F1 Drive review: Karting moves into the fast lane with innovative features

Sam Cooper
F1 Drive's start line

F1 Drive is located in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Image courtesy of F1 DRIVE – London / Tottenham Hotspur Stadium)

PlanetF1.com was invited down to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to experience the new F1 Drive karting track and here is what we made of it.

There were a few eyebrows raised when the concept of F1 Drive was first announced. Not only was it Formula 1’s first foray into karting, an already saturated market, but also it was to be built inside a Premier League football stadium in London.

While it may have taken a little while longer than initially planned for the first chequered flag to be waved, Formula 1’s project is now up and running in the south stand of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and is perhaps the closest the average person will ever get to driving an F1 car.

Sure, the karts will go a maximum of 40mph compared to the 233mph of an F1 car, but it is the presentation of the event that makes it feel distinctly F1.

Given it is the first karting track with licence to use F1 assets, there is no shortage of references to the sport throughout. David ‘Crofty’ Croft and Naomi Schiff are the voices of the safety briefing, race memorabilia such as a Max Verstappen race suit are next to the circuit and a full size F1 car is also something you will pass on the way to your kart.

An F1 car in the F1 Drive lobby
A full-size F1 car is one of the many F1-related items at the venue.

But what makes F1 Drive truly unique is the kart itself. In other karting I have done, you are often out in the dark when you are on track. There is no race engineer in your ear telling you how many seconds your last lap was and you can very easily come away thinking you are the next Lewis Hamilton only to find you are far closer to Nicholas Latifi.

With the F1 Drive kart, that is different. On the wheel is a screen about the size of a smartphone with a whole load of information on it. You will get sector times, featuring the yellow, green and purple we are used to seeing during a race weekend, and you will also get the leaderboard every time you cross the chequered line.

F1 Drive's steering wheel
A screen on the steering wheel helps you keep track of where you are in the leaderboard.

But it is the DRS and ERS systems that make F1 Drive a uniquely enjoyable experience. Anyone who has ever watched an F1 race will be familiar with how important both of those are to overtaking and while DRS does not actually involve the rear wing but instead more battery power, it is a fun way to make it feel more authentic.

The DRS can be activated in a number of zones around the circuit, giving you an extra thing to concentrate on throughout the lap, while ERS can be deployed once the battery is up to 100%, making it your job to pick the most opportune moment.

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As for the first circuit itself, the Super Circuit, which I raced on, features 17 corners and not a lot of braking. Aside from the hairpin at turn 15, you should rarely find yourself reaching for the left pedal which means it will likely be one of the quickest circuits you have raced at.

F1 Drive's circuit start
The circuit features 17 corners and not a lot of braking.

There are still some teething problems including yellow flags coming into force at different times for drivers but given this is a 15-year partnership, those kinds of kinks will be smoothed out sooner rather than later.

But it is not just a karting centre either with F1 Drive also boasting sim racing including one of the most realistic sims I have ever used. If, like me, you prove to be one of the slower ones out on track, you can save some face in the virtual world at least…

F1 Drive's simulators
F1 Drive also allows visitors a chance for some sim racing.

A common complaint from visitors so far has been the price with the entry point being £35 all the way up to £85 but if you can find the money to spare, it will be one of most F1-like experiences you can find away from a grand prix.

More information on F1 Drive can be found here.