Is F1 Faster than NASCAR?


For ages, Formula 1 and NASCAR fans have been at loggerheads trying to decipher which is a better racing competition. Given NASCAR is the premier racing competition in the American subcontinent the fans in the States were loyal to the stock car racing competition. However, thanks to the recent American influence on the sport, the debate in the US is shifting in F1’s favor.
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So before you head into a heated argument, as most sports often spark, let us give you some context and stats to hold in your arsenal and take to your next viewing party. In this article, we will talk about the most, if not the only, important aspect of both sports, speed!
Is F1 really the pinnacle of motorsport in terms of speed?
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Different motorsport competitions have different top speeds which are based on various aspects of the sport, the track, the regulations, etc. So, instead of comparing the two sports, because they aren’t comparable in many aspects, let’s take a look a the border picture and educate ourselves about both sports individually. To kick things off, let’s look at Formula 1 first.
via Reuters Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action at the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace
Top race speed: 360km/h / 223mph
Fastest ever speed: 397.36km/h (246.9mph)
To get things off the way, F1 cars can reach a top speed of 223 mph and the record is 246.9 mph. Talking about acceleration, we see F1 cars go from 0 to 60 mph in roughly 2.6 seconds week in and week out. However, that’s an extremely slow start if this was a drag race. Luckily for Formula 1, it’s a game of maintaining high speeds throughout the race and through every turn.
This ability to turn at high speeds comes from the extremely sophisticated aerodynamic engineering that goes into every F1 car. This is exactly why the cars go faster while moving than from a standing start. The fastest speed measured during a qualifying session was 218.5mph by Kevin Magnussen in Mexico. During a race, during the 2016 Mexican GP, Valtteri Bottas while driving for Mercedes recorded a speed of 231.4mph. These speeds aren’t the fastest in the world, however, the F1 drivers are able to maintain similar speeds over a lap. In fact, the fastest speed recorded by an F1 car, which was 246.9mph, was in a promotional event.
This is exactly why F1 cars are considered one of the fastest in the world as their average speed over a lap is much faster thanks to the high downforce and ability to maintain high speeds while cornering.
How does this compare to NASCAR? Let’s take a look.
Where does NASCAR stack up?
Top speed: 199mph
Fastest ever speed: 212.8 mph
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Now unlike F1, NASCAR races on a similar set of tracks for most of the races. The oval circuit comes with its own set of challenges and this is exactly why the speed of a NASCAR car hardly reaches its true potential. With an acceleration of 0-96 in 3.4 seconds, a NASCAR car is slower than an F1 single-seater. However, this is mainly due to the restrictions put in place by the sport.
USA Today via Reuters Aug 20, 2023; Watkins Glen, New York, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Cindric (2) leads a group of cars during the Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
That’s right, since the 1980s, NASCAR has been actively restricting the top speed of the cars in the sport with safety as the primary motivator. In fact, some incidents even saw spectators also get injured along with drivers. On top of that, the massive difference in the car’s weight also plays a part. A NASCAR is extremely heavy compared to an F1 challenger.
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WATCH THIS STORY | How Fast Can F1 Cars Go? Comparisons With MotoGP, IndyCAR, NASCAR and Formula E
For more such information, you can also dig around our website to get a better foothold on his argument. However, if you want a one-word answer, F1 is faster than NASCAR.


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