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Other :: Formula One lexicon

From A for ABS to Y for yellow: this reference tool explains the most important technical terms and phrases from the world of Formula 1.



ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System)
This electronic system prevents the wheels from locking when the brakes are applied forcefully. Using sensors, a control unit determines if the wheels are starting to lock and brake pressure is then reduced. The Anti-Lock System was introduced to Formula 1 to achieve better deceleration rates during braking. It was banned in 1993 to promote closer racing in Formula 1.

ADR (Accident Data Recorder, ‘Black Box’)
An electronic component that controls and records all electronic procedures in Formula 1 cars. It is also the name of the data recorder that has to be installed in the cars – not, however, for test runs in which only a single team participates. The Black Box is intended to provide information on possible causes in case of an accident, thus supporting ongoing efforts to improve safety. The box is positioned so that it is always accessible, without having to remove any parts of the car.

The study of the interaction of air with solid bodies moving through it. The basic rule when designing cars for Formula 1 is simply to create as much downforce and as little air resistance as possible.

Air box
The air inlet behind the driver’s head. The air box channels the air necessary for the combustion process to the engine.

Angle of attack
Determines the angle at which a Formula 1 car’s wings are fixed during set-up – the larger the angle the greater the downforce.

The point at which the ideal racing line touches the inner radius of a corner.

Aquaplaning is what happens when there is more water between the tyres and the road than can be displaced by the tyre tread. The car ‘floats’ and consequently cannot be controlled by the driver. Formula 1 races can be stopped if there is a danger of aquaplaning. Under very wet conditions, the safety car is generally used to keep the field at a lower speed.

A pressure vessel in which vacuum-packed composite components are cured at a precise temperature and pressure. This procedure lends the composite components their high strength while maintaining low weight.

Auxiliary driving features
Traction control, automatic transmission or launch control are examples of auxiliary driving features. An expert team commissioned by the FIA may check any time during the race weekend whether a car’s electronics contain banned auxiliary driving features. The teams also submit their electronic systems to the FIA for authorisation before the season. In the 2004 season, launch control and automatic transmission were banned, but traction control remains permitted.

The Allianz Center for Technology in Munich has been well known for over 70 years as the research institute of Allianz Versicherungs AG. The core areas of expertise of this company within a company are damage analysis, risk management and consultation work. It also studies safety-related aspects of Formula 1 to establish a transfer of knowledge between motor racing and road traffic safety.


Fireproof face mask made of Nomex, a flameretardant synthetic fibre. It is worn under the helmet.

Formation of blisters on the tyres, caused by excessive use. The negative consequence is reduction in grip.

Formula 1 shoes are ankle boots made of soft, cushioned leather. They have thin rubber soles with good grip to prevent drivers’ feet from slipping off the pedals.

Brake balance
To gain a better balance when braking, the driver can adjust the brake-force distribution between the front and the rear axle even during the race via a knob on the steering wheel.

Brake discs
The carbon brake discs used in Formula 1 may not be thicker than 28 millimetres and their diameter may not exceed 278 millimetres. When braking, the discs heat up to as much as 600 degrees Celsius within a single second.

Formula 1 brakes are made of carbon. Under FIA regulations, each wheel is permitted only two brake shoes and a maximum of six pistons. Brake callipers must be made of an aluminium alloy. Cooling fluids, ABS and power-assisted braking are not allowed. Full braking will bring a Formula 1 car from 200 to 0 km/h within 55 metres, all within 1.9 seconds. Deceleration forces achieve up to 5 G – the driver has to endure five times his own weight.

At the meeting with the drivers and representatives from their teams convened by the race director before every grand prix, the discussions focus on current issues such as special features of the respective track or changes to the rules or weekend format. At the team briefings, the team managers, engineers and drivers set out the strategies for each day of the grand prix weekend. The subsequent review of the race day by this group, which forms the basis for future strategies and technical enhancements, is called the debriefing.


Abbreviation for Computer Aided Design. This involves intelligent computer programmes which provide efficiency and speed and make the designers’ work much easier. Drawing boards have long been a thing of the past in modern racing factories.

