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How Do F1 Race Cars Change Gears?

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Formula One, is the topmost car racing series approved by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. The name "Formula" explains the rules that each racer must follow. These are the cars capable of doing everything autonomously. These cars are overloaded with cool technology to make them as fast as possible. Formula cars are appropriately designed and engineered, keeping in mind the goal of making them the fastest car. It includes the engine, the chassis, the aerodynamic components, and the gearbox. The speed at which the gears shift is mind-boggling. In order to learn more about F1 cars and how F1 cars change gears, let's shed some light on the following information.

How Do F1 Race Cars Change Gears?

All Formula 1 cars use the same gearbox, which is an 8-speed semi-automatic sequential unit. This gearbox has been in use since 2014 when it substituted the outgoing 7-speed gearbox. The inbuilt computer shifts gears on the driver's behalf. The driver can transfer gears using a paddle located behind the steering wheel. The left paddle is used to shift up, while the right paddle is used to shift down. The tremendous speed and velocity at

which F1 cars operate necessitate the use of special transmission.

Formula 1 gearboxes

Formula 1 gearboxes are made from carbon titanium, which mainly has two benefits: it helps the gearbox dissipate heat more effectively and is extraordinarily light. It is significantly lighter than the gearbox found in almost any other vehicle. The gearbox in a typical commuter car weighs between 100 to 400 pounds on average, yet the gearbox in a Formula 1 car weighs just about 88 pounds. Formula 1 gearboxes are designed to handle hundreds of horsepower, but they can't manage as much torque because Formula One engines don't produce nearly as much torque as they appear to do. The bore/stroke ratio of Formula 1 engines is extremely high, which means that the breadth of each cylinder is much greater than the distance the piston travels inside it. The reason for the same is that the engine has a shorter stroke; it can rev extremely high, allowing it to create more power from a smaller displacement.



The shifting of gears in F1 cars is quite interesting and is totally different from other cars. Since 2014, F1 vehicles' gearboxes have had eight forward gears and one reverse gear. The level of accuracy required by the fork as it selects the proper gear and travels through neutral is just astounding. The F1 gears are changed at tremendous speeds and torque for 78 laps or complete 2 hours. These changes are so quick that no human driver would have the reflexes to smoothly shift gears at the correct RPM. An F1 car engine spins at roughly 15 000 RPM, which is a very high rotational speed compared to 6000 to 9000 RPM in a regular car. The F1 driver will swap the gears using paddles that

are positioned behind the steering wheel. The inbuilt computer will perform the actual shift using sensors, hydraulic actuators, and electronic throttle control. Normally, there is a time period between engaging the paddle and the actual gear shift. The computers used in F1 cars help in changing gear within 50 milliseconds. It is especially useful because all F1 cars have a longitudinally-mounted 8-speed semi-automatic sequential transmission, and each gearbox has a reverse gear. This procedure will repeat itself for each gear the computer selects when the driver accelerates or decelerates, changing left to right through the gears. The driver of an F1 car only needs to use the clutch to enter the first gear out of neutral; after that, the computer takes control and changes the gears for him.



Formula 1 gearboxes have unique parts that make them different from others. These are as given below:

  • Sequential Gear Selector-The selector shaft and the sequential gear selector are the most important components of any sequential gearbox.

  • Paddles- The paddles shift the sequential gear up or down.

  • Selector Forks- The shifted paddles cause the movement of the selection forks.

  • Collar or Dog Clutch-The movement of the selection forks engages the collar to the main shaft's selected gear.

  • Gear Selector-The shaft and forks of the gear selector have grooves carved into them.

  • Selector Pins- It is located in the selection shaft. When a gear is engaged, the selector pins move in the grooves created in the selection shaft. The selector pin moves to the selected gear, causing the selector fork to move and engage the gear on the main shaft.


The F1 driver can change race gears over 3600 times in a 78-lap race. These shifts would not be possible without an onboard computer that makes such an astonishing number of shifts, without which it was impossible to conduct F1 races. Formula One has a plethora of rules and regulations governing the design and construction of cars. It also includes the gearbox and its design. As of 2014, all Formula 1 cars must utilize the same transmission, which is a semi-automatic sequential unit with eight forward gears and one reverse speed. Prior to 2014, manufacturers had the option of using 4 to 7 forward speeds in their transmission. Furthermore, starting in 2015, teams need to fix gear ratios for the whole season without permitting any changes in these ratios.


In addition to the rules governing the manufacture of Formula 1 gearboxes, there are also restrictions controlling the usage of gearboxes during the season. There are laws in effect that specify how many gearboxes each team is permitted to use per season. Teams were allowed to employ six gearboxes every season prior to 2022. This year's season, however, the maximum has been reduced to four. Also, each team has to race with each gearbox for a specific number of races before switching to another. If a team replaces their old gearbox with a new one before the deadline, they will receive a grid penalty.

With the growth and modernization in technology, F1 racing cars have become so advanced that they can nearly do everything independently. Instead of shifting gears every time, the driver can now rely on computer technology to do so, allowing him to concentrate on steering the race car in the right direction. The latest computer technology used in these cars helps in shifting the gears smoothly at breakneck speeds. How enthralling will be the scene for racing fans if an F1 car is driven at top speed and screams around the laps

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