Dummies Title

Glossary of terms use in F1

Aerodynamics The study of airflow over and around an object and thus an intrinsic part of Formula One™ car design.

Apex The middle point of the inside line around a corner at which drivers aim their cars.

Appeal Something that a team does on its drivers' behalf if it feels that they have been unfairly penalised by the race officials.

Ballast Weights fixed around the car to maximise its balance and bring it up to the minimum weight limit.

Bargeboard The piece of bodywork mounted vertically between the front wheels and the start of the sidepods to help smooth the airflow around the sides of the car.

Blistering This is what happens to a tyre, or part of a tyre, when it overheats. Excess heat can cause rubber to soften and break away in chunks from the body of the tyre.

Bodywork The carbon fibre sections fitted onto the monocoque before the cars leave the pits, such as the engine cover, the cockpit top and the nosecone.

Bottoming When a car's chassis hits the track surface as it runs through a sharp compression and reaches the bottom of its suspension travel.

Brake balance A switch in the cockpit to alter the split of the car's braking between the front and the rear according to a driver's wishes.

Chassis The main part of a racing car to which the engine and suspension are attached.

Chicane A tight sequence of corners in alternate directions. Usually inserted into a circuit to slow the cars, often just before what had been a high-speed corner.

Clean air Air that isn't turbulent, and thus offers optimum aerodynamic conditions, as experienced by a car at the head of the field.

Cockpit The section of the chassis in which the driver sits.

Downforce The aerodynamic force that is applied in a downwards direction as a car travels forwards. This is harnessed to improve a car's traction and thus its handling through corners.

Drag The aerodynamic resistance experienced as a car travels forwards.

Drive-through penalty Drivers must enter the pit lane and re-join the race without stopping. One of two penalties that can be handed out at the discretion of the Stewards whilst the race is still running.

Flat spot What happens when a tyre is worn through on one spot after a moment of extreme braking or in the course of a spin. This ruins its handling, often causing severe vibration, and forces a driver to pit for a replacement set of tyres.

Force majeure A situation in which a team or driver had no option given the circumstances. Often cited for example if torrential conditions have left a driver or drivers outside the 107% qualifying target in qualifying, and they are duly admitted to the race.

Formation lap This is the last lap before the start of the race when the cars are driven round from the grid to form up on the grid again for the start of the race.

G-force A physical force equivalent to one unit of gravity that is multiplied during rapid changes of direction or elevation.

Gravel trap A bed of gravel on the outside of corners with the aim of stopping cars that fall off the circuit there.

Grip The amount of traction a car has at any given point, thus affecting how easy it is for the driver to keep control through corners.

Installation lap A lap done on arrival at a circuit, testing functions such as throttle, brakes and steering before heading back to the pits without crossing the finish line.

Intermediate tyre A tyre that has more grooves and a more treaded pattern than the dry weather tyre, but fewer than the wet weather tyre, and is used in mixed conditions.

Jump start When a driver moves off his grid position before the five red lights have been switched off to signal the start. Sensors detect premature movement and a jump start earns a driver a penalty.

Left-foot braking A style of braking made popular in the 1990s following the arrival of hand clutches so that drivers could keep their right foot on the throttle and dedicate their left to braking.

Lollipop The sign on a stick held in front of the car during a pit stop to inform the driver to apply the brakes and then to engage first gear prior to the car being lowered from its jacks.

Marbles Loose balls of track surface that have been pulled up at the corners by the grippiness of the cars' tyres. These can then catch out those drivers drifting off the racing line.

Marshal A course official who oversees the safe running of the race. Marshals have several roles to fill, including observing the spectators to ensure they do not endanger themselves or the competitors, acting as fire wardens, helping to remove stranded cars/drivers from the track and using waving flags to signal the condition of the track to drivers.

Monocoque The single-piece tub in which the cockpit is located, with the engine fixed behind it and the front suspension on either side at the front.

Oversteer When a car's rear end doesn't want to go around a corner and tries to overtake the front end as the driver turns in towards the apex. This often requires opposite-lock to correct, whereby the driver turns the front wheels into the skid.

