Last Updated: 30 July 2015
This article looks at the different F1 chassis available as a guide to getting started in F1 racing. All of the cars in this guide are legal under the Australian National F1 Rules but if you live outside Australia check your local rules for restrictions or check with your local club before you buy.
Up until 2012 Tamiya dominated the F1 class with various models to choose from but in the last few years a large number of manufacturers have brought out F1 kits. So we are spoiled for choice, which can make it hard to pick a kit.
The purpose of this guide is to break down the more popular options to make your decision a little easier.
Unlike touring cars or Minis, most F1’s do not have an independent rear suspension (although the 3racing FGX2015 and Street Jam F01 are exceptions). This actually simplifies car setup as there are fewer adjustments to get to grips with.
When buying any new chassis there are a couple of key considerations:
1. Who else runs it at your local track? If another racer has a car that handles well, and is prepared to share their ideas, then buying the same model of chassis may be a smart move. So an early step is to visit your local track and talk to other F1 racers.
2. Parts availability. If they are on the shelf at your local hobby shop then that's a big advantage when you break something. Unfortunately this is the exception rather than the rule. Check out our Links page for a list of online stores that stock F1 parts and kits. If you can't find a store that stocks parts, either locally or online, then don't buy it.
We'll now discuss the different options available so that when you visit the track you have some initial ideas.
Prices constantly change so we've come up with 3 price ranges:
- Budget kits
- Mid-range price kits
- High end price kits
Of course shops often have specials so make sure you shop around. Something we've listed as a High End priced kit you may find on sale!
3racing FGX2015 - Pros: low cost, stable, easy to drive, cheap parts. Cons: heavy, noisy, uses FGX sized wheels. A good entry level kit.
Tamiya F104 (not the F104 Pro version) - Pros: low cost, often sold with everything you need to get started. Cons: does not provide sufficient grip on most tracks. Good for bashing or as a low cost way into F1.
Budget kits are a great way into F1, and to have fun, but don't expect to win races with them.
Mid-Range Price Kits
Speed Passion SP-1- relatively low cost
Tamiya F104 v2 (June 2012) - Pros: one of the most popular kits available, excellent parts support, excellent video series on setup. Cons: Starting to show its age but still one of the best mid-range kits available.
Tamiya TRF102 (June 2015) - only just released at time of writing.
CRC WTF1 - successful race kit
High End Price Kits
Xray X1 - Pros: what wins on Sunday sells on Monday and this kit is winning a lot of races at time of writing, Xray quality and support, easy to build and drive. Cons: only the price - although it is coming down.
Tamiya TRF 101 (June 2013) - will probably be replaced by the TRF102
HPI F10 - these are an unpopular chassis for various reasons and not recommended
Tamiya F103 - this was a great car in its day and can still be made to work well but if you are looking to buy your first F1 we don't recommend it
Other F1's - there are a number of F1 kits that are not particularly popular at time of writing. If you are an experienced F1 racer then you may like to check them out for something different but they are not recommended for your first kit.
What is the best car for you?
Only you can answer that but hopefully this overview allows you to cross off some things you don’t like and identifies options you’d like to explore further. Next stop – a detailed look through our Manufacturers section for a full list of kits available. It will also assist if you are not sure of the difference between different models from the same manufacturer eg; the difference between a Tamiya F104 and an F104 Pro. Then it's off to your local track.
Popularity on RC Formula1
You may be interested in our Most Popular F1's article from late 2014.