Formula 1 cars might be incredibly flimsy, but they’re some of the most expensive around. These machines are state of the art, packed with the latest and greatest technology. They’re always pushing the boundaries of engineering and innovation, but the costs behind the machines are immense.
F1 cars cost upwards of $20 million each to build, but it will vary between the teams. The engine is the most expensive part of the car, often costing $10+ million. Building the car from carbon fiber and other advanced materials is another reason Formula 1 cars are so expensive.
With the cars being so expensive, it’s a wonder how teams manage to survive in the sport. Formula 1 has always been considered the playground of the rich and famous, and that has never changed. Below, we cover in detail the costs that go into constructing an F1 car.
How Much Does It Cost To Build An F1 Car?
It can cost $14-20+ million to build an F1 car. However, the exact number is unknown because Formula 1 teams don’t reveal their finances publicly. This price is so high because of the high amount of labor that goes into these cars and the materials used to build them, including lots of carbon fiber.
Building a Formula 1 car is incredibly expensive. Each team has its own factory where they design and build their very own parts – even down to the nuts and bolts, making each and every car unique. The teams might be manufacturing all of the parts themselves, but that doesn’t make it any cheaper.
Building a Formula 1 car can cost tens of millions of dollars. The exact number is impossible to estimate. Just like any other business, Formula 1 teams don’t publish their finances all over the internet for everyone to see. The best you can do is estimate the total costs based on how much each part costs – and even that is a tough task.
One factor that is not always taken into account when thinking about the costs of building Formula 1 cars is the fact that the engineers, designers, and all other staff members need to be paid too. It’s not cheap labor either, with each staff member being exceptionally skilled and talented, so they will need to be looked after incredibly well by the team.
Formula 1 cars are expensive largely because of the exotic materials that are used in order to build them. Formula 1 cars are made of materials such as carbon fiber, which is incredibly lightweight but also strong. The process used to make carbon fiber is complex and expensive, which is why the price of it is so high.
KEY FACT: All F1 teams must abide by the $140 million budget cap
The Design Costs
But aside from actually building the cars, a large part of the cost for a given season is the research and development phase. This is when designers work to produce the blueprints for what will eventually become the car that races on the track. This involves time spent making models, using computer programs and simulations, and in the wind tunnel, which is all expensive at scale.
While a breakdown can help us to better understand how much each part of the car costs, it’s impossible to estimate the true cost of a Formula 1 car. There are tons of other expenses and costs that we’ll never know about, for example, something as small as the wheel nuts or something as complex as the computer system that’s installed into the car.
Note that the costs indicated below are estimates, and the exact numbers will vary a lot by team.
F1 Car Cost Breakdown
|Engine||$13 – $16 million|
|Steering Wheel||$50,000 – $100,000|
|Tires||$3,000 (supplied by Pirelli)|
How Much Does An F1 Chassis Cost?
An F1 chassis can cost upwards of $700,000. This doesn’t take into account the costs that go into having a spare chassis ready at every Grand Prix in case it gets damaged in some sort of crash. Teams will usually build 4 for the entire season for the sake of having backups.
The chassis of the car is one of the most integral parts. The chassis is developed at the start of the year, and unless it takes some severe damage, it will be used for the entire season. A spare chassis will always be brought to every Grand Prix as it is entirely possible for it to be damaged in a crash.
We’ve seen chassis being ripped in half in severe crashes, but in some less extreme cases, a chassis can have a small crack in it. A cracked chassis will cost the driver a huge amount of performance, especially when it comes to handling, and it can be one of the reasons why a driver is slower than their teammate.
Rotating Between The Drivers
Teams will often rotate chassis between drivers throughout the season in order to keep it fair between them. Teams will have their own setup, but generally, it will either be swapped every race or halfway through the season.
One Formula 1 chassis can cost $700,000 or more. Teams will usually build at least four chassis for the entire season as they need to have a backup one in case a chassis is damaged during a race weekend. The chassis needs to be one of the toughest parts of the car to protect the driver, so it’s no surprise it’s an expensive part too.
How Much An F1 Engine Costs
F1 engines usually cost somewhere between $12 million and $15 million, but this will depend on whether the team is building their own or buying from another team. The engine is made up of complex hybrid components, and these are all extremely expensive, which drives the cost so high.
