09/08/2013 10:15 | By Sarah Holt

How much do Formula 1 cars cost?



Money is a part of the appeal of Formula 1 but its also a major challenge for the sport. Despite the hundreds of regulations been imposed to keep costs down, running a team is one of the most expensive hobbies you can have. Of course there's the car and the technology then the facilities, people, travel and transport.

Those with cash to splash like Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, have estimated annual spends of £240m compared with around £48m budgets of the smaller teams.

The car

How much does a Formula 1 car cost? (© PA & MSN)

This year's cars would probably cost about £1.6million to build

To help us work out what sort of price tag you might expect to see dangling from the rear wing of an F1 car, we spoke to insiders about the cost of basic components.

Carbon fibre monocoque - £400,000 per chassis

Front wing including nose cone - £100,000

Rear wing including DRS overtaking aid - £50,000

Steering wheel - £30,000

Fuel tank and assembly - £70,000

Hydraulics system - £100,000

Gearbox - £300,000

Cooling system - £100,000

Total of basic parts = £1.150m per car

But before you start saving up or buying an extra lottery ticket, the cost of one of those oh-so-desirable F1 cars does not end there.

The engine

Formula 1 engine cost

The drivers cannot always put the pedal to the metal because the rules only allow them to use eight engines per season. If a driver uses more than their allocated eight then they face a 10-place grid penalty.

The regulation was introduced in 2009’s era of cost-cutting - and when each engine package costs £4.3m per car it’s easy to see why.

Next season F1 will be turned upside by new rules on engines – 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6 engines will replace the naturally aspirated, 1.8-litre V8s.

The rule change is an expensive business as one team boss told MSN he expects engine costs to increase to as much as £8.6m per car.

Those teams who also supply engines, such as Mercedes and Ferrari as well as McLaren, who are reigniting ties with Japanese engine manufacturer Honda in 2015, will get some help towards their engine costs.

But customer teams, who buy their engines from Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault, will have to take 2014’s inflated costs into account.

The tyres

How much to Formula 1 tyres cost

F1 tyre supplier Pirelli asks the teams to make a small contribution toward the 36,000 tyres it will supply during the 2013 season.

But the bulk of the bill is still picked up by the Italian company who reckon they spend more than a small team’s annual budget on providing F1’s rubber.

Pirelli are still negotiating with some of the teams about continuing as the sport’s sole supplier in 2014 – maybe the teams want some money off?

The fuel

F1 fuel costs

Each team guzzles an estimated 200,000 litres of fuel per season.

So if Ferrari, for example, were to rock up to a UK petrol station with July’s average price at the pump that would cost them £271,000!  

Just think how many “Tiger Tokens” they could have earned with that bill?

The actual cost of the fuel and lubricants – as well as the cost of shipping the barrels to each race - is one of those figures F1 teams like to keep secret.

But those teams who have technical partnerships with petroleum companies – such as Ferrari’s alliance with Shell and McLaren’s relationship with Mobil 1  – will again share the cost.

The drivers

What is Lewis Hamilton paid?

Drivers very often outweigh their wages by the sponsorship they attract to a team, but they still leave a considerable mark on the accounts.

Williams driver Pastor Maldonado reportedly brings a whopping £30m a year to the British team from his supporters, Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso took Spanish banking backers Santander to McLaren in 2007 and the company has recently extended its deal with Alonso’s current Ferrari team.

But there are still some drivers who command a hefty wage.

British 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton reportedly earns close to £20m a year at Mercedes while three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel takes home £10m a year from Red Bull.

We know many of you out there would drive an F1 car for free…

The intangible costs

F1 costs

In conjuring the sums, it is difficult to put a cost on the myriad parts and the endless hours of research and development that whirs in the heart of the team’s factories and multi-million pound wind tunnels.

Many components are designed, built and then tested without ever reaching the car. One team said only 0.1% of the parts it makes ever find their way onto the track

Many heads are scratched trying to find that extra tenth of a second in performance and even a gain over a full season of work of half a second per lap is considered a good result.

The cost of manpower and manufacture is almost an inestimable sum that no F1 team would be willing to reveal. Engineers work 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Cars for sale

Fangio's Mercedes

If you still won’t be deterred from spending your savings on an F1 car then consider your options carefully.

