On November 4, 2010, Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster, opened in Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World—the first Ferrari-themed amusement park in the world to be dedicated to the Italian sports car. The steel coaster hits 4.8 Gs (for context, NASA astronauts experienced up to 3Gs during launch in the space shuttle), stands at 170.6 feet (52 meters), and stretches to 1.4 miles in length.
Once launched, Formula Rossa goes from 0 to 149 mph—the top speed—in 4.9 seconds. It’s so fast that riders must wear safety goggles during the one-minute long ride.
Formula Rossa is what’s known as a launched coaster; it uses a hydraulic launch method similar to an aircraft carrier. According to ESFStream.com, “Engineers had to develop and produce its motors, pistons, and pumps in every train to pump the speed up by a lot. There is a deflecting roller on the bottom of the train inside the train track that gives the train better curve control at extreme speed.”
The coaster car itself looks like a red Ferrari Formula 1 vehicle, and in 2014, actual Formula One drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso tested the coaster. While Alonso seemed to enjoy it, the Daily Mail reported Raikkonen appeared bored.
Though Formula Rossa has held the world’s fastest title for almost a decade, it faces stiff competition. In 2023, Six Flags plans to open an amusement park in Saudi Arabia, and if all goes well, its coaster, Falcon’s Flight will not only be the “world’s most extreme roller coaster in the world” but also the world's longest, tallest, and fastest roller coaster ride.