The A-Z of Formula 1

To help you brush up on your knowledge ahead of the big race in Abu Dhabi here is a handy A-Z guide of all things F1

Air Resistance

Air Resistance aerodynamic drag

Sometimes called aerodynamic drag, it’s the resistance of the air to forward movement. Simply put, the faster you go, the greater the air friction. The car’s shape, amount of turbulence at the rear of the vehicle, surface texture and amount of air going through the car for cooling and ventilation, all affect air resistance.

Black Flag/Blue Flag

Blue Flag

The black flag is shown with a car number to indicate that the driver must call in to the pits immediately, usually because he’s broken the rules and will be disqualified. The blue flag is shown to a driver to indicate that a faster car is trying to overtake him. The lapped car must allow the faster one to pass after seeing three flags or risk being penalised.


This is the driver’s workplace. The cockpit is designed to be as safe as possible so the driver can get out easily and quickly. The width of the cockpit must be 45cm at the steering wheel and 35cm at the pedals. For safety reasons, no fuel, oil or water lines may pass through the cockpit.



The force that holds Formula 1 cars down to the ground, enhancing grip. 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. This effect, especially on slower circuits, permits higher cornering speeds for drivers.


The vertical panel attached to the side of a wing. Those at the front are carefully shaped to control the airflow around the front wheels.

Formula 1

The term wasn’t coined until after World War II. ‘Formula’ refers to the list of rules that drivers must adhere to when competing, while the 1 refers to the top tier, or highest level of competition.

The first World Championship took place in 1950 under the direction of the FIA. The first race in the World Championship was the British Grand Prix at Silverstone on 13th May, 1950.

Grand Prix

Translated literally from French it means the ‘big prize’. GP racing began in 1906 and became the most popular type of motor racing internationally in the second half of the twentieth century. The annual World Championship is determined by drivers’ and teams’ performances at all of the year’s individual GPs starting from the Australian GP in March to the Abu Dhabi finale in November.



A tight, 180° bend common on many race tracks around the world. The most famous are the former Loews hairpin in Monaco, which is now known as the Grand Hotel hairpin, and La Source at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

International Court Of Appeal

The court of appeal is in place for Formula 1 teams who are unwilling to accept a ruling made by the racing commissioners. If this is the case, a declaration of intent must be submitted within an hour of the decision. In order to make the court’s ruling a legally-binding decision the presence of three judges is requested, none of which should be the same nationality as the parties involved.

Jump Start

This occurs when a driver moves off his grid position before the five red lights have been switched off to signal the start of the race. If the sensors detect premature movement, the driver will be penalised.


An extension to the bodywork below the nose cone, allowing the lower suspension arms to be attached to the car approximately parallel to the road. The growing use of high nose cone designs, allowing better airflow underneath the car, made the location of lower arms problematic. The three main designs are the single-keel, which uses one central extension, the twin-keel with one extension on each side, and the V-keel, a mixture of the two that uses two keels, which come together at a single point where the suspension is attached.



A single completed circuit around a racetrack. At Yas Marina Circuit, one lap is approximately 5.5km. After zipping around for 55 laps, the drivers will have covered nearly 305km.


To enter Formula 1, manufacturers must prove to FIA that they have designed and built their chassis. They are also obliged to compete in all the races in a particular season and prove that they possess the necessary technical and financial means to complete the season.


Nomex Alonso

A registered trademark for the artificial fibre that is used to create the drivers’ overalls. The material undergoes thermal testing in a lab, where it’s subjected to an open flame with a temperature of 300-400 deg C from a distance of three centimetres. The material will only be used if it fails to ignite within 10 seconds of contact. The drivers’ and pit crews’ underwear, socks and gloves are also made of Nomex for safety reasons.

Oldest Winner

Argentine driver Juan Manuel Fangio is the oldest winner of the Championship, taking his fourth successive title aged 46 in 1957.

Pit Stop


A stop a driver can take during a race where a team of mechanics replaces the tyres, although additional changes may occur such as adjustment of wing angles or fitting a new nose cone and front wing. However, in-race refuelling has been banned since 2010.


Formula One World Championship

The starting order for each GP is determined during qualifying rounds in the days leading up to the race. The driver with the fastest lap time qualifies for pole position. Currently, qualifying is divided into three sessions – Q1, Q2 and Q3 – with the slowest drivers dropping out at the end of each of the first two sessions before the top 10 is decided in the final session.

Record Holder

Michael Schumacher holds the record for the most World Championship wins with seven titles. Schumacher and Ferrari won an unprecedented five consecutive Drivers’ Championships in a row between 1999 and 2004 in a period of dominance at the turn of the century.

Safety Car


Used in situations where the driver safety is at risk, often after accidents, the car slows down the field bringing cars into formation to prevent further incidents. Officially introduced in 1993, following successful trials the previous year, the safety car also drives in front of the Formula 1 cars during the formation lap. As of 2015 the Mercedes AMG is used as the sport’s safety car.



Pirelli are the makers of Formula 1 tyres, of which over 38,000 were supplied in the 2014 season. The type of tyre used for each race is determined by the weather and track characteristics.

United Kingdom

Has produced more Championship winning drivers than any other nation with 16 championships shared between ten drivers: Mike Hawthorn (1), Graham Hill (2), Jim Clark (2), John Surtees (1), Jackie Stewart (3), James Hunt (1), Nigel Mansell (1), Damon Hill (1), Lewis Hamilton (3) and Jenson Button (1).


The FIA announced the intention to change the 2.4-litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre V6 turbo engines in 2014. Engines now include energy recovery systems and contain fuel flow restrictions in order to make Formula 1 more environmentally friendly. Engines are limited to 15,000 rpm, but rarely exceed 12,000 rpm.

World Champion

In Formula 1, two World Championship titles are awarded for drivers and constructors. For the drivers, the points won in all the GPs are added up. If several drivers have the same total, the title is determined by the final positions they achieved. In the constructors’ division, the points that both of the team’s drivers earn each race are added up.


Additional wings developed by the Tyrrell team, first used in 1997. The X-wings created high levels of downforce but for safety reasons, FIA banned them in 1998.

Yas Marina Circuit


Home to the final GP of the season, all eyes will be on the capital’s iconic track as the Formula 1 Championship comes to a close. Who will be in pole position?


A method of mounting the front suspension directly to the nose cone without the use of a suspension keel. This solution is aerodynamically optimal but complicates suspension design since it means the suspension arms are at an angle with respect to the road surface, reducing suspension efficiency.

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