Could a Tesla Beat a Formula 1 Car in a Drag Race?


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On a quarter-mile drag strip, Teslas are pretty much unbeatable in terms of road cars.

With a one-foot rollout, the latest Tesla Model S Plaid can hit 60mph in less than 2 seconds, which is faster than the Bugatti Chiron, Koenigsegg Regera and even the Mercedes AMG One – a car that has an engine from a Formula 1 car.
But what about an actual Formula 1 car? F1 cars aren’t designed for ultimate straight-line speed, but they cannot be underestimated.

Modern F1 cars have over 1000bhp, sticky slick tyres and they’re three times lighter than a Tesla Model S, but is that enough to beat a one in a drag race?
There’s much more to drag racing than power and weight, but let’s give you the stats first.

The Tesla Model S Plaid is the fastest Tesla ever built, and one of the fastest cars on the planet.

It uses one motor at the front axle and two at the rear that put out over 1000bhp and 1400Nm of torque to all four wheels. However, it weighs just under 2.2 tonnes.

And despite being a large, spacious 5-seater saloon, the Model S Plaid goes from 0-60mph in around 2 seconds, and runs on to a top speed of 200mph.

Tesla claims that the car completes the quarter-mile in an insane 9.2 seconds.

That’s two tenths quicker than a Bugatti Chiron.
But what about a Formula 1 car?

Today’s F1 cars use 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engines paired to an electric motor to give over 1000bhp, just as much as the Tesla.

However, unlike the Model S Plaid, F1 cars put all that power through a multi speed gearbox – an 8-speed sequential unit controlled by paddles behind the steering wheel.

The reason that combustion-engined cars use a multispeed gearbox is that there is a limited rev range where they produce useful levels of power.

Shifting through gears gives control of the engine speed irrespective of wheel speed, which ensures that the engine can stay in its optimum rev band no matter the speed of the car.

Electric motors can spin many times faster than a combustion engine, and they have an incredibly wide torque band.

The motor of the Model S Plaid can spin to a crazy 20,000rpm, and it produces peak power from 80mph all the way to its top speed.

This is how the Model S Plaid can use just one gear to go from 0-200mph.

Having an 8-speed gearbox adds weight to the F1 car, but it still weighs just 746kg, which is less than half of what a BMW M2 weighs and almost a third of the Tesla.

But here’s the thing – the Formula 1 car sends all its power to the rear wheels alone.

Whereas the Model S can more evenly distribute its torque across all four tyres, limiting the possibility of overwhelming them with wheelspin, the F1 car is asking just two tyres to put 1000bhp to the road.

However, things are a lot more complicated than that, as we’ll explain later.

📺 F1 Driver’s Technique Explained

➤ Senna’s bizarre technique:

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➤ Alonso’s strange steering:

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➤ How Verstappen is so fast in the wet:

📺 F1 Engineering

➤ How F1 brakes work:

➤ How an F1 clutch works:

➤ What’s inside an F1 gearbox:

➤ How F1 teams change four tyres in two seconds:

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