If you’re new to the sport of Formula 1, what better way to be introduced to some of the terminology you’re about to hear than a handy A to Z glossary of F1 common phrases and expressions?
A is for Aero
Aerodynamics are a critical part of the design of a Formula 1 car. How the car balances using the air it’s passing through to generate downforce in order to corner quicker, while at the same time piercing it efficiently enough to still travel quickly in a straight line without unnecessary ‘drag’.
B is for Bargeboard
The largest part of aerodynamic furniture on the side of a Formula 1 car, designed to guide air around the bodywork of the car behind it so that it can be reused elsewhere to create more downforce or cooling.
See also: ‘box box, box box’ and ‘Blue flags!’
C is for circuit
The tracks around which Formula 1 Grand Prix are held. Typically permanent closed circuits in non-built up areas (Monza, Silverstone, Suzuka or Spa), or street circuits (Singapore, Monaco and Baku).
See also: ‘Yep, we saw it – we’ve told Charlie’ and ‘Champaaaagne…’
D is for DRS
DRS is a controversial device designed to help promote overtaking at a time when, as a result of complex aerodynamics, Formula 1 cars created lots of disturbed air in their wake making it difficult for cars behind to get close enough to think about overtaking.
When a car is within a second of the car in front of it, its driver has the option of opening a flap on the rear wing on a pre-designated stretch of track, reducing drag created by his rear wing, speeding his car up and allowing him to pass.
Many people argue that it’s artificial racing and because it makes passing in DRS zones so easy that drivers hold off attempting to pass elsewhere instead opting to overtake risk free in a straight line with DRS.
However, it’s better than the alternative, which is no overtaking.
E is for Eau Rouge
Possibly the most iconic corner on any circuit anywhere in the world and loved by drivers and fans alike Eau Rouge is a flat out kink at the on the Spa Francorchamps circuit, venue for the Belgian Grand Prix.
“You come into the corner downhill, have a sudden change [of direction] at the bottom and then go very steep uphill. From the cockpit, you cannot see the exit and as you come over the crest, you don’t know where you will land. It is a crucial corner for the timed lap, and also in the race, because you have a long uphill straight afterwards where you can lose a lot of time if you make a mistake. But it is also an important corner for the driver’s feeling. It makes a special impression every lap, because you also have a compression in your body as you go through the bottom of the corner. It is very strange – but good fun as well.” according to Fernando Alonso.
F is for Ferrari
THE most historic and iconic Formula 1 team of all time bar none. Around since the inception of F1 in 1950, it has the most wins, most pole positions, most championships, most fastest laps…
Every driver would love to drive for Ferrari at some point in their career.
Ferrari know their importance to the sport of Formula 1 and so they have been known to play politics in order to engineer themselves some kind of advantage.
G is for G-force
G-force is the force of gravity applied to an object which increases with acceleration, deceleration and alteral movement. The effect on a stationary body is 1g which is multiplied when external forces are applied.
H is for Hamilton
Formula 1’s undoubted A-Lister. Five times world champion Lewis Hamilton has won half of the races since the advent of the current 1.6 litre turbo era of Formula 1 five years ago.
Love him or hate him, in the car he’s as mesmeric a driver as there has ever been. Out of the car, his extra-curricular activities – fashion designing, music recording, celebrity befriending, social media exploiting – annoy some F1 traditionalists (wrongly in my opinion).
Hamilton is on-course to become the sport’s most successful driver by the time he retires in three or four years.
I is for ICE
ICE stands for ‘Internal combustion engine’ or in old F1 parlance, just ‘engine’. In modern F1 turbo-hybrid power units, the ICE is just one of the components of the PU (power unit) along with the MGU-K, MGU-H, energy store (the battery) and the turbocharger.
J is for Jump Start
When a driver is so eager to get cracking with the race he moves before all five lights go out and receives an inevitable ten second penalty. Not recommeded.
K is for Kubica
Poland’s Robert Kubica was tipped for F1 greatness before he was seriously injured in a rally in Andorra in 2011 forcing him to quit Formula 1, seemingly for good. But after testing for his old team Renault in 2017, he joined Williams as reserve driver for 2018 which led to a full time drive in 2019 after a hiatus of eight years – the longest in F1 history.
One of the most popular drivers in F1 with massive support from his native Poland and beyond.
L is for ‘Lights out and away we go’
A phrase coined by Sky Sports’ David Croft and now used to signal the start of every Formula 1 Grand Prix.
