What Are Speed Traps on F1 Circuits?

What are speed traps on F1 circuits?

You’ve probably heard commentators mention speed traps during a race. But have you ever wondered what they are or why they’re crucial?

Let’s dive into the world of speed traps on F1 circuits and shed some light on this fascinating aspect of Formula 1 racing.

What are speed traps on F1 circuits?

Speed traps are essentially high-speed monitoring systems placed around an F1 track to record the maximum speeds of each car during a race or practice session. It’s like those speed cameras you might find on the highway but for racing cars.

They were introduced to give teams, commentators, and fans insight into which cars are the fastest on the straights and who has the most engine power or aerodynamic efficiency.

What are speed traps on F1 circuits?
Source: RacingNews365


Where are speed traps placed in F1?

The placement of speed traps is not arbitrary. The FIA determines their locations. Typically, a speed trap is set up at the fastest part of the circuit – often towards the end of the longest straight. This position is chosen because it allows the cars to reach their maximum velocity, clearly indicating their top speed capability.

At Baku, Hungaroring, or Spa, cars hit their top speeds in the middle of the straight parts. That’s because their batteries have lost a lot of power by the time they reach the end.

But at places like Monza or Silverstone, they hit top speeds at the very end of the straights because these tracks have super long straight stretches, allowing cars to keep their speed up right into the next turn.

These are the circuits where highest speeds are measured:
🇮🇹 Monza, Italy
🇦🇿 Baku, Azerbaijan
🇧🇪 Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
🇬🇧 Silverstone, United Kingdom
🇲🇽 Mexico City, Mexico

Why were speed traps invented?

The primary reason is data collection. Speed traps provide valuable data about a car’s performance. They allow teams to understand their car’s strengths or weaknesses compared to rivals, especially in terms of engine power and straight-line speed.

This data can be crucial for strategizing and making real-time decisions during a race.

Speed traps add another layer of excitement for fans and commentators, showcasing which drivers and teams are blisteringly fast on the straights.

📊 Speed records in Formula 1

Highest Average Race Speed (winner):

  • 247.586 km/h (153.843 mph)
  • Italy 2003 Italian Grand Prix
  • Winner: Michael Schumacher (Germany)

Highest Average Fastest Lap (race):

  • 257.321 km/h (159.892 mph)
  • Italy 2004 Italian Grand Prix
  • Record holder: Rubens Barrichello (Brazil)

Highest Average Lap Speed (qualifying):

  • 264.362 km/h (164.267 mph)
  • Italy 2020 Italian Grand Prix
  • Record holder: Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom)

Highest Top Speed (race):

  • 372.5 km/h (231.461 mph)
  • Mexico 2016 Mexican Grand Prix
  • Record holder: Valtteri Bottas (Finland)

Highest Top Speed (overall):

  • 378 km/h (234.878 mph)
  • Azerbaijan 2016 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
  • Record holder: Valtteri Bottas (Finland)

Are speed traps still relevant?

Historically, speed traps were an advanced technology in F1. However, with current advancements in real-time monitoring, cars’ speeds can be tracked at any location on the circuit.

Given the extensive data already available to teams, the utility of speed traps might be questioned. This data provides insights into a car’s performance peaks and troughs, potentially reducing the reliance on traditional speed trap information.