Why does top speed differ between F1 and NASCAR? All you need to know

Red Bull Speed Jam
Red Bull Speed Jam CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 03: F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia drives the Red Bull NASCAR car through the city streets during the Red Bull Speed Jam event held in Cardiff Bay on September 3, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Red Bull)

NASCAR and Formula 1 are undoubtedly two of the most popular forms of motorsport. While NASCAR is mostly popular in the United States, Formula 1's popularity has a much bigger global reach. However, there's one aspect that unites the fans of both sports, and that is nothing but speed.

For fans and enthusiasts around the world, speed is something that accrues the most attraction. The adrenaline rush to see how fast the car goes is something no true fanatic can keep away from. With this, there always comes a question: how fast are these cars?

Well, for most of it, Formula 1 and NASCAR have different speed categories under different criteria. Why is that? These two forms of motorsport use different cars with various set-ups and that makes all the difference.

Exactly how fast a Formula 1 car goes then? What about the NASCAR? According to reports, an F1 car can go up to 231 miles per hour (372.5 kilometers per hour). Compared to it, a stock car can reach up to 199 miles an hour (321 kilometers per hour).

Why such a difference? The F1 cars are lighter, fairly low to the ground, attract downforce, experience less drag, and therefore less resistance. They are also aerodynamically advanced, which helps the cars to cut through the air and attain more speed.

Compared to F1, the stock cars have more weight, are bulky, and are less aerodynamically advanced. Besides this, NASCAR since the 1980s has actively restricted top speed for safety measures. Furthermore, the car's weight also works against them, and in the past, several accidents have injured drivers as well as fans.

What else decides the top speed between F1 and NASCAR?


Besides the structural difference, the track, location, and set-up decide the top speed of F1 and NASCAR. To give an example, the cars in stock car racing tend to pull off more speed when they race on oval circuits, compared to the asymmetrical ones.

This is also applicable to Formula 1, as different circuits provide different opportunities for top speeds. While most of the circuits have the same range in terms of speed, Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez from Mexico stands out.

Due to its location which is 7,500 ft above sea level, cars experience less drag and less resistance due to the presence of thin air. Admittedly, F1's fastest speed was recorded at this very circuit when Valtteri Bottas drove his Williams at the speed of 231.4 miles an hour (372.5 kilometers per hour).

This brings out one question. Is F1 the fastest form of motorsport? The answer is no. IndyCar, on a straight line, can pull out more top speed compared to F1. However, the F1 car's superior aerodynamic and cornering ability makes it more agile and faster in a lap.

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