Carbon fibres
A construction material for Formula 1 cars. The monocoque, for example, is made of epoxy resin reinforced with carbon fibre. These materials, when laminated together, give great rigidity and strength, but are very lightweight.

Centrifugal force
Also known as G-force. Describes the acceleration of gravity and, in Formula 1 terminology, the force that presses a car outwards in a corner. The unit of measurement is the G (1 G being the equivalent of 9.81 metres per second squared). As per definition, centrifugal force only affects driver and vehicle in corners, but similar strains occur during acceleration and braking.

Stands for Computational Fluid Dynamics. This technology has permanently transformed the development processes in Formula 1. CFD makes the airflows surrounding the vehicle visible on the computer, and at the same time shows the effects of individual vehicle parts on each other and on the aerodynamics. So the engineers can simulate these effects without even having to build the parts first. That saves time and money.

This generic term (carbon-fibre reinforced plastic) covers composite materials such as carbon and Kevlar which, when combined with epoxy resins, provide high rigidity and strength and an extremely low weight. Many parts are produced from these materials, e.g. the monocoque.

The central part of a Formula 1 car, with the main component being the monocoque. All the other components are connected to the strong, lightweight monocoque. It is made from carbon fibre and epoxy polymer forming a composite material. These are bonded to aluminium and Nomex honeycombs to form a sandwich panel shell structure. The moulding and binding process takes place within an autoclave at high levels of pressure and heat.

Tight corners that race organisers use to break up long, straight stretches of a circuit for safety reasons. Chicanes force drivers to reduce their speed.

This is the driver’s workplace. The cockpit must be designed so that the driver can get out easily within five seconds. The width of the cockpit must be 45 centimetres at the steering wheel and 35 centimetres at the pedals. For safety reasons, no fuel, oil or water lines may pass through the cockpit.

Concorde Agreement
This agreement specifies the rights and obligations of the teams and the FIA. It also calls for unanimity for important decisions.

Contact pressure
Describes the force with which the car is pressed on to the track by its aerodynamic parts, such as the front and rear wings. The contact pressure has a considerable effect on the top and cornering speeds.

Crash barrier
Safety measure at track locations where there is no space for run-off zones.

Crash test
Mandatory stress tests for vehicle components (e.g. roll-over bar, monocoque) demanded by the FIA. There are tests for front, side and rear constructions. The crash tests were introduced in 1985. They are carried out under the supervision of the FIA, usually at the Cranfield Impact Centre in Bedfordshire, England.

Component in the engine where the power is generated. The upward and downward movement of the piston and the combustion of the fuel-air mixture takes place in the cylinder.


A differential that is connected between the drive wheels to compensate the speed differences between the outer and inner wheels when cornering.

Air outlet at the rear of the car’s underbody that has a strong influence on the aerodynamic properties. Rising to the rear, the tail ensures a controlled airstream on the underbody which generates low pressure under the car and supplies the downforce critical to fast cornering.

Downforce is what presses Formula 1 cars down onto the ground. It is generated by low-pressure conditions under the body of the car as well as by the angle of attack of the front and rear wings, and enhances the grip. Especially on slower circuits, this effect permits higher cornering speeds.


Abbreviation for Electronic Control Unit. The control unit that controls and records all the electronic processes in a Formula 1 car is located in the Black Box.

Electric blanket
The tyres require an operational temperature of around 100 degrees Celsius to achieve optimal effectiveness. To arrive at this temperature quickly, special blankets pre-heat the wheels to between 60 and 80 degrees Celsius. Cold tyres do not develop enough grip. If they are too hot, they wear out quickly.

Electronic brake
System currently being discussed by the FIA that could be employed in place of the safety car. An electronic system operated by race directors would then brake the cars directly.

Vertical border area on the wing that helps to streamline a car’s aerodynamics.

Formula 1 features four-stroke engines. The FIA’s compulsory specifications are valid until 2007. They are: a maximum of 12 cylinders, five valves and, since 1995, a cubic capacity of no more than three litres. The average horsepower is 840 and the total weight of the engine lies between about 100 and 110 kilograms. Turbos, Wankel engines and superchargers are prohibited.


