Formula 1 Glossary

Formula 1 Glossary


The study of the air passing over and around the car with the aim to optimise the shape of the car to improve grip, speed or cooling.


The point on the corner at which the drivers aim their cars to achieve the quickest racing line.


All teams have the right to appeal to the FIA against any judgement they feel has been unfairly made.


Lead weights in the floor of the cars bring them up to the minimum weight and help improve the balance of the car in corners depending on where they are placed.


Sitting in front of the side pods, the bargeboards smooth the airflow from the front wing and tire as it approaches the body of the car.


When a tire gets too hot and too worn, the rubber begins to degrade and break away in large pieces, creating the appearance of blisters.


The exterior of a car.


Racing speak for tires.


Formula One cars run so low to the ground, their undersides can often touch the floor or ‘bottom out’.

Brake Balance

Drivers can alter the percentage of brake force begin applied to the front and rear from inside the cockpit. Generally, more brake force is pushed to the front of the car, although this has to be evened out in the wet.


Look closely at the wheels of a Formula One car and you will see that they are not exactly vertical. The angle at which they sit is the ‘camber’ and can be adjusted to suit the weather, the circuit and the driver.

Carbon Fiber

It revolutionized Formula One when it arrived in the early 1990’s. Lighter and stronger than steel, almost all of the Formula One car is made of carbon fiber.


The main part of a Formula One car is the chassis. It is onto the chassis that the engine, suspension and wings are attached.


A tight corner or sequence of alternating corners often designed to slow the cars down.

Clean air

This is still air that has not been disturbed by a recently passing car.


Often referred to as a ‘manufacturer’, this is another word for the team.


The part of the car in which the driver sits. (see ‘survival cell’).


This sits close to the floor below the rear wing. It funnels the air to slow it down, lowers the pressure and accelerates it out of the back of the car.


The vertical force exerted on the car by the air passing over the car’s wings located at the front and rear.


All cars experience drag. It is the resistance a car encounters from the air as it moves forward.

Drive-through penalty

As penalty for an offence on track, a driver can be made to pass through the pit lane at a strict speed limit to rejoin the race.


All Formula One engines are 2.4lt V8 specification. As a cost saving activity, the FIA brought in a new regulation from 2007 which essentially ‘freezes’ engine design for the next three years and restricts the revs to 19,000 rpm. This means that Shell fuel and lubricants will be even more important in the equation of how to get more performance, as they are amongst only a few variables that the teams can change within the new regulation.


Italy’s most famous racing team. Formed in the 1940’s the Scuderia Ferrari has become one of the world’s most famous marques and is the most successful Formula One team of all time.


F�d�ration Internationale De L’Automobile – Formula One’s governing body.


Flags are used to communicate the track status to the drivers. They can show danger, end of the session and no overtaking amongst other things.

Blue:  - Held: Warning - competitor close behind - Waved: Warning – competitor trying to overtake

Yellow:  - Held: Danger ahead, no overtaking - Waved: Danger directly ahead, no overtaking - Double Waved: Be prepared to stop, danger ahead, track may be blocked

Green Flag:  Track clear / open

Red and Yellow Striped Flag:  Slippery track ahead (this may be rain or oil on the track ahead)

Red Flag:  Race, qualifying or practice stopped immediately. Return to pits slowly

White Flag:  Slow moving vehicle ahead (this may be a car returning to the pits or a safety car or ambulance)

Black and White Flag (divided diagonally - held up with competitors number): Caution for unsportsmanlike behavior

Black Flag (held up with competitors number): Disqualification of driver. Return immediately to the pits

Black Flag with Orange Spot (held up with competitors number): Dangerous fault with your car. Return immediately to the pits

Checkered Flag:  End of race, qualifying or practice

Flat spot

When a driver brakes hard and locks his wheels up, the tires are worn flat as the tire is locked. This makes the car vibrate as the wheel turns.


A flier is racing-talk for a very quick lap, often in qualifying.


Formula One Management – Bernie Ecclestone’s company that manages Formula One.

Formation lap

After forming the grid, the drivers complete one formation lap of the circuit to warm up their cars before arriving on the grid for the start proper.

Free practice

Free practice is the first session of a Grand Prix weekend, the teams use the time to set up the cars to suit the circuit.


The F2007 could run on Shell V-Power as the rules state that the fuel must be 99% the same as commercially available fuel. The shell scientists and chemical engineers work to develop the fuel within the parameters of the rules to give the Ferrari engine more power or efficiency.


This is most noticeable as a driver goes round a fast corner, his head can be seen tilting away from the direction of the corner. This is the centrifugal effect, G-force, pulling the drivers body away from the corner.

