Can a 550hp Mercedes beat a Formula 1 car if it’s given a head start?

Clearly, a Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG can’t beat a Red Bull Formula 1 car in a race; the latter is a multi-million dollar precision machine built specifically to win championships. But what if the Mercedes is given a generous head start? And, how would a sedan that competes in Australia’s V8 Supercars series fare against the two? An Australian television station put all three cars on the starting grid to find out.

Let’s start with the basics: Fully stocked, the 2013 SL63 is equipped with a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine rated at 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, figures that are pretty impressive for a street-legal machine. An automatic transmission sends the eight’s power to the rear wheels.

The V8 Supercar racer is based on the Holden Commodore, and it’s got a 600-horsepower V8 under the hood. However, it’s a rather heavy machine. Finally, the Red Bull RB8’s 2.4-liter V8 pumps out approximately 750 horsepower. It’s capable of revving to a whopping 18,000 rpm, and it allows the ultra-light racer to reach over 180 mph.

The Commodore sprinted off the finish line 16.8 seconds after the SL63. The Formula 1 racer got the green light 23.9 seconds after the Commodore, so it’s 40.7 seconds behind the AMG roadster. That’s a big difference, especially on a fast-paced track like the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

The SL63 appears to be going pretty fast when it’s alone on the track. When the Commodore enters the frame, though, it makes the SL63 look like it’s not even trying to win. The power difference between the two isn’t huge, but the Commodore clearly has the advantage thanks to upgrades made to the suspension and the brakes, among other components. However, it doesn’t have the slightest chance against the RB8, which comes up from behind like a guided missile.

At the end, it looks like the Commodore doesn’t quite catch up to the SL63, though it’s only a split second behind. The RB8 passes both of its rivals on the final straight and takes the win. The race is close, but making up 40 seconds in a single lap is an impressive feat. It goes to show that not all V8-powered cars are created equal. Aerodynamics, weight, and grip all play an important role in determining who wins.

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