Ever since it first came to be as an e-sport, sim racing has been a competitive and exciting field to test your racing skills. Everyone knows that Formula 1 is the pinnacle of excellence in the racing world, and wheels have evolved to bring that experience into our rigs.
So, what are the best F1 sim racing wheels? The 6 best F1 sim racing wheels are:
- Precision Sim Engineering GPX Steering Wheel
- Fanatec Podium Formula Racing Wheel
- Fanatec Podium F1 Racing Wheel
- Ascher Racing F64-USB Racing Wheel
- Fanatec ClubSport F1 Esports Steering Wheel
- ThrustMaster Open Wheel Add-On
Sure, you know the list of the best F1 sim racing wheels now, but that’s nothing without knowing what to look for! I’ll also be outlining some tips about how you should choose your new wheel, what to look for in a good one and then give you insightful reviews about every wheel listed above.
What To Look For In An F1 Sim Racing Wheel
Overall, there aren’t a lot of differences between what you should look for in a normal sim racing wheel and an F1-styled one. In case you aren’t really sure about what the general criteria are which distinguish a good wheel from a bad one, I want to go over these points first and then look at the few specific things that define an F1 sim racing wheel.
Across every sim racing game, there’s a magic degree of rotation which is what sets the amount that the wheel needs to be turned. Anything less than 900 degrees of rotation will mean that you have to turn the physical wheel more than what the in-game sim wheel requires. In short, you’ll be wasting precious time turning far more than you actually have to!
It goes without saying that you should narrow your search to wheels with a minimum of 900 rotational degrees.
Force feedback is a system which replicates conditions as you might expect from driving in real life. A wheel without force feedback or with weak force feedback won’t feel satisfying to drive, and you’ll actually be at a disadvantage when feeling how much wheel input is required. For full immersion, force feedback is a must!
You also want a wheel which doesn’t feel like a toy, and a lot of that comes from the materials it was built with. A metal wheel rim coated in a tactile covering, such as leather or Alcantara or other such compounds, is honestly the minimum requirement you should be looking for; both in terms of quality, and in terms of realistic feeling.
Another general thing to consider is your personal budget; no matter how small or large that may be. If one wheel offers better force feedback than another one, always choose the former! Use budget and price as a tie-breaker between two wheels you can’t otherwise choose between, and compare their varied features as I’ve described in this article.
Now that I’ve outlined some basic criteria you should keep in mind when looking at racing wheels, let me shift gears to look at F1-specific features to look out for!
If you do a Google search for F1-styled sim racing wheels, the first thing you’ll probably notice if you check out images is the large number of frontal buttons and switches. It may look startling to some, but you really need these somewhat dizzying buttons in order to truly replicate an F1 cockpit; both in looks, and in drivability.
The next thing you should really check for when browsing F1 wheels is the material used as grips on the sides of the wheel. You really want Alcantara if possible, or some other grippy compound to really help you keep your hands on the wheel for the best drive. There isn’t as much surface area to hold on F1-styled wheels, after all, so the grips should really be top-notch.
As an absolute minimum, you should really be looking for a wheel that has two sets of flappy paddles; one for shifting, and one for DRS activation. What’s the point in having a wheel that replicates F1 driving if it doesn’t allow you to use all of the features? It just really tops off the immersion if you find a wheel with an extra set of paddles.
And lastly, I’d recommend choosing a wheel which has some manner of quick release system. This is more of a personal preference, I’ll admit, but it feels nice to be able to remove your F1-styled wheel after a hard race and sit back just like a real F1 driver!
And on the practical side, you can then affix different sim racing wheels if they match up with your wheelbase.
The 6 Best F1 Sim Racing Wheels
1. Precision Sim Engineering GPX Steering Wheel
When looking for the best of the best, my search always brings me to Precision Sim Engineering as the first port of call. As you can likely guess from the manufacturer’s name, this company specializes in producing sim racing gear for the serious racer.
At a glance, the GPX is a stunning wheel that boasts an impressive 29cm diameter. It can be difficult for manufacturers to find a good size for their F1-styled wheels, due to how they need to be compact yet not tiny/arcade-feeling.