Technical term for the gradual loss of the brake effect after relatively long, heavy use. Occurs less with the modern carbon brakes than in conventional steel-disc brakes.

Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile
The FIA (International Automobile Federation) draws up the technical and racing regulations for Formula 1. It is based in Geneva. The president of the leading international racing authority is Max Mosley from Great Britain. The FIA was founded in 1904.

Fire extinguisher
Every Formula 1 car must have a fire extinguisher that spreads foam around the chassis and engine area. It must be operable both by the driver and from outside the car.

Formula 1 Commission
This commission consists of representatives from the teams, race organisers, engine manufacturers, sponsors, tyre manufacturers and of course the FIA. The commission decides whether changes to the regulations suggested by the FIA’s technical committee should be implemented.

Formula 1
The term ‘Formula 1’ was not introduced until after the Second World War. It was intended to identify top-class motor racing. The first Formula 1 World Championship took place in 1950 under the direction of the FIA. The first race in the World Championship was the British Grand Prix on May 13th, 1950.

Formula One Administration (FOA)
The FOA is an organisation that takes care of Formula 1’s economic aspects (broadcasting rights, prize money, marketing, etc.). The head of the FOA is Bernard (Bernie) Ecclestone from Great Britain. The FOA developed out of the FOCA, a manufacturers’ association founded in 1971.

Four-wheel drive
No more than two-wheel drive is permitted in Formula 1; four-wheel drive has been prohibited since 1971.

Free practice
During these practice sessions before a grand prix, the lap times are recorded, but they have no influence on the starting order or the result. The teams use them as an opportunity to set their cars up for the respective track and to choose the right tyres. The number of laps is unlimited.

Front wing
Creates downward pressure on the front area of the Formula 1 car and is thus an important part of the aerodynamics. Details of the front wing sometimes change for every new race – according to how much downward pressure is required for the respective circuits. Apart from that, the drivers make adjustments to the front wing during set-up, mainly modifying the angle of the surface or the breakaway line.

Super unleaded fuel is used in Formula 1. Its composition must meet FIA regulations. It conforms to the strictest EU exhaust standards. Random tests at each race ensure conformity with the rules. Before the season, manufacturers must submit a sample to the FIA which will serve as a template.


A gear is a transmission step with a certain speed or reduction ratio. Automatic or continuous transmissions are prohibited in Formula 1. A reverse gear is mandatory. The number of gears can vary from four to seven.

Like the racing overalls, these are made of Nomex, a fire-resistant material. In order to prevent heat from getting in under them during a fire, they are very tight and secured with a strap.

Due to excessive use, tyres show signs of corrosion and the rubber compound begins to disintegrate. This is referred to as graining. The negative consequence is reduction in grip.

Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA)
Association representing the interests of Formula 1 drivers. Current spokesmen are Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber.

Gravel trap
Secure run-off zone at a racing circuit which quickly slows down cars that have gone off the track.

The magic word for Formula 1 drivers and engineers. It describes how well the car adheres to the ground and how this affects cornering speeds. High grip means high cornering speeds. Main factors of grip are the aerodynamics, the downforce created by the vehicle and the tyres’ properties. Without grip, a vehicle will begin to slide or skid.

Ground clearance
The distance between the underbody and
the surface of the track.

Ground effect
The contact force generated by an aerodynamically aerodynamically shaped underbody. In the seventies, sills were attached to the sides of the cars to create a vacuum underneath the vehicle that held it down on the track. The enormous resulting grip allowed for extremely high cornering speeds. The pure ground-effect cars developed in the seventies were banned by the FIA for safety reasons.

L-shaped counterflap on the trailing edge of a car’s wing.


Narrow 180-degree bend. The most famous hairpin is the former Loews hairpin in Monaco, which is now known as the Grand Hotel hairpin.

Head and Neck Support (HANS)
Since the 2003 season, the drivers have been given additional head and neck protection. The Head and Neck Support system consists of a carbon shoulder corset that is connected to the safety belts and the driver’s helmet. In case of an accident, HANS is intended to prevent a stretching of the vertebrae. Additionally, it prevents the driver’s head from hitting the steering wheel.

