F1 cars accelerate at incredible speeds when they’re already moving, but from a standing start, an F1 car must contend with wheelspin and sometimes poor traction. Without assists like traction control or launch control, many fans may wonder just how fast F1 cars can accelerate.
An F1 car can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in around 2.4 seconds. F1 cars can hit almost 125 mph in 4.2 seconds, even on a track with less-than-perfect traction. After this speed is reached, traction loss is negligible, and the car continues to accelerate very quickly.
With eye-watering top speeds and drivers feeling the effects of increased g-forces, the acceleration of a Formula 1 car is an incredible sight to see. In the article below, we’ll discuss just how fast an F1 car can accelerate in the fastest motorsport in the world.
An F1 car can accelerate from 0-60 in around 2.4 seconds. F1 cars do not have traction control, so they can suffer from wheelspin from a standing start. However, F1 cars continue to accelerate after this at a much faster rate than many other cars as they pick up more traction.
It’s only once an F1 car reaches about 80 mph or so that it becomes truly fast, as they benefit from better traction through increased downforce. It’s partly because of this that a driver and their team make every effort pre-race to get the tires warmed up, the brakes hot, and the car ready to roll.
While it’s true many other race cars can reach 60 mph in around the same sort of time, and there are even commercial sports cars that can reach this sort of acceleration, it’s what happens next that sets an F1 car apart. A road-ready Ferrari for example, depending on its specifications, can hit 0-60 between 2.5 and 3.8 seconds, but then its rate of acceleration dips.
An F1 car at 60 mph, on the other hand, accelerates so much faster when the aerodynamics kick in. And then it accelerates even faster. Also, an F1 car takes some corners at upwards of 150 mph, others at around 190 mph. If a road-ready Ferrari tries to corner that fast, there is only one outcome, and it’s not a good one.
An F1 car can go from 0-100 mph and back to zero in under five seconds, which, to give an indication of just how fast that is, is about the time it took to read this line. Once an F1 car has reached 100 mph, the car has full traction and can continue to accelerate rapidly.
Pre-heating the car’s tires before a race is a vital prerequisite for the car to achieve its optimal speed as quickly as possible. Both the tires and the brakes need to be heated up, either artificially or during the warm-up lap, so the car is ready to race with every advantage available.
The acceleration of an F1 car around corners is equally impressive thanks to its incredible grip and the downforce created that allows the car to turn at speeds that far exceed those of any other racing car. An F1 car’s aerodynamics can exert around three times the weight of the car in downforce, allowing it to take corners at up to 190 mph while staying stuck to the track.
F1 cars have another means of acceleration available to them once a race is underway. An energy recovery system (ERS) allows energy to be recovered by the car every time it brakes and via the exhaust gases. Once a race is underway, the ERS allows the driver to use this conserved energy for up to 33 seconds per lap, which is stored in an onboard battery.
The MGU-K part of the ERS works by using a flywheel that turns under braking. The flywheel connects to the car’s rear tires to allow a boost to the acceleration of the car. Once used, the process begins again, and once enough energy is stored, the driver then has an additional performance boost that can help with overtaking.
F1 cars accelerate so fast because they are optimized for traveling at fast speeds through lightweight materials and aerodynamics. Aerodynamics engineers test ways to make the car as light and as fast as possible, and the turbocharged 1000 HP hybrid engine helps with rapid acceleration too.
The tires on an F1 car are designed to maximize traction and offer ultra-high performance once up to the peak operating temperature of around 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The tires are smooth, which allows for maximum contact with the track, making an F1 car easier to get up to speed.
Under the hood, an F1 car is an absolute monster with a 1.6-liter, turbocharged V6 engine capable of around 1000 horsepower. An engine as powerful as this in a lightweight monocoque made of high-strength carbon fiber explains how an F1 car can accelerate like a rocket. Every part of the car, every curve, is designed for one thing: speed.
A power-to-weight ratio is essentially a way of measuring a vehicle’s performance capabilities, where the power output of the engine is divided by the weight of the car to give a performance measurement.
An F1 car has a minimum weight of 798 kg without fuel and can hit around 908 kg with a tank of fuel and driver in the cockpit. There is no maximum weight for an F1 car, but obviously the lighter the car the better.
While an F1 car can go from 0-60 mph in around 2.4 seconds, after that it only takes the car roughly another 1.8 seconds to make it up to 125 mph, and then another 4.2 seconds to reach 186 mph. That means the car can reach nearly 190 mph in 8.4 seconds. Once at that speed, an F1 car can take some corners and barely lose pace.
F1 cars can decelerate from 200 mph to 0 in just 4 seconds, and can stop from 100 mph in about 1.5 seconds. The aerodynamics of the car itself help to slow the car down when the driver brakes, but the high-performance brakes also offer a lot of stopping power.
The brakes on an F1 car are highly efficient. They’re made of a carbon-fiber reinforced material, and at almost 11 inches in diameter, are designed to slow the car down as quickly as possible. Once the brakes are heated up to their optimal working temperature, an F1 car can slow down as if it has hit a brick wall.
Decelerating in an F1 car from 160 mph exerts a g-force of between four and six G’s, making a driver feel as if they are being squashed while sitting in the car, and making breathing extremely difficult. An F1 driver must be extremely fit and undergo serious g-force acclimatization to handle the constant increases and decreases in force their bodies have to handle every race.
The top speed of an F1 car in a race is about 210 mph. This has been beaten in practice sessions in the past, with low downforce setups, such as when Valtteri Bottas’ car hit a record 231 mph at the 2016 Mexico Grand Prix. Outside of racing conditions, an F1 car has reached a staggering 246 mph.
That 231-mph reading is probably as fast as an F1 car can go without serious modifications. In 2006, a retired modified Honda F1 car with an unrestricted V10 engine and a rear wing replaced by a stability fin was recorded hitting an astonishing 246 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Top speeds are invariably determined by the track in question. A track with a long straight on a dry day can see cars hitting much higher speeds than normal. A driver using the slipstream of another F1 car will also have the added benefit of cleaner air to find an additional burst of speed.
Even on tracks that are more winding than others and have more corners to contend with, acceleration is vital. The ability to accelerate quickly after slowing for a difficult corner can shave off seconds per lap and give a driver a better chance of winning the race. A lack of acceleration will take longer to get back up to speeds where the aerodynamics help the car maintain pace.
F1 cars are designed to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. Once at a speed of around 80 mph, the airflow over and under the car increases the downforce on the vehicle, which allows it to accelerate even quicker. These aerodynamics, coupled with a car that’s made from carbon fiber (one of the lightest and sturdiest materials available) make an F1 car move like lightning.
From a standing start, an F1 car can reach 60 mph in roughly 2.4 seconds, which increases the G-force on the driver to around two G’s of force. This makes the driver feel twice as heavy than he actually weighs and exerts an incredible pressure. While cornering, an F1 car can exert up to six G’s of force.
An F1 car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in about 2.4 seconds. Acceleration remains fast once the aerodynamics kick in, and F1 cars can go from 0 to 190 mph in about 8.4 seconds. But they can decelerate in an equally impressive amount of time, going from 200 mph to a complete stop in under 4 seconds.