TDF-1: The ultimate track day car is a refurbished Formula 1 weapon
We've seen a lot of track-only supercars and hypercars in recent years, but nothing remotely like this. A tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of people in this life get to drive a Formula One car in anger. They're the ultimate expert-level test of a driver, and will bite you savagely if you don't bring talent and skill worthy of their metal. And if you're rich enough to be able to slap down US$2 million to populate your toybox, you can now own one.
Bedfordshire's Tour de Force Engineering will start out with a genuine F1 chassis from a Sauber or Marussia car that raced in 2011 or 2012, complete with its suspension and "associated mechanicals." The TDF team, mainly comprised of ex-F1 engineers and technicians, will then fit it with a 1,730cc, 600-horsepower four-cylinder turbo engine, developed from a Mountune unit and tuned so it revs to 9,000 rpm. This is mated to a six speed semi-auto gearbox made from magnesium and carbon fiber.
The powertrain is designed to maintain the original race car's weight balance and geometry. TDF says the motor gives you 90 percent of the original 2.4-liter naturally aspirated race engine's performance, without you needing to constantly keep the revs up so high.
The ultimate race car, the old saying goes, would cross the finish line and disintegrate into pieces, because anything designed to last longer would be wasting weight on durability that could be sacrificed for more speed. The TDF-1 is not the ultimate race car; indeed, it's nowhere near as flighty and highly-strung as a pukka F1 car. You can start it with a button instead of needing external starter gear, and it only needs servicing once a year or every 3,000 km (1,860 mi).
The TDF-1 weighs in at just 600 kg (1,320 lb), hitting the magical one horsepower per kilogram mark that production supersport motorcycles didn't achieve until sometime in the late 2000s. It hardly needs to be stated that the weight of a rider will change that equation much more than the weight of a driver will in this car. The speed and acceleration will be biblical.
Then there's the braking and cornering forces, which will genuinely hurt you if you're not physically conditioned to get behind the wheel of a track scalpel like this. With its made-to-order Pirelli tires (available in soft, medium, hard and wet compounds, of course), carbon fiber suspension wishbones, Ohlins dampers, Hitco carbon discs and carbon brake pads, you're looking at a machine that can generate 4.5 g of braking force, and an eye-watering 4 g of sideways acceleration in high-speed corners. TDF describes the experience as "visceral." I believe you and I would describe it in much more lurid terms were we ever to experience it.
We won't, but some will, and these lucky folk will receive not only the car, but a driver training course, complete with simulator time and a pro racer as their tutor. TDF engineers will set the car up to the driver's physical proportions and driving preferences, including a bespoke seat unit, and they'll also receive a set of track spares and flight cases for moving it all around. Owners can also expect invitations to TDF's own drive days at a series of European F1 tracks.
One thing's for sure: if you take a TDF-1 to a regular local track day, you are honor-bound to wipe the floor with everyone else present. There will be no excuses, and you will have a mile-wide target on your back. That guy in the Subaru might well be willing to sacrifice his dung heap just on the off chance he can say he overtook you. Such is the price behind the price of owning a machine like this. Beware!
Here's the TDF-1 in a short video.
Source: Tour de Force