Gas Chromatography

The method used to analyze a fuel’s composition. It breaks down the fuel into its individual components - of which there are over 200 in a Formula One fuel. The results are displayed on a graph known as a ‘fingerprint’ (owing to its individuality) which must be identical to the ‘fingerprint’ of the pre-approved fuel held by the FIA.


A Formula One car now has a semi-automatic gearbox. This is not a gearbox as in a normal road car. There is no clutch pedal and gears are changed using paddles on the steering wheel.

Gravel trap

In the event of a car leaving the track, a gravel trap slows the car down to limit the damage to both car and driver should the car strike a wall.

Grooved tires

Formerly known as ‘slicks’, the grooves were introduced to these dry weather tires in an effort to slow the cars down.


A tight corner turning 180 degrees in a tight radius.

Hot lap

A hot lap is a particularly quick lap, often in qualifying.

Installation lap

The lap cars do to check that everything is in order with their car.

Intermediate tire

‘Inters’ as they are often known are more heavily grooved than the dry weather tires and are used in light rain or when the track is damp.

Jump Start

Leaving the grid before the starting procedure has finished. Jumping the start is generally penalized with a 10 second stop and go penalty.

Left-foot braking

As Formula One cars do not have clutch pedal, many drivers choose to brake with their left foot.


The sign held on the nose of the car during a pit stop to remind the driver to brake. It is then lifted when the stop is finished and the pit lane is clear for the driver to leave.


Engine oil or lubricant protects the moving parts of the engine and keep the engine cool whilst it is running. Although the Shell lubricant in the Ferrari engine is designed exclusively for that engine, it is based on the technology of Shell Helix Ultra.


As tires wear during a race, the rubber that falls away collects of the racing line to form ‘marbles’ which are very slippery should the car find itself on them.


Marshals are positioned at many places around the race circuit, their job is to look after safety. This includes moving cars from unsafe positions and alerting drivers to on track hazards by waving various colored flags.


A modern F1 chassis is known as a monocoque, this construction of carbon fiber composite means is a one-piece construction designed around the driver. In affect the driver sits in the car much like he does in a bath.


See 'lubricant'


This is when the rear of the car pushes wide, and the front stays ‘on-line’, making the car appear to be travelling sideways.


Formula One drivers today use paddles on the back of his steering wheel to change gear.


The area behind the pit lane, where the drivers relax and talk to the media during the Grand Prix.

Parc Ferm�

This is where the cars are held between qualifying and race day to prevent the teams making any changes against regulations. Once the race is over the cars return here for official inspection.

Pit board

A driver communicates with the pits using a radio, however the team also keeps the driver informed of his competitors’ progress by holding a pit board with simple information over the pit wall.

Pit lane

This is where the teams work on the cars during the race weekend. It is also where pit stops take place.

Pit wall

The teams house much of their communication equipment on the pit wall so as they can talk to the driver and monitor his performance over the Grand Prix weekend.

Pit Garages

The team will work on the car throughout the weekend from the pit garages, this is where the cars ‘disappear’ whenever mechanical, or set up changes are required.


Formula One regulations state that all cars must have a wooden plank under the car to prevent the ride height being set too low, this plank must be a specified depth at the end of the race.

Pole position

This is the most advantageous place from which to start the race, awarded after winning the qualifying round.


Un-timed sessions early in the weekend to allow the teams a chance to learn the circuit and make basic set up changes and refinements to the car.


At each race one hour allotted for knock-out qualifying begins at 14:00 local time Saturday:

Q1 – All race entrants use this 15-minute session to run as many laps as they wish, each measured on one ‘hot lap’. At the end of this session, the slowest six cars are eliminated and assigned the bottom spots on the starting grid, 17 – 22.

Q2 – Another 15-minute qualifying session. Again, cars can run as many laps as they wish and each is measured on a single fast lap. The six slowest cars of this session also drop out; filling grid places 11-16.

Q3 – The fastest lap of this session wins pole position. As in the previous sessions, each car can run as many laps as desired within this final 15-minute window. However, each car must start with the fuel load it will run in the next day’s race and the cars are immediately taken to parc ferme so that no changes can be made.

Racing line

This is the optimum line around a race circuit and in theory it is the fastest way around the track


Retirement is usually the result of an accident or mechanical failure on the car, either way it means the car and driver are out of the race and will not be scoring any points for the team.

Ride height

The distance between the bottom of the car and the ground is called the ride height, this is controlled in the regulations by the use of the ‘plank’.

Safety car

In the event of an accident or blockage on the race circuit, the safety car will be deployed in front of the lead car to slow down and control the cars still on track until it is safe to proceed.


The process that determines that the cars are safe to race and adhere to the technical regulations.


