Formula 1 Speed


In Formula 1, top speeds are in practice limited by the longest straight at the track and by the need to balance the car's aerodynamic configuration between high straight line speed when low downforce is needed, and high cornering speed with high downforce demands, to achieve the fastest lap time.
During the 2006 season, the top speeds of Formula 1 cars are a little over 300 km/h at high-downforce tracks such as Albert Park, Australia and Sepang, Malaysia. These speeds are down by some 10 km/h from the 2005 speeds, and 15 km/h from the 2004 speeds, due to the performance restrictions.
On low-downforce circuits greater top speeds are registered at Gilles-Villeneuve circuit (Canada) 325 km/h, at Indianapolis (USA) 335 km/h. For most of the year Monza's Villa Royal park, 25 kilometers from Milan, provides a picturesque route for joggers and cyclist. But buried deep within the woodland lies Formula 1's fastest challenge. The historic circuit is dubbed the 'cathedral of speed' and it holds the records for the highest speed - 371.7kph - recorded by an F1 car, the fastest ever lap, the quickest grand prix in history and the closest finish, with just a hundredth of a second separating the first two cars back in 1971. In the Italian Grand Prix 2004, Antônio Pizzonia of BMW WilliamsF1 team recorded a top speed of 369.9 kilometers per hour.
Newly-reconfigured Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City replaced Monza as the temple of top speed in 2015, with the high altitudes of 2,220m above sea level, producing highest recorded season-high velocities, Pastor Maldonado's staggering 366.4 km/h (227.7 mph) through the speed trap on Sunday - significantly faster than the pre-V6 era. Second on the list was Sebastian Vettel with 366.2 km/h.
And then 2016 at new Baku (Azerbaijan) Formula 1 city track produced record top speeds at the end of the straight. Valtteri Bottas was officially clocked across the start/finish line as going at 366.1 km/h during qualifying in Baku, as the result of a slipstream he had got off Max Verstappen's Red Bull. However, as braking zone for Turn 1 is far after the start/finish line, Williams' data showed that his car continued to accelerate after that reading and reached a peak of 378km/h shortly afterwards. This figure is in excess of speed trap figures from F1's other high-speed venues, Mexico and Monza. Baku's top speeds are more of a shock because of the tight and twisty nature of the city track once the cars have left the 2.1km long straight.

Away from the track, the BAR Honda team used a modified BAR 007 car, which they claim complied with FIA Formula One regulations, to set an unofficial speed record of 413.205kmh, or 265.754mph on a one way straight line run on 6 November 2005 during a shakedown ahead of their Bonneville 400 record attempt. The car was optimized for top speed with only enough downforce to prevent it from leaving the ground. The car, badged as a Honda following their takeover of BAR at the end of 2005, set an FIA ratified record of 400 km/h on a one way run on 21 July 2006 at Bonneville Salt Flats. On this occasion the car did not fully meet FIA Formula One regulations, as it used a moveable aerodynamic rudder for stability control, breaching article 3.15 of the 2006 Formula One technical regulations which states that any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance must be rigidly secured.

c130 honda

Honda at Bonneville

Honda at Bonneville


Forward acceleration


The 2008 F1 cars have a power-to-weight ratio of around 1,250 hp (932 kW)/tone (0.9 kW/kg).
Theoretically this would allow the car to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 1 second. However the massive power cannot be converted to motion at low speeds due to traction loss, and the usual figure is 2 seconds to reach 100 km/h.
After about 130 km/h traction loss is minimal due to the combined effect of the car moving faster and the downforce, hence the car continues accelerating at a very high rate.

The figures are (for the 2007 Renault R27):

0 to 100 km/h (62 mph): 2.0 seconds

0 to 200 km/h (124 mph): 3.9 seconds

0 to 300 km/h (186 mph): 8.6 seconds

Figures may alter slightly depending on the aerodynamic setup.

The acceleration figure is usually 2.46 g (24.1 m /s) up to 200 km/h, which means the driver, is pushed back in the seat with 2.46 times his body weight.



