What Is Speed Trap In Formula 1?

What Is Speed Trap In Formula 1

Formula 1 is not only the highest class of international racing, F1 cars are also faster than NASCAR vehicles, often coming in around 1000hp, compared to NASCAR’s average of 750hp. Formula 1 cars' 0-60mph acceleration and light body weight also give them the edge on NASCAR, making F1 Grand Prixs particularly exciting to watch. What records a driver’s speed during these high-speed races, though? Read on to learn more about speed traps in Formula 1.


A Formula 1 speed trap is a device used on Formula 1 tracks to record the speed of cars as they pass by. Each Formula 1 track is equipped with these mechanisms that pinpoint the speed of these lightning-fast cars as they lap around the tracks. Formula 1 racing would not be the same without these devices, as speed traps play an important role in collecting data to improve the sport and energize its fans. 

Why Are Speed Traps Important?

One of the important uses of speed traps is to allow projections from F1 teams and fans. As speed traps clock each individual car throughout each race, the pace and progress of each driver can be noted, adjustments can be made, and tensions in the crowd will rise. Straight-line speed is important for winning a Grand Prix, and speed traps also assist determinations about how fast cars are going while on a straight stretch.

Additionally, speed traps allow viewers and drivers to determine how well they are performing in comparison to how well the car should be performing. Finally, the data collected by speed traps can be used to analyze the ability of individual cars, which in turn improves the technology of the sport.

Some may find speed traps’ importance dwindling, as F1 technology improves and more and more speed collection devices are added to the track and within cars. On the other hand, the importance of collecting data from each car at the specific speed trap point chosen for each track still holds its value. The other main criticism of speed traps, comes in the form of arguments over just where on the track that point of reference should be. Or, in other words, where the speed trap should be placed.

Where Are Speed Traps on the Track?

Typically, speed traps are positioned at wherever is deemed the fastest point on the longest stretch of each track. Positioning can be somewhat subjective, though, so the placement of speed traps is sometimes questioned by fans. Most often, the best place for a speed trap is toward the middle of the longest stretch.

Speed Trap Records

Lewis Hamilton, of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, was speed trapped at 264.363kph (or 164.282mph), the fastest lap ever recorded. Meanwhile, the top speed in Formula 1 race history was accomplished by Valtteri Bottas, reaching 372.5kph in Mexico’s 2016 race.


What are speed traps used for in Formula 1?

Formula 1 speed traps have long been important tools for statistical collection, sports analysis, and technological improvements. Speed traps give fans, teams, drivers, broadcasters, and officials some of the most important data in the game.