Over the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to drive quite a few Formula 1 RC cars. There are a couple of big name companies out there (and even some independent ones) that offer a vehicle into this ever-growing class. Most include carbon fiber chassis’, anodized aluminum parts, oil-filled shocks, ball differentials and foam or rubber tires. While they look fantastic and have exceptional handling, all those high-end cars come at a sometimes high-end price. That being said, there is certainly an opening at the entry level of this class, and HPI is shooting for that with their Formula TEN F1 car! At a street price of around $120, that’s only a couple days pay for a kid working at the local fast food joint! Getting new blood into RC (and the incredibly fun F1 class) just got a little more affordable.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: HPI
WHO IT’S FOR: Everyone
HOW FAST: 25.32mph
PART NO.: 102851
HOW MUCH: $119.99
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• While the front suspension is more along the lines of a pan car than a true Formula 1 car, this design certainly has its advantages. Anyone that has driven or tuned a pan car will feel right at home tweaking this car to work with their driving style. And, as an added bonus, if you have any pan car springs lying around, they’ll bolt right up to the Formula TEN’s front suspension.
• The rear suspension is also similar to a pan car by using a T-Plate and damper pad setup. It has multiple adjustments to help you tune to various track conditions. In addition, the rear pod has height adjusters to raise or lower the axle. The Formula TEN also incorporates a center damper tube instead of a oil-filled center shock. It works great out of the box, but you will want to upgrade to HPI’s Threaded Aluminum Shock Set to really get the most out of this type or rear suspension setup.
• The electronics area will accept quite a few different servo, ESC and receiver options. One thing I really liked is that you can mount a standard servo without having to modify it. Also note that while a brushless motor and ESC will work, routing the multiple motor wires to fit under the bodywork does take a little creativity. Take your time in this area of the build.
• The Formula TEN allows the use of a 4-cell or 6-cell stick pack or any of the ‘rounded’ corner LiPo packs. HPI has engineered the battery hold down to allow easy access to the LiPo plugs. If you choose to run racing NiMh packs, you’ll need to build them using the stick pack shotgun tubes for them to fit.
• The six-piece body is pretty killer, and requires you to attach beauty pieces using double-sided tape. A helpful tip: if you plan on painting it with a light color (ie, white, like the box art), back it with a dark color. The servo tape included is black and if you don’t back the body with a darker color you will see the black tape through the light-colored body.
• I was happy to see that the Formula TEN uses 48 pitch gears. That’s a good thing for two reasons…1) I have a ton of 48 pitch gears already and 2) if you don’t have any additional gears, they’re much cheaper than some of the other options out there.
LENGTH 17.17 in. (436mm)
WIDTH 6.92 in. Front/7.09 in. Rear (176mm Front/ 180mm Rear)
WHEELBASE 11.14 in.(283mm)
WEIGHT 2.32 lb. (1050g)
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
• Only includes 2 bearings (the rest are plastic bushings)
• Gear Diff
• Friction damper tube
NEEDED TO COMPLETE
• Transmitter, receiver, steering servo, ESC, battery pack, paint for the body
WHAT WE USED
• Futaba 4PK Transmitter w/R603FS receiver—Item no. FUTK4900, $499.98
• Hitec HS-7940TH digital servo—Item no. HS-7940TH, $149.99
• Tekin RS ESC—Item no. TT1152, $174.99
• Tekin Redline 17.5 Brushless Motor—Item no. ORI14008, $84.99
• Team Orion 3400 Race Spec LiPo Battery—Item no. 695, $74.99
• 1.5mm, 2mm L-wrenches, HPI
• Cross Wrench tool,
• Differential Fluids
Needle-nose pliers, screwdriver, side cutters, hobby knife, plastic body reamer, strapping tape
Phillips & metric hex
• Front springs—standard replaceable pan-car-style front springs
• Front toe—adjustable turnbuckle lengths
• Front axle height—adjust shims at the front steering knuckle
• Bump-steer—add or subtract shims under the steering ball stud
• Ackermann—adjust, forward or back, the inner steering ball studs
• Rear T-Bar—tension adjustment screws located under the car
• Rear damping—grease on damper plate
TEST VENUE Secret Test Location – Codename: Topaz, Garden Grove, CA
CONDITIONS Freshly paved parking lot
The Formula TEN has pretty good steering, once you’re moving. While the D Compound racing slicks do a pretty good job of keeping the rear end behind the front, the non-adjustable gear differential makes getting on the throttle a bit hairy. HPI will be offering an adjustable ball differential (part #102878) that, once installed, will make this F1 a completely different animal. That will definitely help lock the rear end in and allow the front to do all the work.
The Formula TEN, with its rear pod design, was a little hard to bring to a stop on the slightly dusty surface. Thanks to my Futaba 4PK and Tekin RS speed control, I wasable to make some adjustments electronically and bring HPI’s land missile to a comfortable, controllable stop.
I opted for Tekin’s RS ESC and Redline 17.5 Brushless Motor for a couple reasons, but mainly so I could use Tekin’s Hotwire PC Interface System. With the stock gearing, the Formula TEN would easily light up the rear tires from a standstill and that made coming out of corners a little tricky. After fiddling with the Hotwire program, I was able to program in a sort of traction control that would make full-punched acceleration much more controllable. While most speed controls have something similar to this, the Hotwire program really fine-tunes this process, and this not only makes the Formula TEN much easier to drive, it also adds to the realism.
As mentioned before, the Formula TEN has all the right features to be a real contender. The suspension is a simple, proven design that works well in this entry level package. Out of the box, this car has enough tuning features to get you dialed in and, by the time you get this issue, HPI (and possibly others) should have a slew of aftermarket parts available. The addition of HPI’s threaded aluminum shock set and high grip belted slicks should really bring this car alive. They’re certainly on the top of my list!
This is one area of the review I really had a chance to test! My secret test track (the location will only be known as Codename: Topaz) consisted of a few 2-liter bottles (filled with water), a couple short lengths of 2×4 and some basketball poles. I made the not-so-wise choice of making one of the basketball poles the apex for the sweeper. Not so smart. As I was about to set a super-stellar test-track fast lap, I cut the sweeper a little close and ‘PING’ (you know, the sound of a plastic car ricocheting off of a metal pole at close to full speed), followed by lots of crashing and sliding-on asphalt sounds. After a quick examination, the only thing damaged was the front wing (it’s now a little warped) and the upper cowling on the body (it was only taped on). The front wing looks a little odd now but, after that impact, I can live with it! (Note: if you decide to build a track in a parking lot, don’t use basketball poles to define the ‘sweeper’ section of the track. Please. I’m begging you.)
THE LAST WORD
Some true F1 geeks may be left wanting a little more from another entry into this segment of the hobby, but at the price you pay, HPI is providing the base model that will get people INTO the hobby. Not to mention, with all the upgrades slated for release, you will have the option to build the Formula TEN however you want and when your budget allows. I love the look, the potential this car has and, with a little tuning, think this car will certainly have its day at the top of the podium. I sense a possible F1 shootout.