Formula 1 engines might be small, but they pack a mighty punch. Despite the relatively tiny 1.6-liter V6 turbo engine, the cars are capable of producing over 1000 horsepower. This incredible feat is not easy to achieve, and it takes a huge amount of money to pull this off, especially when you consider the research and development that has gone into the V6 hybrid engines since the 2014 season.
The V6 turbo hybrid engines are not only some of the most powerful engines compared to their size, but they’re also the most fuel-efficient engines in the world. These engines can cost more than $12 million to build, and the teams build at least six of them for each car during a season.
Drivers are allowed to use up to 3 engines each year, although there are actually limits on each individual component as the engines are so complex. Despite the component limits before engine penalties are handed out, many drivers need to take extra engine elements, which would mean even more costs for the team.
Modern Formula 1 engines are some of the most expensive in the history of the sport. These costs are mainly down to the complexities of the hybrid engines that were introduced into the sport during the 2014 season. The complexity of the engines has caused a lot of headaches to many of the teams’ engineers.
The complex engines are more expensive to build, and they have more moving parts than their predecessors like the V8s and V10s. This adds extra costs to the building and repairs of the engine. Special technical staff also need to be brought in to work on the engine during the building process as well as for the maintenance of the engine.
How Much Do F1 Gearboxes Cost?
An F1 gearbox can cost around $400,000. They’re an incredibly sensitive piece of equipment that’s very easy to damage, so this doesn’t take into account the cost of various repairs and replacements that might need to be implemented over the course of a Formula 1 season.
KEY FACT: F1 cars are able to shift gears faster than the blink of an eye, which makes the gearbox on a Formula 1 car one of the most responsive in the world
F1 cars have incredibly advanced gearboxes, and they cost around $400,000 to $600,000 each, and on top of that, they are incredibly sensitive too. The slightest bump against the rear wheels at the wrong angle can cause severe damage to the gearbox, which would mean that it needs repairs and replacements.
Just like engines, gearboxes have been limited in Formula 1. Teams can only use a set number of gearbox elements during the course of the season, and if they exceed the allocated number of gearbox elements, they will be given a grid penalty.
KEY FACT: The gearbox is one part of the car that suffers a lot when F1 drivers do donuts, which is why you usually only see them do these after the last race of the season!
This rule was brought in to control the rising costs of Formula 1 cars. Teams are now encouraged to use a gearbox even if it’s not in perfect condition, which will help them to save money, and stick to the budget cap, at the expense of performance of course.
How Much Does It Cost To Build An F1 Car’s Floor?
An F1 car’s floor costs up to $200,000 to build. This is due to a mixture of factors, including the fact that they’re constructed with a reliance on the ground effect to produce downforce and that they’re made out of materials like carbon fiber, which is one of the most expensive out there.
The floor of a Formula 1 car is more important now than ever before. The 2022 aerodynamic regulations have brought back ground effect cars. This means that the teams now use Venturi Tunnels underneath the floors of their car in order to produce downforce (essentially narrow areas that generate areas of low pressure, sucking the car to the ground).
This means that the floor of the car became a focal point of development for this new era of the sport, as each team tries to find the perfect setup to beat their rivals out on track. Developing the floors means finding the best way to funnel the air through the tunnels to create a vacuum underneath the car.
The Impact Of Ground Effect
Because of the reliance on the ground effect, it has become far more expensive for Formula 1 teams to design and build the floor of the car. In the past, the floor had comparatively little impact on the overall aerodynamics of the car (although it was still hugely important).
The floor of the new era of ground effect Formula 1 cars can cost upwards of $150,000 to $200,000. The floors are made entirely out of carbon fiber (aside from the skid plank), one of the more expensive materials found on the cars, and the intricacies in the design of the floors also add to the extreme expenses. These floors are also developed throughout the season, adding even further costs.
How Much Do F1 Front Wings Cost?
F1 front wings cost upwards of $150,000. This doesn’t include the cost of repairs that could need to be done to this part of the car, as they’re incredibly sensitive and susceptible to damage. A damaged front wing can have a huge effect on the race, so they have to be repaired quickly.
The front wing of a Formula 1 car plays a crucial role in the aerodynamic profile of the car. It’s the first part of the car that cuts through the air, so that means that it’s responsible for ensuring that the air flows smoothly over the car into all the right areas.
The front wing, though, is an incredibly sensitive part of the car. The slightest bit of contact with another car, a barrier, or even with a kerb at the wrong angle, can cause damage to the wing or, even worse, the front wing end plates.