M is for Monaco
Often referred to ‘the jewel in F1’s crown’ the street race around the principality of Monaco has been a ubiquitous presence on the Formula 1 calendar since day 1.
Monaco’s tax-haven status and its location on the French Riviera ensure that its annual Grand Prix is packed with A-listers and other beautiful, non A-list people, despite there being little racing to speak of during any of its 76 F1 races.
Tellingly, Monaco is the only Grand Prix on the F1 calendar that doesn’t pay to host their race.
See also: Monza, Mansell
N is for Newey
Adrian Newey is widely regarded as the most gifted Formula 1 car designer there has ever been. Spells with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull have yielded nineteen World Championships.
O is for Overtaking
What all fans want to see. Cars passing each other. Outside, inside, left, right – it doesn’t matter. We get a fluttery feeling in our tummies when we see it. More please!
P is for Podium
Where the triumphant top three drivers, and a representative of the winning team go directly after a Grand Prix to receive their trophies, to hear their national anthems and to liberally spray Champagne over each other and their crews assembled beneath.
Last experienced by a Williams driver in 2017 when Lance Stroll finished third in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Q is for Quali
Qualifying. The three short sessions (18 minutes, 15 minutes and 12 minutes) that take place on Saturday afternoon that determine the order of the grid for Sundays Grand Prix.
After the first session (Q1) the slowest five drivers are eliminated, a further five in the second session (Q2) leaving the fastest ten drivers to compete for pole position in Q3.
R is for Red Bull
Energy drinks company Red Bull bought the Jaguar F1 team at the end of 2004, since when they’ve invested an enormous amount of money into their eponymous F1 teams (they acquired Minardi in 2005 to create a B-Team, Toro Rosso – Italian for Red Bull), enjoying a great deal of success winning eight titles between 2010 and 2013.
S is for Senna
Ayrton Senna, who made his F1 debut in 1984 with Toleman and killed whilst leading the infamous 1994 San Marino Grand Prix driving for Williams is the most deified Formula 1 driver of all time, particularly in his native Brazil.
His blistering speed and will to win at all cost attitude earned him three World Championship titles and transformed Formula 1 both in the attitudes and commitment of the drivers who followed in his footsteps but also the technical legacy his death left in compelling the FIA to update the regulations ensuring F1 cars were safer in future.
See also: Schumacher
T is for Tifosi
The name for Ferrari fans worldwide, but notably in Italy, where they are intensely passionate about their beloved Scuderia.
Unwavering in their support, they can be blinkered and have been known to be quite difficult to please.
U is for Undercut
An undercut is when two drivers are competing on track, the second of the two pits first for fresh tyres ahead of his rival knowing that his out-lap on the new tyres will be quicker than his rival is able to do on worn tyres, and that by the time they resume their battle having both pitted their positions will be reversed.
V is for Vettel
Four times Formula 1 World champion with Red Bull and current Ferrari Formula 1 driver. Won with such regularity in the four years between 2010 and 2013 that fans would boo him on the podium.
W is for Williams
The Williams F1 team is Britain’s most successful (in terms of constructors championships) Formula 1 team, with a proud history in Formula 1 stretching back 42 years and winners of 114 races and 16 F1 titles.
X is for
X-Wing. Not the Star Wars fighter craft, the 1997 Tyrrell 025 (you know the one!) that featured an unusual pair of winglets above the sidepods, attached to the body of the car via diagonal struts that resembled an X from the front.
Well it was either that, Xylophone or X-ray!
Y is for Yellow flag
One of the most important and oft-used flags in Formula 1, designed to alert drivers that there has been an accident ahead and they are to proceed with caution.
Along with blue flags (allow the car behind to lap you), red flag (session stopped), green flag (session is go/yellow flag zone is over), black flags (driver disqualified), yellow and red flags (slippery surface) and a few other lesser seen flags, they provide an effective means of communicating with drivers when their immediate attention is required.
Z is for Zandvoort
The venue for the next Grand Prix to be added to the F1 calendar? Rising star Max Verstappen attracts Dutch fans in their thousands to Grand Prix across the world. It seems the logical step to give these crazy Dutch fans their own F1 race.
Zandvoort was the scene of 34 Grand Prix in the past, the last being in 1985 and the FIA have already completed an inspection in order to advise the owners of the circuit what is required to make it FIA Grade 1 standard, making it F1 worthy.