Formula One Cars or F1 cars are single-seater cars that are optimized to reach remarkable speeds on the race track. Their speed is with no doubt one of the key reasons why many people want to get into this sport.
While F1 cars are remarkably fast reaching a top race speed of 360 km/h, they are not the fastest cars in the world. The Indycar is faster than F1 cars and can reach up to 380 km/h. F1 cars are optimized for maintaining high speeds through the race tracks corners and achieving the fastest lap times but they are not the best car in straight lines.
Although not the fastest, you will still experience an exceptional thrill that is not possible without F1 cars. If you are just starting on learning more about F1 and hold a lot of questions about the speed and records of F1 cars, keep reading and you will surely know more.
Are F1 cars the fastest in the world?
If we are to compare the general top track speeds, F1 cars are not the fastest in the world.
When it comes to the fastest standard track lap, F1 cars are the fastest cars worldwide setting the top track speed of 360 km/h. However, on straight lines, they can’t compare with the Indycar with a top track speed of 380 km/h. F1 cars are optimized for race tracks rather than a straight line and can reach high speeds even when turning on a corner.
F1 cars can reach high-speed records because of three things.
1. Powerful engine
F1 cars feature a 1.6L V6 Turbocharged engine that can produce 1050 horsepower. With this engine combined with a chassis, it can power up the F1 car to run at the speed of under 400 km. per hour. Typically, F1 cars have the ability to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 2.6 seconds.
This feature is probably the most unique thing to F1 cars. Aerodynamics produces the downforce that allows F1 cars to have a tighter grip on the road. Because of this grip, F1 cars can drive fast even on race track corners and can achieve quicker laps. The strong grip also allows F1 cars to produce harder acceleration and braking for the most optimal speed.
There was a time when F1 cars were built with heavy materials like solid aluminum but at present, materials as such are replaced with lighter material such as carbon fiber weight. Lightweight cars pose an advantage in adding up vehicle efficiency. When cars are light, they require lesser effort for acceleration allowing the driver to speed up.
Although F1 cars are getting bigger and heavier nowadays, they are still relatively lighter vehicles. In the latest International Automobile Federation (FIA) announcement, they have implemented a strict policy regarding the F1 car’s weight in 2022. The weight should be at least 795 kg. without fuel.
The fastest F1 car speed record in a race belongs to Valtteri Bottas who hit 371.5 km./h in the Mexican Grand Prix in 2016. A much higher speed record was set by Honda with their RA106 reaching the speed of 397.36 km/h in the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US.
Are F1 cars difficult to drive?
The short answer is yes. While F1 drivers may appear flawless and effortless on TV ads, driving an F1 car in the race tracks can take a toll on someone’s strength and endurance.
F1 cars require technical skills and knowledge to operate. Their high speed could be overwhelming for many beginners making it extremely difficult to maneuver the car and take corners for them.
F1 cars are not your idea of a comfortable car. F1 cars are built with an engine that can get extremely hot. Whether you like it or not, this heat can be felt inside the car. Heat plays a crucial part in the braking system so cooling it down is not a viable option to keep the driver comfortable. When the engine heat is under 400C, there is a huge tendency that the brakes won’t work. Drivers suffer from dehydration and can lose a body weight of 5 kg for every race as well. In addition to heat, drivers can also feel uncomfortable engine vibrations and road bumps.
Driving too slow can lead to the vehicle sliding due to less traction. On the other hand, driving too fast can make turning corners extremely challenging. Accelerating too sudden is also dangerous as F1 cars are lightweight vehicles and instant acceleration can make them run off the track. F1 drivers should be brave enough to handle F1 car speed and maintain a presence of mind at all times.
Who can drive F1 cars?
People who can drive F1 cars are required to be at least 18 years old and hold a super license. Super license is the driving license granted only to F1 drivers. To qualify for this special license, one should be at least 18 years of age at the beginning of their first F1 race. They should also have the International Grade A competition license and driving license, and pass an F1 knowledge exam. In addition, applicants should complete a minimum of 80% each of the two full seasons and rack up a minimum of 40 points over the last three seasons championships.
If you don’t aim to acquire a super license, don’t stress too much because you can still experience the speed of an F1 car. People with regular driving licenses can still experience the thrill of riding F1 cars for recreation. To ride an F1 car for recreation, you can rent F1 cars on certain race tracks. You will be monitored by an instructor or expert for safety too. On the downside, such recreation can cost thousands of bucks so you might want to reconsider it.
If you are determined to get into F1, it would be an advantage if you participate in competitive go-karts first to be familiar with racing and tracks. It is advisable to gain kart racing experience for around six to seven years before getting into Formula One.