To the neutral eye, F1 cars and Indy cars look like the same thing and while these two beasts of technology are cut from the same fabric, they are not all that alike. One of the most discussed and tipping points in F1 vs. Indy car debates however, is speed. Here’s our take and pretty much the only one that matters.☺
INDY CAR CARS
Indy car is raced only in North America and mix up between oval Nascar tracks, street courses and race tracks, with a big difference from F1 cars being that all cars have the same chassis and have engines supplied by only two manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda. Indy cars may race on Nascar tracks, but this only speaks to their power and resistance, while highlighting their grit.
Indy cars can race with very minimal braking and all-out speed while maintaining power, this makes their V6 twin-turbo 2.2 L DOHC engines, which bellow some 810 hp at a consistent 12,000 rpm, very good at reaching and holding on to their top speed, which is around 240 mph. In addition, Indy cars like F1 cars use paddle shifting, sticking to 6-speed sequential semi-automatic shifts that can produce a torque of up to 480 lb-ft.
This means that top speed is pretty much a guarantee in Indy cars, aided by the tracks they drive on.
Firstly, F1 cars are more regulated than Indy cars, but teams have way much more money to spend on innovation and technology. That said, where Indy cars are more concerned with banking at wider angles and hitting top speed, F1 cars are all about that and then some, doing it in fraction-of-a-second time frames.
F1 cars do not need to max out because they have different priorities, which is largely aerodynamics and generating large down force in quicker times, to make their corners. F1 cars generate over 6Gs of that during races, which is +1 G above what is generated by Indy cars. In addition, F1 cars have a greater power factor, with 8-speed semi-automatic paddle shifting, which produce a lesser 413 lb-ft of torque, but then again you can’t ignore that power factor.