Formula 1 versus Formula E: Top speed, lap times, tech spec and more compared
Formula 1 (F1) and Formula E (FE) are two different categories of racing that have distinct differences in their cars and regulations.
Formula 1 is the more established and popular race series, while Formula E, although still a relatively new sport, is increasingly gaining popularity.
Below, PlanetF1.com compares the two cars and series in several different ways.
The obvious difference being that Formula 1 cars are powered by a combination of a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engine and battery power, which produces more than 1000bhp, whereas a Formula E race car is fully electric, using batteries and electric motors for power which generate over 350 kilowatts, or the equivalent of 470bhp.
Formula E cars can go from 0-60 seconds in slightly under 2.8 seconds whereas F1 cars accelerate from 0-60mph in around 2.6 seconds, making them the quicker car of the two off the line.
Top speed and weight
The F1 cars are faster than FE cars, with a top speed of around 230 mph (370 km/h) while the third generation ‘Gen3’ FE cars have a top speed of around 200 mph (320 km/h).
The minimum weight of a Formula 1 car and its driver in parc fermé conditions in 2023 is 798kg, whereas a Gen3 Formula E car weighs around 760kg on its own without a driver inside.
The tracks used for each series are very different. F1 races take place on a mix of street circuits and dedicated racetracks, while FE races are held on street circuits in urban areas.
F1 tracks are typically much longer than the Formula E equivalents. F1 tracks are normally permanent with a variety of corners designed to challenge drivers. By comparison, Formula E tracks are much shorter and designed to be more compact.
The only track the two series share is Monaco, with Formula E having moved to race on the full Monaco layout after initially racing on a shortened version of the famous circuit.
Lap time comparison
With Monaco being the only circuit on which Formula 1 and Formula E cars race, that is the only way of knowing an exact comparison for times between the two cars – with F1 machinery showing itself to be significantly quicker.
The outright pole lap record around Monaco in an F1 car came in 2019 with Lewis Hamilton clocking a 1:10.166, while the fastest qualifying lap in Formula E in 2023 was Sascha Fenestraz’s 1:28.773, several seconds slower than what the Formula 2 cars manage around the same circuit.
F1 vs Formula E race time
Due to the tracks and the engines within both cars, Formula 1 and Formula E races differ in time. F1 races tend to be much longer than FE races, at 300km plus one lap.
Formula E races are a lot shorter due to the cars’ limited battery life, and races last approximately 45 minutes to an hour. To continue the Monaco comparison, F1 races for 78 laps around Monaco, whereas FE runs for 29 laps around the same circuit.
Formula E races require no pit stops and can run on the same set of all-weather tyres for a whole race, whereas Formula 1 cars will require at least one pit stop for tyres and potential repairs.
Formula 1 cars produce a lot more noise than Formula E cars as well as harmful emissions. Formula E cars are known for being kinder on the environment with no emissions at all, with Formula 1 set to move to carbon neutral fuels from 2026, as part of the goal to be a carbon-neutral series by 2030.
F1 cars are well known for their distinctive and loud engines whereas FE cars have a much quieter electric motor sound.
Formula 1 cars are much more expensive to build due to the complex technology the cars possess and the type of parts that are required.
Formula E cars run on electric technologies that are cheaper to construct and maintain. As such, F1 cars have more relaxed regulations than FE cars in terms of the amount of technology and design allowed. This allows for greater customisation and development of the cars.
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Formula 1 racing drivers are among some of the highest paid sportspeople in the world. The drivers are highly experienced professionals with years of training and are paid high salaries.
In comparison, Formula E cars are often driven by younger drivers with aspirations of their own of reaching Formula 1 – with Nyck de Vries winning the Formula E title and eventually landing a drive in Formula 1 with AlphaTauri.
Conversely, a host of former F1 drivers have made their way onto the grid in Formula E as the standard of the grid remains exceptionally high.
Ex-F1 drivers Nelson Piquet Jr, Sébastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi, Jean-Eric Vergne (twice) and Stoffel Vandoorne have all become Formula E champions since leaving Formula 1.
Both Formula 1 and Formula E cars must meet strict safety standards. The FIA enforces the rules and regulations of F1 to include measures such as fire-resistant clothing for drivers and track marshals, the installation of impact-absorbing barriers around the track and the use of medical teams and equipment on site in case of an accident.
The FIA also regulates FE motor racing, and currently works alongside FE to develop regulations that will create the best racing conditions possible, while ensuring a level playing field for all teams and manufacturers.