We, as humans, are addicted to everything that's exciting and gets our adrenaline pumping. Speed happens to be one of those things. Ever since the dawn of the automobile, men have tried to put their machines against each other to see which one is the fastest or which one of them can go on for the longest. This gave way to the world of motorsports. There are a number of different versions of these all over the world.
In the United States, people enjoy NASCAR, whereas, in other parts of the world, you get to see endurance racing. However, one motorsport that most people seem to be familiar with is Formula F1 racing. First started back in 1950, Formula F1 has now become a global phenomenon. It's also one of the most expensive sports in the world, with annual budgets for teams running well above $500 million. The cars that are used are nothing short of technological marvels, capable of reaching speeds that would never be possible with any consumer vehicle. With such a rich history, we set out to find 20 of the most amazing behind-the-scenes facts about Formula F1 that every fan should know, and even if you aren’t a fan, this would be the perfect opportunity to learn about what goes on behind the doors of Formula F1.
20 The Cars Cost A Fortune
Anything that's good always has a big price tag. That's especially true when it comes to the world of cars. There are some that cost a fortune because they offer luxury, while others are expensive because they can go really fast. So, you think that the Bugatti costs a lot? It does have a $1.5 million starting price tag after all, but wait till you hear about how much a Formula F1 car costs.
While this can vary, at the most basic, a Formula F1 car will cost somewhere around $9.5 million.
This is excluding the costs of research and development, which combined, can easily cost well over $350 million. The steering wheel alone costs a whopping $50,000, which is the price of your average luxury sedan.
19 Drivers Lose Actual Weight During A Race
Even more than technology, Formula F1 racing heavily involves employing the use of basic physics principles and even biology. F1 racing is genuinely extreme in the true sense, and not everyone is cut out to be a Formula F1 driver.
Still, most of you must be wondering how bad it could really get. Well, to put things into perspective, if you walk around a corner, then you’re exerting a force of 1G on yourself, but inside a Formula F1 car, experiencing 5Gs of force isn't out of the norm. This is why most drivers will end up losing almost 4 kg of weight after only a single race. It's the reason why a Formula F1 driver needs to be in perfect health in order to race effectively.
18 Crews Change Tires In 3 Seconds
The one skill that every person who owns a car must have is changing a flat tire. The people who are really good at it can get the job done in around 5 to 10 minutes. Still, for most of us, it takes a while.
In the world of Formula F1, where everything else is about saving time and going fast, something like a pit stop needs to be as quick and as effective as possible.
The rules and regulations for pit stops are different for each type of motorsport; however, they need to be extremely quick in Formula F1 if a team wants to have a serious shot at winning the title. On average, a Formula F1 pit stop lasts only three seconds. Yes, the time that it took you to read that last sentence is more than enough to change all four tires and even refuel the car if regulations allow.
17 An Engine Will Last A Few Hours
Go out to buy a new car for yourself, and you expect the engine to last 20 years at least. There are some people out there who've been running their cars for more than a couple of decades now, but it all depends on how you really drive it.
Formula F1 cars and all their components are built to do one thing, and that's to be pushed to the absolute extreme. Because of this, a typical Formula F1 engine will last only a few hours before breaking down. We stated earlier how a Formula F1 car can cost almost $9.5 million, but out of that, the engine alone costs a whopping $7 million. Now, imagine replacing that every two hours, and you’ll get an idea of just how expensive this motorsport really is.
16 18,000 RPM Is The Norm
The engine inside a Formula F1 car is one of the most complicated machines in the world. That's one of the reasons why it's the most expensive component in the car. Lots of careful calculations and intricate work goes into designing and putting together a Formula F1 engine.
A normal car doesn’t need this level of accuracy because most of the ones that we own usually go up to 6,000 rpm at max, but the F1 engine is built to handle three times as much. During full operation, a piston inside a Formula F1 engine will rise and fall almost 300 times in a second. This is why you can easily break the engine if you try to give it a cold start. They're usually put through multiple heating cycles before they can be fired up.
15 The Fastest Machines On The Planet
A Formula F1 car simply has no match when it comes to raw power and speed. These cars are absolutely insane, and they're built with only one goal in mind, and that's going around a track as fast as possible.
They're so fast, in fact, that by comparison, a smaller plane would take off at a slower speed than a Formula F1 car traveling on a track.