This wheel was designed with Precision Sim Engineering’s in-house designers and, in later stages of development when prototypes were being made, tested alongside Formula 1 drivers to ensure that they were correctly replicating the wheels. The result is this highly advanced piece of kit that will elevate your game tenfold!
With a matte black finish, the pops of color from the varied buttons and rotary switches are welcome additions. It combines sleek and sophisticated with fun and exciting!
Perhaps the most striking element of this wheel which separates it from others on this list is the full-color LCD display found in the center of the rim. This is designed to display all kinds of data for the driver to absorb at a glance; putting it on par with real F1 cars. You can look at track temperature, laps remaining, fuel amounts, current gear, gear change point… the options are endless!
You’ll find 9 rotary dials and 12 push-buttons on this wheel, allowing for absolute control and the ability to make necessary adjustments to keep you on top of your game throughout every race.
At each side of the wheel, injection-molded polyurethane grips have been specifically designed for high-grip and comfort even over long periods of time. They also have a long lifespan compared to other materials used on the grips of F1-styled wheels.
Upon purchasing the GPX, you can choose whether you’d like an added set of dual-clutch paddles to sit alongside the magnetic paddle shifters. This will boost the price by a fair amount, but the added immersion from having this clutch feature is absolutely worth the investment.
The GPX is compatible with PC or Mac, and connects via USB; the cable for which is industrial-grade and highly resilient to basically anything you can throw at it. Quick-release is possible, but doesn’t come as standard; you’ll have to own a wheelbase which has the required coupling to achieve this feature.
Although not directly compatible with PS4 or Xbox One, the GPX is capable of attaching to wheelbases such as the Fanatec Podium, Simcube and OSW, which means you can finagle it using the proper adapters and connections.
Prices for this powerhouse of a wheel will immediately feel intimidating, and likely give a lot of people a headache! However, there truly isn’t another wheel on the market with this level of attention to detail and raw focus on excellence.
For PC gamers, you won’t be able to find a better F1-style sim racing wheel. Between the high-quality materials used to make it, the F1 drivers who tested it rigorously, and the phenomenal features, your skills will sky-rocket with this beauty in your hands!
- Full-color LCD screen displays loads of essential information at a glance
- Magnetic shifter paddles made of carbon fiber; long-lasting and tactile
- Seamlessly works with PC simply by plugging in the USB cord
- Not directly compatible with PS4 or Xbox One
- Product is made to order in the UK; long wait times to receive the wheel
2. Fanatec Podium Formula Racing Wheel
It’s with great excitement that I found an exciting new bundle from them which has continued the direct drive revolution! Introducing the Podium Formula; a direct drive, F1-styled (and endorsed) racing wheel for the Xbox One and PC.
Until the release of this product, Fanatec offered the beloved Podium F1 Racing Wheel which came with Sony licensing and as such, was best used on PlayStation. Xbox compatibility was shaky at best. As ever, the innovative tech giants have put on their thinking caps and brought forth an Xbox-exclusive which really is something to celebrate!
The Podium Formula is an exciting bundle which includes the famous ClubSport Formula V2 wheel rim, a Podium DD1 Wheelbase and Podium Advanced Paddle Module. Together, these products deliver high-powered and exciting direct drive technology to make it feel as if you’re sat right there in the cockpit of an F1 car.
The biggest part of this wheel’s success comes from the powerful, innovative wheelbase. This is what drives the direct drive (pardon the pun) ability of the whole wheel using an outrunner motor; something specifically designed by Fanatec for usage with sim racing, and sim racing alone.
Most manufacturers take motors from other fields and amend them to work for sim racing, making Fanatec the only company to design one from scratch to be used in the e-sport.
This allows endless rotation within the wheelbase; resulting in uninterrupted, lag-free direct drive. It exactly replicates how a car behaves on the track, making this far superior to every other form of force feedback in sim racing wheels.
Everything about the wheelbase is wireless. Data transfer is instantaneous and the lack of cables means that you won’t run the risk of pulling things apart mid-drift.
