- Tour-de-Force Power Engineering, or TDF, is offering a car with a 2011 Marussia or 2012 Sauber Formula 1 chassis and a 600-hp turbo 1.7-liter engine.
- TDF claims its TDF-1 offers "95 percent of the performance of an F1 car."
- Cheaper to run: 1860 miles between services—versus about 20 miles for a real Formula 1 race car. But the price is nearly $2 million.
With a growing number of circuit-only versions of hypercars on the market, it is becoming increasingly hard for even those with the deepest pockets to have the quickest car at a high-end track day. Here is a potential answer to that problem: the chance to buy your own Formula 1 car.
Well, almost. The TDF-1 uses the carbon-fiber structure of a real F1 car, either a 2011 Marussia or a 2012 Sauber, but has been given a heart transplant in the form of a turbocharged 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine capable of delivering a claimed 600 horsepower at 9000 rpm. This powerplant was chosen for its much greater durability than the 2.4-liter V-6 engines the cars were fitted with originally.
Produced by U.K.-based TDF, the TDF-1 is claimed to offer 95 percent of the performance of an equivalent Formula 1 car, but with a much lower cost of ownership. The engine has a starter motor, so it can be started from inside the car. In contrast, real F1 cars use external starters and need to have oil and coolant prewarmed before they fire up.
TDF says the four-cylinder engine will go 1864 miles between services; even under more stringent durability regulations, modern F1 engines typically live for less than 20 hours before total rebuilds.
The new engine is still a stressed component within the chassis, as is the gearbox: a simpler and cheaper six-speed paddle-shift transmission that uses magnesium and a carbon-fiber case. The basic weight of the car is just 1322 pounds without fluids, which is barely more than the 1415 pounds with driver that was mandated for 2011 F1 cars. TDF-1 cars will still have an active drag reduction system (DRS), but it will close automatically with any steering or braking input to increase stability.
Raw performance figures tell a very limited part of the story. TDF claims a sub-two-second zero-to-62-mph time and top speed above 200 mph. More indicative of the otherworldly driving experience this barely house-trained Formula 1 car will offer: the company says it will be able to generate up to 4 g's of lateral acceleration and 4.5 g under braking. It will have original-fitment carbon brakes and run on Pirelli tires, which are available in soft, medium, hard, and wet compounds.
A More User-Friendly F1 Car
Although it is possible to run your own retired Formula 1 car, as some extremely rich thrill seekers do, the TDF-1 will be much easier to operate. TDF says it's designed to be started with just one mechanic, but the starter motor (and onboard radiator fans) mean the car can theoretically be started and driven without any help at all.
Buyers will receive a set of pit equipment and some spares, as well as cases to help transport the car and its components. A driver training course is also included, with one-to-one driver coaching. TDF will have "exclusive hosted driver days" at tracks including Barcelona in Spain and Paul Ricard in France.
There will be three Marussia-based TDF-1s and two Saubers. None will be cheap; TDF plans to charge $1.9 million before taxes. Yet, compared to the even more ludicrous costs of running a real Formula 1 car, a nearly as fast four-cylinder one makes a strange amount of sense.
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