The average speed of F1 cars during a race is 360 kph, which is quite a lot. No wonder it ends up putting a lot of stress on the driver. They can go from 0 to 60 and then brake back to 0 in just under 4 seconds, a feat that's nothing short of amazing.
14 80,000 Components Make An F1 Car
There's a lot of engineering that goes into putting a Formula F1 car together. First, there are years of research and development, which can cost millions of dollars, and then, once a particular technology is sorted out, it's then implemented into the cars.
The main goal is to reduce weight while boosting performance and efficiency at the same time.
A Formula F1 cars weigh less than a Mini Cooper, but it's still made up of more than 80,000 different components, among which 16,000 are individual parts. The suspension is made up of a special carbon fiber and Kevlar alloy, which allows it to easily handle the stress around the track. All of this is after the fact that there are certain systems that aren’t even allowed, such as traction control or anti-lock braking.
13 Drain Covers Are Welded Shut
As we’ve mentioned before, there's a lot of physics involved when driving a Formula F1 car. It's a perfect blend of both technology and science, both of which need to work perfectly if a team wants to have any chance of winning a race.
One of the things that happen when a Formula F1 car is driven really fast is that it generates a low-pressure area underneath it, which means that anything that goes under it has a tendency to fly out, causing a dangerous situation for the drivers behind your car. This is so powerful, in fact, that manhole covers, which weigh almost 50 kg, can fly right off, which is why drain covers have to be welded shut on every street circuit to prevent such a disaster from happening.
12 Driver Equipment Ensures Fire Safety
There are numerous hazards that are always present in every type of motorsport, but in Formula F1, these are particularly significant just because of the fact that the cars are traveling at an extremely fast speed.
Multiple crashes can occur throughout a Formula F1 season, and sadly, some of them over the years have even proven fatal. There's also always the chance of a fire breaking out after a crash, which is why numerous safety measures have been put in place to protect the driver. One of these is the helmet that can take temperatures of up to 800 C, while the Nomex suit can survive being exposed to temperatures reaching 840 C for a time duration of 11 seconds. Another system is also put into place, which allows the driver to cut off all electric power in case of a crash.
11 The Tires Are Filled Up With Nitrogen
If we've proven anything by this point, then it has to be the fact that Formula F1 cars are nothing like your average everyday cars. In fact, many of the technologies that are created during the research and development phase of the Formula F1 later trickle down to the average consumer car.
While we resort to filling the tires of our cars with air, most of those on a Formula F1 cars are filled up with nitrogen. Why? Well, because nitrogen can offer a more consistent pressure when compared to normal air, and this can, in turn, make the tires last a bit longer during a race. Still, the tires will end up lasting around only 100 kilometers before they'll need to be replaced during a pit stop.
10 Both Men And Women Can Race
Over the years that Formula F1 racing has been around, it's remained a male-dominated sport. A lot of people will probably think that this is because women aren’t allowed to compete, especially since women like Danica Patrick of NASCAR have proven that they do indeed have the skill to go out on the track and win.
However, both men and women are allowed to become Formula F1 drivers, and what most people might not know is that the first woman to participate in a Formula F1 championship was Maria Teresa de Filippis, who did it all the way back in 1958. Still, the selection criteria for a Formula F1 driver is quite insane, considering the fact that you’ll eventually be driving a $9 million car around the track.
9 Water Bottle Inside The Cockpit
The entire ordeal of racing so many laps around the circuit can definitely take a toll on the body of a Formula F1 driver. We already talked about how most drivers end up losing almost 4 kg of weight after every race.
The biggest contributing factor to this is the extremely hot condition inside the cockpit of the car where temperatures can even reach a blistering 50 degrees Celsius, causing the drivers to sweat out water quickly. Such a dramatic weight and water loss can impair the psycho-physical abilities of the drivers, which is why it's necessary that they remain hydrated both during and out of the race. A water bottle is attached inside the cockpit with a small pipe that goes into the driver’s helmet, allowing them to drink water during the race.
8 Number 13 Is Never Assigned To A Driver
In any motorsport event, the drivers are usually assigned a specific number. How each of these numbers is assigned depends on the rules and regulations of the event. In Formula F1, the numbers are assigned according to the standings from last season. This means that the winner and his teammate get assigned No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
All of the numbers are assigned, except for the number 13. The exact reason for this isn’t known; however, for most people, the number 13 is considered bad luck, and there's lots of superstition around it. The only time that this number was actually assigned to anyone was back in 1963 and 1976, and even then, it was during the qualifiers and not the actual race.
