F1 vs. IndyCar: Who's faster, horsepower, formats and more (2023)

The two championships are wildly popular, but are vastly different in many ways. TheFormula 1revolves around technology with a great deal of attention to design and development.IndyCarconsiders a level playing field with lower budgets to be much more important. European racing fans often call IndyCar quite complicated, while the American public doesn't like the focus on technology and the money laundering of Formula 1. We discuss the main differences and put the most important elements against the yardstick.

F1 vs. IndyCar: Who's faster, horsepower, formats and more (1)

Does F1 or IndyCar have the highest top speed?

The top speed of an IndyCar car is approximately 390 kilometers per hour with a 2.2 liter V6 engine. The Formula 1 achieves a top speed of about 360 kilometers per hour from the 1.6 liter V6 hybrid turbo engine. That top speed was achieved on low downforce circuit Monza and in the thin air in Mexico City. On average, the top speed of the F1 cars is around 330 kilometers per hour.

The fact that the top speed of the IndyCar is higher does not mean that these cars are faster over a full lap. The Formula 1 cars accelerate much faster and have much more downforce, which means that the cornering speed is considerably higher. In 2019, the IndyCar championship raced for the first time on the Circuit of the Americas, the circuit where F1 is also an annual guest. As a result, a direct comparison could be made between the two championships. Will Power took pole position in the IndyCars with a 1.46.017s, good for an average speed of 185 kilometers per hour. About nine months laterValtteri Bottas trained on pole in the American Grand Prixin a 1.32.029: 14 seconds faster with an average speed of 215 kilometers per hour.

The two championships have very different approaches, so it is not very representative to look purely at the speeds. IndyCar mainly aims to create a level playing field for more excitement and many contenders. All teams use the same Dallara chassis and can choose between Honda or Chevrolet engines. There are currently four engine manufacturers active in F1 and each team develops its own components. This creates greater differences between the racing stables and also makes the sport a lot more expensive.

F1 vs. IndyCar: Who's faster, horsepower, formats and more (2)

How much horsepower do IndyCar and F1 cars have?

The IndyCar Championship states that the machines have between 550 and 700 horsepower, depending on the turbo boost. F1 manufacturers are quite reluctant to disclose details of the engine's power output. In 2019, Renault confirmed that the 1,000 hp barrier had been broken. This concerned a combined power from the combustion engine and the hybrid systems. Given the balance of power and the speed of development, it is likely that the other manufacturers have already broken down this barrier.

What tools are available in F1 and IndyCar?

Formula 1 has been using it since 2011Drag Reduction System (DRS). This reduces the influence of dirty air on the pursuer and increases the overtaking possibilities. In designated zones (straights), the pursuer may open the rear wing if he is within one second of the vehicle in front. This reduces drag and increases top speed, allowing overtaking.

IndyCar introduced the push-to-pass system in 2009 with the aim of promoting overtaking. Drivers can temporarily increase the power by about 40 hp by means of a button on the steering wheel. In 2017, the rules were changed and each driver was given 200 seconds of extra power during the race, instead of a specific number of boosts. This allows them to use their extra power more tactically.

F1 vs. IndyCar: Who's faster, horsepower, formats and more (3)

How many fans do Formula 1 and IndyCar have?

The IndyCar Championship is effectively a national class. The fan base is therefore smaller than in world sport Formula 1. In 2019, IndyCar reached an audience of 5.45 million viewers per race via all channels of the official rights holder NBC. Formula 1 reached a worldwide audience of 91.5 million viewers per GP last year. That was the highest cumulative audience for a year since 2012.

What is the difference in qualifying format between IndyCar and F1?

A Formula 1 qualifying takes place on Saturday afternoon and is divided into three segments: Q1, Q2 and Q3. In the first part, all riders come into action. After eighteen minutes, the five slowest riders are eliminated. Their times determine the starting order for positions sixteen through twenty. The remaining drivers battle for fifteen minutes in Q2 for a place in the top ten. The five slowest drivers are again eliminated and determine the order for positions eleven through fifteen. The top ten will chase pole position in twelve minutes. In 2021 there will be three races for the first timeexperimented with a sprint raceon Saturday. Qualifying for this race will take place on Friday afternoon according to the usual format, the result of the sprint race will determine the starting order for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Qualifying in IndyCar largely depends on the type of event. For races on an oval, one driver takes to the track at a time. The average of two timed laps determines qualifying position. For the Indy 500, qualifying is split into two days. All participants set a time on the first day based on the average of four laps. The fastest twelve drivers will qualify for the Fast Twelve on Sunday, in which they can again force their way into the battle for pole position in the Fast Six. The drivers outside the top thirty decide in the Last Chance Qualifying who can start on the last row of the grid and who are left out.

F1 vs. IndyCar: Who's faster, horsepower, formats and more (4)

On permanent and street circuits, the riders go out in groups. The starting order is determined based on the fastest lap. The field is divided into two groups for the first segment. The six fastest riders from each group will advance to the next stage. The times of the other riders determine the starting order for positions thirteen and below. The fastest twelve have ten minutes for a fast lap. The six fastest go through to the Fast Six shootout, the times of the other riders determine starting positions seven to twelve. The top six have six minutes to battle for pole position.

What is the difference in race format between F1 and IndyCar?

A Formula 1 Grand Prix ends on the lap in which the 305 kilometer limit is passed. This takes an average of about an hour and a half, but a race can last up to two hours in the event of bad weather or many safety car periods. The format is a bit more complicated in IndyCar. On ovals there is no time limit and the full race distance is always covered. Permanent and street circuits generally have a two-hour time limit, as in F1, although the race management may adjust this limit if it deems it necessary. Without interruptions, an IndyCar race lasts an average of one hour and forty-five minutes.

One of the biggest differences between F1 and IndyCar is the location of the races. IndyCar will only leave the country once in 2023 for a race in Toronto, Canada. Formula 1 travels from Bahrain in early March via Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America to Abu Dhabi in November. The world travelers in Formula 1 therefore have a longer calendar, both in terms of the number of races and in terms of calendar months.

In the IndyCar Championship, refueling is still allowed during the race. Formula 1 banned this in 2010. F1 mechanics can handle a pit stop for new tires in less than 2.5 seconds, IndyCar pit crews change tires and fill the tank with around 84 liters of fuel in less than 10 seconds.

The difference in scoring between F1 and IndyCar

In Formula 1, the top ten of a race are awarded points. The podium finishers receive 25, 18 and 15 points respectively and this decreases to 1 point for the number ten. The IndyCar is much more generous on points. The winner receives 50 points, second and third place receive 40 and 35 points. All finished drivers will receive a reward. The drivers between 25th and 33rd position get 5 points for their effort. Double points can be earned during the Indy 500 and the season finale in Laguna Seca. The top nine in qualifying for the Indy 500 also receive points.

Formula 1 recently introduced 1 bonus point for the driver with the fastest race lap (provided he finishes in the top ten). IndyCar goes one step further with a bonus point for pole position and for those who have driven at least one lap. The driver with the most laps in the lead gets two points.

Each F1 team gets points for the Constructors' Championship according to the same structure. In IndyCar, the duel is between engine manufacturers Honda and Chevrolet. The brands receive the same number of points as the two highest ranked riders with their bike. The race winning manufacturer receives 5 bonus points and 1 extra point goes to the manufacturer with the pole position. This is slightly different during the Indy 500. The manufacturer on pole then receives 2 extra points. 1 point goes to the fastest brand on the first day of qualifying.

Video: Juan Pablo Montoya explains the difference between F1 car and IndyCar

F1 vs. IndyCar: Who's faster, horsepower, formats and more (5)


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