Discovering Formula 1

Formula One (also known as Formula 1 or F1) is the most prestigious and highest class of single-seat auto racing in the world. Formula One stands at the technological pinnacle in the world of motorsport. It is governed and sanctioned by Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) based in France. The cars used in this racing are extremely fast, aerodynamic, lightweight and are generally considered to be most difficult to master in the racing world. It’s also the most intense, richest, most political and most difficult racing challenge in the world. Most of the world’s finest drivers are either present or desire to be there, and the same goes for the best engineers, designers, and so on.


Why is it known as Formula One?


The reason is rooted in the history. During earlier times (around the 1930s), the governing body of motorsport began imposing certain limitations and standards on the set-up of the racing cars in terms of weight, power, and size. Only those cars fulfilling the “formula” of rules could contest. So the word “Formula” in Formula 1 refers to a set of guidelines to which all cars and participants and must conform to and was originally known as Formula A. The new set of rules framed immediately after World War II were given the label of “Formula One”. This name is stuck ever since.


General Rules and Regulations


Formula One racing is highly regulated. It is governed by specific formulas (or rules), which defines exactly how a race must be run and how the cars must be configured. The Formula 1 rules might be divided into two categories:

* Sporting Regulations – which covers all the aspects and requirements of running a race beginning from how a race is to be started and how it is to be concluded and everything else in between.

* Technical Regulations – which specify particular details about major systems of the car, which includes the engine, suspension, and transmission.

Through this article, we shall be looking at some of the technical and sporting regulations and details more closely.


Cars in Formula One


Just like any other car owned for personal use, Formula 1 cars use the internal combustion engines, and they do have suspensions and transmissions, brakes and wheels. But the F1 cars are not meant for casual driving. This is because everything in them is tooled and tweaked for the purpose of speed. On an average, during racing, the speed of these cars range from 100-150 mph and sometimes more than that.


Let us have a look at some of the major systems of a Formula One car.


* Chassis:

The chassis might be considered as the heart of F1 racing. It is the part onto which everything is attached or bolted. The whole body of an F1 car is constructed out of a single piece of material. This type of construction is known as monocoque – which is a French word meaning “single shell”. The material used is strong composite like a carbon fiber layered over an aluminum mesh, which is both lightweight and strong enough to bear the massive downward-acting forces that are produced as the vehicle races through the air.


* Engine and Fuel:

Currently, the F1 cars are powered by 1.6 liter V6 (turbocharged) engine. This new change was brought about in 2014. Prior to 2013, 3-liter V10 engines were used and before 2006, 2.4-liter V8 engines were used. Though, the output fell down with the change in the rule, the F1 cars can still produce around 900 horsepower. As the engine runs at very high revolution rates in order to generate the high power, they have to be replaced after running for about 500 miles. The engine is powered by a fuel which is produced by blending around 50 different fuels. No power boosting additives are allowed to be mixed with the fuel. In fact, the fuel blend must be referred to the sport’s governing body (FIA), for authorization of its physical properties and composition.


* Aerodynamics and Transmission:

After having a powerful engine, aerodynamics plays a vital role during racing. This is because, a car moving at very high speed must be able to increase the downforce and reduce the air resistance. That’s the reason why the F1 cars are wide and low to decrease air resistance. A diffuser (located just beneath the engine), wings, barge boards (located just behind the front wheels) and end plates increase the down-force.

The work of a transmission is to transfer all of the engine’s power to the rear wheels of the F1 car. The transmission is attached directly to the back of the engine. Unlike a normal car with a manual transmission, the F1 car drivers select gears using paddles positioned just behind the steering wheel.


* Tires, Brakes, and Suspension:

The tires and brakes are also the most important parts and their quality is also highly regulated. The tires are made of soft rubber compounds which adhere to the road on heating up during racing and deliver massive gripping power. A tire generally lasts up to around 125 miles after which it is replaced. For braking, disc brakes are used which must stop vehicles traveling at a speed more than 150 mph. Carbon fiber discs and pads are being used currently. The F1 cars also feature double suspension which helps in maximizing the friction between the tires and the surface.


The Formula 1 Racing Team


The formula One racing team consists of the team boss, a commercial director, a technical director, chief aerodynamicist, chief designer, chief of R&D and the drivers and other support staff. A team might be owned by a company or an individual. Each F1 team has two drivers.

Some of the top Formula 1 teams and their drivers include:

* Mercedes – Drivers are Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg

* Ferrari – Drivers are Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen

* Red Bull Racing – Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat

* McLaren – Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button

* Lotus – Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado


Formula One Racing Season and the Point System


A single F1 season consists of a series of races, or Grand Prix, held on circuits across the globe. The results of each of the races are combined and analyzed to determine two annual championships as stated below.

* Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship – celebrating the individual performance

* Formula 1 drivers’ Championship – celebrating the team performance

The champions for a given season is decided by using the point system. The driver earns the points based on his position in each race and the driver with most points is crowned the champion.

At the finish of each Grand Prix, the top 10 finishers are awarded points towards both the constructors’ and drivers’ world championships. The points are awarded according to the following scale:

1st – 25 points

2nd – 18 points

3rd – 15 points

4th – 12 points

5th – 10 points

6th – 8 points

7th – 6 points

8th – 4 points

9th – 2 points

10th – 1 point

The winners of each Grand Prix receive a trophy. A Championship trophy is awarded to the Constructor and the driver at the end of the season.


Flags in F1 Grand Prix & their meaning


* Checkered flag – Indicates the end of the race

* Red flag – Indicates that the race has been stopped

* Yellow flag – Indicates danger on the track

* Green flag – Indicates that the track is clear

* Blue flag – Demonstrated to a driver about to be lapped

* White flag – Indicates that a slow-moving vehicle is on the track or can also indicate one lap to go

* Slippery track flag – Implies a slippery track

* Unsportsmanlike behavior flag – Warning to the driver for foul behavior

* Black flag – Directs the driver back to the pits for a penalty


Unlike most of the other racing classes, Formula One isn’t just about the rivalry between the drivers. It’s about competition between the cars, too. There is also a battle to provide better technology between the teams. It is touted to be among the most popular sports in the world with a huge number of spectators and fans around the world.