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Is IndyCar Faster Than F1? (Speeds Compared)

While the cars look similar to one another, there are notable differences between IndyCars and their Formula 1 counterparts. While there are differences in speed, there are also far more differences when you compare the series, but you may just be wondering if IndyCar is faster than F1.

IndyCar is faster than F1 on straights by up to 20 mph, but F1 is faster in the corners. In 2019, both cars ran events at the Circuit of the Americas. IndyCar’s Will Power took pole with a lap of 1 minute 46 seconds, while F1’s Valtteri Bottas got pole with a time of 1 minute 32 seconds. 

Below, we will discuss the notable differences between IndyCar and F1. We will reveal how much horsepower the cars have, if there are any driving or performance assists, which cars are faster around the straights, and who is faster in the turns. Finally, we will reveal how fast an IndyCar can go. 

How Much Horsepower Does An IndyCar Have?

An IndyCar has up to 700 horsepower, from its twin turbo-charged, 2.2-liter (134.25 cubic inch) engine. At max power, IndyCars can reach up to 700 horsepower, but this depends on the turbo boost pressure used at the track, and at which track they’re racing, as it can be as low as 550 HP.

The assembled engine mass sits at 248 lb (112 kg) and the rebuild life clocks in between 2,500 and 2,850 miles (4000-4600 km). It includes BorgWarner turbos, a six-speed sequential Xtrac transmission, plus a McLaren ECU with a Cosworth driver interface. The engine reaches about 12,000 rpm, and it uses E85 fuel. 

How Much Horsepower Does An F1 Car Have?

An F1 car can reach 1,000+ horsepower. The engines boast some similarity to IndyCar engines, as they are both turbocharged V6s. However, F1 engines are just 1.6 liters (98 cubic inches). The rpm sits at around 15,000 and the engine takes E10 fuel, which contains 90% fossil fuels and 10% ethanol. 

IndyCar And F1 Engines Compared To NASCAR 

Compared to NASCAR, IndyCar and F1 engines both offer more horsepower, as the latter series has just 670 targeted horsepower at most tracks, and that falls to just 510 HP at superspeedways. This is more than in years’ past, where NASCAR used 550 horsepower at most tracks while lowering to about 410 on superspeedways. 

NASCAR’s engine specs are also drastically different from IndyCar’s and F1’s. They use naturally aspirated V8 engines with 5.86 liters (358 cubic inches) of displacement. They use Sunoco Green E15 fuel.

What Assists Do IndyCars Have?

IndyCars don’t have performance assists apart from the push-to-pass system. The push-to-pass system provides additional horsepower when equipped. IndyCar does not allow use of driving assists like ABS, traction control, or even power steering, putting more emphasis on driver skill. 

The push to pass system in IndyCar allows drivers to overtake one another more easily with the push of a button. The push-to-pass assist briefly gives the passing car an additional horsepower boost by increasing the turbocharger pressure. However, drivers can also use this to defend against overtakes too.

When first introduced in 2009, IndyCar gave drivers an allotted number of push-to-pass assists. However, that changed in 2017, when they allowed 200 seconds’ worth of allotment during a race

These features are not traditional driving assists, but instead are performance assists. Just like in NASCAR and F1, IndyCar prohibits driving assists such as traction control or an anti-lock brake systems (ABS). Prohibiting the use of driving assists puts more of the emphasis on the drivers’ skills, and less on the car’s abilities.

What Assists Do F1 Cars Have?

F1 cars don’t have driving assists like traction control or ABS, but they do have power steering. They do have a few performance assists, including DRS and ERS. DRS provides a top speed boost on the straights through reduced drag, while ERS temporarily boosts power output.  

The Drag Reduction System (DRS) assist is F1’s most prominent. Like push-to-pass in IndyCar, DRS helps cars overtake one another. Any time a car races within one second behind another in dedicated DRS zones, the assist will lift a small section of the rear wing, which reduces the amount of drag the car produces, allowing it to reach a higher top speed. 

F1 engines are also smaller than their IndyCar and NASCAR counterparts. Another way to boost engine performance is through an Energy Recovery System (ERS). This system is made up of various parts that work to reuse energy lost under braking and through the engine’s exhaust gases. These can combine to give the driver a power boost of around 160 horsepower.

KEY POINTS

• Neither F1 nor IndyCar use traditional driving assists like ABS or traction control, but F1 does use power steering

• IndyCar has a push to pass system to provide extra horsepower to help cars overtake and defend

• F1 uses DRS to help drivers overtake on the straights, and an energy recovery system to boost engine output

Is IndyCar Or F1 Faster Around A Lap?

F1 is faster than IndyCar around a lap. Since F1 cars are designed to produce maximum downforce, they can corner much faster than IndyCars, at speeds of up to 190 mph (305 kph). F1 cars can therefore lap much faster than IndyCars, with the gap being up to 14 seconds at some tracks. 

In 2019, both cars ran races at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). IndyCar’s Will Power got pole position at COTA, completing a 1 minute 46 second lap with an average speed of 115 mph (185 kph). At the F1 US Grand Prix that same year, Valtteri Bottas completed that same lap in 1 minute 32 seconds, with an average speed of 133.5 mph (215 kph). 

KEY POINT

• F1 cars can lap the Circuit of the Americas up to 14 seconds faster than an IndyCar can

Is IndyCar Or F1 Faster On The Straights?

IndyCar is faster than F1 on the straights. When racing on an oval track with high banking, an IndyCar can reach speeds up to 236 mph (380 kph). Meanwhile, F1’s top straight-line speeds usually vary between 200 mph (320 kph) and 215 mph (346 kph), so IndyCar cars are often much faster. 

One reason F1’s top speeds are lower than IndyCar’s is because F1 places more focus on cornering speeds and creating downforce. While IndyCar vehicles do produce a lot of downforce, much more than NASCAR cars for example, they are still designed with top speed in mind, especially in their oval-racing configurations.

How Fast Is An IndyCar?

An IndyCar’s top speed is about 236 mph/380 kph. Despite being faster than both F1 cars and NASCAR cars, IndyCars do not reach their high speeds as quickly. They drive at their fastest when they are at oval tracks, which is because teams set up for lower downforce at ovals.

The exact opposite of this occurs when IndyCars race on road courses. On road courses, IndyCars have far more downforce, and this creates faster racing in the corners, but slower speeds overall. The highest average speed at COTA in 2019 for example was 115 mph (185 kph), but at the 2019 Indy 500 the pole average speed was just under 230 mph, double that of the road course.

Final Thoughts

IndyCar is faster than F1 on the straights, but F1 cars are much faster than their IndyCar counterparts over the course of a lap, due to their higher downforce setups. One simple comparison came at COTA in 2019, when the fastest F1 lap clocked in 14 seconds faster than that of IndyCar.