Motorcar racing as a sport has gripped the imagination of fans for over 120 years. From a formal race run in 1894 between Paris and Rouen in France, over a distance of 50 miles (80 km) at a spine-tingling speed of 10.2 mph (16.4 kph) to the modern era vehicles which run at 240mph (386km/h), the sense of competition remains.
IndyCar and Formula 1 racing is different.
- The cars share very little technology, and each is designed for different circuit types.
- F1 teams develop their cars, whereas a standard IndyCar is provided to each racing team.
- The types of circuits are different.
- The rules are different.
IndyCar runs on Ovals, road tracks, and street circuits, whereas F1 only runs on racing and street circuits. Although they may look the same, the cars are entirely different and use differing technologies.
The Differences Between Indy Car And F1
F1 and IndyCar racing are the two single-seater racing series that attract the most audiences.
They arose from very different circumstances, and although each series of racing cars look similar at a glance, they could not be more different.
The Differences Between IndyCar And F1
In this article, we will discuss the differences between each series.
Formula 1 Series History
Although Formula 1 can trace its roots back to the late 1800s, the first formula 1 race was run at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom in 1950. The sport has developed into a truly international competition with races being held.
- Abu Dhabi
- North America
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- The Netherlands
- United Kingdom
IndyCar Series History
IndyCar traces its roots back to 1905 when the American Automobile Association (AAA) racing Board announced that it would sanction the National Track Championship. It didn’t last long because, in 1906, the series was canceled.
The authorization was restored in 1908, and in 1911 they ran the first race at the Indianapolis speedway. The race was named the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes Race and ultimately became the Indianapolis 500 in the modern era.
Through the intervening years, which included the great depression, the second world war, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the series has evolved until it moved under the United States Auto Club (USAC).
IndyCar started racing under the banner of the Indy Racing League (IRL) in 1996.
The most significant disruption occurred in the 1970s when the series split due to friction between USAC and team bosses.
The owners of the teams created Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART), bringing most drivers across to the new association.
They ran the series under the CART umbrella until a further split happened, with the series moving into the Indy Racing League (IRL). The division held until 2008 when both series remerged and became known as IndyCar racing.
IndyCar racing is an American event, and races are only held on tracks situated in North America.
The Racing Cars Are Different
Although both series race single-seat, open cockpit racing cars with similar silhouettes, the vehicles are very different.
Modern formula 1 cars are developed by 10 different manufacturers, who collectively race 20 vehicles, designing their chassis’, suspension, running gear, electronics, aerodynamic designs, and body shells. The designs of all of these components have to follow guidelines and restrictions imposed by the FIA controlling body.
Four manufacturers provide engines as follows.
|Red Bull Racing
|Aston Martin Aramco
|Red Bull Racing
|Red Bull Racing
Formula 1 cars use complex aerodynamic systems, which contribute massively to the team’s relative competitiveness.
The cars use hybrid engines built around a 1.6l internal combustion engine.
The hybrid power plant is an electric motor powered by an energy storage device (battery). The battery is charged by energy captured from the braking system and the exhaust gasses. These engines produce just under 1,000 BHP.
Gearboxes must be semi-automatic and have eight forward and one reverse gear. The FIA rulings fix the gear ratios, and they must last for six consecutive events.
In an attempt to level each team’s investment, a cost cap of $140 million is imposed for the 2022 racing season.
Including the driver, F1 Cars must weigh a minimum of 795kg.
- The steering wheels used in F1 cars carry all instrumentation, communication, engine modes, gear change paddles. Brake balance and differential settings.
- Pirelli provides tires, and on race day, only three dry-weather compounds and two wet-weather compounds can be used by the teams.
- F1 car’s regular top speed is 205mph (330km/h), but in 2019 both Sebastian Vettel and Sergio Perez managed a top speed of 223.5mph (360km/h) on the Monza F1 circuit.
- Although F1 cars do have a lower top speed than IndyCars, they accelerate faster and have superior aerodynamics, allowing them to corner faster.
