Picking the perfect racing seat for your sim rig is undoubtedly a crucial factor when putting your cockpit together.
Without knowing what you’re looking for, it’s pretty easy to spend too long looking for the right seat for your simulator. In this guide, I aim to help you with the otherwise lengthy task of choosing a seat that will fit your body shape, match the comfort or sportiness you’re looking for, and fit your budget.
I’ll be covering five racing seats from professional automotive brands, and I’ll go over what sort of mounting solutions you’ll need and what you should look for when you’re ready to buy.
If you’re looking for an actual sim racing rig that includes an integrated seat, frame, and base, then be sure to check out my other guide to the best sim rigs on the market, as today I’ll purely be focusing on stand-alone seats to go with a cockpit you’ve purchased without the seat.
Our top sim seat recommendations:
- SimLab SF1
- Next Level racing ES1
- G-Performance GP01
- Sparco Grid-Q
- OMP Racing HTE-R Carbon Seat
How to choose a sim racing seat
The biggest thing to remember when picking a racing seat is that the process will have a certain amount of personal relevance. There’re a few things that I’d consider to be cardinal buying rules such as something that caters to both comfort and the practical side of sim racing, but otherwise, it all depends on your budget and preferences.
Probably the most important thing you should consider before committing to any particular model is whether or not your seat will fit you. It’s good practice to measure yourself much like you would for new clothing, and have these sizes handy when you’re browsing online for a new seat. All seats have a measurement guide like this:
The point is that you want your sim experience to feel as real as possible, so make sure to check out the adjustability of all seats to ensure that you’ll get the best seating position that makes you feel like a racer.
As with any sim racing equipment, I recommend that you spend ample time researching a variety of trusted brands, but a bonus in this department is that you are not only limited to sim racing brands. You have the option of selecting real racing seats that are built for use in real-life race cars, which can be bolted onto a frame with the right seat mount.
Of course, some people are happy to play sim racing games from an office chair, but if you’re looking to step up your immersion levels, you can’t beat a proper bucket seat for the bolstering hip support they can provide, which is especially important if you race for more extended periods. It will pay dividends, in the long run, to invest in a good seat.
When you start your search for a new racing seat, here is a quick checklist of items to keep in mind:
- Frame/shell materials (steel, fibreglass, carbon fibre)
- Upholstery materials
- Ergonomic and adjustable design
- Lumbar support
- Secure mounting system
- Style: F1 / Formula racing, Hybrid (LM prototypes) or GTE?
A collection of brands that I always consider trusted and worth their salt within the seat market are Sparco, Recaro, and OMP. They all offer a wide variety of products at various price points, making them suitable for absolute quality. Of course, there are a lot more companies out there producing great seats, and I’ll cover a couple of them here, but you can’t go wrong with a seat from one of these three reliable brands. Naturally, the market is evolving very quickly and we’ve seen, in the past 6 months or so, sim racing rig manufacturers begin to expand into the seat manufacturing universe. So look out for the Next Level Racing ES1 and offerings from SimLab for both F1 simulation and GT racing too.
Even though my advice here is founded on a lot of avid sim racing enthusiasm, I will always recommend doing more research before buying anything for sim racing. If you haven’t done this already, make an account on Reddit and find the sim racing subreddit where people share stories and recommendations about all things sim racing-related.
You’ll find people who have similar preferences to you, for example, and these individuals can be valuable sources of information as to where you can find useful upgrades or whether you should try out certain sim racing products. So, let’s take a look at what I consider to be five of the best seat options available to buy right now put in order of cost.
Next Level Racing Elite ES1
One of our top sim racing rigs, the F-GT Elite from Next Level Racing, offers an optional accessory: the ES1 sim racing seat. It’s a polymer / composite unit, much like the type of seat you find in the higher-level racing categories in F1 and Endurance racing:
This is a really strong design with a standard seat brack fitment meaning it’s compatible with any standard seat bracket (which nearly all sim rigs use). The attention to detail is really strong, with foam padding covered in an Alcantara material, which prevents you from slipping around under high brake loads. The seat comes with Next Level Racing branded harnesses, which, along with the higher sidewalls, offer lots of support especially in a motion simulator.
