Formula One vs Indy Car
A Modern Comparison
Created Dec 3, 1998 Last update: 2005

Technical Comparison

Which cars are faster?

July 2005 UPDATE:

In 2005, both Champcar and IRL raced at Milwaukee's 1-mile oval. In early June, Jimmy Vasser captured the Champcar pole with a time of 21.081 (or 176.235 mph). In July, Sam Hornish, Jr. captured the IRL pole with a time of 21.457 mph. This would have only been good enough for 8th position in the Champcar race. If you look at all the drivers, you see an equal range of 21 and 22 second times. It appears the two are pretty close. The following blue section was written in 1998.

Indy Cars reach higher speeds on ovals than they do on road courses naturally. Formula One cars only race road courses and then, not on any courses that American open-wheelers race on. Consequently its hard to compare.

Indy Cars will qualify for this year's Indy 500 with average speeds over 220 mph. Arie Luyendyk qualified in 1996 with an average speed of 236 mph.

Peter Gethin qualified with the fastest time in F1 history at the Italian GP in 1971 with an average speed of 150.754. F1 cars, at the end of a straight, reach a maximum speed of around 212.5 mph (340 kph).

The IRL claim their cars can go from 0-100 mph in under 3 seconds! In dual testing at Phoenix (Jan '99), Scott Goodyear's IRL G-Force Olds was four-tenths of a second quicker than Michael Andretti's Swift-Ford. However this was due to the size of the rear wing and not horsepower. CART has about 200 more horses with their turbos. F1 used to use 1.5 liter turbos back in the 80's. Although these cars had over 1000 hp, today's F1 cars go faster with 800 hp due to advances in the technology of other parts of the race car.

The tracks as well as the car's engine, suspension, aerodynamics, tires, etc. determine how fast they go. But you must realize that the sanctioning bodies of these race series are often changing the rules, trying to slow the cars down in an attempt to maintain safey and reach a good level of competition.

CART, IRL Cars Drawing Closer Speed Comparisons

Concord, N.C., Feb. 2, 2001 ? Complaints and concerns that the machines of the CART FedEx Championship Series were perhaps too fast at times last year led to engine boost reductions in the offseason, bringing speeds down in early 2001 testing.

While welcomed by the drivers, fans of the Champ Cars may be losing one of their tenets of why their cars are better than those 3.5-liter normally-aspirated machines run in the rival IRL.

The new regulations have shown, at least in early testing, that the CART cars are not that much faster than their IRL brethren, and in at least one case, not as fast.

The lead example comes most recently from the mile oval of Phoenix International Raceway. Many of the CART teams tested there last week, and according to times reported by the individual teams, Cristiano da Matta and Max Papis posted the best efforts, circling the track at 20.6sec (approximately 174.7mph). Those speeds would leave them third on the grid for last year?s IRL race at Phoenix, where Greg Ray grabbed the pole at 176.566mph/20.389sec.

A test at Homestead this past week showed that the CART cars are coming back to the IRL fields in South Florida as well, despite the fact that CART has been running on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway since 1996, and the IRL teams will be making their first trip there this year.

The late Greg Moore established the CART track record of over 217mph in 1998, but a new aerodynamic package slowed the speeds to 208.404 last season when Gil de Ferran sat on the pole. This year with the new engine, Adrian Fernandez?s 26.6sec/203.2mph was the quickest time of the Champ Car teams testing in South Florida last week. Those efforts are remarkably close to the 26.95sec/200.4mph lap posted by Scott Sharp in IRL testing last week in Kelley Racing?s first outing at Homestead.

Surprisingly, the differences are reversed at Texas. On a track on which CART has not ever run, Kenny Brack, who has raced at Texas when in the IRL, snapped off a 221mph lap during a private test in his Team Rahal Champ Car, while poles went to IRL cars at 215mph last season. Even the year before, when the IRL cars ran four-liter powerplants, the pole-winning speed at Texas was just 216mph.

What does it all mean? Not a whole lot, as the teams are not in direct competition with each other obviously, and when they are (Indianapolis) they will be under IRL rules. But it does mean that fans that look down their noses at the IRL cars for being low-tech might be a little short-sighted as the speed gap between the two machines is closing each year.
? Eric Mauk, News Bureau Editor, RACER and Associate Editor, Champ Car

Engine Comparison

Here is a sampling of 3 cars from each series:

Ferrari 047

Aurora V8

Turbo-charged (41.5" boost) Ford-Cosworth XFE

Number of Cylinders 10 in V/80 degrees 8 in V/90 degrees 8
Number of Valves 40 32 32
Displacement 3.0 Liter 3.0 Liter 2.65 Liter
Max. Power 800 H.P. 650 H.P. 700-750 depending on oval or not
Fuel System Magneti Marelli digital efi Sequential EFI
Fuel Capacity ? 35 gallon 35 gallon
Fuel Type Unleaded Petrol Methanol Methanol
Engine Price A season costs $5-35 million. $125,000 to buy one. Of course you have to rebuild them practically after every race, you need several, etc.- Entire car $400k

Engine List

List of Engines available for each league

Formula One



Ferrari 3.0L V10 Chevy Indy 3.0L V8 Turbo Ford-Cosworth XFE 2.65L V8
Toyota Toyota
Honda Honda HI3R
Cosworth TJ2005

Chassis, Etc

Ferrari F300



Brakes Ventilated carbon discs Ventilated carbon discs disc
Gearbox Ferrari longitudinal gearbox, semiautomatic sequential electronically controlled, 7speeds+reverse $30k Emco Six-speed, no reverse $130k Sequential-Transverse Reynard/6-speed (with reverse gear for road course)
Front & Rear Suspension Independent, push-rod activated torsion spring Push-rod with double wishbones and Riley Rocker Parrell Spring/Damper Pushrod
Weight with water, lubricant and driver: 600 kg (1323 lbs) 735 kg (1,620 lbs) DRY (minimum) 703 kg (1,550 lbs) DRY (minimum)
Chassis Carbon fiber and honeycomb composite structure Carbon Fiber and composites Carbon Fiber
Wheel Diameter 13 inches 15 inches 15 inches
Drive Rear Rear Rear
Chassis Price A season costs $10-40 million $309,000 for one $300,000 for one
Wheel Base 2,953 mm (116 inches) 2,997 mm (118 inches) 1,946 mm (116 inches)
Front Track 1,490 mm (59 inches) 1,702 mm (67 inches) 1,727 mm (68 inches)
Rear Track 1,405 mm (55 inches) 1,613 mm (63.5 inches) 1,727 mm (68 inches)
Length 4,340 mm (171 inches) 4,889 mm (192 inches) 4,826 mm (190 inches)
Width 1795 mm (70.6 inches) (78 inches) 2032 mm (78-80 inches)
Height 961 mm (37.8 inches) 940 mm (37 inches) 940 mm (37 inches)

Chassis List

List of Chassis available for each series

Formula One



Ferrari Dallara Lola
Toyota TF105 Panoz G Force
Jordan 198
McLaren MP4-20
Sauber C24
BAR 007
Red Bull R81
Williams FW27


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