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When watching an F1 race, it can be fascinating to watch the cars zip around a circuit as fast as possible with their brakes glowing red hot. However, many people wonder how fast Formula 1 cars drive. Well, buckle up and find out just how fast Formula 1 cars can accelerate and drive around a track.
The top speed of a Formula One car was recorded at a whopping 354.9 km/h (220.6 mph) during a test session in 2005! A lap on the long straight in Monza, Italy, takes only about 26 seconds to complete, but it takes drivers nearly 7 minutes to finish an actual race lap due to complicated turns.
Read on if you have ever been wondering how fast Formula 1 cars drive around an F1 circuit.
How Fast Do F1 Cars Go?
The simple answer is that F1 cars can go up to around 225 mph in qualifying, but the average speed is more like 180 mph. They have to slow down for corners, and they don’t always have a draft from other cars around them.
On some circuits like Monza and Barcelona Formula One cars can go as fast as 350 km/h (217 mph) on the straight sections. The track record for the fastest speed was recorded at 372.5km/h by Valtteri Bottas at the Mexican F1 circuit in 2016. This was done during the hybrid era of F1 cars.
There have been attempts to break the 400km/h speed limit; however, F1 cars have not reached those levels. Honda did come close to that speed back in 2006 at the Bonneville Salt Flats when it was powered by a V10 engine. The car achieved a top speed of 397km/h, which set the land speed record for an F1 car, which remains to be broken.
The car featured a few minor modifications, in which the rear wing was replaced with a fin, and a parachute was added to help the car slow down. Each track layout varies; however, you can still find cars reaching speeds of up to 360km/h on some straights.
The acceleration for an F1 car is outrageous, and these cars can travel from 0 to 60mph (0 to 96km/h) in a ridiculous 2.6 seconds!
There might be sluggishness that can be attributed to the car’s aerodynamics, which will take a bit of time and distance to reach the required downforce. The few seconds that the car loses time getting off the line is due to the agility and the downforce that assist F1 cars to navigate through the corners.
How Fast Are F1 Cars On The Straights?
When you watch a Formula 1 race, it can seem like they’re going insanely fast. In a sense, they are “low flying.” But the F1 cars are not built for straight-line speed, unlike a dragster.
Formula 1 cars are built to be fast. However, they also have a lot of aerodynamic components like the front wing and the rear wing, which enables them to stick to the track and be quick in the corners.
In fact, in 2021, CarWow made the below YouTube video of a 1,200hp Lamborghini, a 1,300hp Nissan GT-R, and a 750hp 2011 Red Bull F1 car. The results of this test are astounding. The 1,200hp Lamborghini was quicker off the mark than the Red Bull Formula 1 car in a straight line.
This shows that Formula 1 cars are not meant for straight-line speed. Formula 1 cars are indeed heavy, so getting off quicker from the start takes a little bit of time to build momentum. But once they have reached their maximum speed, it will be difficult to catch them up with a regular road car with lesser horsepower.
The straight-line speed of an F! car is also limited by the race track they are racing on. In the 2006 Formula 1 season, the F1 cars were reaching speeds of over 300km/h on high downforce circuits like Albert Park, Australia, and at Sepang in Malaysia.
On low downforce circuits like the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in Canada, the cars reached 325km/h and 335km/h in Indianapolis in the US, respectively. For the 2004 Italian Formula 1 GP, the BMW Williams driven by Antonio Pizzonio clocked a speed of 369km/h.
With the new 2022 regulations, these newer cars are not much quicker compared to previous cars. In fact, with the fatter 18-inch low-profile tires, they are pretty bulky and oversized, limiting their straight-line speed.
However, as developments progress with the newer Formula 1 car and regulations, how much more speed and downforce F1 teams will be squeezing out of the power units and cars is yet to be seen.
How Fast Do F1 Cars Go Through Corners?
These modern-day Formula 1 cars are incredible machinery and engineering capable of reaching insane speeds, pushing the limits, and braking to navigate around an F1 circuit.
We’ve seen how fast these cars are in a straight line on some highspeed circuits; however, the real beauty and potential of an F1 car is visible through the highspeed corners of an F1 track. When it comes to corners and cornering on an F1 track, a few factors affect a driver’s ability to navigate through the corner.
The racetrack conditions affect the speed at which an F1 car can get through a corner successfully. When we speak about the conditions of a racetrack, we are speaking about how much downforce is available on the circuit and from the racetrack surface.
For example, at some F1 circuits, like Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, the track temperatures can get extremely hot, affecting the car’s ability to get up to a decent speed.
In addition, these circuits are in the middle of the desert. The tracks will get sandy and dusty, affecting the cars’ performance and ability to successfully navigate through the corner effectively without losing grip and spinning off into the sand traps.
Around corners on an F1 circuit, these cars can reach speeds between 31mph (50km/h) to 192mph (310 km/h). The speed will vary depending on how fast or slow the corners are. If the track conditions are suitable for highspeed racing and cornering, then F1 cars will be rapid going around corners.
