F1 Rig
- OverPower OP Formula
- SimXPro® XFR + Sparco GP Bundle
- SimXPro® XFR
- Sim Rig Buyer’s Guide>
What choices do I have for an F1 simulator?
The main difference between F1 cockpits and seats compared to more conventional sim racing rigs is their sloped driving position, which replicates how real F1 drivers sit in their cars. Therefore, choosing the proper cockpit and seat for your F1 needs will significantly impact your overall experience in your racing simulator. Whether you buy a bundled package that includes a seat and cockpit as an all-in-one unit or purchase these items individually, it’s essential to pay attention to a few crucial factors when putting an F1 rig together.
If you’re looking for the quickest and easiest way to get into F1 sim racing, all-in-one cockpits are probably the best choice. Most, if not all, of the recommendations I’ve made below, offer fantastic realism, rigidity, and a lot of hardware compatibility, but you’re somewhat limited to its design features, and there may not be much room for expansion depending on the model you buy.
However, if you’d like something more bespoke, and if you’ve got the time (and patience!) to build your own DIY cockpit, then the design and expansion possibilities are essentially endless. You can construct an aluminum profile frame, make the entire thing out of wood, or use a combination of materials to piece your rig together, and then you can choose the perfect F1 seat to slot into your design.
As for pricing, it’s not all that easy to say which solution offers the most value for money. Some all-in-ones at the lower end of the spectrum are very affordable, but they may lack the ability to handle the forces of some direct drive wheelbases or load cell pedals. On the flip side of that, high-quality all-in-ones can carry a hefty price tag, but you can guarantee the rock-solid mounting necessary for powerful hardware. With DIY solutions, it’s all down to which materials you select for your build. If you want to save money, sometimes DIY is the way to go so long as you’re careful about design choices and don’t worry too much about appearances. Conversely, if you decide to utilize the strongest materials and opt for lavish decorations, your DIY build could become the biggest money pit you can imagine!
All-in-one F1 sim racing cockpits
When you just want to mount your hardware and get on with driving, all-in-one F1 cockpits are the answer, but then comes the decision of which one to buy. Well, as I mentioned earlier, there is a fair amount of choice in this market segment nowadays, and all brands and even models have distinct attributes. As with all sim racing cockpits, things to look for include build quality, strength, and rigidity. Plus, keep in mind the available space you have, how powerful your equipment is, and how much you want to spend.
Here is my recommended selection of F1 cockpits, listed according to price in ascending order.
SimXPro® FR (LusoMotors 2S Seat Optional)
For those of you committed to sim racing and happen to be looking for a very complete F1 sim rig, check out the SimXPro® FR + LusoMotors 2S Bundle. Expertly engineered using European aluminum extrusion profiles, this bundle promises both durability and comfort.
- European Aluminum Profile: The SimXPro® FR rig, built with European 4040, 4080, and 40120 aluminum extrusion profiles, promises durability and a stable racing experience.
- Comfortable Double Shell Formula Seat: The optional LusoMotors MK-8 2S Formula seat, designed with a double shell construction, ensures a comfortable racing session, even for extended periods. This could probably double as a kart sim and be barely noticeable.
- Customizable Seating: Catering to different body types, there are two seat sizes available along with various padding options, offering a personalized racing experience.
- Base Frame Dimensions: 1300x580x650mm
- Weight: 38kg (Sim rig), 4-10kg (Seat)
- Seat Sizes: Standard (35 cm) and XL (41 cm)
- Seat Finish: Choose between Gloss Black Finish or LineX Coating
The SimXPro® FR rig is compatible with standard Direct Drive (DD) systems, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec loadcell pedals. While it’s essential to check compatibility before purchasing peripherals, almost all retailers will list compatible wheels and pedals. The LusoMotors MK-8 2S seat is designed to work with most racing harnesses if you fancy adding one of those too. And price-wise – to be completely fair, that looks reasonable to me.