A Vital Part Of The Car
The front wing produces a lot of downforce, so if even a small piece of carbon fiber breaks off, the front wing will have an impact on the handling of the car. We often see drivers losing up to half a second per lap because of a damaged front wing.
The front wing costs around $150,000 or more, and if a small piece of it is damaged, the entire wing needs to be replaced. There are no quick repairs here, if the team wants to keep racing, they need to be competitive and have their car in the best shape possible.
How Much Do F1 Rear Wings Cost?
F1 rear wings cost around $150,000 or more to build. The rear wing doesn’t typically get damaged in a race except for if there’s a crash, so it’s relatively easy to avoid repair costs with it compared to other parts of the car. However, if damaged, the driver usually has to retire from the race.
The rear wing of a Formula 1 car is just as important as the front wing. The rear wing is used to keep the rear of the car stable, and it helps to keep the rear wheels planted, giving the car enough cornering ability and stability when cornering by producing massive amounts of downforce.
One of the most essential parts of the rear wing in modern times has become DRS – the Drag Reduction System. DRS is an overtaking aid that was introduced in 2011, and it’s a system that allows a flap in the rear wing to be opened up, which allows more air to flow through and reduces the drag of the car.
With the DRS open, the car can gain a couple of extra miles per hour down the straight, giving it an advantage over other cars and allowing it to overtake with greater ease. However, this system is not cheap to implement or maintain in Formula 1.
The rear wing on a Formula 1 car costs around $150,000. The rear wing is a part that doesn’t take as much damage during the race unless the driver is involved in a crash. However, if a rear wing is damaged, the car needs to be retired from the Grand Prix, as it would take too long to fix it and get back into the race.
How Much The Halo Costs On An F1 Car
The Halo on an F1 car can cost up to $20,000. The Halo is a technical and safety innovation that was first introduced in 2018. Despite a backlash from the Formula 1 community, the device went on to save many lives both in F1 and the junior formulas, like F2 and F3.
The Halo is incredibly strong, and it has been designed to protect the driver’s head under extreme circumstances, such as a car landing on top of another one – as was demonstrated at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix by title rivals Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.
KEY FACT: The Halo is made from titanium and is capable of withstanding up to 12 tons (26,500 lbs) of weight
This incredibly strong device is the last line of defense for drivers, and it’s already proven that it’s an essential system that will remain in place for the future. The Halo device costs around $20,000. It might be a bit cheaper than the rest of the parts on this list, but it’s also one of the most critical parts. Without it, the sport would be far too dangerous for many drivers.
How Much Do F1 Brakes Cost?
F1 brakes cost around $80,000. This cost doesn’t include the price of replacing sets of brake discs and brake calipers throughout a season, which can cause the expenses to gradually increase over time. As brakes are one of the most essential parts of a car, they have to be maintained well.
There’s nothing quite like the brakes on a Formula 1 car. While the cars are incredibly fast when it comes to their overall speed, specifically when going through corners, their stopping power is just as impressive – and often overlooked too.
F1 cars are capable of bringing themselves to a complete stop from 200 miles per hour (320 kph) in less than 4 seconds
The reinforced carbon fiber brakes on a Formula 1 car cost around $80,000. These brakes go through a lot of wear and tear, and the teams will go through several sets of brake discs and brake calipers throughout the course of a season, so this cost can add up over time.
How Expensive Are F1 Tires?
F1 tires cost around $3,000 for a full set. For a single race weekend, F1 drivers use 13 sets of tires, taking the cost upwards of $39,000 for a single racing weekend on just tires alone for one car. Pirelli supplies F1 teams with tires free of charge in return for the publicity they receive.
The Pirelli tires that Formula 1 cars use are incredibly impressive. The tires have a smooth surface, with these being known as slick tires. Slick tires are used in Formula 1 because they give the cars much more grip than grooved tires. This is simply because of the higher surface area, which leads to more rubber touching the tarmac.
How Much Does An F1 Car Fuel Tank Cost?
An F1 car fuel tank costs upwards of $140,000. This price point is due to the fact that the fuel tank has to be among the strongest parts of the car, being reinforced to withstand all sorts of damage that could fall onto it. It’s made of a mix of materials, including Kevlar.
The fuel tank of a Formula 1 car is one of the most reinforced and strongest parts of the car. That’s because the fuel tank sits right behind the driver’s seat and separates them from the hot engine planted in the back of the car.
