By Stefan Kristensen
April 9, 2023

How High Can F1 Engines Rev? 

If you are a fan of motorsports, it is likely that you’ve noticed the awesome revving power of F1 engines! The question is, how high can F1 engines rev? 

F1 engines are limited to 15,000 rpm, but in reality, no engine goes much above 12,000 rpm as there is no practical benefit to it with the current power unit regulations. Older naturally aspirated V10 and V8 engines reached much higher RPMs, topping out at over 20,000 rpm in 2006.

In this article, we will cover how high an F1 engine can rev, as well as an overview of what engine revving actually is. By doing this, you’ll have an understanding of just how impressive the revving of an F1 engine has been in the past and still is even with newer, quieter models. We’ll even cover some other frequently asked questions. Let’s get started!

What is Engine Revving?

The best way to understand how impressive the height of a formula one race car’s engine revving is would be to first understand engine revving, itself. Engine revving is a measurement of the speed of the engine. These are rotational machines, and every time the engine makes a full turn within a minute, it adds up to the final RPM. 

The rev of an engine is all about speed; the faster the engine is running, the more rotations are completed each minute by the engine, which results in more and more power. 

Formula 1 race cars rev using either traditional means or two electrical motors. 

In traditional engines, it begins with combustion starting at the top of the engine’s cylinders and turning the crankshaft through pistons that are forced downward. This, in turn, creates energy in the driveshaft as the gearbox’s main shaft is rotated. 

The second method, using two motors called the MGU-H and MGU-K, use electrical energy that is rerouted from the exhaust and breaking functions. 

In this article we will focus on the first - the combusion engine.

How High Can a F1 Engine Rev?

F1 engines have historically been capable of revving at as many as 20,000 RPMs, but current limitations have lowered that to only around 15,000 RPMs. While this is still fast, many racing fans in Formula One culture understandably miss the older models with more sound and cylinders. 

The name that stands out the most when discussing the history of Formula 1 rpms is Cosworth, a manufacturer of famous DFV engines such as the test mule engines using one cylinder. Though they were used for tests to cut down on manufacturing costs, these engines eventually turned into the incredible TJ V10, which could rev up to 20,000 rpm at 900 horsepower. 

Why did F1 reduce RPMs?

Since the introduction of Hybrid Power Units in 2014 F1 engines rev significantly lower that the naturally aspirated engines preceding them. There is several reasons for this:

  • Focus on road relevance. Switching to hybrid engines was to make the engineering efforts more relevant for the car manufacturers. A consequence of this has been a focus on fuel efficiency. And revving at higher rpms is not necessarily the best use of fuel. The change to turbo engines also means more torque at lower rpms.
  • Reliability. Revving an engine at 20000 RPMs is tough on an engine. And with the focus on road relevance F1 teams have limited engines available for a season. As of 2023, each car is limited to 3 engines over an entire F1 season. In contrast, a car could easily consume 3 engines during one Grand Prix in the 1980s.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about engine revving, particularly in the F1 car department? Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions below to get some answers! 

What is the highest F1 redline? 

A “redline” is a term that simply means the maximum speed of the engine that the internal combustion engine is actually designed to operate before damage is caused to any internal components of the vehicle, whether by friction or heat. 

That being said, the highest F1 redline is still a revolution per minute of around 15,000 rates per minute, currently. This is according to current Federation Internationale de l’Automobile standards of safety, operation, and engineering!

What RPM does F1 engine Idle?

An idling engine is an engine that is running, though the vehicle is not actually moving. The typical idling speed of cars is around 600 to 1000 rpm. However, the idling of a Formula 1 Racing engine is around 3500-4000 RPM on It can rev, from there, all the way up to 15,000 rpm. The old Naturally Aspirated engines often idled at over 5000 rpm.

How fast does a F1 car go, from 0 to 60?

An F1 car can go from 0 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour in terms of acceleration in 2.6 seconds! This is because the aerodynamics of an F1 car mean that it’s speed really begins to ramp up only after it actually begins moving. The faster an F1 car is currently moving, the more quickly it can increase that speed by acceleration. So an F1 car is actually faster from 60 MPH to 120 MPH than 0-60 MPH!

What RPM do NASCAR engines run at?

It can be very fascinating to compare and contrast the engines of different racing vehicles, so it’s no wonder many are curious about the difference between NASCAR RPMs and F1 race car RPMS!

Truthfully, a NASCAR engine can run at up to 9400 RPM, which is even lower than current F1 Hybrid engines! 

Can F1 cars go 200 mph?

The average formula one car can go as fast as 200 to 220 miles per hour, or 322 to 354 kilometers per hour! This means that in less than ten seconds, a formula one car can travel a full mile at top speed! And at some tracks the top speed is even higher.

In Conclusion

To sum everything we’ve learned up, F1 engines can rev at a height of 15000 RPM. This means that their engines revolve at an incredibly fast rate. Though this is not as impressive as the former models of engines thanks to safety limitations put into place, it is still much faster than the average road vehicle!

Written by Stefan Kristensen
I have been passionate about motorsports ever since I was a little boy. Back then, I cheered on the racing cars simply based on their colors. Later I fell in love with the many technical features, strategic plays, humans and their stories that all together drives this amazing sport to make it as interesting as it is.
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