F1 cars will be driving on either Wet or Intermediate tires for wet and rainy racetracks, and those tires are not capable of reaching high speeds. On any F1 circuit, there are corners of all shapes, sizes, and speeds.
For example, the Loews / Fairmont hairpin bend on the Monaco street circuit is usually taken at speeds of 31mph (50km/h). The fastest corner is in Suzuki, Japan, where the cars top speeds of 192mph (310km/h). I don’t think that any road cars can reach those speeds going through corners!
F1 Car And Power Unit Performance
For these Formula 1 cars to reach their peak operating levels of speed and performance, they need to have reliable and high-speed power units and drivetrains.
In the pre-hybrid era of Formula 1 cars in the 1990s, the cars could produce 900hp. However, the current generation of Formula 1 cars in the hybrid era can produce approximately 1,000hp from a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine.
These hybrid-era Formula 1 power units can rev up to 13,000 RPMs. The incredible power and speeds that these cars can produce are due to performance enhanced ICE (internal combustion engines) coupled with two electric motors.
One of these electric motors, also called the MGU-K, harvests energy from the turbo and sends that power to the rear wheels. The second power unit, the MGU-H, harvests the KERS energy (kinetic energy reduction system) from the brakes and uses that to create additional horsepower when needed.
The internal combustion engine of an F1 car can produce up to 700hp, and when coupled with the two electric motors, MGU-K and MGU-H, that produce an additional 300hp, it makes up a total of 1,000hp. That is more than enough power for these advanced engineering marvels to obtain speeds over 360km/h.
Which Is The Fastest Formula 1 Circuit?
Throughout Formula 1 racing history, a few notable circuits around the globe have always attracted many fans. These Formula 1 circuits have become infamous for their high speeds and massive racing spectacle, creating a worthwhile racing experience for drivers and avid racing fans.
Monza, Italy, is one of the unique Formula 1 circuits known throughout history for its high-speed and simplistic layout. Since the track was built in the early 1920s, it has undergone a few minor changes to its design that earned it the fastest Formula 1 circuit on the F1 racing calendar.
The Monza track has a series of very long straights and a few tight chicanes that put maximum strain on braking and engines. The 3,600 mile-long circuit is tough on engines, as they have to operate at 80% of the race under full throttle, resulting in some catastrophic engine failures.
The high-speed nature of the Monza circuit has earned it the title, The Temple of Speed. During the mid-2000s, cars reached speeds of 372km/h (231 mph) on this circuit, and most recently, during the hybrid era of engines, they are getting up to speeds of 360 km/h (220 mph). Rubens Barrichello currently holds the lap record for the Monza circuit during the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, who set the quickest lap time of 1:21.046.
The second fastest Formula 1 racing circuit is in Silverstone, in the United Kingdom. The lap record here is 1m 27.369s, set at a speed of 150.808mph.
Will F1 Cars Be Quick For The 2022 Season?
Following the new F1 rule changes both to the cars and the racing regulations, it is a question on every Formula 1 racing fan’s mind whether the newer cars will be quicker than previous generation Formula 1 car.
While F1 teams are continually working to improve their cars for the new 2022 racing season, we already have some insight into how these cars will perform on the track. After the Red Bull RB18 car launch, it was noted that one of the characteristics of the new cars would be an improvement in straight-line speed.
The new F1 racing regulation changes from using downforce to using ground effect instead. The new change has led to a significant reduction in the drag coefficient.
The new F1 rules concerning aerodynamics and ground-effect aim to generate more downforce from the ground, as opposed to previous years, when the downforce was generated from the front and rear wing and bodywork.
The new ground effect rule will affect the ride of the car, the mechanical grip, and the car’s drag. This new generation of downforce is more efficient, making the cars quicker on the straights at those downforce levels.
The new regulation concerning the use of the ground effect is possibly the most significant change to F1 cars in history. It is the most considerable rule change since 1983 when flat-bottomed F1 cars were introduced.
Furthermore, the addition of long noses on the cars with bigger 18-inch tires will affect how the newer F1 cars will perform on F1 circuits. The streamlined front noses are designed to channel airflow beneath the car, where the new ground effect rule comes into play.
So, the playing field for the new rule changes is now level as an entirely new generation of Formula 1 begins. Formula 1 teams and drivers have a blank canvas from which to set the new ground for the future of Formula 1.
So, there you have it. In a typical lap in the modern-day Formula 1 race, the cars reach over 300 km/h. And to achieve this, the drivers have to manage a car that is at times unstable and uncooperative—which probably explains why it takes years of practice and experience to be in a position to drive one of these cars so well.
Thankfully, we can speed up slow-motion footage and identify that record-breaking speed with today’s technology and advancements! Ultimately, fans must understand just how fast these cars travel at every track to fully appreciate the hard work that each team puts into developing them.