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.
A B C
D E F G
H I J K
L M N O
P Q R S
T U V W
X Y Z
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
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.
The air inlet behind the drivers 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 cars wings
are fixed during set-up the larger the angle the greater
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
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 cars 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 drivers 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.
This agreement specifies the rights and obligations of the
teams and the FIA. It also calls for unanimity for important
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.
Safety measure at track locations where there is no space
for run-off zones.
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,
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 cars 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.
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
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 cars aerodynamics.
Formula 1 features four-stroke engines. The FIAs 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
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 lAutomobile
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
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 FIAs technical committee
should be implemented.
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
Formula One Administration (FOA)
The FOA is an organisation that takes care of Formula 1s
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.
No more than two-wheel drive is permitted in Formula 1; four-wheel
drive has been prohibited since 1971.
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.
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.
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.
The distance between the underbody and
the surface of the track.
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
L-shaped counterflap on the trailing edge of a cars
Narrow 180-degree bend. The most famous hairpin is the former
Loews hairpin in Monaco, which is now known as the Grand Hotel
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 drivers helmet. In case of
an accident, HANS is intended to prevent a stretching of the
vertebrae. Additionally, it prevents the drivers head
from hitting the steering wheel.
The removable padding on the inside of the cockpit around
the drivers head, designed to absorb any potential impact.
For the 2005 season, the head and neck support must be 100
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
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 FIAs 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 FIAs 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 cars 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.
Restricted area of the pit lane in which the FIAs 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
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.
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.
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
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 manufacturers championship.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 cars underside.
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
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
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
The new start of a previously stopped race.
The first test drive of a new racing car, usually at a private
If a car rolls over in an accident, the rollover bar, a curved
structure above the drivers head made of metal or composite
materials, is intended to provide the driver with better injury
protection. Following Giancarlo Fisichellas accident
at the Nürburgring in 1999, the roll-over bar has been
subjected to even stricter crash tests.
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 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.
The safety belt used in monocoques is also known as a six-point
harness and can be opened with a single hand movement.
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 cars
radiator is also located behind these sidepods.
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 cars
speed, making it the ideal position for a pursuing vehicle
to start an overtaking manoeuvre.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 FIAs rigid criteria.
To avoid damage, the tank is also located within the monocoque
and is thus encased in the survival cell, the cars best-protected
This panel of FIA experts lays down Formula 1 regulations.
Every teams 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 FIAs World Motorsport Council
and must then be approved by the FIAs general assembly.
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
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 cars
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
engines power to the track.
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.
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.
The pressure of a Formula 1 cars 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.
Part of a racetracks 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
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.
In wet weather, cars use special tyres that are better able
to displace water from the track and optimise grip.
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.
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
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 vehicles
longitudinal axis. These pivoting rods, which have also acquired
aerodynamic significance, must be made of extremely strong
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 teams 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.