Formula One vs Indy Car
A Modern Comparison
Created Dec 3, 1998 Last update: February 7, 2001

Technical Comparison

Which cars are faster?

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 Mercedes-Benz IC-108E

Number of Cylinders 10 in V/80 degrees 8 in V/90 degrees 8
Number of Valves 40 32 32 ?
Displacement 2,997 cc 3,500 cc 2,646.9 cc (161.5 ci.)
Max. Power 800 H.P. 720+ H.P. 900
Fuel System Magneti Marelli digital efi Sequential EFI Mercedes-Benz/Ilmor Injection
Fuel Capacity ? 35 gallon 35 gallon
Fuel Type Unleaded Petrol Methanol Methanol
Engine Price A season costs $5-35 million. $80,000 to buy one. Of course you have to rebuild them practically after every race, you need several, etc.- $150,000 leases you one

Engine List

List of Engines available for each league

Formula One



Ferrari 3.0L V10 Oldsmobile Aurora 3.5L V8 Turbo Toyota 2.65L V8
Ford Jaguar 3.0L V10 Infiniti 3.5L V8 Turbo Ford 2.65L V8
Honda 3.0L V10 Turbo Honda 2.65L V8
Playlife 3.0L V10
Arrows 3.0L V10
Mecachrome 3.0 V10
Petronas 3.0L V10
Really last years
Ferrari Engine
Peugeot A18 3.0L V10

June 13, 1999 - Currently the engine with the least power in F1 is the Supertec. (It is really a Renault.) To lease a Supertec engine for one season costs $18 million. F1 engines are not over-engineered and do not last longer than 1 race. They cannot be rebuilt either - the heads will have cracks, etc. Consequently, a team may buy 200 engines for one season!

Indy Car engines on the other hand are often rebuilt and used in more than one race.

Currently, all F1 engines are V10's and they sound similar. A few years ago you had a variety of engines, such as the Ford V8's and the Ferrari V12's. This made for an interesting racing sound. In 2000, the IRL had the choice of different cranks, so there was more variety of racing sounds from this series.

The Indy Racing League's system of engine building is much like the one used in NASCAR: The manufacturer supplies the parts and an approved builder puts them together.

In the IRL, there are 11 Aurora builders: Blueprint, Brayton, Comptech, Katech, RPM, NAC, Roush, Shaver, Speedway, Menard and VDS. Pink builds the Infinity Engine that Team Cheever uses.

These engine builders vary in size. Speedway Engines has 11 employees in a small shop south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Roush Technologies of Livonia, Mich., employs 1,500 people and uses more than 30 dynometers to test both race and passenger car engines. IRL engine builders' fees vary, but on average, rebuilds cost $17,000. Most builders do more than 100 rebuilds in a season.

The IRL's engine program was born out of league founder Tony George's disdain for CART's lease arrangement, which puts teams (and arguably the series) at the mercy of the engine manufacturers. Honda, Toyota, and Ford can, in effect, choose their clients. Once they do, clients pay a million-dollar lease and aren't allowed to work on the engines.

Some builders sacrifice horsepower in the name of reliability. A few of the better-financed teams, such as Menard, Kelley and Foyt, have both a qualifying and a race motor. In the latter, sturdier parts are used.

Chassis, Etc

Ferrari F300

Riley & Scott

Reynard 98I

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/aluminum honeycomb construction with machined aluminum bulkheads Carbon Fiber
Wheel Diameter 13 inches 15 inches 15 inches
Drive Rear Rear Rear
Chassis Price A season costs $6-33 million $280,000 for one $430,000 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 (192.5 inches) 4,826 mm (190 inches)
Width 1795 mm (70.6 inches) ? 2032 mm (78-80 inches)
Height 961 mm (37.8 inches) 940 mm (37 inches) 940 mm (37 inches)

Misc data on various cars:
Other Riley & Scott data:
Cockpit Width; 533 mm (21.0 inches)
Clutch: 140 mm (5.5 inches)
Drive Shaft: Tubular steel with tri-pod joints
Steering: Rack and pinion
Wheels: Magnesium alloy one-piece
Brake Calipers: Single, six-position
Water Coolers: Two-side-pod mounted radiators
Engine Oil Coolers: One heat exchanger in left side pod
Max RPM: 10,500

Other Reynard 98I/Mercedes-Benz IC-108E data:
Steering Type: Reynard rack and pinion
Turns: 1 (lock to lock)
Weight Dist: 41/59 (front/rear)
Turbocharger: Allied Signal/Garrett
Clutch: 4-plate diaphragm spring
Shock Absorbers: Ohlins
Wheels: BBS/Forged Magnesium
Instruments: Pi
Spark Plugs: Bosch

1999 Peugeot A18 Engine
Number of cylinders: 10 at 72
Cubic capacity: 2998 cc
Timing: by gear group
Valves: 4 per cylinders, with pneumatic return
Cylinder block and cylinder beads: light alloy
Camshafts: 2 per row of cylinders
Fuel feed and ignition: TAG Electronic control
Dimensions (mm): 620 x 512 x 393
Weight: less than 120 kg

Chassis List

List of Chassis available for each series

Formula One



Ferrari F300 Riley & Scott MK V Reynard
Arrows A19 G Force Penske
Benetton B198 Dalara IR7 All American Eagle 98I
Jordan 198 Swift 007.i
McLaren MP4-13 Lola T98
Minardi M198
Prost AP01
Sauber C17
Stewart SF2
Tyrrell 026
Williams FW20

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More Comparison Pages....

Comparison Synopsis

Visual Comparison

Series Comparison

Driver Comparison

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