However, if this fuel tank was not reinforced, a Formula 1 car would essentially become a bomb on wheels. Anytime you have flammable liquid near a hot engine, it’s a recipe for disaster. If the fuel cell was punctured, we could see devastating results, as we witnessed at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix with Romain Grosjean’s crash.
The fuel tank of a Formula 1 car can cost around $140,000 to $150,000. It’s incredibly important that the teams ensure that the fuel tank is strong enough for the driver to be kept safe. Teams will usually have one fuel tank for the entire season but will always thoroughly inspect it for any damage or faults, and replace it if necessary.
How Much Do F1 Hydraulics Cost?
F1 hydraulics cost about $200,000. This high price point is because of how crucial the hydraulics system is to the functioning of the cars, being necessary to allow them to even function at all. The cars often retire if they have hydraulic issues, as it’s an important system.
Hydraulics are incredibly important in a Formula 1 car, and they control a significant portion of the car’s moving parts. In fact, a modern Formula 1 car would not be able to function without hydraulics. It’s used for much more than just power steering, and the drivers rely on hydraulics to work.
We’ve often seen cars having to retire due to hydraulic system failures, and we’ve also seen it cause drivers some trouble. In the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix, Max Verstappen struggled to open and close his DRS on the straights due to a hydraulic fault.
Lots Of Responsibilities
The hydraulics on a Formula 1 car control many different systems, including the power steering, clutch, gearshifts, reverse gear, differential, DRS, brake by wire, throttle, inlet valves, and the turbo wastegates.
The overall costs of the hydraulics systems can be over $200,000. This is a significant amount of money to spend on the inner workings of the car, but it’s crucial to the car as a whole. Without it, the car won’t be able to drive at all, and retirement from a Grand Prix is likely with hydraulic failures.
How Much Does A Formula 1 Steering Wheel Cost?
A Formula 1 steering wheel costs around $50,000 to $100,000. This is due to the large amount of technology that goes into them, allowing drivers to adjust even the smallest details of their car. They also work as a digital dashboard, telling them crucial information about their car and the race.
One of the most impressive parts of a Formula 1 car is the steering wheel. With the ability to control just about anything and everything in the car, these miniature computers have incredible bits of technology inside them, and therefore cost a small fortune to build.
Formula 1 drivers have digital dashboards on their steering wheels, which are essentially a computer that gives them all the detailed information they need to know about their cars, from their position in the race to how far off they are from their fastest lap times.
Changing Settings On The Fly
Drivers need to understand how their steering wheels work, as they often need to change settings in the middle of a Grand Prix in order to fix a problem with the car. Fiddling with buttons while driving at 200 mph is not an easy task, but these drivers can do it with ease because of how well they know their cars.
Formula 1 steering wheels cost around $50,000 to $150,000. These incredible pieces of equipment give the driver control over their car in more ways than you could ever imagine. Drivers need to know what each button on the steering wheel does, and every adjustment they make will impact how the car reacts and behaves.
Why Do F1 Cars Cost So Much?
F1 cars cost so much because of the materials that they’re made of. They have to be both incredibly light and incredibly strong, making carbon fiber the material of choice. The engines also drive the cost up a fair bit too, because of the hybrid system, and the total cost can be $20+ million.
The costs of Formula 1 cars definitely seem outrageous. With each car costing $15 to $20+ million, it’s no surprise that the sport has been taking measures to get the costs under control. With so much money spent on the cars, getting them racing, maintained, and repaired causes the overall costs of a Formula 1 season to skyrocket.
The main reason Formula 1 cars cost so much is because of the materials that have been used to build them. Formula 1 cars need to be incredibly light in order to be fast. The lighter the car is, the faster and nimbler it is. It’s estimated that for every 10 kilograms (22 lbs), the car will be 0.3 seconds slower.
However, while being extremely light, the car also needs to be as strong as possible. Formula 1 cars might still be flimsy, but the material used is still incredibly strong, which helps them to withstand an impact much better. This makes carbon fiber the ideal material to use when building a Formula 1 car. It’s an expensive material because of the processes involved in creating it.
When looking at the breakdown of a Formula 1 car’s costs, you’ll notice that the engine is by far the most expensive part. This is because of the hybrid system and turbos, which is especially expensive to develop and build because of how complex it is, and it adds a lot to the overall costs of the car.
