8 reasons NASCAR fans find Formula 1 boring to watch

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

F1 and NASCAR on track

Nascar and Formula 1 are the two most popular forms of motorsport in the world. And whilst they both involve cars racing around tracks, they’re actually very different sports.

Lifelong fans of Nascar tuning in to watch an F1 race will notice a number of things that are completely different to what they’re used to.

Car differences

Obviously the most notable difference between the two sports is the cars.

Nascars use a bespoke steel spaceframe chassis with bodies designed to replicate their road-going sedan equivalents from Ford, Chevy and Toyota. They weigh around 3,400 pounds (1542kg) with fuel and driver, run up to 670bhp from their 5.9 litre V8s and have a limited amount of downforce.

Nascar Mustang 2023

Formula 1 cars on the other hand are single-seater open wheel race cars built on a carbon fibre tub chassis, have a minimum weight of 1,759lbs (798kg) and produce up to 1000bhp from their 1.6 litre V6 hybrid power units.

F1 aerodynamics allow the cars to produce twice their weight in downforce at 130mph – 3,500lbs / 1587kg, and that is where the biggest lap speed advantage comes from on tracks with multiple corners.

Aston Martin f1 2023

Track differences

The majority of Nascar races take place on oval circuits which are long Super Speedways, Intermediate ovals or Short Tracks that are less than 1 mile in length.

But more and more road courses are filling the NASCAR line up with both permanent circuits like COTA and temporary street circuits like Chicago.

Formula 1, on the other hand, never races on ovals. All the circutis are road courses, with a growing number becoming street races.

F1 did previously race at Indianapolis where it ran on the infield and part of the oval banking, but the tires couldn’t take the loads from the high speed high G-force banked turns so that race was canned.

8 biggest differences

So aside from the cars and tracks, here’s 8 things which stick out to Nascar fans as being weird, different and probably pretty boring about Formula 1.

Very strict track limits

NASCAR is pretty lenient on track limits on road courses. When they raced at COTA last year the drivers would go beyond the white line, beyond the red and white kerbs and even beyond the green painted section on the far side of that, without penalty.

Sometimes they’d go so far off the track to find the quickest line that they’d end up dragging some dirt on to the road.

NASCAR COTA track limits

F1, however, is super strict on how much of the circuit’s width the cars can use, especially in qualifying. The rules are pretty clear; if a car has all four wheels past the white line that marks the edge of the track then the driver will be given a penalty or have their qualifying lap time disallowed.

Personally I’m a fan of the NASCAR approach. Let the drivers use whichever bit of the circuit is quickest.

Rubbin' is NOT racing

NASCAR is famed for its fender-to-fender racing, with constant bump drafting on the ovals and door slamming on the road courses. The cars are designed for it and it’s part of the sport, as confirmed by NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell in 2017 when he said ‘NASCAR is a contact sport’.

Formula 1 is completely different. You’ll rarely see any clashes between two cars.

Nascar bumper to bumper

It’s 100% a no-contact sport, and any contact (intentional or not) is likely to be penalized by the stewards. Even if one driver forces another wide without making contact they can still face a penalty.

That may seem strict, and it is. F1 cars are too fragile to be able to withstand any contact. Even the slightest touch can break flimsy carbon fibre aerodynamic components or cause puncture.

Barely any overtaking

In 2023, the F1 race with the most overtakes was the Dutch GP with a total of 112 and the least was Monaco with only 13 passes during the whole Grand Prix.

You’ll often get that many overtakes in just one lap of a NASCAR race.

Why the same guy always wins

To a NASCAR fan, this is one of the weirdest and most boring things about F1. The same guy always seems to be winning races.

2023 was the worst example of this. Max Verstappen won 19 out of the 22 races, taking his third consecutive championship title. In total his Red Bull team won 21 out of the 22 rounds that year, almost a complete whitewash.