Head support
The removable padding on the inside of the cockpit around the driver’s head, designed to absorb any potential impact. For the 2005 season, the head and neck support must be 100 millimetres thick.

The helmet is made of carbon, polyethylene and Kevlar and weighs approximately 1,300 grams. Like the cars, it is designed in a wind tunnel to reduce drag as much as possible. Helmets are subjected to extreme deformation and fragmentation tests. Only helmets tested and authorised by the FIA may be used in races.


A tyre with features somewhere between those of dry and wet-weather tyres. The intermediate has more tread than dry-weather and less tread than wet-weather models. It is used for mixed weather or light rain.

International Court of Appeal
The FIA’s Court of Appeal is composed of professional judges, and its 15 members are appointed for a three-year term. In order for the court to make a legally binding decision, the presence of at least three judges is required, none of which may be of the same nationality as the parties involved. A Formula 1 team that is unwilling to accept a decision by the racing commissioners can appeal to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal. In this case, a declaration of intent must be submitted within an hour of the decision. The FIA, too, can send a decision by the commissioners to the Court of Appeal.

International Sporting Code
The FIA code that contains all the regulations governing international racing.


Jump start
Also called a false start, committed by drivers whose cars start moving before all the lights on the starting grid have gone out. This is determined by sensors on the starting lines.


Raised kerbstones lining corners or chicanes on racing tracks. The kerbs provide additional safety as the drivers must reduce their speed when driving over them.

Highly durable artificial fibre used in the covering of the headrest. Combined to form a composite with epoxy resin, it has high strength, but is very lightweight.


Launch control
An electronic programme that performs a fully automated start for a Formula 1 car. Prohibited since the 2004 season.

The tour of Formula 1 around the globe demands sophisticated logistics. For every race, around 120 crates of different sizes have to be packed with the help of a 20-page-long checklist. The list always includes two racing cars and a spare car – plus spare parts and tools, wheels and the pit-lane equipment. The luggage also includes five or six engines. Computers and laptops, around 100 radios and approximately 1,500 paper serviettes with the team logo are all part of the basic equipment of every team. All in all, the teams pack about 10,000 individual parts.

The signal pole with a sign saying ‘Go’ on one side and ‘Brake’ on the other. During a pit stop, a mechanic posted in front of the car uses the sign to show the driver when he should apply the brake and when he should shift gear and drive off.


Any manufacturers wanting to enter Formula 1 must prove to the FIA that they have designed and built the chassis of their racing cars. All teams must also demonstrate that they possess sufficient technical and financial resources to take part in all the races of the season. A manufacturer is obliged to take part in every race of the season unless prevented by extraordinary circumstances.

Officials posted along the side of the track. They wave the flag signals and secure any possible accident sites; they also rescue any cars that have broken down.

Medical car
The car of the responsible race doctor. Like the safety car, it is on standby at the exit of the pit lane during every practice session and race.

Medical centre
Every Formula 1 race and test circuit must have a state-of-the-art emergency service facility staffed by experienced physicians. A rescue helicopter must always stand by ready for action. If it is not possible to guarantee this (under foggy conditions, for example), the race cannot go ahead.

The drivers’ life insurance. French for single shell. A safety cell made of carbon-fibre composite which forms a protective shell around the driver. It is surrounded by deformable structures which absorb energy in an accident.


Slit-shaped air inlet on the surface of the body for better cooling.

Artificial fibre which undergoes thermal testing in the laboratory. It is subjected to an open flame with a temperature of 300 to 400 degrees Celsius that acts on the material from a distance of three centimetres – only if it fails to ignite within 10 seconds can it be used for racing overalls. The drivers’ and pit crews’ underwear, hoods, socks and gloves are also made of Nomex.

Front part of a Formula 1 car, subjected to various crash tests for safety reasons. The nose also functions as a protruding crash structure protecting the monocoque.


On-board camera
A mini TV camera on board the racing car, which can be attached near the airbox, the rear mirror or the front or rear wing. Supplies live pictures during practice, qualifying and the race.

