When studying motorsport technology, you first learn how all the principles relate to road going cars, then you expand into the world of motorsport. Road cars, in fact, aren’t that different to race cars if you look at certain areas. With touring car racing, it is usually a normal road going car that is completely stripped out and has a race car chassis to make it more suitable.
Formula One cars, or cars that are built for racing only, are more different when compared to road cars; Take the shape of the car for example – an F1 car isn’t exactly the best for day-to-day driving! A single seater racing car is designed and built to be as fast as it can be and to have the best aerodynamics to be able to use that speed and power to its advantage. Road cars however, are built for practicality and comfort, unless you buy a sports car, which are more about the power rather the practicality.
Sports cars and supercars such as the Mercedes AMG GT-R or Ferrari 458 are closer to being a race car than, let’s say, a family saloon such as the Ford Focus. Cars that are designed for the road aren’t typically track ready as they are not built and set up to withstand being driven hard around a track. Almost any car can be modified to be taken on track, such as making it safer and lighter by stripping out the car, removing the seats and parts that would make the ride more comfortable for passengers and the driver. Road cars will have similar sensors and systems to a race car, it’s just the way they are set up and used that makes them different.
For most popular road cars, you can normally get a sporty version, or a faster version. Take the Mercedes A-Class for example, you can get the AMG A45 which is an A-Class but with an AMG engine and dual-clutch, semi-automatic transmission, making gear changes faster and smoother. Another example it the BMW M135i, which is the fast version of the BMW 1 series, it as an M-Power engine and a sports exhaust. It makes turns the little hatch backs into hot hatches and highly sought after pocket rockets!
The main reason for the difference in road cars and race cars is that road cars are built and designed to be safer and more comfortable for the people using it. Plus, race cars are too fast for public roads; it would be unsafe to drive a race car on anything other than a race track. After all, all racing should be done at the track, never and I repeat NEVER race on public roads. You are not the only person on the road!
Next time you jump in the car and feel like Lewis Hamilton, just go to your local kart track and race it out, no matter how much of a race car your own car feels!