Heard a term and not sure what it means? Check our glossary to see if we can answer you question.
Aerodynamics The study of the air passing over the car and its wings. Aerodynamicists study this and optimise the shape of the car to improve grip, speed or cooling.
Apex The part of the corner which the car ‘clips’ and where it begins to accelerate again. (See ‘Turn in’).
Appeal All teams have the right to appeal to the FIA against any judgment they feel has been unfairly made.
Ballast 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.
Bargeboard Sitting in front of the side pods, the bargeboards smooth the airflow from the front wing and tyre as it approaches the body of the car.
Blistering When a tyre gets too hot and too warn, the rubber begins to degrade and break away in large pieces, giving the look of blisters.
Bodywork The exterior of a car.
Boots Racing speak for tyres.
Bottoming 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.
Camber 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 Fibre It revolutionised 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 fibre.
Chassis The main part of a Formula One car is the chassis. It is onto the chassis that the engine, suspension and wings are attached.
Chicane A tight corner or sequence of corners designed to slow the cars down.
Clean air This is still air that has not been disturbed by a recently passing car.
Constructor Often referred to as a ‘manufacturer’, this another word for the team.
Cockpit The part of the car in which the driver sits. (see ‘survival cell’).
Diffuser 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.
Downforce The vertical force exerted on the car by the air passing over the car’s wings. The amount of downforce can be adjusted by altering the angles of the car’s wings.
Drag All cars experience drag. It is the resistance a car encounters from the air as it moves forward.
Drive-through penalty Drivers can be made to pass through the pit lane at a strict speed limit rather than on the track as a penalty for an offence on track.
Engine Formula One engines are 3 litre, normally aspirated V10’s. They generally produce more than 750 horsepower.
F.I.A. Féderation Internationale De L’Automobile, Formula One’s governing body.
Flags 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.
Flat spot When a driver brakes hard and locks his wheels up, the tyres are worn flat as the tyre is locked. This makes the car vibrate as the wheel turns.
Flier A flier is racing-talk for a very quick lap, often in qualifying.
FOM 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.
Fuel The F2003-GA 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.
G-force 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 analyse 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.
Gearbox 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 tyres Formerly known as ‘slicks’, the grooves were introduced to these dry weather tyres in an effort to slow the cars down.
Hairpin 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 tyre ‘Inters’ as they are often known are more heavily grooved than the dry weather tyres 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 penalised with a 10 second stop and go penalty.
Left-foot braking As Formula One cars do not have clutch pedal, many drivers chose to brake with their left foot.
Lollipop 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.
Lubricant 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.
Marbles As tyres 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.
Marshal 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 coloured flags.
Monocoque A modern F1 chassis is known as a monocoque, this construction of carbon fibre 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.
Oil See ‘lubricant’
Oversteer This is when the rear of the car pushes wide, and the front stays ‘on-line’. Visually the car will appear to travel sideways.
Paddles Formula One drivers today use paddles on the back of his steering wheel to change gear.
Paddock The paddock is the area behind the pit lane, this is where you will find the teams motorhomes. It is also where the drivers will go to relax and talk to the media during the Grand Prix weekend.
Parc Fermé Between qualifying and race day the cars are held in Parc Fermé to prevent the teams making any changes that could affect the cars performance. Once the race is over the cars return to Parc Fermé and are inspected to ensure they comply with the Formula One rules.
Pit board A driver communicates with the pits using a radio; however the team also keeps the driver informed of his competitor’s progress by holding a pit board with simple information over the pit wall on each lap.
Pit lane This is where the teams operate the cars from during the race weekend; it is also where the pit stops take place. The pit lane generally has a speed limit of 60km/h and there is no ‘racing’ allowed in the pit lane.
Pit wall The team have a much of their communication equipment on the pit wall so as the 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.
Plank 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 Drivers compete for grid position in qualifying, the fastest time in qualifying wins the driver pole position at the front of the grid. This is the most advantageous place from which to start the race.
Practice 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.
Qualifying A one-off ‘hot-lap’ which decides the order of the grid for the race.
Racing line This is the optimum line around a race circuit, therefore in theory it is the fastest way around a circuit. For a lone corner this is usually a wide entrance, followed by a defined ‘apex’ which is near the middle of the corner on the inside, and a wide exit to allow all the power to be used. It is the straightest line through a corner.
Retirement 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 sent out in front of the lead car to slow down and control the cars still on track until the debris can be cleared.
Scrutineering All cars must go through scrutineering at the beginning of every Grand Prix. Scrutineering is the process that determines that the cars are safe to race, and also adhere to the strict technical rules of Formula One.
Shakedown Teams complete these ‘shakedown’ runs to make sure all the components on the car are ready and working to their full potential.
Sidepod 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 tyre In recent seasons the Formula One cars have been using ‘grooved’ tyres, however for most of the modern era of Formula One the slick tyre 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.
Slipstreaming Every car creates a hole in the air, this hole gets longer the faster the car is traveling. 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.
Spare car Each team takes three cars to every Grand Prix, the third car is known as the spare car or T-car (team car, test car or third car). If one of the drivers damages his car so heavily it cannot be repaired then he will use the spare car to complete the weekend.
Spectrometry 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’. Literal 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.
Suspension The purpose of suspension is to ride over imperfections on the race circuit to provide the best possible grip and traction to the driver, as well as cushioning him from the bumps which can become very pronounced at 300+ kph.
Steward The stewards run the race weekend at a Grand Prix. They make all the decision with regard to rules, penalties and incidents that can happen over the weekend. Stewards are different to marshals in that they control the event from race control as opposed to trackside.
Stop and go penalty During a race, if a driver breaks any rules he can be called in for a stop and go penalty. He must come in to the pit lane and stop for 10 seconds before rejoining the race. A penalty can be given for speeding in the pit lane, jumping the start amongst other reasons.
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 A Formula One car is constantly sending information to the pit garage. From the hundreds of sensors on the car, the team has an excellent view as to the condition of the car and the driver’s movements. Telemetry data can give the team real-time information such as throttle position, speed, breaking forces, temperatures, pressures and steering. Drivers also use telemetry to study their lap times.
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 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.
Tyre compound Every circuit has a different characteristic, each track wearing tyres at a different rate. Tyres are available to the teams in a variety of compounds (from very soft to hard). Which compound a team uses is dependent on their strategy for the race, driver preference and how many pit stops they want to make.
Tyre warmer Tyres operate best a certain temperature - in the case of Formula One tyres, it is around 90°C. Before the car is sent out on the track the tyres are heated up by specially shaped electric blankets known as tyre warmers.
Understeer This is when the front wheels ‘push’ wide during cornering, from the outside it looks like the car is traveling straight on and will not turn for the corner.
Undertray A Formula One car has an ‘undertray’ to smooth the flow of air under the car and make it more aerodynamic.
Wet weather tyres A grooved tyre will not work effectively in heavy rain, neither will an intermediate tyre. When heavy rain is falling the teams will select a wet weather tyre, this looks much more like the tyre you will find on a road car.
Wing The wings on a Formula One car work in the opposite way to an airplane’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.