REGULATIONS say about that


3.15 Aerodynamic influence :
With the exception of the driver adjustable bodywork described in Article 3.18 (in addition to minimal parts solely associated with its actuation) and the ducts described in Article 11.4, any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance :
- Must comply with the rules relating to bodywork.
- Must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom).
- Must remain immobile in relation to the sprung part of the car.
Any device or construction that is designed to bridge the gap between the sprung part of the car and the ground is prohibited under all circumstances.
No part having an aerodynamic influence and no part of the bodywork, with the exception of the skid block in 3.13 above, may under any circumstances be located below the reference plane.
With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in Article 3.18, any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited.

11.4 Air ducts :
Air ducts around the front and rear brakes will be considered part of the braking system and shall not protrude beyond :
- A plane parallel to the ground situated at a distance of 160mm above the horizontal centre line of the wheel.
- A plane parallel to the ground situated at a distance of 160mm below the horizontal centre line of the wheel.
- A vertical plane parallel to the inner face of the wheel rim and displaced from it by
120mm toward the car centre line.
Furthermore :
- When viewed from the side the ducts must not protrude forwards beyond a radius of 330mm from the centre of the wheel or backwards beyond a radius of 180mm from the centre of the wheel.
- The ducts may not rotate with the wheels nor may they, or any of their mountings,
protrude axially beyond the outer face of the wheel fastener.
- No part of the car, other than those specifically defined in Articles 12.8.1 and 12.8.2, may obscure any part of the wheel when viewed from the outside of the car towards the car centre line along the axis of the wheel.
- Any vertical cross section of any air duct normal to the car centre line inboard of a plane parallel to the inboard face of the wheel rim and displaced 15mm towards the centre line of the car, must form one tangent continuous curve on its external surface. This tangent continuous curve may not contain any radius less than 10mm.
All measurements will be made with the wheel held in a vertical position.


Back to the top of the page


Books to read

Some useful links:

- f1technical.net, a great site with a lot of technical information’s and explanations. Site is updated daily with news from F1 word.

 - autosport.com, This site is a legend. A bible for racing lovers. News from all around the word. Unfortunately, to get access to all news, interviews and to open the site completely you should be subscribed to Autosport magazine. Anyway, great read.

James Allen on F1
- JA.F1 site (or blog) ovned by ITV Sport’s lead commentator on Formula 1 James Allen

Joe Saward blog
- joesaward is the Joe Saward official blog about Formula 1 world. Joe is an journalist, who write primarily about politics in and around motorsport, specifically on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship

Vital F1
 - vitalf1.com/ is another great site for Motor Sports fan’s like me. Site is relatively new, but great fun, with great discussion forum, Formula 1 news and forum.

 GP update
- f1.gpupdate.net, Site with fresh news from Formula 1

Planet F1
 - planetf1, another site with many different articles, news and statistics. Biased toward British teams, but anyway good read.

Gurney flap
 - gurneyflap.com, Great history site. You can learn a lot from this site. Pictures, cars and many many more. Great.

4ormula1 is a database of Formula 1 history and statistics of drivers, teams, grand prix, and all results since 1950

Racecar engineering
-Racecar Engineering, an online magazine with a lot to learn from, a lot of technical information’s and explanations

 - fia.com, La Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, representing the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. Head organisation and ruler in auto sport.

 - wikipedia.org, I don’t believe that I have to tell you anything about this site. It’s not about Formula 1 technology, but you can learn a lot about that too.

Sutton Images

grandprix photo

 - carbibles.com, a great site for normal car users. Here you can find explanations of almost everything about your car and how it works. Technical reviews and explanations of some in-car gadgets.

Dare To Be Different
- Daretobedifferent.org Susie Wolff and UK governing body of UK motorsport have joined forces to launch Dare To Be Different, a high-profile new initiative which is about increasing female participation, not just on the track but in all aspects of the sport.