The Best Formula 1 Video Games of All Time

Arguably the best known brand in motor sports, it’s not surprising that F1 spawns all sorts of media to keep fans occupied between races. From the stylish flare of the pioneering 1966 hit Grand Prix to the dramatic tale of the ill-fated Tommy Byrne in 2016’s Crash and Burn, there are plenty of feature-length pieces with F1 as their subject matter.

There have been well-made series, too. Probably the best-known of these is Netflix’s recent hit Drive to Survive which is going to be extended to fifth and sixth seasons, it was recently announced.

F1 video games have also been hugely popular, slotting in as a niche alongside motoring games in general. Of course, racing is a genre almost as old as arcades themselves. Games like Pole Position and Out Run are now considered classics, with fans racing on video games, or enjoying racing themed games, ever since.

Nowadays there are a plethora of racers on mobile platforms appealing to a wider audience of often more casual gamers, from Gameloft’s ever-popular Asphalt series to F1 Mobile Racing and Ghost Racing: Formula E. Racing is popular even if you’re not behind the wheel of a car.

The Foxy Games online slots feature titles such as The Wild Chase and 24 Hour Grand Prix that make use of racing aesthetics. Marina Bay Circuit is even set to be included in the new Call of Duty! Then there’s F1 Manager and Motorsport Manager, of course, where the drama of Formula 1 and Formula E competitions are yours to recreate by building your own team.

While racing-based games are quite the massive sprawling genre, then, including everything from kart racers like Diddy Kong Racing to anime racers like Initial D, F1 is a popular subgenre due to its reach. And fans will mostly agree the best experiences are found on PC and consoles. Here are some of those titles that have stood the test of time, that F1 fans would do well to check out.

F1 2020
For at least a decade, Codemasters has really been carrying the torch for F1 games. As such, we’d be remiss not to include one of their titles, and F1 2020 feels like a pretty complete modern experience. The game features split screen multiplayer, which is not a given in recent entries, genuinely new aspects like the addition of Circuit Zandvoort and the Hanoi Street Circuit, team creation, more realistic AI, and fun cosmetic items. It’s also notable for the unnecessary elements it strips out — notably, fictional characters and a storyline, which fans weren’t particularly drawn to.

Grand Prix 4
A game that the site Traxxion called “the last true Formula 1 simulator” and sometimes referred to as the best F1 game of all time, GP4 can legitimately be thought of as veteran developer Geoff Crammond’s magnum opus. For purists, simulator is the key word here. Truly a paean to the sport, the game includes the official music, perfectly recreated tracks based on GPS data, dynamic weather effects and fully-animated pit crews, despite being released two decades ago. The real reason to play it today, though, might be the community mods that keep it alive.

Another title that was serious about simulation, rFactor is best known for its highly engineered physics. Although at its core an F1 sim, the developers lacked official licensing. The tradeoff between the original rFactor and its sequel, rFactor 2, is between the mods for the original and the up-to-date graphics for the later title, but for our tastes, and anyone else who wants to deep-dive, the mods are well worth it.

Such a long-established competition was bound to have a few great games made either directly for it or inspired by it. Luckily for fans, there is a big enough die-hard fan community to feedback to developers, and create mods that show where their priorities lie, so we can expect more to come in the future.