For a comprehensive sim racing experience, ensure your setup is complemented with the best gear. Check out other products like the Cube Controls SP01 Formula Pedals or the Simucube 2 Pro Direct Drive System. That would be one awesome F1 setup.
TREQ FORMULA Rig
At a very reasonable €525.00, it’s impossible to ignore this aluminium profile F1 rig from Treq:
Built-in 8020 profile and custom brackets, this rig offers compatibility with all Logitech, Thrustmaster, Fanatec and Accuforce wheels. It’s highly adjustable and overall a really versatile, reasonably priced entry-level F1 cockpit. Here’s how it looks without the seat:
I think these will be the most popular F1 sim rigs through to 2024 but we shall see!
ASR-F – Advanced Sim Racing
This is such a nice-looking F1 rig, from the very well-known manufacturer, Advanced Sim Racing. The cockpit is built with a robust aluminium profile and provides the perfect blend of strength and flexibility with zero flex or weak points.
The culmination of a year’s worth of design and development, the ASR-F caters to a wide range of F1 sim racing enthusiasts – providing that realistic ergonomic position that Formula sim racers love.
Plenty of adjustment opportunities are provided, enabling sim racers of all body builds to create a perfectly personalized racing setup.
Furthermore, the ASR-F is aesthetically pleasing and comes in two distinct premium powder coat colours: Racing Red (pictured above) and Infinite Black. We really love the Infinite Black powder coat finish, although the Ferarri fans among you might disagree!
Compatibility is always an important deciding factor when you’re shopping for a new sim rig, so here’s everything you need to know:
For wheelbases, the ASR-F offers four different deck options:
Standard Wheel Deck: This deck is designed to work with entry-level and mid-range wheelbases from manufacturers like Thrustmaster, Fanatec, and Logitech.
Podium DD Side Mount: Specifically designed for the Fanatec Podium DD1 and DD2 series wheelbases.
CSL DD Pro Side Mount: This mount is compatible with the Fanatec CSL DD and GT DD Pro wheelbases.
Front Mount: For more professional racing setups, this mount is designed to work with MiGE Motor-type wheelbases. This includes products from Simucube, Simagic Alpha / Alpha Mini, VRS, and other front-mounting products.
Alpine Racing F1 Rig
Presenting the Alpine Racing TRX, an elite racing simulator, birthed from the collaborative efforts of Trak Racer and the Alpine F1 Team. Originating from Australia’s finest engineering and design, this simulator has been moulded with insights from seasoned F1 engineers and pro sim racers. Since its inception in 2008, Trak Racer has forged a name in developing racing cockpits and has been honoured as the Official Simulator Supplier to the Alpine F1 Team and Airbus Aircraft among others.
The Alpine Racing TRX stands out for its malleability. Users can switch between a Formula or GT seating style (or find something comfortable inbetween). This F1 sim rig comes supplied with a seat slider, seat brackets, and features handy adjustable slides for the wheel and pedal mounts.
The wheel mounting assembly is versatile enough to bring compatibility with wheelbases including, Simucube 2, Fanatec, VRS, Logitech, and Thrustmaster. Furthermore, the product is equipped with Fanatec Side Mounting compatibility as a standard feature.
Built with a sturdy 2″ steel frame, the Alpine Racing TRX assures stability, particularly during high-stakes gaming encounters. It can withstand up to 180 kg of braking force without any flex. The pre-drilled pedal plate facilitates the attachment of the majority of sim racing pedals on the market today. Trak Racer supports the product’s robustness with a generous 5-year frame warranty, a testament to their belief in its craftsmanship.
OverPower OP Formula
Finnish company Overpower.gg has an array of standard and Formula-style cockpits, all made and designed in Finland from environmentally friendly materials. Their rigs really stand out as an escape from the standard “8020” style aluminium extrusion is barely used. This is, however, is a highly versatile and solid F1 sim rig. We’ve done the testing – these things are stiffer and lighter than the Aluminium profile. Just like when Carbon entered the F1 scene, nobody in F1 believed the Carbon tub will hold together. Challenge those conventions! My rig weighs a ton, it’d be nice to have something lighter – in any case, we’ll see as we’re expecting one for review.
