F1 Basics for Naive

Written by Ravi Goel.

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F1 Basics for Naive: What you should know before going to the race weekend?

Formula One (F1 or Formula1) is the highest class of single seater autoracing sanctioned by FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile).

The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) is a non-profit association established as the Association Internationale des Automobile Clubs Reconnus (AIACR) on 20 June 1904 to represent the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users. To the general public, the FIA is mostly known as the governing body for many auto racing events.

The F1 season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, held on purpose-built circuits and public roads (street circuits). There are 12 teams in F1. Each team has 2 main drivers that can take part in qualifying and on race day. In total, every race can have maximum of 24 drivers according to present team structure and rules (2011). Earlier till 2009, there has been 10 teams in F1 and 20 drivers in a race.

According to the current point system, In each race, top 10 drivers are awarded points from 25 to 1. The same score is being added to the drivers point scoring table and constructor(teams) point scoring table. The results of each race are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for the drivers and one for the constructors.

Each racing drivers, constructor teams, track officials, organizers, and circuits required to be holders of valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA to be part of F1.

In 2011, originally record 20 race season was finalized as the 2011 racing calendar which was later reduced to 19 due to the cancellation of Bahrain Grand Prix due to the unrest in the country. Racing Calendar is the yearly championship calendar decided by FIA. The selection of race tracks where the race will be held depends upon the contracts between the Formula One Administration (FOA), tracks officials. FIA and teams put their say in finalizing the calendar to suit the general public interest and F1 members that includes drivers, teams, officials, administration etc.

The circuit basically represent a country or a state. They are built as Government projects or private companies projects. The complexity of final agreements can vary but generally FOA demands a fees to conduct a race on a track with FIA race director and his team looking after the safety issues concerned with the track.

Basically, FOA is an authority representing Formula One Group or a group of companies that holds the commercial rights to conduct F1 World Championship. FIA is an authority managing all the norms, regulations, protocols and safe happenings during a year.

Before moving into the detail of a race weekend, it is the sole responsibility or wish of the team to select drivers to race for their team. Generally drivers give test before the start of season and are selected to be part of the team. Young drivers has to pay to the teams in the form of bringing sponsorship money. Old and famous drivers (performers) are generally paid (salaried) to be a part of the team. However, their brand value also bring sponsors to the team.

Now, over a race weekend, there are three practice sessions namely Free Practice Session 1, 2 and 3. Generally FP1 and FP2 take place on Friday unlike in Monaco where it take place on Thursday's. FP1 and FP2 are of 1hr 30min sessions. FP3 is a quick 1hr session on Saturday before qualifying. All the races have same fixed time according to their local time that is commonly 10:00 for FP1 , 14:00 for FP2 , 11:00 for FP3 , 14:00 for Qualifying and 15:00 for Race unlike in Singapore (First ever night race in F1) and Abu Dhabi (First ever race to start in daylight and end in night). There are many circuits where this time may vary from 1 to 2 hr depending upon the weather conditions and other factors.

These practice sessions are meant for teams to get aware of the prevailing conditions on the track, weather effect on machinery and tyres. Petrol usage, to build strategies, work on pitstop, drivers testing the new components, learning the track and behaviour on track put into different conditions. Allowing Third driver (Reserve Driver) to participate, this helps in grooming a new kid in F1. In this season, main challenge for the drivers and team during the practice sessions remains the testing of New Pirelli Tyres, DRS Wing and KERS. Beside that Indian Grand Prix will debut on F1 Calendar whose insight can only be taken through the practice session only.

Fastest times set by drivers are taken as final standing during practice sessions. The number of laps run during any session is uncontrolled.

Qualifying, also record the fastest times set by drivers but in 3 parts. In Q1, all 24 drivers participate of which last 7 are knocked out. Rest 17 take part in Q2, where again the last 7 are knocked out. In the final session Q3, 10 drivers fight for pole position (1st position to start the race). The qualifying hour is split into three sessions of 20, 15 and 10 minutes, with a seven-minute break between the first and second sessions and an eight-minute break between the second and third sessions. Like practice session, the number of laps run during any session is uncontrolled.

