EXPLAINED: Why Are F1 Cars So Expensive?

Published 08/06/2021, 2:39 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – August 1, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo after colliding with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc Pool via REUTERS/Peter Kohalmi


Over the years, there have been claims that F1 owns one of the most expensive cars in the world. And the latest instance to prove the point arrived from Red Bull’s garage.

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The Silverstone incident left the whole of the Milton Keynes outfit absolutely devastated, not only by the fear over Max Verstappen’s health but also by the condition of the Red Bull that was almost swallowed by the barriers.

The scene was very animated as a team of Red Bull crew rushed to the spot to examine the car, before even letting the marshals do their job. Hence, considering such dramatic reactions, one might wonder, why are F1 cars so expensive?

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Well, F1 specialist, Sam Collins, in the recent episode of Tech Talk, managed to unravel the mystery behind the massive cost of F1 cars.

Why are F1 cars expensive?

In the video, Collins opened up that the V6-powered cars are almost hand-built. What’s more, even the pattern of carbon fibers varies from car to car, hence, coming to a conclusion that no two cars are even close to identical, despite the outer design suggesting otherwise.

He explained it using a piece of carbon fiber component that he had found from the crash site at Silverstone. Hence, the component could possibly belong to Red Bull.

The reason is that they’re all prototypes and they’re hand-built prototypes. No two Formula 1 cars are identical, even individual cars that should be the same are slightly different,” he said.

Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – August 1, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas collides with Red Bull’s Sergio Perez Pool via REUTERS/Peter Kohalmi

This really shows why these cars have become so expensive. Because each individual component like this is handmade by a team of craftspeople at Red Bull’s factory.

And it’s the same for every single team up and down the grid. And you could see the number of different processes that go into manufacturing a part like this. So, it’s not just the outside carbon fiber skin. You can’t just churn these off on the production line,” he added.

How long does it take to build a small part?

Collins revealed the time it usually takes to build a component that is around the size of a notebook. And it’s mind-blowing.

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The amount of man-hours that go into manufacturing a part like this… well, I guess it’s probably a week or 2 weeks work of a team of people just to make this one small part. And you fire it in the barrier at 51G, and there’s not gonna be much left that you can recycle from this,” he said.

Formula One F1 – Hungarian Grand Prix – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary – July 30, 2021 The car of AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda is towed after he crashed during practice REUTERS/Florion Goga

Of course, F1 cars are expensive. But, with the arrival of the cost cap, crashes aren’t going to help the teams even a bit. And Red Bull’s reaction after the Hungarian GP debacle said it all; Christian Horner was visibly outraged despite his rival team principal, Toto Wolff, publicly issuing an apology.

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Overall, can any team afford to endure another crash this season, especially with the presence of the cost cap? Well, let’s wait and watch how the future plays out.

Watch Story: Biggest Crashes From 2020 Featuring Leclerc, Vettel & Grosjean

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Rohit Kumar

1163 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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