Formula 1 rules, explained: The biggest differences between F1 and IndyCar

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The only thing that F1 and IndyCar have in common is speed.

With IndyCar racing since the mid-1990s, racing enthusiasts in the United States enjoy their own open-wheeled circuit. However, whether measured by TV ratings or general worldwide appeal, Formula One far outperforms IndyCar.

However, the same cannot be true for their vehicles’ performance.

While both are open-wheel courses, their rules, regulations, and styles are vastly different. Yes, they are designed for speed. They are both as harmful.

However, there are numerous distinctions between the two. Here are a few examples:

Formula One regulations
Here’s the lowdown on how an F1 team and race weekend works:

Field

The Formula One field consists of 20 drivers (10 teams). After qualifying on Saturday, the grid is set.
Weekend of racing

A normal race weekend includes three practice sessions, qualifying, and the race. Practice 1 and 2 are usually held on the Friday before the race, followed by Practice 3 and Qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.

Qualifying

The racing grid is chosen by the fastest lap on the track.

Except during Sprint Weekends, qualifying is divided into three different sessions. After Qualifying 1, five drivers are removed (and placed), five more after Q2, and the remaining ten drivers are assigned to their grid.

Scoring

Points are granted to the top ten finishers in a race. Points are awarded in the following order: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1. If you finish outside of the top ten, you get no points.

The driver who completes the race with the fastest lap earns a point.

Pitstop

Teams must pit at least once throughout a race. During the race, you cannot refuel and must use two different types of tire compounds.

Differences between Formula 1 and IndyCar — There are currently 20 drivers in the Formula One grid (10 teams). In 2022, the IndyCar grid is a little more flexible, with 26 different teams and 29 drivers.

— In Formula One, each team selects their own chassis and engine manufacturer from a list of four: Mercedes, Honda, Ferrari, and Renault. Chevrolet and Honda are the engine manufacturers for IndyCar teams. Dallara provides the chassis. Dallara has been the exclusive supplier of chassis for IndyCar since 1997.

– Formula One teams manufacture the parts and components for their cars.

— Formula One cars are designed for maneuvering, but IndyCar vehicles may reach faster straight-line speeds. Both have top speeds of roughly 225 miles per hour.

— IndyCar races largely in the United States, with events in Brazil and Canada on occasion. Formula One races on every continent except Africa (in recent years) and Antarctica – but don’t be surprised if that changes soon. I was only half-joking.

– F1 teams modify car aerodynamics to accommodate for variations from race to race. IndyCar uses different car setups for road circuits versus ovals.

— IndyCar races on streets, roads, and ovals. F1 does not race on oval tracks very often, with only a few races each year.

Formula 1 vs. IndyCar: Which is faster?

Formula 1 and IndyCar races may also reach high speeds of 225 mph. They both have advantages, however.

F1 cars are designed to accelerate faster through curves and turns than IndyCar vehicles. However, IndyCar may have a faster top speed.

Valtteri Bottas established a Formula One race speed record of 231.4 mph in 2016. The highest speed ever recorded in an F1 car is 246.9 mph, obtained by Honda when they attempted to surpass 400 km/h (248.5 mph) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

In a race, an IndyCar may reach speeds of roughly 236 mph while using low downforce setups at the ends of straights.

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