In the first two periods, cars may run any tyre compound they wish, and drivers eliminated in these periods are allowed to change their choice of tyres prior to the race. Cars taking part in the final period, however, must start the race with the tyres used during their fastest lap (exactly the same tyres, not just the same compound), barring changes in weather that require usage of wet-weather tyres. Also, if driver had not participated in the final session due to some reason (mainly slow cars refusing a challenge and save tyres), he can use any type of tyre during the race.

Race day is the final showdown during a grand prix weekend. The race usually is of 1hr 30mins with 50-60laps depending upon the time per lap and number of kilometers to be covered during a race remain more or less around 305kms. Note: This data can vary from race to race.

Formation on the race track is done according to their qualifying positions. A formation lap is done to warm the tyres, then the race is started as the five red lights illuminates. Every driver is on its own on the track but the two drivers of the same team can drive for each other benefits. Every driver has to use to compounds of tyres during a race. For this, he require atleast one pitstop.

Pitstop is carried in a pit garage following a pitlane usually run beside start finish on the track. Every team has their own pitcrew that is responsible for carrying out bodywork on car that normally includes tyre changes and adjustment of front wing. From 2010, refueling during a race in banned so cars have to be loaded with complete tank before the race start. During an accident or damage to the car, pit crew has to repair the car withing the as minimum time as possible to bring the car back on track. This usually include removing busted tyres, front wing change, below the car minor repairs etc. Heavy damage leads to drivers' retirement from the race.

There are various flags shown during a race with most common are Yellow flag (Slow down as caution), Red Flag (Session Stopped), Green Flag (All Clear), Chequered Flag (Indicates session end).

Other than the normal scenario, there can be penalties during qualifying and race days. Or penalties from last race can be carried forward to the next race. FIA is very particular about the safety and protocols to be followed. Any discrepancies in the two can lead to severe punishments during race, qualifying with fines. There can be ban from the race or from the whole season also. Stewards are the race monitors / directors. There orders are mandatory for the teams to be followed. In normal cases, a drive through penalty or a 5 grid penalty is given to a driver. This depend upon the unsafe release during a race, unsafe driving, causing accidents, qualifying issues, penalties from last race, gear box change etc.

F1 Cars:

Modern Formula One cars are mid-engined open cockpit, open wheel single-seaters. The chassis is made largely of carbon-fibre composites, rendering it light but extremely stiff and strong. The whole car, including engine, fluids and driver, weighs only 640 kg (1411 lbs)—the minimum weight set by the regulations.


Facts and Figures:

Sole Tyre Supplier - Pirelli

107% Rule - Driver failing to qualify 107 percent of the time set by the top driver in Q1 is not qualified to take part in race.

Point System - 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1

Wings - Adjustable Front and Rear Wings.

Engines - 2.4litre V8 Engines


Common Terms used in F1:

Flags duty, paroling, clearing of track, medical team and other are known as F1 Marshall.

Safety Car is the car which limits the speed of competing cars on a racetrack in the case of a caution period such as an obstruction on the track.

KERS is Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems used by most of the cars to get extra boost of speed (60Kw) during a race.

DRS is Drag Reduction System used in every car. It is an automatic rear wing adjustment that is activated when a trailing car comes within 1sec of the car in front for one or two corner in a lap. It reduces drag and boost up speed of trailing car for increasing overtaking opportunity.

Aerodynamics - Creation of Maximum amount of Downforce and minimization of Drag. Responsible for speed of the car.

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F1 Statistics

23-25 November, 2012

Practice 1 : Result

Practice 2 : Result

Practice 3 : Result

Qualifying : Result

Race : Result

1 Sebastian Vettel 281
2 Fernando Alonso 278
3 Kimi Räikkönen 207
4 Lewis Hamilton 190
5 Jenson Button 188
6 Mark Webber 179
7 Felipe Massa 122
8 Romain Grosjean 96
9 Nico Rosberg 93
10 Sergio Perez 66
Full Table

1 Red Bull Racing - Renault 460
2 Ferrari 400
3 Mclaren - Mercedes 378
4 Lotus - Renault 303
5 Mercedes 142
6 Sauber - Ferrari 126
7 Force India - Mercedes 109
8 Williams - Renault 76
9 STR - Ferrari 26
10 Marussia-Cosworth 0
Full Table