Single seater specialist TDF has officially opened the order books for the five Formula 1 cars which have been to simplified for the track day market. The cars, three of which are based on Marussias and two on Saubers from the 2011 and 2012 seasons, have each been given a more reliable 600hp 1.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in place of the period 2.4-litre V8s. But the original carbonfibre monocoques and bodywork remain in place, and the overall geometry is said to be unchanged, with TDF claiming that its modifications have seen peak performance diminished by just five per cent.
The new motor, which produces maximum power at 9,000rpm, is mated to a six-speed semi-automatic gearbox, with the pairing bolted directly to the chassis as stressed components. Such is the performance on offer that the TDF-1 is said to be capable of generating forces of 4.0 G through corners and 4.5 G under braking. So you need to be fairly committed. And fit inside the snug confines of a proper F1 car.
Thanks to TDF's work, each car is said to start on the button and need servicing every 1,860 miles - after which time your neck is liable to have gone the full David Coulthard. In fact, so easy is the operation that TDF reckons a driver could run it by themselves at a track, using an optional onboard start package and radiator fans to remove the need for help. Additionally, the steering wheel controls have been simplified, while the Drag Reduction System modified so it automatically closes with any input of steering or the brakes, to improve stability.
Each car weighs in at just 600kg, which means you're buying a 1,000hp per tonne single seater with slicks, wings and the sort of track capability that challenged the likes of Kamui Kobayashi and Timo Glock back in the day. To emphasise the unabated talents of the equipment on offer, TDF test driver Jessica Hawkins - who races F3 cars in the W Series - said: "Driving a TDF-1 is like no experience I've had before; the responsiveness, balance and agility is second to none, and the raw speed is incredible. As a professional racing driver, I've been behind the wheel of some impressive cars in my career, but nothing comes close to the TDF-1."
Arguably more significant for tempted wealthy punters are Jessica's claims for the car's approachability. She suggests it "helps drivers build confidence and start to push the limits", although it also looks like there's nothing to stop owners from tweaking the settings to provide themselves with an even sharper if potentially less forgiving car. The package includes a driver development programme with TDF alongside the inevitable seat fitting, a socket set and spares plus three sets of wheels.
That's quite an offering - but understandable when you learn that each car is priced at £1.5 million before taxes (£1.8m in Britain then, with VAT). However, as a way of experiencing first-hand something very, very few people ever get to try - without the funds required to run a conventional F1 car - it does paint a compelling picture. Expect the TDF-1 to be sold out before you can say "black flag".