As for the wheel itself? You’ll be looking at 11 buttons, 12 multi-position switches, thumb encoders and rocker switches; all pre-programed for ease and authenticity of driving. It’s jam-packed with options and personalization for your drive, without looking intimidating.
The red and black color scheme screams of racing vibes! Combine that with the exciting LED color strips located all over to indicate rev counter, tire slip, fuel levels and even incoming radio, and you’ll literally need nothing else to feel as if you’re right there driving an F1 car.
With grips made of Alcantara and the whole wheel being made of carbon fiber, you’ll experience a highly immersive experience simply by holding it in your hands. This bundle also includes magnetic shifters which totally transform the wheel, what with the ability to shift with satisfying clicks and even activate DRS on the other set of paddles.
While expensive, the Podium Formula benefits from being perfected over many years. The Podium F1 is technically the PS4 alternative and they should therefore be equal, but the Formula edges ahead due to some superior build materials and more refined construction.
- The latest in direct drive technology allows for absolute immersion and realism
- Bundled with the Podium Advanced Paddle Module as standard; better, more reliable and responsive gear shifting
- Officially licensed for the Xbox One
- Smaller diameter than some wheels (27cm)
3. Fanatec Podium F1 Racing Wheel
Now, if you frequent the Flow Racers website, then you’ll know how amazing this sim racing wheel is (I seem to talk about it a lot)! In spite of being around for many years at this point, the Podium F1 is still at the top of its game for being officially licensed by F1 and producing that immersive, ground-breaking driver experience.
The Podium F1 was the first-ever direct drive system for the PS4, and it has held up well over time. There are still only a handful of wheel bundles that have the power to outmatch this kit, and two of them are ranked in 1st and 2nd on this list!
Being officially licensed by Sony means that this wheel will continue to work with all future PS4 racing sim releases, making it a worthwhile investment due to all of its staying power.
But the official endorsement doesn’t stop there! F1 have found this product worthy to bear its name and that is no small feat. In the off-seasons, F1 drivers spend time on sim racing rigs to keep their driving skills heightened and it was this which spurred Fanatec to design the direct drive technology required to truly give racing drivers the immersion they needed for training.
It has the same wheelbase as the Podium Formula mentioned above, and as such it has the same level of wireless data transfer which means zero lag, always. Less wires and components on show means less chance of breakages or early issues, after all, and with the 5-year warranty as standard, you can rest easy that buying this wheel will be a lifelong affair.
Total plug and play compatibility is pretty essential, in my eyes. The last thing you want to be doing is spending hours trying to set up your new wheel! With the F1 Podium, all it takes is a few moments to plug it all in and you’re set.
Being 27cm in diameter gives this wheel the perfect mix between compact composition and space for maneuver. Think about it, real F1 wheels are pretty small yet highly complex.
It’s identical to the Podium Formula with its 11 buttons, 12 multi-position switches, thumb encoders and rocker switches, which truly gives you as the driver total control at your fingertips.
Also similar to the Podium Formula is this wheel’s various LED lights to indicate vital information at a glance. Your RPM, optimum shifting points, tire slips, fuel levels and even radio communications in-game will be displayed using these lights, meaning that everything you’ll ever need to see is right there on the wheel.
And I might seem like a broken record on this, but the F1 Podium also possesses the winning Advanced Paddle Module. Two sets of independent paddles that can be used for shifting and DRS activation made with magnetic technology. The DRS paddles can be programed for whatever usage you prefer, too, such as mapping a handbrake onto them.
Truly, with so many similarities, the biggest difference between the Formula Podium and the F1 Podium is simply that the former is much newer and was only just released, giving it more development time and therefore slightly better build quality (carbon fiber).
For the price, you’ll be getting the best wheel for PS4. It will stand the test of time and make good on its promises of excellence, time and time again!
- The latest in direct drive technology allows for absolute realism and immersion
- Officially licensed by both Sony and F1
- Wireless data transfer from the wheelbase means no lag or delay
- Older than its Xbox counterpart, no longer as entirely cutting-edge
4. Ascher Racing F64-USB Racing Wheel
Time for a slightly more niche manufacturer, but an excellent one nevertheless! Ascher Racing creates platform-independent sim racing gear for every racer to enjoy, no matter whether they’re a PC, PS4 or Xbox One owner. It was this which brought my attention to the F64-USB, their answer for an F1-styled sim racing wheel.
