Formula 1 Cars are Fast

That sounds more than a bit obvious of course. But this clip is a rare opportunity to give you some basis of comparison. Of course, we usually only see Formula 1 cars being driven around other Formula 1 cars. One is a few tenths faster than another, but what are these machines like when running next to something we know, like a typical econobox, or even a high performance road car? McLaren answers in this unusual scenario they hosted at Estoril in February of 1991.

Here’s the setup: Gareth Rees leaves the starting grid in a 1.6 liter Honda Concert. 20 seconds later, Alan McNish leaves the grid in a Porsche 911 Turbo. For the next 55 seconds, we watch McNish catch up to Rees. What seems like an eternity (1 minute 15 seconds) after the Honda started the 2 1/2 mile lap, Ayrton Senna departs in his McLaren. A minute later, and still on the first lap, Senna passes them both.

It seems like a foregone conclusion that he would, but watching that McLaren’s closing speed on the road cars really highlights how an F1 machine is just an entirely different animal from a road car.

Final Lap Times:
1) Ayrton Senna – McLaren – 1:14:00
2) Alan McNish – Porsche – 2:08:00
3) Gareth Rees – Honda – 2:28:00

via McLaren Soul

13 responses to “Formula 1 Cars are Fast”

  1. Captain Ned says:

    OK, the MP4/5B is a 1990 car. The Honda is what was being sold in the US as the Civic at the time. The Porsche looks to be a 930 variant from anywhere in the 1975-1989 time frame (it sure ain’t a 964). The speed of the McLaren F1 car is obvious but, to me, the most important spec is how close the Civic was to the 911.

    • Captain Ned says:

      For F1 AT THE TIME, it would have been interesting to compare same-vintage F1 against Stephan Bellof’s 956 assuming that Jacky Ickx didn’t assume that because he was Belgian he automatically got the right-of-way.

      After all, a 6:11 in qualifying and a 6:26 in race trim at the Nordschleife means you’re damn fast. BTW, both still absolute Ring records.

  2. When I was a young lad, they did a similar showcase with Niki Lauda. If I remember correctly, it was a bit more dramatized back in the day. I think he was enjoying a cup of tea before donning his helmet, casually climbing in the McLaren, and finally embarking on the chase. Good times. Thanks for sharing this!

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