Understanding The Difference Between NASCAR & Formula 1

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The top two motorsport federations worldwide are NASCAR and Formula One. The novice fan may think they are very much alike, but there is where they are fooled. NASCAR and Formula One differ significantly in the types of cars used for investments and rules and regulations.

Let’s look at the differences between these two top federations in the racing world.

Is There a Difference Between NASCAR and Formula 1 Cars?

The first thing to catch your eye when watching NASCAR versus F1 is how vastly different the cars are. NASCAR drivers appear to be driving a standard car that you would see on any highway, traveling at much higher speeds.

Formula 1 racers sit in a single-seat car that looks like it comes out of the Twilight Zone or some future generation. The cars are much faster and can reach speeds of about 250 miles per hour, while a top NASCAR vehicle might hit 200 mph.

Formula 1 Overview

The racing style seen in Formula 1 is vastly different and can be seen as an open-wheel style. This means there is no protection from the wheels in the form of fenders. The cockpit can also be open without a windshield. This makes racing more dangerous, particularly at higher speeds with little protection. 

Formula 1 cars are complex in their design, featuring wings, barge boards, and more to improve aerodynamics while providing solid stability regardless of the speed.

NASCAR Overview

NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Automotive Racing. This dates back to the early days of racing when drivers drove production cars from American automakers such as Ford. Therefore, every car participating in an official race is referred to as a “stock car.”

Today’s cars used in NASCAR have v8 engines; some are still manufactured by Ford, while Chevrolet or Toyota manufactures others. Cars used in NASCAR are all the same, with the exception of minor tweaks to the engines to get the ultimate performance.

Are NASCAR or F1 Races Long

NASCAR races are generally long, upwards of 500 miles, and sometimes just as many laps. Driving long distances in these races is typically safer since the drivers are protected in closed cockpit-style cars. Races on the NASCAR schedule can last three or more hours.

Formula 1 races are considerably shorter. The rules for FIA indicate that the minimum race distance is about 190 miles, although the historic Monaco Grand Prix is only about 260 kilometers or about 160 miles long.

Races on the F1 circuit must also have driving times of less than two hours and no more than three hours, including any delays. This was put into place to protect the drivers who could become extremely fatigued or dehydrated after a long, grueling race.

Do Formula One and NASCAR Races Happen at the Same Place?

Typically, NASCAR and Formula One won’t share racing venues because of the different driving styles required to succeed in each sport. This isn’t always the case, as the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, hosts races for both organizations, giving racing fans in the area double the excitement.

One thing worth noting is that most of the races on the NASCAR circuit take place on oval tracks, which are easier to follow for the fans due to shorter lap times. This translates into NASCAR teams having to adjust suspension because only left turns are made throughout the race.

On the flip side of the coin, Formula One never races on oval tracks. They all take place on street circuits or road courses, which have a variety of different kinds of turns and twists.

Some require the driver to have tremendous skill. This type of racing puts equal stress on all parts of every car, which means crews must be sure the car is set up well throughout to avoid mechanical problems during the race.

Occasionally NASCAR races also are on road courses, like those in Texas, but these have much shorter distances than on the oval track. The cars move slower around the turns, allowing cars to pass each other more frequently, adding to the uncertainty and excitement of the race.

Between NASCAR & F1 Drivers, Who Gets Paid More?

Formula One is one of the most expensive properties in motorsports. It has been reported that Lewis Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes AMG Personas, made 50 million a year, about double that of the second-highest-paid driver, Max Verstappen of Oracle Red Bull Racing.

The highest-paid driver in NASCAR is Kyle Busch, who makes just under 17 million after salary and money earned through sponsors. Second is Denny Hamlin, coming in at just over 13 million. 

NASCAR drivers earn less because there are 36 cars on the track each race, nearly double that for a Formula One race.

Do NASCAR & Formula One Races Have Fuel Stops During Races?

Refueling is forbidden in Formula One races since the races are so short. The FIA states that teams must have at least one pit stop per race for tire changes, whereas NASCAR races generally have several pit stops for refueling and tire changes. 

Conclusion: Differences Between NASCAR and Formula 1

While Formula One and NASCAR make up the elite in motorsports, there is quite a difference. Some like the aggressive form of racing typically seen in NASCAR, while others prefer the faster, more finesse style seen in Formula One. 

If you are a racing enthusiast, there will be something exciting no matter which form you watch. When it comes down to it, neither is “better,” just different. Each style has a roster of elite drivers competing for top prizes and a world title.