Protective suit with elastic cuffs on wrists and ankles made of two to four layers of Nomex for drivers and pit crews. A completed multi-layered overall undergoes 15 washings as well as a further 15 dry-cleaning processes before it is finally tested. It is subjected to a temperature of 600 to 800 degrees Celsius. The critical level of 41 degrees Celsius may not be exceeded inside the overall for at least 11 seconds.

If a driver hits the brakes so hard that the wheels lock up, this is referred to as overbraking. Locked up front wheels make steering virtually impossible. Additionally, this greatly wears out the tyres. If this also creates an unbalance, it is referred to as a braking puncture.

When oversteering, a car’s tail end is pushed out of a corner via the rear wheels and the tail end is in danger of breaking away. In order to get through the corner, the driver must decrease his steering angle or, in the case of extreme oversteering, even steer in the opposite direction.


Parc fermé
Restricted area of the pit lane in which the FIA’s technical commissioners inspect the cars after each race to make sure they conform to technical regulations. Since the 2003 season, the cars must be taken into the parc fermé after the qualifying session. They are not cleared until Sunday morning.

Penalties for drivers’ breaches of Formula 1 regulations range from a warning to a lifelong suspension from the sport. Other possibilities include fines, suspensions for one or more races, and deduction of World Championship points. If drivers commit sports-related or technical violations during qualifying, the racing commissioners can cancel all their qualifying times.

Only super unleaded petrol may be used in Formula 1. It corresponds to a large extent to the 98-octane fuel available at the local petrol station. However, the fuels contain additives that ensure faster and better combustion; in some cases, they are also lighter than commercially available petrol. Each team can choose its supplier freely, but it must submit a sample of the petrol used to the FIA before the season for test purposes.

Pit lane
The pit lane is located directly in front of the pits. This is where pit stops take place during the race. Since the 2004 season, the speed limit in the pit lane has been raised from 80 km/h to 100 km/h. This is intended to provide a greater flexibility for pit strategies. On circuits with especially tight pit lanes, like Monaco for example, the speed limit can be reduced.

Pit stop/refuelling
During a regular pit stop in a race, a team of mechanics refuels the car or in the case of a damaged tyre, replaces the tyres. For refuelling, the mechanics must wear helmets and flame-resistant suits made of Nomex. Standardised tank connections and well-designed inlet valves are meant to prevent the release of flammable fuel vapours.

Points system
Since the 2003 season, the first eight drivers in each race are awarded points for the championship ranking. The winner of the grand prix is awarded 10 points, the runners-up receive 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively. The same points system is used for the manufacturer’s championship.

Pole position
First place in the starting order for the race, which is given to the fastest driver in qualifying.

Part of the chassis: suspension assembly with tie bars.

Part of the chassis: suspension assembly with compression struts.


The starting order for the race is determined during qualifying. The driver with the fastest lap time qualifies for the best starting place: pole position.


Race Commission
This committee, which the FIA commissions for each race weekend, monitors the activities on the circuit and makes sure the safety rules and regulations are upheld. The national race director is appointed by he racing authority of the country that runs a grand prix event. He must have an FIA super-licence and is responsible for coordinating all the officials during the race. He co-operates with his superior, the FIA race director.

Race director
The FIA race director supervises the safety measures on the race weekend and makes improvements when necessary. Additionally, he decides whether the safety car should be used or whether the race should be stopped. If a driver does not behave in a sportsmanlike manner or if he endangers a competitor, the race director can recommend a penalty. The current FIA race director is Charlie Whiting from Great Britain.

Race stop
If weather conditions are poor enough to endanger safe driving (e.g. heavy rain, snow, fog) or if a vehicle is blocking the track, a red flag signals that the race has been stopped.

Racing line
Also known as the ideal line, the racing line is the imaginary line on which the circuit can be driven in the fastest possible time. Due to the rubber build-up, this is also usually where the grip is best.

Pile-ups due to low visibility could be prevented by radar systems. The system currently being discussed within the FIA would transmit an electronic warning signal if there was another car directly in front of the driver. It is not yet certain whether the system will be introduced.

