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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the top speed of an F1 car?

A: On closed circuits, the maximum speed recorded in modern times is about 210mph. However, on the same circuit, the car must negotiate 50mph chicanes so the top speed is comprimised by set-up. Champ Cars, which have similar power, reached 250mph on a California oval in 2000 with a low-downforce setting. The average lap speed was 240mph, a closed course record.

Q: How much does an F1 car weigh?

A: The minimum weight allowed by the rules is 600kg including driver. Cars can be weighed any time during the race weekend, so the teams make sure this weight is achieved 'dry', assuming all tanks are empty.

Q: Can F1 cars drive upside-down?

A: Yes! A Formula 1 car with driver weighs 600kg, but at 100mph the cars can produce around 1000kg of downforce. So when driving on the track, a total of 1600kg pushes the tyres onto the road. Because the aerodynamic force is greater than the weight, when driving upside-down at 100mph 600kg act downwards (weight), but 1000kg act upwards ("aero-force"), pusing the tyres onto the ceiling. However, no-one has tried it!

Q: How much horsepower does an F1 car produce?

A: A modern F1 engine produces about 800 horse-power, but teams are very secretive about details. This engine must last two race distances so some power is sacrificed to ensure reliability.

Q: How high can an F1 engine rev to?

A: The current benchmark figure, produced by Cosworth, is approximately 20,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). Like engine power, this is a closely guarded secret as (roughly) the more revs an engine can produce, the more power it produces.

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Last modified: 22 Oct 2006 - 11:28:54