Bugatti Chiron vs. F1 Car Is a Closer Drag Race Than You’d Expect

The most extreme road car of 2021 and the fastest F1 car of 2011 are very different machines, but both share a common goal.

byJames Gilboy|
Bugatti News photo

The 2021 Bugatti Chiron and a Red Bull Formula One car may both be vehicles at the pinnacle of performance, but they couldn't be more different from one another. The former is a record-breaking luxury car, while the latter is a championship-winning racer whose only luxuries are a form-fitted seat and a removable steering wheel. Throw them head-to-head in a race like Carwow did, though, and you'll find they have one thing in common: They're both brutally fast.

Organizing this clash of titans required both bringing in a Chiron owner and sourcing an F1 car, in this case Red Bull Racing's RB7. The RB7 went almost unchallenged across the 2011 F1 season, securing both the constructors' and drivers' championships, in small part thanks to its 2.4-liter, naturally aspirated Renault V8—not a Honda as its livery suggests. Revving to 18,000 rpm, this hybrid V8 generated around 750 horsepower, which it sent through a paddle-shifted seven-speed transmission to the rear wheels.

Bugatti Chiron races a 2011 Red Bull Racing RB7 F1 car, YouTube | carwow

By contrast, the Bugatti utilizes an 8.0-liter, quad-turbo W16, which in even the cheapest of the $3 million-plus Chirons makes 1,500 horsepower and 1,180 pound-feet of torque. It too sends these through a seven-speed to the wheels, in this case all four, making this showdown sound preordained in the Bugatti's favor. But we wouldn't be here watching it if it were.

Carwow showcased both cars' full abilities to go and stop in a 100-mph braking test, a rolling full-mile drag, and the traditional standing quarter, in which the F1 car proved the surprising victor. Despite its rear-wheel drive, its weight advantage of more than a ton allowed former Red Bull F1 driver and current hypercar aficionado David Coulthard to drive it to a three-nothing victory against the Bugatti, completing the quarter in 9.2 seconds to the Chiron's 9.6.

Unsurprisingly, the lighter, slick tire-shod race car triumphed in the braking test too, halting well ahead of the hypercar despite locking up its cold tires. It wasn't a three-nothing rout for Red Bull, though, as the Bugatti clawed back some dignity in the rolling mile. There, the F1 car's short gearing and high drag held it back, and allowed the slicker, 261 mph-capable Chiron to reel it in.

As comparison tests go, it's not exactly the most enlightening, as almost no-one watching these races has any point of reference to help them understand how quick these cars are. But there are some things in this world of such obviously inherent value that it doesn't take an expert to appreciate them, and if the smile of host Mat Watson is anything to go by, this is one of them.

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