F1 and NASCAR are two very different motorsports. While NASCAR uses stock cars, F1 racing involves open-wheel cars. These are built to be very quick in a straight line and around corners, and it leads many to wonder how an F1 car would fare against NASCAR around a superspeedway oval.
F1 cars would beat a NASCAR around a superspeedway oval track. The open-wheel, high downforce design of the F1 car would allow it to maintain a fairly constant speed around the oval, while stock cars lose speed on the banks, leading to a faster lap time.
The fact that an F1 car would beat a NASCAR in this situation may be surprising to you, as an F1 car is obviously not designed to race on an oval track. However, there are many factors as to why an F1 car would beat a NASCAR in this scenario, which we will go into in more detail below.
Why An F1 Car Beats A NASCAR On A High-Speed Oval Track
To provide an example to answer this question, we can look at a super speedway oval track such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Both NASCAR and IndyCar, the fastest oval track racing discipline, run on this track, with the former reaching around 190 mph when unrestricted and the latter reaching around 230 mph.
An F1 car with its wings adjusted to run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be able to match or slightly beat the speed of an IndyCar, probably reaching speeds of about 240 mph. Therefore, it would easily beat a NASCAR.
F1 Cars And NASCARS Are Designed To Race On Different Types Of Tracks
F1 cars are built to run at their optimum on the equivalent of NASCAR’s road courses, while they usually race on purpose-built racing circuits with the occasional street circuit like Monaco or Singapore. These courses incorporate many variations of turns and straights, meaning the car needs to be capable of making fast and accurate turns at seemingly random points in the track.
Faster In The Corners
In comparison, the oval tracks that NASCAR cup cars race on are far more predictable and don’t require the high downforce setups that take F1 cars around corners at more than 150mph. The two cars also use different types of chassis, with an F1 car being an open-wheel vehicle whilst NASCAR uses stock cars. Fundamentally, this difference in design affects the speed and control each car has.
With its light weight, aerodynamic capabilities, extreme horsepower and top-class suspension system, an F1 car is actually more advantageous than a NASCAR on super speedway oval tracks, despite the NASCAR vehicles being designed to perform best on an oval.
Unable To Cope
However, in an actual race of a substantial distance, the F1 car’s power unit likely wouldn’t cope with the stress of running at full power continuously. In an F1 race, the cars are speeding up, slowing down,and changing gears constantly. This means the engine isn’t normally running at full capacity with the foot to the floor for longer than 5 or 10 seconds at a time.
This means that an F1 car wouldn’t be able to reliably compete in races at an oval superspeedway. Regardless, in a test of raw speed, an F1 car has many advantages over a NASCAR on an oval track.
How A NASCAR Could Be Modified To Compete Against An F1 Car On An Oval Track
To beat an open-wheel car such as an F1 car on a high-speed oval track, a NASCAR Cup car would need several adjustments.
To provide more downforce, you would need to add a tail wing or spoiler onto the chassis of the vehicle. Alongside that, thestock car would have to be made much lighter in order to match the power to weight ratios of open-wheel cars. Finally, the engine would need to be modified in order for it to produce enough power to help meet this increased power to weight ratio.
Dangers Of Going Too Fast In High-Speed Motor Racing
High-speed motor racing is a very dangerous sport. So far, 52 drivers have died while driving an F1 car, including those at FIA World Championship races and at other non-championship events. However, high-speed motor racing is not only dangerous for the drivers, as it also endangers the pit crew, spectators, and other staff at racing events.
Not Just The Drivers
Incidents other than crashes include running over staff members, pulling away from the pit stop without wheels being changed correctly, and refuelling issues. For instance, in 2009, McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen accidentally exited a pit stop without the hose being removed from his car. The fuel then ignited, briefly covering him and his car in flames.
Thankfully, Kovalainen was fine, but other drivers and crew of high-speed motor racing have not been so lucky. Specifically in regards to driver safety, racing at high speeds makes it very easy for a fatal crash to occur. Once speeds of around 70 mph are reached, a car accident will almost certainly be fatal.
Considering NASCAR cup cars run between 90 mph and 200 mph depending on the track, and F1 cars typically run up to around 210 mph, a crash in either a NASCAR or F1 race is extremely dangerous for its drivers.Restrictions have now been introduced into NASCAR races, as reaching potential speeds of 240 mph would mean almost certain death upon impact if there was a crash.
F1 cars are designed to be the fastest cars in the corners, with high downforce allowing them to take even tight turns at very high speeds. NASCAR Cup cars don’t have this ability, and thus the F1 car would be able to maintain a higher constant speed around the oval, and thus a faster lap time.
However, F1 cars are not designed to race on oval tracks, and the components of the engine would likely start to fail after a long time running at full capacity. Thus, it would be impractical for F1 races to take place on ovals, but there is no doubt that in a hot lap speed test an F1 car would beat a NASCAR around an oval superspeedway.