7 The Only Female Driver To Score Points In F1
Despite the fact that you only see men compete in Formula F1, the rules of the motorsport state that both men and women can be picked out as drivers.
Still, over the years, only five women have actually participated in Formula F1.
One of those was Maria Teresa de Filippis, who became the first female driver in F1. None of them were able to actually score any points, except for an Italian female driver by the name of Lella Lombardi, who placed 6th during the Spanish Grand Prix of 1975, and while she wasn’t able to score a lot of points, she did manage to get a historic half point. She still remains as the only woman to have scored any points in Formula F1.
6 No Room For Error During Assembly
Formula F1 engines are very delicate machines—so delicate, in fact, that they have to be treated with utmost care and respect. It's quite ironic since these same engines can take a ton of abuse and stress when out on the track, but it makes sense since that's where they're supposed to shine and not when taking a casual drive around.
We’ve already talked about how a Formula F1 car is made up of 80,000 different components. Having such a large number of parts means that there's absolutely no margin for error. A 99.99% accuracy is a must, and that figure is no exaggeration since even then, it would mean that there are 80 parts that haven’t been placed properly. This can lead to unexpected issues during a race and can even cause the team to lose.
5 The Engine Is Only A 1.4-Liter V6
Many years ago, Formula F1 cars were dominated by the V10 engine, and a lot of people still remember the signature sound of an F1 car whizzing by whether they saw one in person or on TV.
A lot has changed since then, and as technology has evolved, motorsports like the formula F1 have shifted from the bigger V10 to the smaller and more efficient V6. The one that's currently being used is the 1.4-liter V6, and while this may sound like a small engine, it packs a very powerful punch—so powerful, in fact, that it produces a mind-blowing 600 horsepower with an Engine Recovery system that uses the heat from the brakes and the exhaust to produce an additional 160 horsepower, giving it 760 horsepower in total.
4 F1 Cars Can Be Driven Upside Down
As we’ve mentioned earlier, some of the most basic principles of physics and aerodynamics are at the core of a Formula F1 car. We already know that the engine, even though it's a 1.4-liter V6, can produce an impressive 760 horsepower. Put that in a machine that weighs only 640 kg, including the driver, and you have a literal death machine that would fly off from the track the moment you set foot on the accelerator.
That large wing on the back and those fins at the front are added to the car for this very reason. Other than that, the entire body of a Formula F1 car is designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. When driving fast, the car exerts a downforce of almost 4 tons at any given time, which means that it could even be driven upside down.
3 Braking Exerts G-Forces Greater Than A Shuttle Takeoff
The Space Shuttle program was the highlight of NASA’s achievements in space exploration. Watching one of them take off was a unique experience, and you'd be in complete awe of how insanely powerful those rockets were, lifting the shuttle and its crew to space along with tons of fuel. During a launch, the crew would experience a maximum of 3 Gs of force, which isn’t all too bad.
Compare that with the Formula F1 car, and we find out that a driver hitting the brakes will get to experience almost 5 Gs which is insane. Fluid from the tear ducts of a driver will usually fly out onto the visor of a driver's helmet during intense braking, further proving just how crazy Formula F1 really is.
2 Record For Winning The Most Titles
Just like any other motorsport, there are people who have proven their extraordinary talent in the world of Formula F1. Everybody is super competitive out on the track, and when that's combined with the harsh temperatures, every victory ends up being well earned and well deserved.
During the 1950s, Juan Manuel Fangio, an Argentine driver, went on to win the championship title an impressive five times during the years 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1957. This was amazing just because of the fact that Formula F1 cars were literal death traps back then. Almost 45 years later, Michael Schumacher broke this record by winning his sixth championship in the year 2003. That's really something if you ask us.
1 Rescue Response Time Is Only 30 Seconds
With cars that are traveling at 360 kph on average, there's always a risk of a crash. Many of these over the years have been fatal and throughout the history of Formula F1, a total of 46 people have given their lives.
Because of this, numerous safety features and precautions have been introduced to reduce the number of injuries and deaths. Despite all the safety equipment worn by the drivers, it can be impossible to sometimes get out of a wreck, especially if the driver ends up being unconscious or stuck in the wreckage. To handle this, a total of six rescue vehicles with four salvage cars and two rescue cars are always ready, waiting to be dispatched in case of a crash. The rescue teams are placed in such a way that they can reach any point of the circuit within 30 seconds flat.