Rear light
Decreases the risk of pile-ups. When using wet-weather tyres, the rear light must always be switched on. It consists of 30 individual LEDs, must be at least six times six centimetres in size and is required to be attached 35 centimetres above the car’s underside.

Rear wing
Also known as rear wing assembly. Creates downward pressure mainly upon the rear axle. The rear wing is adapted to the conditions of the tracks (the steeper it is, the more downforce is created). The settings and angles of the surfaces can be additionally modified. These modifications are part of the set-up.

Only fuel, nitrogen (for the tyres) and compressed air may be refilled during the race. According to the parc fermé rule, no fuel may be refilled between qualifying and the race itself.

The FIA draws up the sporting and technical regulations for Formula 1. The technical regulations primarily aim at two important things: speed should be controlled in the interest of safety, while simultaneously retaining the ongoing technical development so critical to the nature of Formula 1. In addition, safety is to be guaranteed in the case of an accident. To achieve these aims, the following factors have been limited: engine capacity, fuel composition, tyre size, tyre contact surface, minimum weight and width of the cars. The sporting regulations primarily control the procedure of a grand prix weekend.

The new start of a previously stopped race.

The first test drive of a new racing car, usually at a private test.

Roll-over bar
If a car rolls over in an accident, the rollover bar, a curved structure above the driver’s head made of metal or composite materials, is intended to provide the driver with better injury protection. Following Giancarlo Fisichella’s accident at the Nürburgring in 1999, the roll-over bar has been subjected to even stricter crash tests.

Rubber build-up
Due to the slow erosion of tyre surfaces. When tyres are driven on asphalt, the surface rubs off and leaves behind a layer of rubber on the road, which accumulates over the course of the racing weekend and progressively enhances grip. This erosion is influenced both by the vehicle set-up and the abrasive properties of the asphalt.

Run-off zone
Run-off zones are mainly created in fast corners. If a car goes off the circuit, it should slow down as quickly as possible without rolling over. This is the reason why the gravel traps have to be as wide as possible. Gravel reduces speed and thus reduces the force with which the car hits the tyre barriers. The alternative: asphalt run-off zones on which the driver retains more control over the car.


Safety belt
The safety belt used in monocoques is also known as a six-point harness and can be opened with a single hand movement.

Safety car
The car that drives out in front of Formula 1 cars during the formation lap. The safety car is also used in safety situations (for example, after accidents, when it rains) to slow down the field, bring the cars into formation and prevent further incidents. The safety car has been employed since 1992.

Small fins that are attached to the car body to improve aerodynamics.

After an accident, it must be possible to remove the driver and seat from the car together. Since 1999, therefore, regulations have stipulated that the seat may no longer be installed as a fixed part of the car. The risk of doing spinal damage to the driver when removing him from the car is thus eradicated. The seat is a tailor-made plastic cast, designed to provide perfect support for each individual driver.

General vehicle tuning for all the adjustable mechanical and aerodynamic parts (wheel suspension, wings, etc.). Specifically, the term describes the various possibilities for adapting a Formula 1 car to the conditions of a particular circuit. Included are, among other things, modification to the tyres, suspension, wings and engine and transmission settings.

The final test drive of a newly set-up car before the team departs to a grand prix.

Side cladding of the cockpit which is integrated in the monocoque. The sidepods contain crash structures that absorb the forces arising from an accident or impact. A Formula 1 car’s radiator is also located behind these sidepods.

Skid block
A plate made of plastic or wood fitted to the underbody of a racing car. It is intended to prevent a strong suction effect, limiting excessively high speeds, especially in the corners, for safety reasons. It also acts as protection for the underbody.

These tyres without tread were outlawed by the FIA in late 1997. This was meant to prevent an increase in top speed – especially in corners – achieved due to the higher grip provided by a larger tyre surface area.

Low-pressure area behind a Formula 1 car created by air currents. Driving in the slipstream can provide a boost to a car’s speed, making it the ideal position for a pursuing vehicle to start an overtaking manoeuvre.

Speed limiter
The cruise control feature used in Formula 1 pit lanes. It is activated by pressing a button on the steering wheel. Speed is then reduced down to the limit for the pit lane.

