Driving A Formula 1 Car

Since May 1970, when my dad took me to the first day of Time Trials for that year’s Indianapolis 500, I’ve been a fan of automobile racing. Back then it was all the American varieties, of course—USAC, NHRA, even NASCAR. I even rooted for Lloyd Ruby at Indy in the 70s, because I was impressed, that first weekend, by the stars-and-stripes paint job on his car.

At some point, though, my allegiance shifted to Formula 1 racing. Perhaps it was seeing the movie Grand Prix, or maybe it was getting access to broadcasts of the races on some new cable television package. Whatever, I know I was an F1 fan by the mid-90s; I still remember exactly where I was when I heard that Ayrton Senna had been killed in an accident.

Nowadays, I soak up all the F1 I can. The Speed TV network does a great job of covering the sport (although they could prioritize it a little more, in my opinion), and my DVR contains all of the F1 races from this season if I ever need a fix.

There’s a lot to like about F1: the exotic locations, the wide variety of tracks around the world, the wildly international roster of drivers, the precision of every aspect of the racing teams’ work on race weekend, etc. But I think the best might be the cars themselves. They are probably the most highly engineered cars in the world, and the teams spend the entire season trying to tweak them to shave thousandths of a second off their lap times. With each new race, some team or another debuts a new wing shape or some other kind of device, and then the other teams evaluate the change and, if it seems to work, try to imitate it in time for the next race.

The acceleration, braking and cornering abilities of the cars are absolutely breathtaking, and the engines operate at up to 18,000 rpm. — that’s the limit under the regulations; the teams would undoubtedly try to go higher if they could.

There’s a great pair of F1 car facts that I love:

1) A Formula 1 car can accelerate from a standing start to 100 mph. AND brake back to zero in a total of less than five seconds.

2) The downforce generated by the aerodynamic features of the F1 car is so great that the car could theoretically drive upside down. (Believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to visualize how that one might be tested/demonstrated, but I know it’ll never be done.)

So anyway, I was intrigued when I saw this video yesterday. Every F1 fan would love the opportunity to drive one of the cars, for just a little while. The editor of GPUpdate.net got the chance, and treats the opportunity with all of the reverence it deserves.

Note: the video linked on this page is more than 10 minutes long. They start him out in some lesser cars — Formula 2 or Formula 3, I think — and work their way up to the F1 car.

Enjoy.

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