If you are a person thrilled by the Formula One Grand Prix races then there is one question that has boggled your mind: how much is a F1 car? Like a Formula One enthusiast, you may have the urge to try to get as much information as you can about a sport you cherish. Trust me, we are here to quench that thirst by giving you all the information you may need.
As you may know, any car comprises several moving components. These components have got different costs ranging from the cheapest ones to the most expensive ones. The Formula One cars aren’t an exception. They also comprise different moving parts that contribute to the overall performance of the car.
The cost of the Formula One car can be estimated by calculating the cost of development of each of the parts that make up a Formula One car. Therefore, this eventually makes up the overall cost. The Formula One race has got some standard regulations that are supposed to be adhered to by each of the driving teams.
Each team will try to assemble car parts that may lower the cost of construction of the cars provided that the move is within the Formula One regulations. So this will make the overall cost of the Formula One car vary from team to team depending on how and where they source their car parts.
Currently, the Mercedes and the Ferrari teams are the ones that lead the pack with the most expensively assembled cars. Very few teams are capable to compete with the financial muscle the two possess. However, from the 2022 races, there is a plan to streamline the regulations to create a level playing field for all.
Contents of this article entail;
How Much Is F1 Car?
The thought on how much is a F1 car might have stretched your mind and started making several guesses on the overall cost of the F1 car. Some of your guesses may have been right while others may have fallen short of the exact cost different teams have to incur to build an effectively performing car from scratch.
Constructing the F1 cars is very expensive. Some of the teams can spend as much as $14 million to come up with a complete high-performing F1 car capable to compete in the F1 races. This cost may only cover the cost of purchasing the different components of an average F1 car.
The cost associated with the engineering and the design of this car can be very difficult to estimate or even account for simply because this will vary from one manufacturer to another.
How Much Is A F1 Car: Why Are They So Expensive?
As indicated earlier that the total cost of an F1 car component can sum up to a total of $14 million, most racing teams are always very reluctant to disclose the amount they use to completely construct their cars. The reason for keeping this a top-secret is to avoid penalties from the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).
The FIA has capped the cost of constructing an F1 car at $15 million. But not all teams comply with this capped amount. For instance, a complete F1 car does not only have the engine block alone.
It also has five different components that help in the general functionality of the car. All these components are referred to as the power unit. But during cost disclosures, the racing teams only reveal the cost of the engine block.
The research and the development of F1 cars is always an ongoing process that never stops at any point in time. The specifications of cars to be used in the subsequent seasons are always researched and developed in the seasons before. There are always different added regulations on how the cars are supposed to be constructed in the subsequent races.
Even the manufacturers of the normal cars we use on the road are constantly researching to ensure they improve on the specifications of their cars. That’s is why every year they produce cars with more advanced specifications than the previous ones.
The only difference between normal regular cars and F1 cars is the design and assembly. The regular cars are assembled then sold as one single model while the Formula One cars are sold in parts. It’s the racing teams who purchase the parts themselves and then assemble them into a complete F1 racing car.
How Much Is A F1 Car: The Different Components
Formula one cars are always open-wheeled, open cockpit, single-seat, and rear-wheel-drive cars that are uniquely designed to be used only in Formula One racing competitions. Just as it was mentioned earlier, these cars have to meet the ever-changing FIA specifications and regulations.
All Formula One cars comprise two key components: the chassis and the power unit. The chassis is usually the framework of any car where all the components are attached. While the power unit serves as the heart of the car. Its main function is to generate power. It is this power that determines the performance of the car.
The power unit will determine how fast the car is likely to go while consuming the minimum amount of fuel. It is the efficiency of the power unit that usually determines the success of the racing teams.
Apart from the chassis and the power unit, other components work in unison with these two. They include; the front and the rear wings, the monocoque, the gearbox, the steering wheel, the hydraulics, the control systems, the cooling systems, etc.
What Is The Cost Of The Chassis?
The chassis is one of the essential parts of a Formula One car. This is the component to where all other components of the F1 car are attached to. Because of the many heavy components attached to it, it is subject to a high volume of stress. Therefore, the chassis has to be very strong and rigid enough to handle the force from the stress.
Formula One cars use a monocoque chassis which also has a driver’s protective shell. Monocoque chassis cannot be easily destroyed even under extreme crashes therefore they provide high-level safety to the driver.
Monocoque chassis is constructed using composite carbon fiber. It is two times stronger than steel but five times lighter than steel. It is made from 12 layers of carbon fiber mats. Carbon monocoque chassis can weigh as low as 35kg. It can withstand a large amount of stress created as a result of aerodynamic loads and cornering speeds.
