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Will Formula E Ever Be Faster Than Formula 1?

The debate between Formula 1 and Formula E has raged on since the inception of the all-electric series in 2014. Motorsport enthusiasts across the globe are divided on which is the better series, but another pressing question is whether Formula E will ever be faster than Formula 1.

Formula E will not be faster than Formula 1 for a long time. While both are developing their cars and technology at astounding rates, F1 simply has more money at its disposal and a larger fan base, and this massive amount of continuous development means it will be faster for years to come.

Whatever your opinion on the debate, it’s fair to say that both series have produced spectacular racing. They are, in their own rights, the top forms of motorsport featuring the best drivers in the world. But let’s compare the two in more detail.

How Fast Are Formula E Cars?

The Gen2 Formula E cars can reach a top speed of around 174 miles per hour (280 kph). The aerodynamic shape of the cars and the 250 kW electric motor is the reason they can achieve this feat. Formula E cars can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in just 2.8 seconds with instant power delivery.

F1 cars on the other hand are capable of reaching top speeds in excess of 210 miles per hour, or 340+ kph. They can do this thanks to their 1000+ horsepower turbocharged hybrid engines, along with extreme aerodynamics and hyper-grippy tires.

Differences Between Formula 1 And Formula E

Formula 1Formula E
ChassisVarious ManufacturersSpark Racing Technology
Power Unit1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid V654 kWh Battery
Weight798 kg900 kg
Length5500 mm5160 mm
Width2000 mm1770 mm
Max Power745+ kW / 1000+ HP250 kW / 335 HP (in Fanboost mode)
Top Speed340+ kph / 210+ mph280 kph / 174 mph
0-60 mph2.6 seconds2.8 seconds
Race Length305 km / 190 miles45 mins + 1 lap

F1 vs Formula E

Currently, Formula 1 is a lot faster than Formula E. Rightfully so too, as with over 70 years of development behind them, Formula 1 cars are a different breed to any other car on this planet. If you compare them directly to each other, it’s easy to get a better understanding of just how different the cars are.

It’s important to keep in mind that the rules do limit the speed of Formula E cars. Unfortunately, we will never be able to get a true comparison between these two magnificent machines. The only way we can have a true comparison is when both are designed and built under the same set of rules.

Acceleration

Formula 1 cars can go from 0-60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. Formula E can still keep up with this fairly well, reaching 60 mph in a slightly slower 2.8 seconds. During this initial phase the Formula E car can still keep up, but it is still clearly lacking in some acceleration.

Top Speed

However, it’s when they reach their top speeds where the Formula E car really starts to lose out. Formula 1 cars will max out (depending on their set up) at around 210 mph. Formula E cars, however, cannot go over 174 mph as per the rules.

Horsepower

In terms of horsepower, it’s the same story. Formula E cars (although legally capped) produce around 355 horsepower. Formula 1 cars produce a monstrous 1000 horsepower. This is a huge difference, which can quickly explain the big difference in top speed.

Downforce

However, it is not just the sheer engine power that makes the difference in the speed of these cars, but also the way they are built. Formula E cars mainly find their downforce from the huge rear diffusers built into the chassis.

This means that the cars do not need the huge front and rear wings that you would normally find on Formula 1 cars. This allows cars in Formula E to follow each other much more closely leading to better and closer racing.

Formula 1 cars produce a lot more downforce than Formula E cars, allowing them to corner much faster. In fact, cornering speeds are a Formula 1 car’s biggest strength, and if you compare it to any other car around a circuit, the fast corners are where Formula 1 cars gain the most time.

Why Is F1 So Much Faster Than Formula E?

Formula 1 cars are faster than Formula E cars because of their turbocharged combustion engines. The complex power units allow Formula 1 cars to produce more horsepower than the electric motors in Formula E cars. F1 cars produce over 1000 HP, whereas FE can manage just 335 HP.

Other reasons F1 is so much faster than Formula E come down to the research and development that has gone into the cars’ designs. Formula 1 has had several decades to improve and develop their technology. As a result, they have become the fastest racing cars on earth.

Much Less Time

Formula E on the other hand, has only had since 2014 to develop their technology. In the time since the sport’s inception, the cars have become faster and more efficient. It’s only the beginning, as Formula E cars will only get faster and more efficient as time goes on.

