While the rest of the world – Londoners included – have long been fans of the phenomenon that is Formula 1, those of us over here in North America have been a bit slower to the game (excusing Mexico, of course, go Checo!).
Whether you’re new to the sport or a lifelong fan, you might wonder how (or even if) you can have an experience of F1 in London. The short answer is yes, but not in the way of high-performance cars racing circuits through the city streets.
Based on my husband’s love of F1 and that being passed on to me over the past few years, I did a bunch of research on different ways to find Formula 1 in London, and wanted to put that all into one guide for fellow enthusiasts and travelers. Below you’ll find the basics of different F1 experiences in London (and elsewhere in England), and how to arrange them.
Ready to hop behind the wheel and cruise through your options?
Is there an F1 race in London?
I thought I’d start by addressing a common question that Formula 1 fans (especially new ones) might have: is there an F1 Grand Prix in London?
No, there is no F1 race in London.
While there have been plans put forth for such a race in the future, most F1 and motorsport experts agree that it’s not particularly practical and very unlikely to happen in the end. (I can’t imagine a street course in London actually, as you’ll soon see when exploring the city’s streets!)
F1 Experiences Near London
The closest F1 race to London is up at Silverstone, called the British Grand Prix. If you’re not planning to attend that race weekend (dates TBA), you can still head up north for their Driving Experience Days, but be sure to plan a full day: it takes a few hours to reach Silverstone and another few to return to London, so you should allocate 8-10 hours for the whole experience. Be sure to keep an eye on the calendar and book your tickets in advance as they always sell out.
(My husband and I tried to do this during our August trip, but it really can’t be done in less than a full day! We do plan to do this on a future trip, when we can both drive.)
You can also head to Surrey (slightly closer) for a special tour of the Maclaren Technology Centre, including learning about the tech behind their F1 team.
How to Experience Formula 1 in London
If you have your heart set on diving deeper into the world of F1 in London, you still have options!
F1 Arcade (City of London)
The F1 Arcade in One New Change (right near St. Paul’s Cathedral) is the beating heart of F1 fandom in London: this space is entirely dedicated to all things F1 and hosts regular watch parties for each Grand Prix – no matter the time of day or night they are live on the telly in London!
In addition to a bar and decent food menu, the highlight of the F1 Arcade is the simulators; you can book a session in the F1 sims to try your hand behind the wheel of these high-performance cars. Over a series of simulated races, you’ll compete against recognizable names in the sport – but to be honest, the sim drivers are sometimes better or worse than their real-life counterparts!
I can’t say how accurate the simulators are compared to a real F1 vehicle, but they’re certainly a lot to handle: get ready for intense haptics, an immersive multi-screen visual experience, and lots of buttons and pedals to manage. It might not be real, but it’s really challenging to drive the simulated F1 cars well!
(As an aside, the F1 Arcade advises against pregnant women racing in the sims but it is left to your discretion should you be pregnant while visiting London. I did try them at about 14 weeks pregnant and found them very uncomfortable and dizzying so didn’t use my sim for the full session.)
F1 DRIVE (Tottenham)
While it hasn’t opened yet, 2023 brought an exciting announcement for F1 fans in London: in partnership with the English Premier League, Formula 1/FIA is planning to open an all-electric karting track in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Taking advantage of the stadium’s retractable field, the F1-esque karting experience will live permanently under the field and stands where Hotspur athletes and fans give their all. There will be three different tracks and once completed, it will be the longest indoor karting track in London.
While the initial announcement said it would open by the end of 2023, the official timeline for opening hasn’t been announced yet. You can sign up on the F1 DRIVE website to receive emails as progress continues.
(I’ll also update this post once details, dates, and prices are confirmed, and my husband and I plan to do this on our next trip too!)
Where to Watch F1 in London
In addition to the F1 Arcade, you might wonder where you can watch F1 in London should a Grand Prix be happening during your visit. (It’s unlikely your hotel television will have a channel or F1 streaming since it’s a premium sport.) I found a few other places in London that specifically say they show F1 Grand Prix:
- Clubhouse 5 (Leicester Square)
- Sports Bar & Grill (multiple locations)
- The Bridge Tap (London Bridge)
- The Cornershop Bar (Shoreditch)
I’m on the lookout for any other F1 experiences in London so if you know of them, please let me know in the comments… or any other questions you have!