SimLab SF1 sim racing bucket seat
This very professional-looking offering from Sim-Lab is called the SF1, and it’s one of the newest products available from this well-known sim manufacturer.
The SF1 is a hybrid sim racing seat intended for F1 and comfortable LMP2 / endurance racing. The SF1’s outer shell is manufactured in GRP which is very stiff and light. The seat fabric has been made from “3D” – a very breathable, lattice style material. You’ll note the sides are tightly stitched and shaped to avoid wear.
F1 style seats are very, very popular in sim racing thanks to the influence of F1 drivers who are also very prolific in the simulator. It’s a non-FIA approved (which makes it less expensive, but without impacting quality) fibreglass seat with the kind of developed, ergonomic shape you’d expect from such a well-respected sports manufacturer, which makes it ideal for sim racing drivers. There are two mount points on each side that are compatible with standard side mounting seat brackets. Mount to your sim racing rig (including those on offer from SimLab themselves) using standard side mounts. We think this will be a very popular seat with sim racers this year.
G-Performance GP01 seat
For a really solid all-rounder, the G-Performance GP01 sim racing seat is a cheap and very reasonable budget item. For €289.90, you’re getting a Fibreglass / GRP bucket seat designed for medium to large size drivers. The seat has a side pocket for your mobile phone and high-density foam cushioning that makes endurance races seem to go much faster!
The seat will fit a standard bracket and comes supplied with the required M8 bolts included in the box.
Sparco Grid Q competition seat
If it’s bang for the buck you’re looking for, I think the Sparco Grid-Q Competition would make for an excellent all-rounder. It’s very reasonably priced, again at around 300 Euros, but despite the low price, it’s FIA 8855-1999 approved for Motorsport. What’s nice about this seat is that the cushions can be moved around for you to find that perfect fit.
The seat has that very low profile base giving you quite a low, racing seat position which makes it an excellent hybrid for Formula and Prototype racing. This one’s a real favourite owing to the flexibility of the fitting options and the low price.
OMP Racing HTE-R Carbon Seat
This ultra top-shelf offering is the HTE-R Carbon Seat from OMP Racing. It’s a carbon shell competition seat that has been designed using the latest CAD technology and manufacturing techniques. It’s fully FIA approved at the highest level of homologation, so you could always drop it in your racing car and take it racing if you really wanted to!
The carbon fiber shell molded in an autoclave is extremely light at a tiny 9.4kg and, while it is a bit of extravagance if you’ve got the spare 2000 Euros, why not?
FIA approved, this seat from Sparco is lightweight at only 5.5kg and can fit into narrow cockpits. However this seat is built to one size only, so again, make sure you measure yourself first! There’s also a non-slip covering in strategic areas for increased body retention and better comfort. A new lower leg cushion offers additional support whilst medium lumbar support allows for a snug fit around the legs.
How to mount your sim racing seat
There are a few different ways you mount your seat to your rig, can do this and generally it is recommended to buy mounts from the same retailer as the seat to ensure compatibility.
The three most common ways to mount a seat are; side mounts (fixed position), runner kits (adjustable), and base plates (fixed position). Depending on the brand of your seat, you may be able to choose between any of the three choices, or you may be forced to choose one. It’ll also be dependent on what type of cockpit you’re using, so before you click to buy, make sure you’ve covered all your bases.
Sparco steel side mounts
These steel side mounts are multi drilled to provide lots of scope for adjustment, allowing you to
position your seat in the most suitable position.
A good thing to note is that these mounts will fit side most mounted seats including those from Sparco, OMP, Cobra and Corbeau.
Cobra universal seat runners
These seat runners from Cobra are universally designed to give shell seats some adjustability.
They sit between the standard steel mount (mentioned above) and will mount on an 8020 style aluminium rig easily.