What Is The Out Lap In Formula 1?
In Formula 1, an out lap is a lap in which drivers aren’t going at top speed, and it is usually just after they’ve exited the pit lane or at the start of a race or qualifying. These laps around the track serve an important purpose for cars and drivers, and differ between qualifying and the Grand Prix. Keep reading to learn more about the purpose of out laps in F1.
Why Are Out Laps Important?
In Formula 1, out laps are incredibly important. The primary purpose of an out lap is to generate enough heat in both the tires and the brakes before the cars start racing. If a Formula 1 car started racing without this warm up, the results could be disastrous. Cold tires have much less traction, and they take time and friction to heat up. Starting a race on cold tires significantly increases the risk of a crash.
Similarly, the brakes on Formula 1 race cars need to have a bit of heat introduced in order for them to work as efficiently as possible. Cold brakes have a far lesser ability to stop the car, which in Formula 1, seeing as the car often exceeds 200 miles per hour, can be quite a problem. That’s why during an out lap, you’ll often see drivers weaving across the track. This is a way to heat up the tires without degrading them too much. They’ll also use their brakes to heat them up, but not too much because overheated brakes can be dangerous as well.
Grand Prix Out Laps
In a Grand Prix, the out lap is performed just before the start of the race. It’s very common to see all 20 drivers weaving back and forth across the track throughout almost the entire duration of the out lap. This is to generate the proper amount of heat in their tires, which will allow for a faster start. The lap is also important because it allows drivers to get a feel for their car before the race begins and potentially diagnose any problems or weaknesses. When the out lap is finished, the drivers line up in their starting grid positions and wait for the Grand Prix to begin.
Out laps also occur mid-race, just after a pit stop. Although these out laps are slower than a typical lap, it is important for drivers to complete them as quickly as possible to avoid losing track position. Performing quality out laps in the middle of the race is a key to success in any Formula 1 Grand Prix. The faster a driver gets their tires up to temperature and their car up to speed, the sooner they can resume driving the car at its limit.
Qualifying Out Laps
Unlike the start of a Grand Prix, the qualifying session does not have a starting grid with all the cars lined up, starting at the same time. Rather, a qualifying session begins from each team’s garage, and they make their way onto the track when they’re ready. When they reach the track, they must take a lap before beginning their fast lap, which is also known as a flying lap. This first lap around the circuit out of the garage is also known as an out lap, and drivers similarly try to generate temperature in their brakes and tires, though they’re not allowed to weave across the racetrack.