Since F1 cars are meticulously maintained and designed pieces of equipment, it’s not surprising that they are costly. Experts speculate that F1 cars can cost over a hundred million dollars after adding up all the parts. However, recent regulations provide critical insight into exactly how expensive these pieces of machinery are and just how expensive they are to replace.
So, how much does an F1 tend to cost to race? What are the most expensive parts that go into a Formula One car? How does the cap in F1 racing impact how much a vehicle can cost?
Here’s the complete breakdown of how much F1 cars cost.
How Much Does an F1 Car Typically Cost?
Most experts estimate that an F1 car costs slightly more than $13 million. This dollar figure comes after you factor in the cost of components like the chassis, the engine, the hydraulics system, and more. These recent estimates come as F1 teams now need to be more transparent about the cost of their parts after the new FIA rules in 2021. These rules and transparency help keep the playing field level for all drivers.
Historically, innovation and limitless resources allowed teams to invest astronomical amounts into their cars. Some experts even speculated that top-flight teams had cars valued at over $400 million.
What Are the Most Expensive Parts of a Formula One Car?
The parts of a Formula 1 car are often vastly more expensive than ones you’d see in a commuter car or even a high-end sports car. F1 cars are often more costly than other motorsports, like NASCAR stock cars or Indycar. Here are some of the estimated costs associated with different parts of an F1 car.
The Engine Breakdown
The engine is, unsurprisingly, the most expensive part of an F1 car. An F1 engine is an incredibly precise turbocharged hybrid V6 engine. Countless sensors attached to the car help teams know and customize engine performance, like fuel-air mixture. Most experts estimate that a standard F1 power unit costs about $7.5 million, which is a majority of the cost of the car.
Carbon Fibre Monocoque and Chasis
The next most expensive part of an F1 car is the carbon fibre monocoque and chassis, which can range anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to over $1.2 million. This high cost comes from several reasons.
First, teams do a tremendous amount of research and development to build an aerodynamic vehicle shape that stays grounded around corners but speeds down straightaways. F1 teams also invest an astronomical amount of research and design into their chassis to know they’re as light as possible while being as strong as possible.
The gearbox is the next most expensive part of a Formula 1 car. At around $1 million, the gearbox has just as much tuning and precision as the engine. Since the transmission must withstand high RPMs from the engine and respond flawlessly to driver shifts, it must be over-engineered for peak performance.
An F1 car’s fuel tank, the halo, hydraulic system, tyres, and steering wheel are all under $2 million individually. However, when you factor in their cost, you can estimate another $3-4 million in miscellaneous parts essential to a Grand Prix’s success. However, while $13 million might be the estimated total cost of some of the least-expensive cars, the cost can mount when F1 drivers get into an accident and the vehicle needs to be fixed.
Are Formula 1 Cars Expensive to Fix and Maintain?
While many smaller teams like Haas and Williams can easily invest in putting together a great car at the beginning of the season, they often struggle to compete with top teams as the season progresses and need to invest in fixing their vehicles. Many expensive car components need replacing after an accident, which affects their bottom line.
For example, when a driver makes an error and crashes into the wall on a tight track like Monaco, they usually need to repair their front wing. The front wing, including the nose cone, can cost up to $250,000. The price of keeping a car on the road gets even more challenging when smaller racing teams struggle with bringing in sponsorships.
Since endorsements can make up most of the money that F1 teams bring in, limited sponsorships mean less money to dedicate to repairs. Teams may sacrifice creating new parts or innovating, which is necessary to stay competitive.
How Does the Cost Cap Era Impact the Cost of an F1 Car?
In 2021 the FIA instituted a unique cost-cap regulation that limited how much money teams could spend on their cars. This cap’s design was to help make smaller teams more competitive, primarily since they often can’t compete with the money that top teams like Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull can invest in their cars.
The cost cap regulations impact different parts of the building and developing a high-performance racing car. The most significant part of the budget is limiting how much money teams can spend on innovating and designing new car parts that can cause top teams to run away from the competition.
Next, constructors must pay attention to how much it costs to manufacture parts like the steering wheel or rear wing. Finally, the cap restricts how much a team can spend on testing their components before hitting the track. All of these rules are to create an even playing field for all drivers.
Conclusion: How Much is an F1 Car?
The cost of F1 racing is notoriously expensive. However, F1 spectators might be surprised to learn how much money teams invest in their cars. When you realize that an engine can cost over $10 million, you can appreciate how well it performs when speeding around a track.
When watching an F1 race, pay attention to which teams have the most sponsors and see if those teams also have the fastest cars. The chances are, all that extra endorsement money is making a difference on the track because it allows them to ignore cost when building an unbeatable racing machine.