A first look at this wheel will reveal something which appears ergonomic and overall a lot more curved/ forgiving than others out there. But in spite of that, it still looks unmistakably as if it belongs in an F1 cockpit.
With a sleek black automotive-grade aluminum base for the wheel and a pair of genuine Alcantara grips, the F64-USB has a fantastic build quality which feels satisfying to use. Everything down to the finishing techniques used, such as the brushed front-plate glass bed blasting on the paddle shifters point to the attention to detail from Ascher.
It has 64 possible inputs for a driver to make, which is where its name came from. You have access to 12 push buttons, 2 button guards, 2 multifunctional 7-way joysticks, 4 encoders, 2 rotary switches with 12 possible positions, 2 paddle shifters and 2 clutch paddles.
Try saying that twice, but faster!!
This really gives you as the driver ultimate control and personalization, all without moving your hands off the wheel as everything is in easy reach and clearly labelled for what every button accomplishes. You can also switch out the button coverings when you’re more familiar with them for a sleeker racing vibe.
The clutch paddles possess pretty cutting-edge technology called electronic bite-point calibration. You can program the clutch paddles to within 0.1% of responsiveness and resistance, making for a truly unique, precise experience!
Diameter-wise, the F64 is actually a touch larger than the Formula Podium and Podium F1, coming in at 28.5cm. This allows for a packed yet not totally clustered/busy wheel face with all its buttons, whereas smaller wheels can look a bit overwhelming with the amount of F1 controls available.
With magnetic paddle shifters, you won’t ever experience shifting lag or problems as they guarantee a longer life. The ones fitted on the F64 as standard are noiseless due to no metal-on-metal contact, and this also cuts down on the possibility for breakage or premature wear.
Everything about this wheel is designed to be smooth, effortless and seamless; even reflected in the ergonomic outer appearance. For the price, you’ll be getting a feature-packed, exciting sim racing wheel without the limitations of specific platforms!
Unlike the Formula Podium or Podium F1, however, you do not receive a wheelbase for this price. You also aren’t able to use quick release, meaning that the wheel has to be hard-mounted unless you buy an extra part called the B16M-USB, which costs roughly an extra 500 dollars.
- Able to use up to 64 different driver inputs thanks to seamless, ergonomic buttons/switches
- Platform independent (uses USB for connection) means that you aren’t limited to a single medium
- Has to be hard-mounted unless an extra part is bought to make it quick-release
- No wheelbase included
5. Fanatec ClubSport F1 Esports Steering Wheel
Don’t be fooled by this wheel’s position on the list; it’s easily one of the most competitive F1 sim racing wheels out there! Fanatec specifically designed this wheel to be used for Esports and as such is packed with the latest tech, sleek design and absolute performance to best befit something for competitive racers.
This is yet another of Fanatec’s products and I honestly feel as if I could talk forever about their dedication to innovation in the sim racing sector. They have 3 products in total on this list, and with good reason!
On the manufacturer’s website, you’ll find that they separate their products into 3 different categories; CSL (entry-level), ClubSport (intermediate to experienced) and Podium (the absolute best).
But don’t be fooled by the F1 Esports wheel’s position within the ClubSport category! It’s a powerful piece of kit specifically designed to be pitched against even the absolute pinnacle of sim racing wheels during competitions.
First and foremost, the materials used are top-notch. It has a CNC machined aluminum front plate attached to a metal cage, providing some realistic heft yet keeping everything lightweight. Not only that, but Alcantara coats the grips on each side of the F1-styled wheel for absolute grip and a feeling of total quality.
It is entirely force feedback ready, meaning that all you need is a phenomenal wheelbase and the compact size of 27cm diameter plus its lightweight composition will deliver amazing force feedback with precision and detail!