An F1 car would complete a typical circuit faster than an IndyCar.
The same chassis and aerodynamic kit are standardized across all IndyCar teams, and there are only two engine suppliers (Honda and Chevrolet).
The cost of IndyCar teams is $5 to $30 million (including the cost of the car) per year (compared to $140 million) for an F1 team.
There are 11 teams and 29 drivers.
- The engines have a capacity of 2.2L and have 6 cylinders in a V-shape. The engines produce between 550bhp-700bhp depending on the amount of boost used.
- In the 2024 racing year, IndyCar will increase the size of the engine to 2.4L and will add a hybrid KERS component which will increase the BHP to 900.
- Six-speed, semi-automatic paddle shifts gearboxes are used.
- Firestone supplies Tires which include two dry weather compounds and one wet.
- IndyCars’ top speed on an oval circuit is 240mph (386km/h).
- IndyCars have faster acceleration and higher top speed than F1 cars; however, the straight-line speed advantage does not translate into better track times.
The Racetracks Are Different
The racetracks on which each series compete are very different.
Formula 1 Racetracks
In the 2022 racing year, F1 will race in 24 different circuits globally.
The list of circuits is detailed in the table below.
|Date Of Race
|Bahrain Grand Prix
|Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir
|Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
|Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Jeddah
|Australian Grand Prix
|Albert Park Circuit, Melbourne
|Emilia Romagna Grand Prix
|Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola
|Miami Grand Prix
|Miami International Autodrome, Miami Gardens
|Spanish Grand Prix
|Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona
|Monaco Grand Prix
|Circuit de Monte Carlo, Monaco
|Azerbaijan Grand Prix
|Baku City Circuit, Baku
|Canadian Grand Prix
|Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montreal
|British Grand Prix
|Silverstone Circuit, Towcester
|Austrian Grand Prix
|Red Bull Ring, Speilberg
|French Grand Prix
|Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet
|Hungarian Grand Prix
|Belgian Grand Prix
|Circuit Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot
|Dutch Grand Prix
|Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort
|Italian Grand Prix
|Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza
|Russian Grand Prix
|Sochi Autodrom, Sochi
|Singapore Grand Prix
|Marina Bay Circuit, Singapore
|Japanese Grand Prix
|United States Grand Prix
|Circuit of the Americas, Austin
|Mexican Grand Prix
|Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City
|Brazilian Grand Prix
|Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagos
|Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
|Yas Marina Circuit
The shortest circuit is 1.9 miles long, and the longest racing circuits are 4.3 miles long.
The road surfaces of all F1 tracks are very well prepared, and even though several events are held as street circuits, the race tracks are prepared to a very high level.
IndyCar races on 16 different tracks, of which 15 are in America, and one is in Canada.
The races are held on three different track types.
- Street Circuits (4)
- Ovals (5)
- Road Courses (7)
|Streets of St Petersburg
|Texas Motor Speedway
|Streets of Long Beach
|Barber Motorsports Park
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Raceway at Bells Isle Park
|Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
|Streets of Toronto
|Indianapolis Motor Speedway
|Streets of Nashville
|Worldwide Technology Raceway
|Portland International Raceway
|WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
Tracks range in length from the shortest at 0.8 miles to the longest at 4 miles.
IndyCar tracks feature longer straight than F1 tracks, which is why such high speeds are possible.
Global TV Audiences
With each sport, the size of the TV audience is the most important number when it comes to the financial value of the series.
Formula 1 TV and Internet Audiences
In 2021 an average of 70.3 million viewers watched each Formula 1 race.
IndyCar TV And Internet Audiences
In 2021 an average of 1.58 million viewers watched IndyCar per race.
A simple comparison of Formula 1 and IndyCar is not fair to either sport. Each runs in very different ways with completely different cars; because F1 is an international sport run on 24 circuits globally, the awareness of the sport and the audience numbers are substantially higher.
The takeaway from this is that both sporting series provide compelling viewing to dedicated followers irrespective of the differences. The tracks and cars may be different, but the level of driver skills and the adrenaline-inducing action are the same.