2023 Formula 1 Race Winners
Grand Prix Winning Driver Team
Bahrain Max Verstappen Red Bull
Saudi Arabia Sergio Perez Red Bull
Australia Max Verstappen Red Bull
Azerbaijan Sergio Perez Red Bull
Miami Max Verstappen Red Bull
Monaco Max Verstappen Red Bull
Spain Max Verstappen Red Bull
Canada Max Verstappen Red Bull
Austria Max Verstappen Red Bull
Britain Max Verstappen Red Bull
Hungary Max Verstappen Red Bull
Belgium Max Verstappen Red Bull
Holland Max Verstappen Red Bull
Italy Max Verstappen Red Bull
Singapore Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari
Japan Max Verstappen Red Bull
Qatar Max Verstappen Red Bull
Austin Max Verstappen Red Bull
Mexico Max Verstappen Red Bull
Brazil Max Verstappen Red Bull
Las Vegas Max Verstappen Red Bull
Abu Dhabi Max Verstappen Red Bull

Unfortunately there’s enough freedom in the rules of car design in Formula 1 to allow each team to produce cars with very different performance levels. Red Bull has the best aero designer in the sport, and in 2023 that meant their car was the quickest by a long way.

Sport is supposed to be a competition. Yet when one team and driver is so dominant, it’s not a competition at all.

NASCAR have got this right where F1 haven’t. On the ovals in particular, coming in to the final lap usually any one of the top 10 drivers are in with a shot of winning the race. A photo finish is something F1 can only dream of.

NASCAR photo finish

Short races

NASCAR races can go on for hundreds of laps, are usually around 400 miles long and average 3 to 4 hours in length. There’s no time limit or deadline to stick to, so the drivers will stay on track until all laps are completed, and the fans will get their money’s worth.

Formula 1 feels like a sprint in comparison. The races are limited to 190 miles / 305km and have a two hour time limit on them. But some races, like the Italian Grand Prix on the very fast Monza circuit, take not much more than one hour to complete. Blink and you’ll miss it.

No stops for gas

NASCARs with their gas guzzling V8s will need to stop to refuel multiple times during their long races.

Formula 1 cars with their 1.6 litre hybrid engines must be able to do every race without re-fuelling. It’s part of the rules; since 2010 no mid-race fill ups are allowed. The sport’s governing body brought the rule in to avoid the fire risk during pit stops and to push the teams to focus on developing more fuel efficient (and environmentally friendly) engines.

Their gas tanks can hold 110kg of fuel and that’s all they’re allowed to get them through the race. Mid-race refuelling adds a whole extra strategy element to the sport, so it’s a shame they don’t do it any more.

Damn quick pitstops

When NASCARs pit for new tires, they have two wheel guys per car. Each of them has to do one tire, run round the other side of the car and do another. 

They each have one other person helping them take the wheels off / put the new ones on. They then have to get themselves and their wheels back to the pit wall.

NASCAR pitstop

Formula 1 pit crews have one wheel guy for every corner of the car. That wheel guy on the gun has two other pit crew helping him change the wheel. So in total there’s 12 guys on a F1 pit crew dedicated to just changing tires.

Once the tires are changed, the pit crew can stay in the box until the car’s left. Those things, combined with the lack of refuelling, mean F1 pit stops can take as little as 1.8 seconds.

Often racing in the rain

Ok so NASCAR does race in the rain on road courses and short tracks. But Superspeedway races don’t go ahead when it’s wet, as we saw with the postponed 2024 Daytona 500.

Formula 1, however, will almost always go ahead if it’s raining. They use two different types of wet tyres – Intermediates and Full Wets – that teams can fit to cope with different levels of rain.

Mercedes F1 car in the rain

These treaded tyres allow the cars to run in the rain, and whilst spray and visibility can still be an issue, the racing almost always go ahead.

Spa 2021 was one exception, however, when the rain was so torrential that the standing water made the aquaplaning risk too dangerous, so the race was finished after just one lap, making it the shortest F1 race ever.

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport guides based on my own experience as a racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who want to learn more about racing.

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