How it feels to drive a Formula 1 vehicle

Filed under: Classic News |
Classic Car Magazine LogoIt’s got a steering wheel, four road wheels, and is powered by an engine that runs on petrol. On the floor there are three pedals, just as there are in any normal road car with manual transmission. So some might think driving a Formula 1 racing car is pretty much like driving any other car, but faster. They might want to think again once they have tried.

THE DIFFERENCES

The most obvious differences between Formula 1 vehicles and ordinary road cars are the single seat cockpits, the speed with which they will accelerate and are able to take curves and the ultimate top speeds achievable. Formula 1 cars are much closer to the ground than most everyday vehicles, so the impression of speed is greater in any case. The technology involved in getting the absolute maximum performance out of a Formula 1 vehicle is at the cutting edge of automotive science, with computers overseeing and performing many functions at once. Paddle gear shift controls make changing gears lightning fast. Skill is still very much required, however, as it is easy to let the sheer power and speed of the vehicle take over and get out of control. The latest cars have even more innovation, such as the McLaren-Honda MP4-31, Ferrari SF-16H and Renault RS-16, but these are still very similar to previous classic Formula 1 vehicles.

DRIVING STYLE

Apart from being incredibly fast, a Formula 1 racing car requires a particularly diligent manner of driving. Because of the sheer speed achievable, driving one requires responses that match the speeds attained. Everything happens much quicker. At high speeds the physical demands are beyond the comfortable realm of a normal everyday car’s cockpit. At high cornering speeds G forces are exerted upon the driver, making demands on the body if control is to be kept. The best drivers develop a feeling for their cars, and with a Formula 1 vehicle those who can ‘feel’ it under and around them will master its handling much more quickly. Finding the right balance between speed and braking when cornering is another skill that can be learnt.

THE EXPERIENCE

There are a lot of companies that run Formula 1 experience days and anyone looking for formula 1 gifts for an enthusiast can do no better than to offer one of these days as an original and exciting experience. Finding a venue and provider should not prove difficult given the popularity and number of such events. The sheer acceleration and speed with which Formula 1 cars are able to negotiate bends makes driving one an utterly unique and exhilarating experience. But visibility is much more limited (remember drivers must wear a helmet) and the driving position is very different to that in any normal car. This makes the experience of driving such a vehicle even more unique. For the enthusiast who is willing to accept and happily meet the challenge, getting to know and drive a Formula 1 racing car will create memories that will last a lifetime.