Formula One race cars are the fastest, most technologically advanced road course racing vehicles on the planet. Their insane speed and handling are the result of the collaboration of top minds in the fields of engineering, electronics, and design. How do these marvels of speed attain their heart-pounding performance? Here is a look inside of a Formula One car to answer that very question:
Formula One cars feature monocoque chassis made of carbon fiber that is extremely lightweight, yet strong enough to bear the load of the remainder of the car’s components. The dimensions and shape of the chassis are carefully sculpted to make maximum use of downforce. Downforce describes the aerodynamic push of air down onto the car to force the wheels to hold to the track.
When wings and other downforce-enhancing components are added in, a Formula One car could, at high speeds, actually drive upside-down on a track suspended in the air if such a thing was ever to be built. This massive downforce also allows the cars to maintain high speeds through turns.
Current Formula One cars must adhere to specific size and RPM limitations, but even with those restrictions, the engines are able to produce around 700 horsepower. The engines are also equipped with an energy recovery system that collects and returns energy from engine exhaust and braking that would ordinarily be lost. This collected energy can add about 160 additional horsepower to the engine while improving fuel efficiency. As Formula One cars race on road courses with few straightaways long enough to travel at top speed for any significant length of time, the added fuel efficiency gained from braking for cornering becomes significant.
Also highly regulated, the tires used in Formula One are made of special compounds designed to maximize grip. They are soft compared to ordinary tires and wear out rapidly. They need to be replaced roughly every 38 to 80 miles to keep a car running at peak speeds. They also need to be kept at fairly high temperatures to achieve maximum grip.
The masterpiece that is a Formula One racing car is the ultimate synchronization of the technological and the mechanical. In the hands of an expert driver, these cars provide a thrilling race like no other.