Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ferrari F2001 (F201)

Being a fan of Formula 1 and Tamiya RC cars it was only natural that I get an F1 car. The F201 is a 4WD shaft driven chassis with an inboard double wishbone suspension and a mid-mounted motor, so it resembles an actual F1 car in more ways than the body.

Below is an old picture of it (since I switched to digital it now has a much smaller antenna tube).f201_1

The F201 chassis has been discontinued by Tamiya (probably because of licensing fees (Ernie Ecclestone always wants more money!)). So I had to buy this from Ebay. The New In Box F201’s command ~$300 (Tamiya’s old MSRP) easily so I bought an assembled but never run one. I’ve taken it apart and re-assembled it a couple of times already :) This car is very compact, so getting to the bits you want is rather cumbersome.

The F201 comes with a full bearing kit and a Tamiya “black can” (sport tuned). I put that motor in my Lunch Box and put in a 19T Reedy Challenger instead. I also got an aluminum motor guard instead of the stock plastic one to provide better cooling. The ESC I chose was the Futaba MC401CR. This combination has worked really well. The ESC is programmable via their Link software (that you have to run in windows2000 compatibility mode under XP btw) and you can download Volt/Current draw logs (up to 8 minutes). It’s exactly the kind of thing I like to mess around with :)

The stock tires that come with the kit are pretty weak and wear out VERY quickly. I’ve since bought two sets of reinforced tires; Type A and Type B, the A’s have more grip and are softer than the B’s (which are designed for warmer temperatures). I’ve used my B’s the most and they’re barely worn.

I’ve also had to replace:

The lower suspension arms with reinforced ones.

The front gearbox (suspension mount bent in a crash).

The differentials with lightweight ones (the cap screw that holds the stock ones together just broke).

Another "gadgety” upgrade is the Spektrum SR3300T reciever, it sends telemetry back to the radio. The temperature sensor is easy to install, but the RPM sensor was a little harder. The instructions tell you to aim the infrared sensor at a piece of reflective tape on the spur gear. There’s a slight problem with that plan… the spur gear is in a SEALED gearbox. I very carefully drilled a hole in my gearbox and thought I was good to go. Except the sensor also wants to be 1/8 of an inch from the reflective tape. My solution was to superglue a round piece of plastic to the spur gear and then stick the tape on that.

The RPM sensor and the drilled spur gear cover


The plastic piece and reflective tape on the spur gear, temperature sensor can also be seen on the motor.


Spur gear cover on, then I used some two-sided tape (same stuff that comes with your ESC or radio receiver) to the IR sensor, then some electrical tape to cover it all up.


More upgrading to the F201 to come :)


  1. Hi! I was reading your blog after watching the video about the f201 on you tube!
    Thank You for your info and pictures from Japan. Everything was pretty exciting!
    I don't know if you still have this car bit I have encountered a problem with my F201 and I thought that may be you can help me. I want to upgrade the motor to a brushless system. Unfortunately I noticed that the pinion gear and spur ratio wrong for a powerful 5.5T brushless hobbywing. What do you suggest as far as pinion/spur ? I know I can risk to melt the diff like you showed but I don't plan to run it for a long time. What do you think? Your help is appreciated. Where can I email you or ask questions?

  2. you're welcome. I still have this car and enough parts to build another :)

    but as for spur gears you may need to get a spur gear adapter for it and run 64 pitch gears. The selection is much better there. Square made one, but I think you'll be lucky to find one. Maybe find a car that has it on it for sale.

    But 5.5?! run it for SHORT periods of time and don't hit anything :) This thing is so fragile.

    1. thank you for your reply. I have been looking online for adapters and way to run brushless and a what could be a good setup for the f201 (I have upgraded the chassis with 3racing etc) however I can't seem to find the correct info. You mentioned 64 pitch gear? isn't tamiya pitch 0.6mm? I know you mentioned an adapter but could you direct me somewhere where I can find what I am looking for? Thank You again.

  3. here's a link explaining gear pitch better than I can :)

    64p gives you more options but would need an adapter. Which is probably hyper rare at this point. Square F201 Spur Gear Adapter was around a long time ago.

    I don't know where you can buy one, you'll have to find a car that already has it.

    1. Thank You for your reply. I think I have a problem in finding the right spur teeth size. Tamiya is mod 6 as far as mesh but the internal gear ration of the 5.5T motor is a value I can't seem to find. I have tried to input the numbers in the formula for rollout ratio but again i am assuming an internal gear ratio and i may be wrong. Anyway by hearing the sound of the engine it seems like I need a smaller pinion in my opinion (it's like the car is stock in higher gear) no accelleration, no grip. Right now I have tried unsuccesfully a 23T pinion. I believe I may have to try a 17 or 16. Your thought are always appreciated. Thank You.