Which factors affect the top speed of F1 cars and other motorsport cars?
You would be right to imagine that the F1 car top speed would be faster than the Formula E top speed but do you know by how much and how NASCAR top speed and IndyCar top speed fit into this picture? There are many factors that govern how fast a motorsport car can travel and the power of the engine is just the start. Braking ability is important because drivers can only go as fast as allows them to brake for corners. Lift (upwards vertical aerodynamic force) and downforce (downwards vertical aerodynamic force) also play a strong part, as do tire quality and driver ability.
What is the top speed of F1 cars?
Our expectations for Formula 1 are high, although some prefer other forms of motor racing, Formula One is considered by many to be the elite in motorsport. It follows that our anticipation of the F1 car top speed would be higher than other motorsports. As with most motorsports, F1 car developers face a range of restrictions that change from season to season, these result in a fluctuation in speed records. The F1 car top speed is also limited by track design, with the longest straight giving the greatest opportunity for speed but this, in turn being restricted by the necessity for the optimum cornering speed.
F1 Car Top Speed Figures
There is some controversy over the F1 car top speed record, Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2005 record of 231.5 mph was achieved during testing but recognised by the FIA whereas Valtteri Bottas’ 2016 top speed of 231.48 mph was achieved in race conditions but has yet to be accepted by FIA record officials. Statistics for the 2017 F1 season so far show that the cornering speed of F1 cars has increased due to changes in car design. The top speeds at Silverstone’s Copse corner were this year 18.6 mph faster than last year at 180 mph. Silverstone has a high-speed layout and is considered one of the fastest Formula One tracks. At the 2017 British Grand Prix, Felipe Massa recorded a maximum speed of 202.06 mph.
What is the NASCAR top speed?
Did you know that NASCAR is an acronym for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing? As the original definition of a stock car is one that has had no modification since factory configuration, it is maybe surprising that NASCAR top speeds do sometimes match the top speed of a Formula car or even that of F1’s modern, electric brother, Formula E. Today’s stock cars may resemble standard factory models on the outside but they have major internal modifications, which meet strict car design regulations that differ for each class.
The fastest speed ever reached by a NASCAR specification stock car was 244.9 mph but Russ Wicks’ Dodge Charger was on the Bonneville Salt Flats at the time, not a racing circuit. In 1987 Bill Elliott set the series qualifying speed record at 212.809 mph at Talladega Superspeedway. The fact that this record still stands today is not down to engineering progress or driver talent, it is because such speeds were considered highly dangerous on an enclosed circuit. Following Bobby Allison’s dramatic, airborne crash in the same year, in which his car narrowly avoided smashing into the crowd, unrestricted high-speed races were ended at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway. Today’s NASCAR drivers reach speeds of around the 200 mph mark.
What is the IndyCar top speed?
The IndyCar Series came into being in 1996 and was started by Tony George who, at the time, owned the popular Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The most famous IndyCar event is the Indianapolis 500. Whilst IndyCars look and perform very much like Formula One cars, there are some significant differences. For example, Formula 1 cars have much bigger budgets than IndyCars and IndyCars all come from the same manufacturer whereas Formula One teams build their own distinctive cars. The top 2017 speed for the Indianapolis 500 was 232.164 mph and driven by New Zealander Scott Dixon. Average speeds over the course of a season are not so high, for example, Alexander Rossi’s average speed for the 2016 season was 166.634 mph.
What is the Formula E top speed?
As the new kid on the motorsport block and a very different kid at that, entirely electric powered Formula E had something to prove when it was introduced to the world in Beijing in 2014. The electric Formula E cars are dependent, to a great extent, on the ability of their batteries to deliver power. Development and improvements to the Formula E battery are still ongoing, but with the 2016 swap from Williams Advanced Engineering to McLaren Applied Technologies, improvements in speed are expected. The current battery can only deliver Formula E top speeds approaching 150 mph but the jury is out on the 2018/19 next generation cars, the concept of which was revealed by Spark Racing Technology in February 2017. An apparent lack of speed gains has been the source of considerable discussion but it looks as though drivers will now be able to complete a whole race without the car swaps that are currently necessitated by poor battery life.
Speed is exciting and the very essence of motorsport but with it comes risk. The provision of professional medical cover and equipment at all motorsport events is vital to safety. At MDD our experienced team have wide-ranging knowledge and experience of working at motorsport events. Get in touch today to speak to our specialist consultation team about all of your medical and safety equipment needs.
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