Rotary or torsion bars, which connect the right and left wheel suspensions elastically to each other. The so-called ‘roll bars’ help to reduce the rolling movement of the chassis along the longitudinal axis and so provide more precise handling during load shifts.

Starting line-up
Each row of the starting line-up has two race cars, one slightly in front, with a distance of eight metres to the next row.

Starting number
All cars have to be fitted with the starting number of the respective driver. The FIA specifies the size and positioning. The numbers are assigned at the start of the season. The teams are always given two consecutive numbers. The World Champion of the previous year is always assigned number 1 and his team mate number 2. If the reigning World Champion is no longer competing the following year, the number 1 is omitted and replaced with a 0. The number 13 is not assigned.

Steering wheel
The control centre of the racing car. This is where all the important controls, signal lamps and displays are located. The appearance and the arrangement are adjusted to suit the individual driver.

Formula 1 driving licence issued by the FIA. In the interest of safety, it is only granted on the basis of good results in the junior series or, in exceptional cases, if other proof of ability can be supplied. It may also be granted under provisional terms.

Several years ago, the wheel suspension was the Achilles’ heel of a Formula 1 car, but the use of composite materials has since made it extremely robust. Basically, double A-arms are used at the front and rear, and each team gives them a different aerodynamic shape.


The fuel tank is a fibre-reinforced hull that must yield flexibly when deformed. It must fulfil the FIA’s rigid criteria. To avoid damage, the tank is also located within the monocoque and is thus encased in the survival cell, the car’s best-protected area.

Technical Committee
This panel of FIA experts lays down Formula 1 regulations. Every team’s technical director is a member of the Technical Committee. The Committee makes recommendations to the FIA Formula 1 Commission. The decisions made by the Commission are in turn forwarded to the FIA’s World Motorsport Council and must then be approved by the FIA’s general assembly.

Technical delegate
The FIA technical delegate, currently Jo Bauer from Germany, leads the team of technical inspectors (so-called scrutineers). They check whether the cars meet the regulations. If the technical delegate does not think a car conforms to the rules, he makes a report to the racing commissioners, who are authorised to impose penalties.

A system allowing a large quantity of data, e.g. concerning chassis and engine, to be recorded in the car and transmitted to the pits. There, the data is analysed so as to determine any faults (a loss of brake fluid or a slow puncture, for example) at an early stage and to be able to improve the car’s set-up.

Time penalty
This is a penalty during the race for drivers who have violated regulations. Once his team has been informed by the racing commissioners, the driver must drive through the pit lane within the next three laps. He may not stop there to change tyres or refuel. Entering and leaving the pit lane cost the penalised driver valuable time. If the penalty is imposed during the last five laps, a further 25 seconds are added.

Generated in the engine by the combustion pressure acting on the crankshaft via the pistons and the connecting rods. The maximum torque is a benchmark for the power and useability of the engine and the acceleration capacity of a racing car.

This term describes the ability of a race car to apply its engine’s power to the track.

Traction control
An electronic system, also called anti-slip control. It uses sensors to detect whether the wheels are spinning and then automatically reduces the engine power. This guarantees ideal acceleration, especially at the start, when leaving a corner and on wet tracks.

Turbo engines
The first turbo engine was used in Formula 1 in 1977. In qualifying, these engines boasted up to 1,400 bhp. They were banned in Formula 1 in 1988.

Tyre pressure
The pressure of a Formula 1 car’s front tyres is between 1.14 and 1.2 atmospheres. The back tyres are inflated at a pressure of 1.02 to 1.08 atmospheres. A difference of as little as 0.1 atmospheres either way – or a difference between the pressure of the individual tyres – diminishes the chance of victory.

Tyre stack
Part of a racetrack’s mandatory equipment since 1981. The tyre barriers consist of two to six rows of conventional car tyres bolted together and wrapped with rubber belting. This provides the best absorption of impact energy.