How The F1 Budget Cap Affects The Cost Of An F1 Car
Formula 1 has implemented a budget cap that every team on the grid has to comply with. This has been done to control the spending of the teams, which will hopefully bridge the gap between the larger teams and the smaller teams who have a more restricted budget. Bigger teams can no longer outspend the smaller teams in development during the season.
However, this does mean that every team needs to be careful when it comes to their costs. Some teams will be struggling to meet the budget requirements, which means that they can’t bring more upgrades throughout the season. The result is that they fall behind their competition and drop down the grid.
Crash damage is also included in the budget cap, which means that if a driver is prone to crashing or has a streak of bad luck, their entire team will suffer. Money that has been put aside for crash damage and repairs means that less money can be used to develop the car.
Teams need to be as careful as possible when it comes to building and repairing their cars. If they want to be successful, they need to be able to carefully develop their car without making any mistakes. Upgraded parts might not work out either, which will send the team even further backward under the budget cap.
KEY POINTS• F1 cars are so expensive because they’re made from very complex and expensive materials and components
• The cars need to be lightweight in order to be fast, and so they are largely composed of carbon fiber
• F1 teams must build, maintain, repair and upgrade their cars while sticking within the $140 million budget cap
How Much Does It Cost To Buy An F1 Car?
It can cost upwards of $10 million dollars to buy an F1 car. Show cars are the cheapest and as such most popular to buy, with some going for as low as $20,000. Other cars that were actually driven on track can sell for $100,000 or more, going up to millions depending on the car.
Believe it or not, you can buy your very own Formula 1 car. There are several genuine Formula 1 cars for sale and even show cars that are exact replicas without the most expensive parts (such as the engine and the gearbox). But if you want a real-life Formula 1 car in your garage, be ready to pay an eye-watering price.
Where Can You Buy An F1 Car?
Aside from the F1 Authentics website, you can find real-life Formula 1 cars for sale on other premium websites that sell race cars and luxury cars. It’s always a good idea to do plenty of research first though, especially if you’re going with a dealership that’s not directly linked with Formula 1 itself, as it might be illegitimate.
Older Formula 1 cars, especially those that were driven to glory by World Champions, also often go on auction. Buyers can place their bids on the car over a set period of time, and the highest bidder will be the new owner. These auctions can easily go up to ten million dollars or more.
Show cars are the most popular to buy because they are the cheapest. However, some cars, such as Michael Schumacher’s 1998 Ferrari ($4.9 million, can sell for far more. Below you can find some examples of show cars that have sold recently.
How Much It Costs To Buy An F1 Car
|2018 Pirelli Show Car||N/A||$22,000|
|2011 McLaren M4-26||Lewis Hamilton||$121,500|
|1991 Benetton B190B||Nelson Piquet||$122,500|
|2018 Renault RS18||Nico Hulkenberg||$122,500|
|1987 Lotus F1 Team 99T||Ayrton Senna||$245,500|
|1998 Benetton B198||Giancarlo Fisichella||$490,500|
|1999 Ferrari F399||Michael Schumacher||$490,500|
|1972 BRM P180||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||$82,500|
|2009 Renault R29||Fernando Alonso||$200,000|
|1999 McLaren MP4-14||Mika Hakkinen||$274,500|
|Ayrton Senna Art Car||N/A||$141,000|
The Pricing Of Formula 1 Cars
The first main factor to consider is the difference between a show car and a running race car. Show cars often use older chassis. For example, it might be advertised as the Renault RS18 (2018) when in fact, the chassis of the car is the Renault RS16 (2016). In other words, it’s just been repurposed to look like the RS18 model by replicating the bodywork and the livery.
If you’re buying a show car, you won’t be getting any of the internals with it, as it’s essentially just the shell of the car. However, in the case of Fisichella’s Benetton in the table above, you’re buying the real Formula 1 car, and it’s fully capable of hitting the track. This is known as a “rolling chassis,” and this means you’re buying the exact same car that was driven on the track.
However, another factor to consider is the legacy of the car. For example, Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes W11 (2020) is the car that he won his seventh World Championship with, and this will add a lot of value to the car, even if it’s a show car. Emotions and storytelling are what add most to the value of the cars.
F1 cars can cost upwards of $20 million due in large part to the materials used to build them, including a large amount of carbon fiber. The largest expense on an F1 car is the engine, which can cost more than $13 million. F1 teams will also spend millions of dollars on spares and repairs.
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