You’ll also have access to multiple LED functions, including a RevLED light strip and a small LED screen which can display a host of information such as; current speed, current gear, fuel consumption and all sorts else. The RevLED light strip is perfectly designed to show you the optimum time to hit the up-shift, helping your overall driver ability and development for the best lap times possible!
Another exciting feature of this wheel is the ability to tune its potential using the wheel itself for unique driver patterns and settings. You can access the Fanatec Tuning Menu in-game with absolute ease in order to tweak steering rotation, force feedback severity, and even brake pedal resistances (provided you have Fanatec pedals, of course).
And with the quirk release system which comes as standard on Fanatec wheels, you can switch out wheels instantaneously; even during races!
Coming in as one of the more affordable wheels, you won’t receive a wheelbase and as such will have to purchase one separately. However, all of Fanatec’s wheelbases will work with this wheel which opens your options very wide indeed.
Depending on the wheelbase you choose will also dictate which consoles this wheel can be used with, so keep that in mind when picking!
- Lightweight, high-grade materials such as Alcantara used on this wheel
- Sleek and overall less cluttered/intimidating than other wheels on this list
- No wheelbase included
- No DRS/clutch paddles
6. ThrustMaster Open Wheel Add-On
Now for the last (but certainly not least!) F1-style sim racing wheel; the Open Wheel Add-On from ThrustMaster! In terms of sim racing hardware, ThrustMaster is pretty famous and well-known the world over. This is for good reason, as they make some of the best variety of products on the market!
When designing this wheel, which is called an add-on due to being the wheel rim alone, ThrustMaster had competition on their minds. The Open Wheel was made to compete in F1 racing sims, as well as GT3, GT4, LMP1 and LMP2.
This flexibility makes it the most versatile wheel on this list, and it has a slightly different design to most I’ve reviewed in order to accommodate for this slightly wider compatibility.
It’s 28cm in diameter, giving it a realistic yet not overly large size and a bit bigger than all of the Fanatec wheels on this list without losing the compact feeling you need from an F1 sim racing wheel.
The whole wheel weighs less than 2lbs, making it highly responsive and only amplifying the power of force feedback. Its face plate is made of brushed aluminum, much like a lot of the wheels on this list, which provides longevity while keeping the weight down.
The side grips aren’t exactly covered with Alcantara, but they’re optimized for longer gaming sessions what with the slightly longer and more forgiving angle of them. They’re made of a grippy, forgiving suede material.
Of course, considering that ThrustMaster sell this as an add-on to be attached to their various wheelbases, the Open Wheel can be attached and detached with ease.
It has responsive sequential paddle shifters mounted on the wheel itself, meaning less parts to worry about when assembling; they are made entirely of metal and come in at 3 inches long.
In terms of buttons and inputs, the Open Wheel has considerably less than most on this list, but plenty to work with all the same. It has 6 action buttons, 1 D-pad and a rotary selector which has 3 different positions plus a push button.
The Open Wheel can be used on all major platforms; the PS4, PC and Xbox One all included in that number. It heavily depends on which ThrustMaster wheelbase you purchase, so much like the Fanatec F1 Esports Wheel, make sure to double-check which one you would need in order for it to be compatible with your set-up.
The Open Wheel is a good choicein terms of affordability. It’s more versatile than the other wheels on this list, which is both a boon and a shortcoming; depending on what you’re looking for.
Purely as an F1 wheel, it doesn’t match up to all of the other wheels I’ve reviewed. But if you look at its competitive edge with all kinds of racing sims, it comes into a league of its own. If this was a list of versatile F1-styled wheels, the Open Wheel would win every time!
- 28cm diameter makes it bigger than all Fanatec wheels on this list
- Less busy-looking and therefore less intimidating than most
- Versatility makes it less suited for simply F1 racing
- Lacking number of buttons & inputs, no DRS/ clutch paddles
- Not as reliable as Fanatec products
There we have it! A definitive buyer’s guide of all the best F1 sim racing wheels currently out there on the market!
I hope that my reviews on these amazing wheels have helped you to make some decisions about your rig. At the very least, you should feel more confident browsing for yourself with my list of sim racing wheel must-have features!