Formula 1 tyres are currently supplied by Bridgestone and Michelin. The front tyres may not exceed 355 mm in width, the rear tyres 380 mm. The diameter of the rims may not exceed 330 mm. Current regulations specify grooved tyres, meaning that the tyres must feature four symmetrical longitudinal grooves upon their surface. These must be at least 14 mm wide and 2.5 mm deep. The manufacturers provide new compounds for nearly every grand prix, with degrees of hardness varying depending on the features of the individual circuits and cars.


The aerodynamically shaped lower surface of a racing car creates an airflow, which in turn generates a vacuum under the car which provides better grip. However, continuous air ducts are banned in Formula 1 and are prevented by the skid block, which splits the airflow.

When understeering, a car is pushed out of a corner via the front wheels. To get through the corner, the driver must increase his steering angle.

Under the racing overall, drivers wear a Tshirt, boxers, socks and a balaclava. All the underwear is made of fire-resistant Nomex material.


The task of the engine-controlled valves is to open or close the inlet and outlet ducts at the right moment and so to allow the gases into or out of the combustion chamber. Each valve consists of a stem and a disc.


Practice and system testing on the morning of race day. No longer takes place since the 2003 season.

A Formula 1 car must weigh at least 600 kilograms, including the driver but not including fuel. The vehicles’ construction weight is actually less. This way, the teams can achieve a better weight distribution using additional weights, thus improving the handling. To check the weight, the technical commission of the FIA may, at any time, send cars to the electronic scales located at the entrance to the pit lane.

Wet-weather tyres
In wet weather, cars use special tyres that are better able to displace water from the track and optimise grip.

Wheel tethers
Metal cables connecting the wheels to the chassis. They are intended to prevent the wheels from flying off in the case of an accident. As from the 2005 season, they have to withstand a load of 32 tons.

Relatively small wheel sizes of 13 inches are quite normal in Formula 1. By way of a comparison, most passenger cars are fitted with 20-inch wheels. Thanks to the use of magnesium, this means that the racing wheels are far lighter.

Wind tunnel
The holy shrine of every Formula 1 team and indispensable for the development of a race car. Aerodynamic studies are carried out round the clock in the wind tunnel. Using various flow speeds, the engineers can simulate various car speeds and can test the effects of new vehicle parts or the aerodynamic behaviour of the entire car in various racing situations. The WilliamsF1 Team possesses its own modern wind-tunnel centre at Grove in England.

Additional wing located on the car body just in front of the rear wheel.

Rigid and movable surfaces on the racing car with a maximum width of 1.4 metres intended to increase downforce. The wings serve to press the car downwards more firmly. The secret of wing adjustment lies in finding the best compromise between high speed on straights (low downforce) and optimal performance in corners (high downforce).

The components connecting the wheel suspension and the chassis. Wishbones are mounted at right angles to the vehicle’s longitudinal axis. These pivoting rods, which have also acquired aerodynamic significance, must be made of extremely strong materials.

World champion
In Formula 1, two World Championship titles are awarded – the drivers’ title and the manufacturers’ title. The drivers’ title has existed since 1950, and the manufacturers’ title was introduced in 1958. For the drivers, the points won in all the races are added up. If several drivers have the same points total, the title is determined by the final positions they achieved: the number of first places, followed by the number of second places, etc. In the manufacturers’ division, the points that both of the team’s drivers earn each race are added up.


Additional wings developed by the Tyrrell team and first used in 1997. The X-wings created high levels of downforce. For safety reasons, the FIA banned them before the Spanish Grand Prix in 1998.


Short for yellow flag, the flag used by the marshals to signify hazardous situations to the drivers.


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GP China
General information
A lap of Shanghai
Thursday Press Conf.
Friday Press Conf.
Qualificaton Press Conf.
Race Press Conf.
Practice session 1
Practice session 2
Practice session 3
Race Result

Driver championship
1 L. Hamilton
2 F. Alonso
3 K. Raikkonen
4 F. Massa
5 N. Heidfeld
6 R. Kubica
7 H. Kovalainen
8 G. Fisichella

Team championship
1 Ferrari
2 BMW Sauber
3 Renault
4 Williams
5 Red Bull
6 Toyota
7 Toro Rosso
8 Honda