Formula One versus NASCAR – How do they differ?

By: Tyler Connaghan | Published: Nov 08, 2023

Racing is one of the most thrilling sports on Earth, captivating fans from across the globe. While there are many different auto sports throughout the world, two of the most popular forms of racing are Formula One and NASCAR. 

Each of these racing sports has its own unique characteristics, and while both are fueled by high-speed driving and bone-shaking competition, there are several significant differences between these two types of racing. Come dive in with us as we give you a quick comparison of Formula One and NASCAR!

The Vehicles

One of the most obvious differences between these two racing sports is the way in which the cars are designed. F1 cars use sleeker builds with open-wheeled designs that are relatively low to the ground, making it easy to turn at high speeds with incredible precision. Modern-day Formula One cars are typically powered by fuel-efficient hybrid engines and can reach incredible speeds of up to 233 mph.


Source: Pexels

On the other hand, NASCAR cars are much heavier and more full-bodied at around 3,250 pounds (by contrast, Formula One cars are around 1,500 pounds). These “Cars of Tomorrow” were specifically built to withstand hard crashes and are powered by naturally aspirated V8 engines that can produce up to 800 horsepower and reach speeds up to 200 mph.



Another one of the most obvious differences between the two is the track.



F1 races are typically held on road courses or street circuits featuring sharp turns and chicanes, while NASCAR races are held on oval tracks that have banked turns.

Racing Format

F1 races are shorter than NASCAR races and typically last around two hours. The drivers will compete in a series of laps, and the winner of the race goes to the driver who completes the most laps in the shortest amount of time. 


Source: Autosport/ YouTube

On the other hand, NASCAR races can go on for twice the amount of time. Some of the longest races can go for up to four hours. The distance for these races is completely fixed, and the winner goes to the driver who finishes the laps first.


While you could say the differences between Formula One and NASCAR are also evident in the regulations of each, it’s not the most apparent to novice enthusiasts.


Source: FlashTV®/ YouTube

Here’s an overview of some of the most important rules. First, While NASCAR tracks consist mainly of ovals with several left turns, Formula One tracks can be any shape, though they must eventually go back to the start. Second, NASCAR prohibits telemetry, while Formula One permits digital measuring devices to tune vehicles in the middle of a race. Third, Pit stops are also handled differently, with NASCAR requiring them for refueling and tire changes, while Formula One mandates a stop to use specific tires. 

Finally, NASCAR does not utilize an official clocking device, and the race continues until all laps are completed, whereas Formula One will often end when two hours pass. Although both operate on a points system, NASCAR determines its champion through a playoff system, while Formula One crowns its champion solely based on points.

Fan Base

Formula One has a larger international fan base, while NASCAR is more popular in the United States. Many would go as far as to say that F1 is more sophisticated, while NASCAR is viewed as more of a blue-collar, grassroots form of racing.