With Formula One over 70 years old, finding the best F1 model kits is tricky given the vast number of cars available spanning all eras of the sport. However, we'd argue there's no better way of rolling your racing passion with your hobby of building into one than with a top-tier model set.
Not only can they be a great display piece, but the building process itself is an excellent way to keep yourself entertained for hours on end, all for a relatively inexpensive price.
Although picking up one of the best model car kits may be your first thought when looking for a new set, we'd argue that narrowing things down to F1 cars, in particular, is ideal if you're a fan of the sport. So, to help kick off your search, we've put together a list of our top picks using price, reviews, and difficulty to inform our selection, much like we did with our list of the best LEGO car sets.
Whether you're looking for an old-school championship-winning vehicle, like this McLaren Honda MP4/4, or you're new to F1 and you're after something a little more recent, like this Ferrari SF70H, then we've got you covered right here.
Best F1 model kits
1. McLaren Honda MP4/4 1988
Best F1 model kit
We begin with a 1:20 scale replica of the McLaren Honda MP4/4, crafted by the excellent model car manufacturer Tamiya. In the realm of Formula 1, the actual car stands as nothing short of a triumph, clinching victory in a remarkable 15 out of 16 races it contested.
Moreover, piloted by two of the most iconic figures in the sport's history—Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna—the McLaren Honda MP4/4 adds an extra layer of prestige to this miniature recreation. Arguably, there exists no more fitting subject for a model car build than this legendary vehicle, encapsulating the legacy of its drivers and the era it dominated.
2. Ferrari F310B 1996
Best plastic F1 model kit
Including this Ferrari F310B on our list is a nod to the immense success of the Ferrari team in Formula 1 history. Boasting a rich heritage, the F310B holds a special place, particularly due to its association with Michael Schumacher's debut year at Ferrari.
Schumacher's extraordinary journey with Ferrari is etched in the annals of F1, marked by his stellar performance that led to the clinching of five championships. His legacy is further underscored by the attainment of seven titles in total across his career, a record matched only by Lewis Hamilton to date.
The Ferrari F310B, a symbol of that remarkable era, serves as a timeless representation of the team's pursuit of excellence. As Ferrari continues its quest for supremacy with drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz challenging Red Bull for the top position, opting for a plastic model of the F310B becomes more than a mere homage—it becomes a celebration of a glorious chapter in F1 history.
3. Williams FW-13B 1990
Best retro F1 model kit
If you're in search of a vintage car that predates the 1996 Ferrari model, the Williams FW-13B from Tamiya presents an appealing alternative.
While it may not boast the same level of success as the previously mentioned cars on the actual racetrack, it's worth noting that Riccardo Patrese and Thierry Boutsen both secured one victory each during the 1990 F1 season in this remarkable machine.
However, the primary selling point of the Williams FW-13B lies in its iconic design. Featuring a straightforward yet striking combination of yellow, blue, and white, this coluor scheme would later become synonymous with Fernando Alonso's championship-winning Renault car. As a result, the Tamiya Williams FW-13B model offers a captivating choice for enthusiasts of retro racing.
4. Lotus 49B 1968
Best metal F1 model kit
Shifting away from traditional plastic models, the Tameo Lotus 49B kit boasts an exquisite blend of resin and metal craftsmanship. This masterful creation, scaled down to a 1:43 ratio, may be slightly more compact than its counterparts, but it certainly doesn't diminish the style of the iconic red and white Lotus design it faithfully replicates.
It's also worth pointing out this car was expertly driven by the legendary Graham Hill, a formidable two-time F1 champion who clinched his second title while at the helm of this very vehicle. This historical resonance elevates the Lotus 49B to a league of its own, making it an unrivaled choice for those seeking the sophistication and durability of a metal model kit.
5. Ferrari SF70H 2017
Best modern F1 model kit
For those who are relatively new to the world of Formula One, we've got you covered with the 2017 Ferrari SF70H model from Tamiya.
This meticulously crafted kit is designed in a 1:20 scale, offering a striking resemblance to the modern F1 cars currently gracing the tracks.
The SF70H was skillfully piloted by two championship-winning drivers, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel in real life. Together, they achieved an impressive total of 20 podium finishes and clinched five race victories throughout the thrilling 2017 season. As such, if you're only just starting your journey into the world of F1, this Ferrari SF70H model is an excellent choice to consider.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
When it comes to model car kits, there are usually a few questions that pop up. Don't worry though because we've answered some of the most common queries right here.
How long do F1 model kits take to build?
There is no one set answer as to how long an F1 model kit will take to build as it will depend on the pace you work at.
Smaller models may have fewer parts and should, therefore, be completed slightly quicker; however, this isn't always the case.
Generally speaking, an F1 kit could take weeks, months, and sometimes even years to completely finish depending on the level of detail.
What do you need to build a model kit?
Although most of the components will be supplied in the kit, it's worth keeping in mind some of the main elements you'll typically need to build a model.
Firstly, you'll almost always need an adhesive. Glue or cement are common for assembling the parts of a model. Depending on the type of model and the materials used, different adhesives may be needed, such as plastic cement, super glue, or wood glue.
Also, a kit will typically include a selection of modelling tools. These may include hobby knives, cutters, sandpaper, and tweezers, plus you'll usually find a set of brushes if you need to paint the set. We'd also recommend a cloth to wipe away any debris in the building process.
Other factors to consider include the workspace, as you'll need somewhere flat and clear to construct your model and leave it to dry undisturbed after, and the instructions. Make sure you read them carefully and follow each step to achieve the desired finish.
Should you paint a model before assembling it?
Generally speaking, you should paint a model after assembling and gluing it together; however, there can be times when it's easier to paint a small part first before attaching it to a larger, different-coloured piece.
It's likely the painting order will be detailed in the manufacturer's instructions, so we'd recommend checking that first before you begin.
What are the scales for model cars?
Generally speaking, model cars are scaled down to the following sizes:
- 1:18 - 9-12 inches / 24-30 cm
- 1:24 - 6.5-8 inches / 16-20 cm
- 1:32 - 4-6 inches / 10-15 cm
- 1:43 - 3.5-5 inches / 8-12 cm
- 1:64 - 2.5-3 inches / 6-8 cm
However, you will occasionally find models bigger than this, and sometimes even ones which fall in between two sizes.
For instance, the majority of the F1 cars featured in our list use a 1:20 rather than 1:18 or 1:24. This is perhaps an easier measurement to scale down to due to the intricacies of F1 vehicles.