Difference Between F1 and Indycar race cars

What is the difference between F1 cars and Indycars? The differences are surprisingly big with some similarities. There are lots of great articles out there describing the two, but we will try to provide less technical and more general knowledge of the two classes.

In short, Formula 1 allows each car to be more customized, with minimal regulations on what is allowed. For example, cars are limited in the size of the engine, however, each team is allowed to control the type of fuel system. Indycars must use the same chassis and engine that is sanctioned by the league. Indycar requires that all race cars are the same¬†underneath, with differences in the styling and aerodynamics of the outer shell of the car. This allows manufacturers to really show case their technology in Formula 1 racing and often cited as the reason for it’s classification as the top Formula league in the world.

Race car aerodynamics. Photo credit: www.motorward.com

First things first, let’s discuss some of the general similarities between the two. They both look fairly similar in terms of design. It is an open cockpit layout, with a giant wing and lots of smaller wings and diffusers added throughout the car for aerodynamic purposes, which help keep the race cars planted to the road. While you may think going slower provides more traction, this is not always the case with these types of cars. The downforce created by going faster provides more traction to the wheels. In this regard, cars often must accelerate to take a corner.

Formula 1 Engine. Photo credit: www.formula1.com

Speaking of acceleration, the horsepower output of these cars are in the ballpark. Indycar is often around 500-700 hp, while the top rated F1 car is closer to 800. It is currently being discussed to increase the power output to 1000hp for the 2017 F1 league.

Indycar Engine. Photo credit: www.enginelabs.com

New regulations have forced the F1 league to use 1.6 litre turbo 6 cylinder engines, while Indycars use a 2.2 litre V6. Both league cars comes with a boost feature with limited uses throughout the race to give a burst of power when attempting to pass.

There you have it, F1 allows a lot more customization and freedom with what to put under the “hood” of the car, while Indycar requires all cars be equal minus the outer shell aerodynamics. Next time you head to the races, see if you can pick out the differences between the two leagues!