Scuderia is the Italian word used by Ferrari to describe a racing team.


Teams complete these ‘shakedown’ runs to make sure all the components on the car are ready and working to their full potential.


Ferrari’s technical partner for fuels and oils. The two first worked together in the 1930’s and Ferrari’s first ever Formula One win was powered by Shell in 1951. After a brief period apart, Ferrari and Shell re-signed their partnership in 1996.

Shell Helix

Shell’s premium engine oil. Developed with the Ferrari team, the Shell Helix range offers drivers a comprehensive selection of engine oils with which to protect their engine. The Ferrari Formula One car uses an advanced version of Shell Helix Ultra.

Shell V-Power

A premium unleaded fuel from Shell specialising in protection. As with all Shell fuels, Shell V-Power was developed thanks to Shell’s work with the Ferrari Formula One team.


The sidepods on modern Formula One car are very complex as they house the radiators and also play an integral part in the aerodynamics of the car. They are the large air scoops on the side of each car.

Slick tire

In recent seasons the Formula One cars have been using ‘grooved’ tires, however for most of the modern era of Formula One the slick tire was used for optimum grip in dry conditions. A slick is made using very soft rubber and has no tread on its surface to promote maximum possible grip.


Every car creates a hole in the air, this hole gets longer the faster the car is travelling. Any car that travels in this hole will benefit from reduced air resistance and will therefore be able to travel faster using less engine power. A skilled Formula One driver can use this hole to ‘slipstream’ to set up an overtaking manoeuvre at the end of a straight.


The X-ray method used by Shell to analyse the quantity and type of wear metal present in Ferrari gearbox and engine oil samples. Using a database of information built up since 1996, this enables Shell to inform Ferrari as to the condition of the engine or gearbox.

Splash and dash

With the return of pit stops teams need to be accurate with fuel measurement and economy is very important. In the event of a miscalculation a car may need to stop near the end of a race for a small amount of fuel, this is known as a ‘splash and dash’. Literally splashing a drop of fuel in the tank before dashing off to finish the race.

Survival cell

Safety is paramount in Formula One, one feature of a modern Formula One car is the survival cell. Every component attached to the cell is designed to break off an absorb some of the energy of the accident. However, the survival cell is designed to cocoon the driver and prevent serious injury by never breaking up.


The purpose of suspension is to ride over imperfections on the race circuit to provide the best possible grip and traction, as well as cushion the driver from the bumps which can become very pronounced at top speed.


The stewards run the race weekend at a Grand Prix. They make all decisions with regard to rules, penalties and incidents.

Stop and go penalty

This is a penalty which requires the driver to enter the pit lane and stop for 10 seconds before rejoining the race.

Tear-off strips

Because a Formula One driver does not have a windscreen, his crash helmet visor can get very dirty during the race. Instead of windscreen wipers the driver has a number of tear-off strips on his visor, these thin clear strips cover the visor and are removed to give the driver a clear view.


Telemetry data from the hundreds of sensors on the car that provides the team with real-time information such as throttle position, speed, braking forces, temperatures, etc.

Traction control

With all the power a Formula One engine produce the car can never generate enough traction (grip). To prevent wheel spin the teams use an electronic system called traction control to regulate the engines power whenever it detects the rear wheels spinning.


Turbulence is experienced in the area directly behind a car. This turbulence makes it very difficult to drive behind a car, and in turn this is what makes slipstreaming so challenging and rewarding for a driver.

Turn in

The turn in point at a corner is the point at which the driver will begin to turn the steering wheel to drive round the curve.


With Bridgestone becoming Formula One racing's sole supplier from 2007, each team will receive only two specifications of tire per event – hard and soft. However, they will get more sets than in previous years - four per driver on the Friday and ten for the remainder of the weekend. Each driver must use both specifications during the race and a large white dot on the sidewall of the softer compound will allow spectators to easily distinguish which tire a driver is using at any time.

tire warmer

tires operate best a certain temperature - in the case of Formula One tires, it is around 90�C. Before the car is sent out on the track the tires are heated up by specially shaped electric blankets known as tire warmers.


This is when the front wheels 'push' wide during cornering - the car will appear to be travelling straight on and will not turn for the corner.


A Formula One car has an ‘undertray’ to smooth the flow of air under the car and make it more aerodynamic.

Wet weather tires

A grooved tire will not work effectively in heavy rain, neither will an intermediate tire. When heavy rain is falling the teams will select a wet weather tire, this looks much more like the tire you will find on a road car.


The wings on a Formula One car work in the opposite way to an aeroplane’s wing, they are designed to push the car on to the track and provide it with more grip. The faster a car travels the more effect the wings will have on grip.

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