It is widely known that the F1 Constructors (also called the F1 teams) spend millions to participate in this motor racing sport each year, but where does all the money go, and what is the actual cost of a Formula One car? To be able to afford this, find out how Formula 1 teams make money.
Let’s see what we can determine about the cost of these speed machines.
The Cost Of A Formula One Car
There are several things to consider when determining the cost of a Formula 1 car:
The cost cap
Before 2021, the larger teams were thought to spend upwards of $400 million to develop, test, and manufacture their cars.
To instill fairness while making races competitive, the governing body of Formula 1, the FIA, implemented a cost cap in 2021 which limits how much teams can spend on the racing season.
The cost cap was set at $145 million in 2021 and will reduce over the next few years; it’s scheduled to stand at $135 million in 2023.
How to calculate the cost
To calculate the cost of an F1 car, you have to consider the cost of the different components of the car, such as the front and rear wing, steering wheel, chassis, transmission, and power unit.
We can try to determine the cost by looking at the cost of repairs when a car is in an accident during a race weekend.
For example, when Alfa Romeo’s Guanyu Zhou had an accident during the 2022 season, the repair costs for his car were around $2.7 million.
It is therefore easy to determine that, excluding research and development expenses, Formula 1 cars are incredibly costly to construct.
The estimated cost of an F1 car in 2022
Considering all these figures, it is estimated that for the 2022 season, a Formula 1 car’s cost sits somewhere between $12 – $15 million, however, some cars can hover around the $20 million mark.
Why Are Formula 1 Cars So Expensive?
The cost of the cars depends on how much the teams are willing to spend. An F1 car is worth millions of dollars because the prices of the individual components are extremely high.
The FIA not only put a cap on the overall budget of the teams, but also enforced cost caps on individual car components. For example, the price of an engine may not exceed $15 million.
What Are The Main Components Of An F1 Car (And How Expensive Are They)?
Chassis cost: >$700,000
The chassis is the skeleton of the car. It is made from several layers of carbon fiber mats, is stronger than steel, and is also much lighter, weighing around 77 lbs (without the addition of all the other parts of the car).
Rear wings with DRS
Rear wing and DRS cost: $85,000 – $100,000
The rear wing is crucial to ensure the car has enough downforce to take corners at high speeds. It also hosts the Drag Reduction System (DRS), which enables the car to overtake down the straights.
Front wing cost: $140,000
Both the front and rear wings help with the downforce. Ever since new rules regarding the aerodynamics of cars were established in 2017, the designs of the front wings have become incredibly intricate.
Engine cost: $15 million
The power unit of the car comprises six components, with only the internal combustion engine coming in at $15 million.
The other components that make up the hybrid turbocharged engine include the Turbocharger, Motor Generator Unit-Heat, Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic, the Energy Store, and the Control Electronics. Altogether the cost of the power unit can exceed $18 million.
Halo cost: $17,000
The Halo was introduced in 2018 to protect drivers during accidents and has certainly proven its usefulness in the past few years.
Gearbox cost: $354,000
Gearbox costs are so high because it is a semi-automatic, eight-transmission gearbox (eight forward gears and a reverse gear). Several of the smaller teams buy gearboxes from the other teams, while larger teams construct their own.
Steering wheel cost: $50,000
The steering wheel in an F1 car is an entire computer. Each team’s steering wheel looks different, however, the standardized steering wheel is supplied by McLaren Applied Technologies. See how a Formula 1 Steering Wheel works.
The floor of the car is one of the car performance factors that increases downforce. Floors are incredibly complex and improve the car’s aerodynamics.
Fuel tank cost: $31,000
Fuel tanks are made to withstand the high-speed accidents these cars are involved in. The tanks consist of kevlar (the same material as bulletproof vests) and polyurethane. The tanks are attached to the back of the driver’s seat.
The braking system comprises various components that come at different prices.
- Brake discs: $2,000 – $2,000 each
- Brake pads: $780 each
- Calipers: $5,600 each
- Master cylinders: $5,400 each
- Disc bells: $2,800 each
- Brake and accelerator pedals: $8,000.
Hydraulics cost: $170,000
The hydraulics system is complex and helps with the overall functioning of the car.
It controls nine crucial systems: power steering, gearshifts, clutch, reversing, DRS, brake, throttle, differential, turbo wastegate, and inlet valves.
Tire cost: $3,000 per set
Pirelli is the tire provider for all F1 cars. They supply a variety of tire compounds – soft, medium, and hard – as well as intermediates and wets. See our full guide on how much Formula 1 tires cost.
Extra costs: $51,000
There are several additional costs involved, such as the chassis looms, wheel bearings, and driveshafts that increase the cost of the car.
What is the most expensive F1 car ever sold?
The most expensive F1 car is the Mercedes-Benz W196 driven by Juan Manuel Fangio which was sold at auction for $30 million.
Can the Average Joe buy an F1 car?
Yes, civilians can buy retired F1 cars at auctions, directly from an owner, or from websites listing these cars.
Do the F1 teams build new cars each year?
Yes, constructors design new cars each year to meet new regulations and also to try to improve their racing speed and safety.
F1 cars are not cheap, coming in at around $12 – $20 million, depending on the team and the car’s components.
Although teams are very quiet about the costs of their cars, they have to stick to the cost caps implemented by the FIA.
Image sources: Sportingfree.com