F1 Vs Indy Cars : Differences Explored


Formula 1

Formula 1 owned by the Formula One Group is the highest class of single seater automobile racing sanctioned by the Fédération International de l’Automobile (FIA). Since its inauguration in 1950, the Formula One World Championship has remained one of the premier forms of race car competitions globally.

A Formula One season is made up of Grands Prix, which refers to a series of races. These races are held globally both on public roads and specially constructed race car circuits. A point system is used to determine the two World Championships; there are two champions as there would be a champion driver and a champion constructor.

All F1 races are held on “I” graded tracks using Formula One cars and each driver must hold a valid Super License. An F1 car is a single seat open cockpit race car with substantial front and rear wings as well as an engine which is placed behind the driver. The Formula One race car is intended to be used at all Formula One racing competitions and events.

The Formula One regulations governing the events are also applied to the vehicles themselves. One of such is that the racing teams must construct the F1 cars themselves although they could still outsource the manufacturing and designing of the vehicles. F1 cars are built from carbon-fibre composites as well as other similar ultra-fibre lightweight materials.


Indy Car racing, on the other hand, is a professional level automobile racing in the United States and North America. Also known as the American open-wheel car racing, Indy car racing has been held since 1903, the most popular being the Indianapolis 500 which is also the premiere of Indy car racing. The Indy Cars named for the Indianapolis 500 compete majorly on the American Championship Circuit (Indy Car racing). The cars have been known by various names; at the beginning, they were known as “Championship Cars”, by the 1950s, they were briefly known as “Speedway Cars”.

In 1979 after the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) was founded, they were still known as “Championship Cars”. However, from the 1980s, after Cart began marketing itself as the “CART Indy-Car World Series”, the cars used were thus known as “Indy Cars”.  Indy cars are majorly specialised for oval racing, but they also drive on road and street courses. They are purchases from constructor but designed by the teams.

Differences Between The F1 Racing Cars And Indy Cars

To an average person, the F1 racing car and Indy car might look alike and both be classified as auto racing motors; however, there are quite a lot of differences between these two vehicles. These differences include:

  • Chassis:

Each Formula One Car is designed and built by each team. While reams may share power units, brakes and gearboxes, they, however, do not share the same chassis, aerodynamics and other unique parts as such; this is what differentiates each F1 car. As a result of this, F1 cars are generally more expensive and a lot more complex to build with their expenses running into hundreds of millions of dollars. Each team has to work on constructing their F1 vehicle, although in some cases the design and manufacturing can be outsourced.

On the other hand, Indy Cars are assembled from readily available parts and systems which are bought from outside suppliers. The Indy Car can be described as a “Spec Series”, and all cars run on the same chassis supplied by Dallara. Dallara since 20007 has been the single chassis supplier for all Indy Cars since 2007. The Indy Car runs on the same engine manufacturers; Honda and Chevrolet. However, while the cars are similar, the aero kits are unique depending on the supplier. As a result, Indy Cars are much cheaper to produce than Formula One cars.

  • Steering Wheel And Brakes: 

Formula One cars have very complicated steering wheels with a considerable number of buttons, dials, combinations and thumb wheels. The steering wheel also has a display screen where the diver can view information and data. The brake discs are made of carbon fibre deposits which are squeezed by a conventional hydraulic calliper thus powering the ERS system. Its quick suspension components produce a rapid change of direction.

Just like F1 cars, the steering wheel of Indy Cars also have various buttons as well as a dash containing information. The brakes of Indy Cars are slimmer carbon steel brake rotors with 4-pot brake callipers and carbon pads.

  • Engines:

The IndyCar series engine type is a 4-stroke piston intercooled with efficiency combustion process and greater emission engine burning. Indy cars have a 2.2-litre twin turbo V-6’s engine which put out an estimated horsepower between 550 and 750 at 12,000 rotations per minute (rpm). The engines of Indy Cars are now supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. There is no fuel restriction in the Indy Car current configuration as the fuel injector delivery combines both direct and electronic indirect injection.

On the other hand, Formula One cars are powered by 1.6-litre turbocharged engines in a V6 engine configuration with no more than four valves per cylinder which put out 980-1000 horsepower (730 and 750 kW) at 15,000 rpm. Fuel is supplied through direct fuel injection and limited to 100kg per hour.

  • Speed:

F1 cars are generally faster than Indy cars. Currently, the top Indy Car speed is approximately 235-240mph which is around 378-386km on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval layout. On longer oval roads its speed is about 220 mph (354km/h) and on street courses and roads, between 205-210mph (330-338km/hr). The top speed in IndyCar racing was 310km/hr-379.2km/hr on an oval circuit.

Formula One cars have a top speed between 375km/hr (233mph) A Formula one car can accelerate to 62mph in less than two seconds. The high record speed is 378km/hr on a non-oval circuit.

Finally, while they may both be auto racing cars, the Formula One and IndyCar are configured to run on separate tracks. F1 cars are engineered to run on non-oval curvy race tracks allowing the F1 cars to be extremely fast around track barriers and high straight-line speed. While the Indy Car is solely designed for oval course

So, while both are race cars, there are subtle differences. The F1 racing car is much lighter and thus faster than the Indy car weighing just about 700kg including the driver’s weight and excluding fuel. On the other hand, Indy cars weigh between 716-730kg, excluding the driver. While they are both racing cars, they are designed to run in different races and on various tracks.

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