Many Formula 1 fans have the dream of driving a real F1 car just like the likes of Lewis Hamilton and their other favorite drivers do.
It’s very difficult to drive an F1 car on the road due to obvious reasons. The factors that could cause problems include height, suspension and engine. However, it’s not something that is unheard of.
The Mastercard Lola F1 team took part in just one race in the 1997 F1 Championship. It was to be their only outing, after which they decided to pull away from the sport due to financial and technical reasons. However, the team is also famous for taking the initiative of building F1’s first ever road car, the F1R.
It was end of the road for the MasterCard Lola F1 team. After the disastrous Australian GP with both cars failing to qualify, they arrived in Brazil but the plug was pulled with mounting financial problems. Brazilian GP, Interlagos, 28th-30th March 1997. #F1 pic.twitter.com/lRcwOwkkU5
— F1 in the 1990s 🚦🏎🏁🏆🍾 (@1990sF1) March 28, 2022
Lola’s F1 car was so bad that it wasn’t even able to qualify for the race, because it was 13 seconds off pace. As a result MasterCard cancelled their sponsorship deal after just one race. The team still had spare parts which they had to put to some use, so they decided to start this project.
Can you buy a real Formula 1 car for driving on the road legally?
First and foremost, they used the bodywork and a few other components to make the exterior of the car. The main challenge to make it legal started thereafter, as the regulations of an F1 car are drastically different to that of legal road cars.
F1 cars don’t have high suspension, so having the same ones would cause trouble with things speed bumps. As a result, the engineers raised the height by about 5 cm. The engine was a 2.0 litre four-cylinder Cosworth engine which would deliver 370 hp.
The new MasterCard Lola-Ford T97/30’s of Vincenzo Sospiri & Ricardo Rosset were way outside the 107% time and failed to qualify, 12 seconds off the Pole time set by Jacques Villeneuve. The team wouldn’t be seen in F1 again. Australian GP Qualifying, Melbourne, 8th March 1997. #F1 pic.twitter.com/SpnbKXsPQ7
— F1 in the 1990s 🚦🏎🏁🏆🍾 (@1990sF1) March 8, 2019
The engineers used components from different sports cars, to complete the F1R. It was a significantly weaker version of an actual Formula 1 car, but one which definitely looked and functioned like one.
The car was listed for sale back in 2016, but since then nothing much has been heard regarding it or whether it’s been used. Luxury auction house Bonhams valued the price of the car to be between $75,000 and $117,000. At the time of listing, the F1R had a mileage of just 25 miles, meaning it wasn’t very used.