The monocoque chassis has to be strong enough to support the weight of other components that are bolted to it. The 2021 recommended weight of an F1 car is 752 kg. This is likely to increase by 38 kgs to 790 kgs in 2022. This weight includes the chassis and its components, the driver, and the tires but does not include the weight of the fuel in the tank.
The average cost of a monocoque chasing plus the halo protection structure for the driver can be $1,200,000 on the minimum side.
What Is The Cost Of The Engine?
Currently, all Formula One cars are fitted with 1600cc turbocharged V6 engines. The engines have been in use since the 2014 Formula One championship season. Since their introduction, the engines have undergone several developments intending to maximize their power output and increase their performance.
The V6 engines produce more power but consume less fuel than their V8 counterparts that they replaced. In Formula One cars, the engine does not only refer to the engine block alone. But it also refers to other components that work as a unit with the engine block. Together the whole system is referred to as the power unit.
The power unit is the heart of the general performance of a Formula One car. The power unit is comprised of six components namely;
- Internal combustion engine (ICE)
- Turbocharge (TC)
- Motor generator unit-kinetic (MGU-K)
- Motor generator unit-heat (MGU-H)
- Energy store/batteries (ES)
- Control electronics (CE)
Insights About The Power Unit
The ICE works in unison with the TC to help turn the engine at a maximum speed of 15000 revs per minute. This helps produce an output of 700 bhp. Any F1 driver is only allowed to use five elements of the power unit out of the six.
Using all the six during the Grand Prix can lead to penalty point deduction. This will not only affect the driver’s ranking but also that of the constructor.
The MGU-K helps to salvage energy while braking and the MGU-H helps to recover the energy from the exhaust heat and stores it in the ES battery. This contributes to an added 300 bhp when the car accelerates on a straight circuit path.
The CE of an F1 car assists the drivers and their teams to monitor approximately 1000 sensors that transmit millions of bytes of data. The CE box is installed very close to the exhaust box. The wires together with the electronic components must be guarded against extreme heat.
Having stated all this, it means that when we refer to the cost of the engine; we are referring to the power unit and not the combustion unit alone. This, therefore, means that a new Formula One car engine will not cost anything less than $11,000,000.
It is these high costs that made engine manufacturers such as Cosworth withdraw from the sport. The cost of Ford parts was also too expensive, and this also brought their involvement in engine building to a halt.
What Is The Cost Of The Wings?
The Formula One Grand Prix is raced at speeds in excess of 186 mph. This speed is more than even the take-off speed of light aircraft. At this top-notch speed, the drivers cannot be able to control these cars on the tarmac if it were not for the presence of both the front and the rear wings. These two wings form part of the overall body structure of a Formula One car.
The wings also help to reduce the drag due to wind resistance when Formula One travels at such high speeds. If the wings weren’t there to minimize the drag, this would affect the speed and the fuel consumption of these cars.
The wings also assist in providing the cars with a downforce to help keep the cars firmly grounded on the track so that they can produce effective speed.
The role of the front wings in conjunction with the nose cone helps to direct air away from the front tires and around the car. Both the front wings and the nose cone are also designed pointing downwards to produce a result opposite to that of aircraft hence helping in increasing the downforce on the car.
The purpose of the rear wings is to reduce turbulence hence reducing the drag as well as providing increased downforce. It also has a DRS overtaking aid. Additionally, the rear wing also helps in giving the car some extra balance. In case a car crashes and loses the rear wing, it will lose all the downforce and it becomes very difficult to control.
At maximum speed, F1 cars produce a force that is five times the weight the car is pressing down on the tarmac when not moving. This downforce gives the car a firm grip on the tarmac and prevents it from losing such grip when making turns
The amount of the downforce can be controlled by aligning the wings from the steering wheel. The nose cone together with the front wing costs $300,000 while the rear wing costs $150,000. These are average costs and can vary depending on the specifications of the wings.
What Is The Cost Of The Gearbox?
Formula One cars are fitted with very sophisticated semi-automatic seamless shift gearboxes. The gearboxes are highly automated to enable effective performance. This makes the gears to be more expensive. As per the FIA recommendation, the F1 cars are supposed to have eight forward gears and one reverse gear.
There is a differential that links the gearbox with the set of gears. A driveshaft is installed to help in transmitting power to the rear wheels which helps to move the car. Formula One drivers can shift through gears using the flappy paddles that are installed at the backside of the steering wheel.
The average cost of a Formula One gearbox is $600,000. This cost may vary depending on the driver’s specifications and the design of the car.
What Is The Cost Of The Gas Tank?
