how fast do f1 cars go f1 cars top speed explained

The Thrill Of The Edge: What Is The Current F1 Speed Range?

 'If everything seems under control, you're not going fast enough.' Mario Andretti 

Rephrasing Mario Andretti’s famous quote, a Formula 1 car has to be as fast as its driver to be on the edge of losing control. But where is that boundary? However, Andretti didn’t clarify. Therefore, let’s delving the figures to explore how fast F1 cars have gone in recent times and where that speed range where going fast is enough.

Let’s start subtly. 

Among the world racing championships, Formula 1 sets its top as the fastest sport for a reason. We figured it out when comparing the speed of different race cars in various disciplines under the FIA’s regulation. 

One of my insights is that all these cars race with nearly 200 km/h on average. However, F1 cars run faster at 100 km/h than others, and only IndyCar is faster than Formula 1, although it is another story yet.

The Average Speed In Formula 1

The average speed of a Formula 1 car is 200 km/h, which is a constant average, but it varies significantly from one race track to another. 

Remember, the slowest track in Monaco sees the 164 km/h average speed of the F1 cars that Lewis Hamilton showed at the wheel of Mercedes in 2021. It is almost 100km/h slower than the fastest track on the calendar, Silverstone.

At the Silverstone (British Grand Prix), drivers race at an average of 243 km/h, while they meet for about 252 km/h at the median speed at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit (Saudi Arabian Grand Prix).

The truth is that no one purposely quantified the average and top speeds of F1 cars outside the manufactory because it is a trade secret and challenging to arrange. Although, the attempt was already made.

The Fastest-ever Speed Of A Formula 1 Car

The so-called ‘Bonneville 400’ was one of the strangest projects outside Formula 1’s activities. The Bar Honda team attempted to break records by exceeding the 400 km/h limit in 2005. How do you think did they succeed?

Yes and no.

According to the Bar’s data, their modified BAR 007(RA106), but fully compliant with FIA’s regulations F1 car, hit 413 km/h in the Mojave Desert.

However, the sanctioned speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA was only 397 km/h. As they say in the classics, go figure. 

But it is what it is, and 397 km/h is the official top speed record for any Formula 1 car ever made, even though it was set off the track. 

Therefore, as the range where the F1 top speed records are set, we have a span from 200 to 397 km/h

f1 car top speed explained
Nico Rosberg overtaking Heidfeld 2007 Brazil” by Morio/ licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Top Speed Records In Formula 1

Back to the pace of racing, it is Juan Pablo Montoya who holds the official F1 top speed record. In 2005, Montoya hit 372.6 km/h at the wheel of the McLaren Mercedes car at the Monza circuit. But it was set during practice for the Italian Grand Prix, while Valtteri Bottas holds the top speed in the race. Bottas reached 372.5 km/h at the wheel of the Williams at the 2016 Mexican Grand Prix. 

Thus, Montoya’s 372.6 km/h has been an unreachable mark until today. Although efforts have been made. In the same 2016, Bottas accelerated to 378 km/h, as announced by Williams on Twitter. However, the FIA rejected it, stating that the actual speed was only 366.1 km/h.

And something tells us that the record will remain because the latest cars in Formula 1 have become slower. However, as soon as we figure out the top and possible speeds, let’s check for the current pace in Formula 1.

How Fast Do F1 Cars Go Recently?

In the 2020s, F1 car goes 200-350 km/h and rarely hits over 350 km/h. Although it depends on the track’s layout, the driver accelerates 330km/h at straights and corners at 250km/h on average. Delving into the proofs.

So, at the start/finish straight at Monza, drivers can reach 359 km/h. But it is Monza, and that says it all. 

According to a Scuderia Ferrari Fans source, Kevin Magnussen hit 355 km/h at the wheel of Haas at the 2023 Baku Grand Prix race. 

Williams driver Logan Sargeant recorded another fantastic speed – 356 km/h on the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix, as Scuderia Ferrari Fans noted.

And, again, it was made at the wheel of a mid-grid Williams car. So, among the top speed marks, often you can find Williams or Haas cars’ mentions. Does it mean that Red Bull, Ferrari, or Mercedes F1 cars are slower than those from mid-grid? Not at all. 

Thus, the top speed of Red Bull is about 345 km/h. It is the same as Mercedes and Williams, while Ferrari F1 cars can reach about 350 km/h!

how fast do f1 cars go explained
Sergio Perez et Max Verstappen 2022” by Wastrick/ licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

What Is the Fastest Car in Formula 1?

So, despite all F1 cars’ performance depending on the settings, all those run at one-speed field – 345 km/h. But, how then did slow Williams hit 356 km/h in Belgium?

The fastest car on the grid is the one that performs better at every point on the track, including corners and chicanes. 

The teams from the second half of the grid, such as Alpine, Sauber, Williams, and Haas, bet on their strongest side – maximum speed. So, by improving this point, the slow Williams reduces the gap to the others, running fast on the straights but struggling at the other points of Spa-Francorchamps.

Front-runners Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull don’t need 356 km/h, as their cars are fast overall when accelerating, braking, and cornering. So when you look at Red Bull’s speed in the Belgian Grand Prix, you will find Max Verstappen hasn’t been equal.  

So, while speed is critical in Formula 1, success revolves around overall performance.

What Makes The Overall Performance Of The Formula 1 Car So Good?

The primary factors that directly impact are acceleration, aerodynamics, and DRS. The weight and grip also make a difference, but secondarily.

Weight in Formula 1 is strictly regulated, while the grip changes at different tracks and weather conditions.


Acceleration helps to reach top speed rapidly and maintain the F1 car’s pace around the corners. 

Currently, cars in Formula 1 accelerate from 0 – 100 km/h in 2.4 seconds, 0 – 160 km/h in 3.4 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 4.8 seconds, and from 0-300 km/h in 8.6 seconds.

Thus, with 23 turns, like Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore, the advantage goes to the best-accelerated cars. That is why Red Bull has the most wins here.

Remarkably, alongside the great acceleration, the brake system of the F1 car also works pretty well. So, it takes 4 seconds for an F1 car to stop from 300 km/h.

Another matter is that the driver gets bearings as fast as his car.


The aerodynamics doesn’t directly increase the speeds of the F1 car. It improves the downforce. How fast F1 car can be if not its aerodynamic suits? Someone guessed it wouldn’t go over 260 km/h, as the specific elements add about 10% to the downforce.


Weight in Formula 1 is limited, and all the teams use the gold standard, meeting the minimal threshold of 798 kg. However, an extra 10 kgs may cost an additional 0.5s in lap time. 

Therefore, the new 2024 F1 cars have primary black patterns. In pursuit of making the car lighter, the constructors limit the painting.


Last but not least is the Drag Reduction System in Formula 1. Despite DRS being enabled in the special zones, opening the rear wing gives the driver an extra 15 km/h

formula 1 acceleration explained
Lewis Hamilton-Mercedes W11 (5)” by Alberto-g-rovi/ licensed under CC BY 3.0


The speed of the cars in Formula 1 is not the result nor the reason, but the mix of lightweight, designed aerodynamics, performed DRS, powerful unit, and fast acceleration.

So, though all the cars at the grid can go as fast as to reach 350 km/h, each one has unique indicators, resulting in someone finishing first while the other one lags for the lap. 

Although the answer about speed ranges in Formula 1 lies in the field between 200 and 350 km/h, the 400 km/h mark wasn’t ever reached, despite the efforts and experiments. 

So when Mario Andretti said his famous words, I think he meant exactly the 350-400 km/h speed that current and possible speed records can be set at. However, this is a fast enough limit where a driver can lose control so quickly.