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How exactly do you start an F1 car? It's far more complicated than you might ever think!

If you are F1 obsessed and have petrol running through your veins you might have lost sleep over the thought of wondering how F1 cars start in the first place as you have never seen a set of F1 car keys nor heard one of them crank up after having a spin and stalling the engine, so how exactly do you start an F1 car?

Unlike a standard road car, the drivetrain of an F1 car can be divided up into 6 different components that are all controlled separately, and to a larger extent, externally via a laptop in the control room.

These 6 different components are:

  • ICE - 1.6-litre V6 internal combustion engine
  • Turbo Charger
  • MGU-K - Motor generator unit - kinetic
  • MGU-H - Motor generator unit - heat
  • ES - Energy storage
  • CE - Contol electronics


To begin the start-up process, the race engineers connect their laptops and systems to the car's engine's control unit (ECU) with individual cables running to the F1 car's clutch, gearbox and throttle that allows them to manage all the data from those 6 different engine components mentioned above.

Once that process is complete, the next step is to get the engine up to temperature. However, this cannot be done by starting the engine and simply waiting as these engines are so compact that starting the engine with the oil temperature still cold will cause significant wear that should be avoided at all costs. So, an external oil heater and pump will first heat the oil to around 80 degrees centigrade then when it's at optimal temperature it will feed the oil through the engine and create the right pressure as well.

Once these protocols are all in place, it is now time to crank the engine up. An electronically controlled starter motor that resembles a large screwdriver is inserted into the transmission via the rear of the car. This will turn over the internals of the engine until the data shows sufficient oil lubrication, then the engineer turns on the engines control switch via a laptop, and while the starter motor is still turning over, the engine fires into life!

Take a look at the video below by the YouTube channel: WTF1 on How Do You Start An F1 Car?

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