The game features racing in one of two Formula One cars around a variety of tracks near set in a landmark scenery. In the Family Computer version of the game, the cars come in three colors: red, light orange, and dark blue.
Gameplay in the Family Computer version is similar to that of Namco's Pole Position. The player must finish 2 laps of each course within the time limit in order to progress to the next. Points are scored based on the distance the car travels, with the goal being to gain a high score. Vehicles in the game have a generic two-speed manual transmission governing their speed (with a "LOW" setting and a "HI" setting).. A time extension is granted after completing the first lap of each course. The game has 3 skill levels, with each skill level having a set of 5 tracks, where the tracks in skill level 1 are the simplest, and the tracks in skill level 3 are the most complex. On the fifth track of each skill level, the race will never end, no matter how many laps the player completes, and the time extension granted with each lap completion diminishes, eventually forcing a game over. When the player's car come into contact with other cars racing on the track, or with objects off the side of the road, it will be destroyed and respawn, usually losing several seconds. Additionally, the player must be careful on bends, as if the car is going too fast, it will skid on them, forcing the car towards the outside of the bend and will potentially cause a crash or run off the road.
Several Nintendo characters appear at the end of race circuits for the Game Boy version: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Bowser, Link, Samus, Pit and Donkey Kong. The game resulted in a Grand Prix series sequel, featuring Famicom Grand Prix: F-1 Race and Famicom Grand Prix II: 3D Hot Rally. Similar to the original, both games were never released outside Japan.
The Game Boy version has a considerably different gameplay compared to the original version, with longer race tracks set in different countries and new driving mechanics, as well as different game modes. The player is able to activate a temporary speed boost by pressing and holding up on the D-pad, this replaces the low-high gear setting from the Famicom version. In addition, the player is able to powerslide by continuing to hold left or right when turning sharp corners. Unlike the Famicom version, colliding with other cars no longer destroys the player's car and hitting an obstacle simply makes the car spin out.