Many of the fatal accidents that have been witnessed in Formula One cars have been as a result of a ruptured fuel tank. When the fuel tank raptures there is a likelihood of the fuel catching fire and this has previously led to many deaths during the Grand Prix races.
The fuel tanks in modern cars have been redesigned and become indestructible in case the car crashes. Refueling during races has also been abolished to help reduce damages associated with ruptured fuel tanks.
Modern fuel tanks in F1 cars are made using Kevlar and polyurethane. The tanks are installed between the driver’s seat and the engine. The fuel bags are ribbed and shaped in a way that they can fit the space behind the driver’s seat. The fuel bags are also attached to the driver’s seat. This helps to prevent them from collapsing as the fuel drains from them.
An F1 car fuel tank can carry up to 110 liters of fuel according to FIA current regulations. The tank is narrower at the top and wider towards the bottom to help keep the center of gravity of the car as low as possible.
The average cost of a new Formula One car fuel tank costs roughly $150,000 with much of this cost being the cost of the Kevlar.
What Is The Cost Of The Steering Wheel?
Carbon fiber with silicone grips is the main material used to construct the steering wheels of Formula One cars. The steering system comprises several buttons and a colored screen display that helps the driver to control all the functional aspects of the car.
The steering wheel is made in such a way that it can be detached from the steering system to allow the driver in and out of the cockpit.
The driver should be able to detach and reattach the steering wheel to the steering column in under 5 seconds.
The special connectors of the two columns are made in such a way that they can fit easily without the risk of misalignment.
To shift gear from the fifth to the third in a Formula One car, you have to first go through the fourth gear. There is a clutch at the lower side of the steering wheel that is exclusively used when starting from a standstill.
The car also has a neutral button above the upshifting pedal on the left. The driver has to press the button before shifting to neutral. Aside from the gear shifting paddles, there are many switches on the steering wheel and a color screen at the center to give drivers a visual display.
The steering wheel of an F1 car is rectangular but with rounded sides. At the center of the rectangle are switches, a screen, and dials located at the bottom. Formula One drivers can control more than fourth functions throughout the car besides manipulating the gears.
A Formula One car steering system will cost around $70,000.
What Is The Cost Of The Hydraulic System?
The F1 car comprises a complex hydraulic control system that controls other nine subsystems. Using the modern hydraulic system in F1 cars has greatly minimized the mistakes a driver can make.
The steering can be power-driven, and a clutch that can be changed using the hands can be fitted on the steering wheel thanks to the hydraulic system.
The hydraulic system has also enabled changing of gears by hand using a switch on the steering wheel. The hydraulic system has also enabled drivers to control the DRS system from the steering wheel.
Since the hydraulic system is very complex to get actual control, convenience and performance, we expect this system to be very expensive to install.
An F1 hydraulic control system will not cost less than $200,000.
What Is The Cost Of The Tires?
The tires of a Formula One car degrades so fast. They rarely go beyond 74.56 miles. Unlike the wheels of the normal cars on the streets that can go up to 4,349.6 miles before wearing out.
During the Grand Prix races, after a wheel has reached its maximum degradation, the drivers can change the wheels at the pit stops.
The choice of the hardness of the tires will depend on the track surface and the weather condition. Hard and slick tires are more appropriate for dry conditions on tracks with a good grip.
During wet conditions, softer and treaded tires will be more appropriate to help prevent aquaplaning. Treaded tires are categorized as intermediate for light standing water and wet for heavy standing water.
F1 tires are made from a variety of compounds. They can be categorized into hard, medium, or soft among the slick tires for dry conditions.
The official supplier of wheels to all Formula One teams participating in the Grand Prix championship is Pirelli. Each set of F1 car wheels will cost the teams $2,000.
NOTE: besides all the mentioned components there is also the cooling system, the driver’s seat, and the suspensions. These can also cost the teams a reasonable amount of money to install in their cars.
How Much Is A F1 Car: Conclusion
How much is a F1 car? Well, roughly $14 million will purchase the components of an average Formula One car. You will have to put fuel in the tank to drive the car.
However, the good news is that the FIA Technical Regulations recommends the fuel used in an F1 car has to be similar to the fuel we all buy in the petrol stations to use in our normal cars.
How much is a F1 car remains a deeply kept secret among racing teams. That is not only because of the competition but also because of the limit on expenses on the construction of F1 cars imposed by the FIA.
Throughout the season teams continuously upgrade parts. Major damage from a single mistake can also increase costs during the world Grand Prix championships.
It is virtually difficult to account for the people-hours that go into the research, design, and testing of each important component of a F1 car. This makes it difficult to put an exact price on an F1 car.