How fast is a Formula 1 car? It’s a question that gets asked quite often, especially if you’ve witnessed the dozens of fabulous machines that indulge in a bit of showboating at the Festival of Speed every year. There’s not enough room on the drive of Goodwood House to fully let them off the leash, of course, but at a Grand Prix you can’t get anywhere near them, let alone see them doing donuts and full-bore, wheel-spinning getaways. In their natural habitat, at a more conventional F1 venue, they’ve always been mind-warpingly fast, relative to anything else with four wheels.
For a bit of festive fun, we’re going to try to answer the ‘how fast’ question – in an every-day context – by showing you a selection of F1 cars of varying vintage going up against other racing cars and road cars. The handicapping is carefully calculated, of course, but it shows just how much of a head start doesn’t help when you’re up against an F1 racer.
And it’s a concept we’re familiar with, having let Anthony Davidson loose around the Motor Circuit during the 73rd Members’ Meeting back in March in a 2013 Mercedes W04 F1 car against a 1970s touring car and a road rocket, both from the Three-Pointed Star’s back catalogue. You can guess who won…
These five videos are our favourite compilations of the genre – and they all highlight just how quick the world’s fastest racing machines really are.
5 Red Bull- Renault RB7 vs Holden Commodore vs Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (top)
Watch five-time 500cc motorcycle champion Mick Doohan in a road-legal Mercedes-Benz C63 up against V8 Supercar ace Steven Richards in a Holden Commodore V8 Supercar and David Coulthard in the 2011 F1 World Championship-winning Red Bull-Renault RB7 around the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne ahead of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.
4 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-22 vs Mercedes-Benz C-Class DTM vs Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black vs Mercedes-Benz C350
It’s Susie Stoddart, as she was in 2007, in the entry-level Merc C350 road car versus F1 safety car driver Bernd Maylander in the CLK63 beast versus Jamie Green in a full-blown DTM C-class versus double world champion Fernando Alonso in the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-22 around the sweeps of Silverstone. And there’s a surprise in store for Alonso.
3 McLaren-Peugeot MP4-9 vs Porsche 911 Carrera vs Peugeot 306 S16
Here’s French ex-F1 and Le Mans racer Philippe Alliot in a humble 2-litre Peugeot 306 S16 going head-to-head with F1 veteran and world sportscar champion Martin Brundle in a 993-shape Porsche 911 Carrera and Mika Hakkinen in the 1994 Peugeot 3.5-litre V10-powered McLaren F1 car at Silverstone. And, as narrator and sometime Goodwood commentator Bob Constanduros concludes: ‘that’s how fast a Formula 1 car is!’
2 Ferrari F310 vs Ferrari 550 Maranello vs Fiat Bravo
It’s 1996 and we’re at Imola, home of the San Marino Grand Prix. In the bog-standard Fiat Bravo is Ferrari F1 test driver Nicola Larini, who heads off first. Next away is then-Ferrari race driver Eddie Irvine, the Irishman at the wheel of the front-engined V12 Ferrari 550 Maranello. He then has to keep an eye in the mirror for Ferrari team-mate and double world champion Michael Schumacher in the ‘Prancing Horse’ Ferrari F310. The quality of the film may be poor but it’s classic Italian artistry at work.
1 McLAREN-HONDA MP4/5B vs PORSCHE 911 TURBO vs HONDA CONCERTO
And our favourite, probably because Ayrton Senna’s in it, features the great Brazilian in 1991 aboard his world title-winning McLaren of the previous season against a couple of quick young Brits – Allan McNish in a Porsche 911 Turbo and Gareth Rees in a Honda Concerto – around Estoril, the home of the Portuguese Grand Prix and a place where Senna took that famous maiden victory for Lotus in the rain six years previously. Enjoy!