- F1 increased their total number of gears from the 2014 season.
- F1 used stick shifters in the past.
- it is unlikely that F1 will further increase the total gears in an F1 car.
Formula 1 is one of the most technical sports in the world. The cars are a lot more complicated than the normal road cars. But let’s take our focus to the gearbox of the car for now. In a normal road car, we have up to 5 or 6 gears. However, this is not the case in F1. Since F1 cars travel at high speeds, the cars will need to have a customized gearbox that is suitable for the car.
How many gears can a Formula 1 driver shift to?
In a modern F1 car, the drivers can transition between 8 gears. However, before the 2014 season, there were only 7 gears. The limit was increased when the FIA introduced new engine regulations with the 2014 season.
Adding the extra gear allows the engine to become more efficient. Given that the FIA is trying to make the sport more sustainable, this was considered to be a good option. However, this requires the drivers to shift gears more often.
Although more gears make the engine more sufficient, it is unlikely that they will add a 9th gear in F1 cars. Adding another gear would require the drivers to switch gears too often. It also increases the risk of overheating the engine. So it is likely that we will not see the sport change the number of gears for a while.
When we look at the shifters, all the cars now use a paddle shift with the auto clutch feature. However, for the race start, the drivers are required to hold a clutch that is found at the back of the steering wheel. But while racing, there is seamless gear shifting thanks to the auto clutch system.
When did F1 switch to paddle shifters?
Until the 1980s all the F1 cars had a stick shift to transition from gears. This was implemented with the manual clutch as well. However, in 1989, Ferrari introduced the first paddle shifters to their cars. They were soon followed by the rest of the teams in F1.
— David Sullivan (@15DavidSullivan) November 24, 2016
The paddle shift system was considered to be easier and safer for the drivers. This way, they will not need to remove their hands from the wheel and would be more convenient to steer during downshifts. The last stick shift used in F1 was during the 1995 season. In 1991, Ayrton Senna won the last Championship while using the stick shifter.
Today, all cars have the paddle system along with a much more complex gearbox and engine. There is no doubt that F1 will remain to be a technical sport. Although the drivers will contribute a lot to the team, the design and manufacturing of the car will continue to play a huge role in it.