Paddles Levers on either side of the back of a steering wheel with which a driver changes up and down the gearbox.

Paddock An enclosed area behind the pits in which the teams keep their transporters and motor homes. There is no admission to the public.

Parc ferme A fenced-off area into which cars are driven after the race, where no team members are allowed to touch them until they have been passed as legal by the scrutineers.

Pit board A board held out on the pit wall to inform a driver of his race position, the time interval to the car ahead or the one behind, plus the number of laps of the race remaining.

Pit wall Where the team owner, managers and engineers spend the race, usually under an awning to keep sun and rain off their monitors.

Pits An area of track separated from the start/finish straight by a wall, where the cars are brought for new tyres and fuel during the race, or for set-up changes in practice and qualifying, each stopping at their respective pit garages.

Plank A wooden strip that was fitted front-to-back down the middle of the underside of all cars in the mid-1990s to check that cars were not being run too close to the track surface, something that was indicated if the wood was worn away.

Pole position The first place on the starting grid, as awarded to the driver who lapped fastest during qualifying.

Practice The periods on Friday and Saturday mornings at a Grand Prix meeting when the drivers are out on the track working on the set-up of their cars for the qualifying that follows.

Protest Something that is lodged by a team when it considers that another team or competitor has transgressed the rules.

Qualifying The one-hour period on Saturdays in which drivers are allowed a maximum of 12 laps to set the best time they can, with the driver who laps fastest then starting the race from the front of the grid.

Reconnaissance lap A lap completed when drivers leave the pits to assemble on the grid for the start. If a driver decides to do several, they must divert through the pit lane as the grid will be crowded with team personnel.

Retirement When a car has to drop out of the race because of accident or mechanical failure.

Ride height The height between the track's surface and the floor of the car.

Safety Car The course vehicle that is called from the pits to run in front of the leading car in the race in the event of a problem that requires the cars to be slowed.

Scrutineering The technical checking of cars by the officials to ensure that none are outside the regulations.

Shakedown A brief test when a team is trying a different car part for the first time before going back out to drive at 100% to set a fast time.

Sidepod The part of the car that flanks the sides of the monocoque alongside the driver and runs back to the rear wing, housing the radiators.

Slipstreaming A driving tactic when a driver is able to catch the car ahead and duck in behind its rear wing to benefit from a reduction in drag over its body and hopefully be able to achieve a superior maximum speed to slingshot past before the next corner.

Spare car Each team brings an extra car to races, or sometimes two, in case of damage to the cars they intended to race. Also called a T-car (Test-car).

'Splash and dash' A pit stop in the closing laps of the race when a driver calls in for just a few litres of fuel to be sure of making it to the finish.

Steward One of three high-ranking officials at each Grand Prix appointed to make decisions.

Stop-go penalty A penalty given that involves the driver calling at his pit and stopping for 10 seconds - with no refuelling or tyre-changing allowed.

Tear-off strips See-through plastic strips that drivers fit to their helmet's visor before the start of the race and then remove as they become dirty.

Telemetry A system that beams data related to the engine and chassis to computers in the pit garage so that engineers can monitor that car's behaviour.

Traction The degree to which a car is able to transfer its power onto the track surface for forward progress.

Traction control A computerised system that detects if either of a car's driven (rear) wheels is losing traction - ie. spinning - and transfers more drive to the wheel with more traction, thus using its more power efficiently.

Turbulence The result of the disruption of airflow caused by an interruption to its passage, such as when it hits a rear wing and its horizontal flow is spoiled.

Tyre compound The type of rubber mix used in the construction of a tyre, ranging from soft through medium to hard, with each offering a different performance and wear characteristic.

Tyre warmer An electric blanket that is wrapped around the tyres before they are fitted to the car so that they will start closer to their optimum operating temperature.

Understeer Where the front end of the car doesn't want to turn into a corner and slides wide as the driver tries to turn in towards the apex.

Undertray A separate floor to the car that is bolted onto the underside of the monocoque.

Warm-up The half-hour period on race morning in which the teams and drivers concentrate on the set-up of their cars for the race, running with full tank loads of fuel.