As you can see there’s a minimalism to the design which is really appealing, but don’t let that fool you – this Formula rig is strong and incredibly stiff. It’s compatible with all of the best-known sim pedals and direct-drive wheels. It comes with a thick neoprene cushion which serves as an ergonomic elastic base, very much like a real F1 seat. Minimal, light but strong.
Overpower offers variations of this design at varying price ranges and the OP Child Formula is an F1 cockpit for kids. What’s really nice about Overpower is that they will work with you to customise the finish of your rig to match the surroundings. These really take a nice approach and are highly worthy of an addition to our list. Take a look.
SimXPro® XFR + Sparco GP Bundle
The SimXPro® XFR + Sparco GP Bundle is a recent addition to the SimXPro® range. This bundle combines the SimXPro® Custom seat brackets with the Sparco® GP Formula seat, aiming to offer a balance of comfort and adaptability for sim racing enthusiasts.
Constructed with hardened steel, the bundle comes with a Sparco® GP Formula seat and offers adjustable features such as the pedal tray, seat brackets, and feet brackets. It’s designed to be compatible with various Sparco® seats, although specific seats might be required for an ideal fit.
For sim racing enthusiasts demanding precision and durability, this European 4040, 4080, and 40120 aluminum extrusion profile SimXPro® XFR ensures a flex free, enclosed and immersive F1 racing experience. The sleek design of the SimXPro® FR Cockpit really stands out, with the deep black power coating adding a very nice lustre to the finish.
The rig’s meticulous engineering promises both aesthetics and functionality, making it a prime choice for serious racers – the manufacturer has clearly chosen some very thick Aluminium profile – there isn’t a direct drive wheel or pedal on Earth that would be too much for this design.
The SimXPro® FR is designed to seamlessly integrate with standard Direct Drive (DD) systems, Thrustmaster, and Fanatec loadcell pedals. Always verify compatibility with your gear, which is almost always summarised on teh retailer’s product page – while pedals and wheelbases don’t share a standard mounting template – the variations are frankly, extremely familiar to the sim rig manufacturers.
DIY F1 Cockpits
If you’re reading this segment, then it’s safe to say you’re ready to get your hands dirty and build something unique. This method obviously takes a lot more planning, but the rewards may be worth it if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Open Sim Rigs
A quick search on Google will show you various ways people have built sim rigs from all sorts of materials. However, it can sometimes be hard to imagine how it was put together from what we see in pictures. For this reason, I think one of the best ways to start a DIY rig is with a set of blueprints such as those found on the Open Sim Rigs (OSR) website. You’ll find a collection of rig designs and build instructions, as well as a complete list of the parts needed to construct a DIY frame.
Having a solid foundation will ensure maximum strength and rigidity for your rig, and from there, you can customise it however you like. Some of the best examples of F1 rigs I found on OSR include plans for a SUPER SPORT F1 RIG – 40 SERIES and a SUPER SPORT FORMULA – 8020 – 40 OR 15 SERIES. I highly recommend browsing through the collection to find the best solution for your needs and checking out the blog section, which is full of valuable tips for building a DIY cockpit.
If you’re confident enough in your handyman abilities, maybe a set of IKEA-Esque instructions is considered cheating. In that case, your best route will be to put your design skills to the test and draw up your own plans. There are plenty of examples of people who have done exactly that, and some of the results are simply stunning.
For some inspiration, have a look at this Mercedes F1 sim cockpit built entirely from wood. Of course, if you’ve got the time, patience, and budget, there’s nothing to stop you from replicating an entire F1 car chassis to add another layer of immersion to your sim racing.
While planning your DIY cockpit, keep in mind to provide strong mounting points for your wheel and pedals or any other hardware you may have and remember that you will need to integrate a seat into the design. Monitors are another consideration unless you plan to go down the VR route.