Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, with an elite group of 20 drivers putting their racing abilities to the test as they compete at top speeds exceeding 200 mph to clinch the coveted Pole Position.
For both fans and drivers, it’s the need for speed that reels them in.
If you’ve watched a Grand Prix, you’ll scarcely believe the speed a Formula 1 racing car can carry, whether through corners or on the straights.
Find out how these cars achieve insanely high top speeds and what makes these cars so fast!
How Fast Do F1 Cars Go Around a Track?
F1 cars can race around a track in average lap times of less than 2 minutes.
Covering a distance in such a short time means F1 cars go at an average speed of a whopping 161 mph (260km/h) – which is impressively fast.
F1 cars use highly efficient hybrid engines that are compact yet exceptionally powerful.
The engine’s total power output, along with its power unit, can produce around an astonishing 1,050 horsepower.
F1 cars also boast an impressive power-to-weight ratio because they weigh less than 800 kg.
F1 cars are not designed and built to go fast in a straight line.
Instead, they’re designed to go as fast as possible around a race circuit.
Top speed is limited by the car’s aerodynamic configuration.
This is determined by creating a balance between the car’s high cornering speed (high downforce) and high straight-line speed (low drag) to achieve the fastest lap times.
The technical top speed of an F1 car is roughly 223 mph (360km/h).
However, the fastest recorded speed during an official Grand Prix race was a staggering 246 mph (397km/h).
What Are The Fastest Tracks in F1?
When we talk about top-speed tracks in F1, we think of circuits like Monza, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, but which is the fastest track?
The Italian Grand Prix track is the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar.
- Track Length: 3.600 miles (5.793 km)
- Average Speed: 164 mph (264 km/h)
- Top Speed: 225 mph (362 km/h)
- Race Lap Record: Rubens Barrichello (2004): 1:21:046
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is the fastest street circuit in the F1 calendar.
- Track Length: 3.836 miles (6.174 km)
- Average Speed: 157 mph (252 km/h)
- Top Speed: 202 mph (325 km/h)
- Race Lap Record: Lewis Hamilton (2021): 1:30.734
What Affects the Speed Of F1 Cars?
The design and layout of F1 tracks limit the on-track speeds of F1 cars.
As F1 drivers navigate the track in a race, they often have to reduce speeds in corners or speed traps.
Driving a race car at high speeds for extended periods can put excessive pressure on the car and overheat the tires.
As a result, drivers control their speed during the race.
The type of conditions, such as rain, can also affect the speed at which F1 drivers operate their cars during a Grand Prix.
Fans might assume that rain is the biggest factor affecting a car’s performance, but you might be surprised to learn that crosswinds can seriously affect a car’s handling.
Similarly, debris such as sand on the track can affect handling and cause drivers to slow down significantly during a race.
What Makes F1 Cars So Fast?
Compared to other race cars, the design of F1 cars is to go fast.
A modern F1 car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than two seconds and reach a top speed of 240 mph.
If that doesn’t impress you, consider this: The G forces experienced by an F1 driver during a race are more than what astronauts experience during a shuttle launch!
So what features of an F1 car make them go so incredibly fast?
Aerodynamics plays a key role in giving these cars lightning-fast speed in the corners.
Aerodynamics generates downforce that sucks the car to the ground, making it an essential component for speed.
More downforce equals more grip, allowing the car to take corners faster, resulting in faster lap times.
An F1 engine that produces the most power and reliability is a significant advantage.
F1 cars use four-stroke 1.6-liter turbo V6 engines, with the cylinders arranged in a 90-degree ‘V’ configuration and two inlet and exhaust valves per cylinder.
F1 cars use semi-automatic gearboxes. However, the driver operates the clutch while starting the car and changes the gears by themselves.
Gears are mounted behind the steering wheel and require significant skill to engage them at the right times.
The front of an F1 car accounts for 40% of the downforce generated by the car.
The wings are designed in an upside-down way to ensure the car is sucked to the ground while also enabling the car to move faster.
The downforce of an F1 car must be adjusted to the type of track they’re racing on.
On corner-heavy tracks, teams will modify the cars’ features to increase downforce, allowing the car to take more turns at higher speeds.
They will also create less downforce to go faster on the straights.
Are F1 cars the fastest?
While the technical top race speed of an F1 car is roughly 223 mph, the accolade for the fastest goes to IndyCar.
The record top speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is 235 mph (378km/h), indicating that IndyCar outshines F1 cars in speed.
Are F1 cars faster than NASCAR cars?
At peak performance, F1 cars are much faster than NASCAR cars.
While the fastest car in NASCAR tops around 200 mph, F1 cars can reach top speeds of up to 250 mph.
F1 cars also beat out Formula E cars, which can reach a top speed of 174 mph.
The speed and performance of Formula 1 cars remain unfaltering on the racetrack.
Innovative designs, aerodynamics and a speed-focused agenda make up the lightning-quick recipe of F1 cars.
Equipped with engines that produce 1,050 horsepower to reach top speeds of more than 200 mph, F1 boasts some of the fastest cars in the world.
So the answer to the question: How fast doF1 cars go? Very fast.