Formula E cars also only race on special street circuits. These are generally much shorter than fully fledged racetracks, and therefore the cars do not need huge amounts of power, speed or downforce. The idea is to keep the sport simple and the racing as close as possible.

Shorter Tracks

As the technology develops and the cars become faster, the sport will need to progress to full racetracks at some point in the future. However, for now they will remain on street circuits, and the speed and power of the cars will be kept down until then, as they simply do not need to go faster or be more powerful.

Research And Development In F1 vs Formula E

Battery Life

Formula E is quickly progressing. At the sport’s inception in 2014 the cars were slow and couldn’t even complete three quarters of the race distance without running out of battery. The drivers would switch cars in a “pit stop” halfway through the race.

However, in the years since then, the cars have been greatly developed and are now much faster. They are also able to complete the full race distance without a ‘recharge’ pit stop.

Plenty Of R&D

Formula 1, however, develops just as quickly. The competition between the teams means that everyone is trying to get the edge over one another. This means that every single part of the car is being researched and developed for maximum performance and efficiency.

The development race in Formula 1 will always be there, and there will always be teams looking to go faster and faster. This is why Formula 1 has produced the fastest cars in the world. With most of the technology used in Formula E adhering to very strict specifications, there is a lack of a development race to push things to the limit.

Rule Changes

If Formula E were ever to be faster than Formula 1, the sport would need to adjust the rules in order to allow teams more freedom to develop faster cars. Without these limitations, the cars could easily become faster.

However, whether the FIA would allow Formula E to become the new Formula 1 is another question. Formula 1 is the flagship racing series, and it would be like parents buying the little brother their first car before the older one! But there are also safety implications, costs to think about, and the question of whether or not Formula E will continue to grow in popularity in the future.

What Is The Future Of Formula E?

The future of Formula E lies in its Gen3 cars, which are set to be the most efficient electric race cars on the planet. They will be capable of speeds of close to 200 mph, all while producing the equivalent of more than 800 HP, and 40% of the car’s energy will come from a regenerative motor.

The range of the cars is something that Formula E has always struggled with, and their main short-term goal is to get the cars out onto bigger race tracks rather than short street circuits. The third generation Formula E car takes a step in the right direction – being lighter and more powerful than ever before will help these cars to drive further.

The Gen3 Formula E car will also become the most efficient race car on the planet, with 95% power efficiency being delivered from the electric motor compared to 40% that you would get from a combustion engine. Moreover, 40% of the power used by the cars during an E-Prix will be the power that has been regenerated by the car.

Will Formula E Replace F1?

Formula E is unlikely to ever replace F1, as F1 has a rich 70+ year history and hundreds of millions of fans all around the world. While Formula E will continue to grow in popularity, it’s unlikely to ever surpass that of Formula 1. The two series will likely run in parallel for years to come.

The world is focused on electric vehicles, so it does seem like the future of motorsport looks much the same. However, it is unlikely that Formula 1 will ever be replaced because of its history, pedigree, and colossal fanbase.

There’s also very little chance of Formula 1 going fully electric because of the birth of Formula E. Ultimately, the two series will coexist at the top of the motorsport food chain. Formula 1 is adapting fast enough to remain relevant with hybrid power and the plans to go carbon neutral by the year 2030.

Continued Development

Formula E will continue to develop electric vehicles, and the technology that comes from the sport will continue to be used in modern road cars. However, this technology is much more expensive, and believing that it’s going to replace all combustion engines in the near future is simply unrealistic.

This is Formula 1’s saving grace. The series that was once notoriously slow to adapt will hang on to the combustion engine for years to come. Formula 1 plans to achieve this by introducing 100% renewable fuels for the cars in 2026, which would make the cars much more eco-friendly despite their gas-guzzling combustion engines.

As technology develops, there is always the possibility of Formula E cars overtaking Formula 1 cars in terms of performance. The Gen3 race car will already be a close match thanks to its unique fighter jet shape, lightweight body, and increase in power. However, F1 is simply its own beast, and one that Formula E is unlikely to ever replace.

Final Thoughts

F1 cars are not only much faster than those of Formula E, but they also have decades of research and development behind them. The rules limit the performance levels of Formula E cars due to the fact that they do not need to race on long tracks. Without those rules, Formula E could be faster than F1.