Starting a formula one car: Unlike road cars the F1 cars don’t have an inbuilt electric starter that starts the engine as one twists the car keys in the ignition switch. A formula one car uses an external electric starter motor unit that has a long wand or shaft which can be plugged into the gearbox. Thus the driver cannot start F1 car if he stalls it. It requires a team of mechanics to start the F1 car using an external starter unit that draws electric current from a 24V remote battery supply through thick cables.
F1 Car starter motor Video – Click here
First of all, the mechanic inserts the wand in the gearbox. He then receives a signal to push the starter motor button. This turns the engine over until the engineers are happy with the engine speed and oil pressure and – using a laptop – they will effectively turn the ignition on. The starter motor features a set of gears and clutch, and as the engine will move five times faster than this, for safety there is a one way clutch. This acts like the freewheel on a bicycle, allowing the mechanic to withdraw the wand without any danger to himself. Another safety measure is the break-off clutch, which will prevent an accident should the engine backfire.
Reason why F1 car does not have an inbuilt starter is mainly because of weight constrains and to power around 850 hp – a racing V8 in F1 is around ten times more powerful than a road car powerplant, and hence requires this bulky device.
Interestingly in India, Tempo, a public carrier also starts with an external starting device only difference being the device used is a simple rope. Video of Tempo (public carrier) in India starts – click here
P.S. -From 2014 the engine capacity is reduced from 2.4litre V8 to 1.6 litre V6 and rpm lowered from 18000 to 15000. A further change to the rules will enable F1 cars to do something every road car is capable of – start on its own. The rules will require drivers to be able to start the engine “when seated normally at the wheel and without any external assistance. This should put an end to drivers retiring from races because of stalled engines.