The gorgeous Mercedes W196 driven by five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio during the 1954 season recently sold for auction for a world record £17.5m

Meanwhile, Pirelli said earlier this year it planned to put a 2011 car, which it bought from the defunct HRT team, up for sale on an online auction site.

But on balance, if you have designs on building your own F1 car in this era of cost-cutting you might be better getting one made of Lego.

18Comments
13/08/2013 08:53
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Firstly, '1.6-litre turbo-charged V6 engines will replace the naturally aspirated, 1.8-litre V8s', this is incorrect, current F1 cars use 2.4 litre V8's...

And those saying Formula 1 serves no purpose really have no clue. F1 is the pinnacle of car engineering and most of the current tech you see on road cars was developed as a result of Formula 1. KERS hybrid system for example is something we are now starting to see on road cars which allows for big power but also keeps them very efficient eg McLaren P1, LaFerrari, Porsche 918, yes those cars are top end hyper cars but that's where it all starts before the tech becomes cheaper and passed down to your standard road car.
13/08/2013 09:02
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There are few things on this earth more beautiful than a Lotus F1 car. Glad they're back.
14/08/2013 02:58
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Next season F1 will be turned upside by new rules on engines – 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6 engines will replace the naturally aspirated, 1.8-litre V8s.

It's 2.4 V8's at the moment. Do some research.
13/08/2013 10:04
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All the cars should be the same spec. and make, then we'd see who the best drivers are. It wouldn't then be a procession of  the same cars every race. How boring is that!
15/08/2013 15:07
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My understanding is that there will be a change from the current 2.4 litre normally aspirated V8 engine with a small KERS unit to a 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engine with a larger ERS (Energy Recovery System). ERS harvests additional power during braking (through the ERS-K) and also harnesses power from the heat energy in the exhaust (through the ERS-H). New engines are expected to be around 35% more efficient regarding fuel. 
To those who think it's boring - I thought the same thing when I watched my first race with my then boyfriend over 10 years ago (just cars going around a track etc.). Three races later I started to understand all of the other factors, engines, aero, tyres, pit stops, DRS/KERS working or not, driver ability, damage...I could go on and on. I am now a fanatic!
13/08/2013 11:19
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an one more fact if they develope cars so much how come nearly all new cars loose 50% of there value in 3 years after millions of race developed technology.would you buy a house that lost that in 3 years.no of course not ..except in the curent market obviously
13/08/2013 11:14
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nothing is being learned the 1930,s J.A.P. engines sorted out the bhp per litre an nothing has changed you can shorten the stroke to give bigger valve area but will lose bottom end an mid range,seeing speed limit is 70 mph wots the point. as for pinnacle of engineering they all copied my 76 degree engine GB patent 2-300 025 A..thats the pinnacle of formula 1 not 75 degree engines.you cant even say its exciting as anyone who has watched it will tell you on the interesting scale its equal to measuring an weighing pieces of dog ****
07/09/2013 17:39
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Monza is shaping up for another boring procession of the usual suspects.  F1 should really seriously consider the Stock Car formula of starting the best drivers at the rear of the grid with the postions determined by their championship places. This would provide more interesting racing with the best drivers and cars winning through. 
13/08/2013 11:12
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I find this sport boring beyond believe.... I am amazed how much money they spend on it. My goldfish are more exciting and cheaper!!
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Yet again a sport that has gone outside its original intention. In the early days there was at least some connection between the racing car and the car we all drive but now there is nothing whatsoever. Claims that they are test beds for aids that will one day find themselves to street are insane because of cost. Yes they would be nce but who could ever afford them. In todays world, especially Britain, one can only ask what good this money could do being spent on new hospitals etc. And 30M for a driver , give me 30,000 and I will do it for them and clean the damn car too!
13/08/2013 07:08
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all formula 1 has done is built cars that are sterile , i would rather see a 1950,s sixties or seventies car drifting and on opposite lock , all the so called car improvements have made the sport in my view boring to watch ,
13/08/2013 08:22
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What does formula 1 mean to me?

Wait five minutes and MMMMEEEEOOOOW cars gone, wait five minutes and MMEEEEOOOOW cars gone repeat 20 times and race over.

Now how boring was that.

13/08/2013 06:55
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its sick that grown men would spend that much on something that serves no purpose
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