What is Formula 1?

formula 1

Formula 1 is the premier automobile racing series in the world. The name refers to the rules established by the International Automobile Federation, which all participants and cars must comply with. Formula 1 is a global endeavor, with a season of more than 20 races in all corners of the globe. Formula 1 drivers also come from different parts of the world, making it a very popular sport worldwide. F1 cars are some of the fastest in the sports world, making every race exciting and fun to watch. F1 has plenty of loyal fans who are passionate about the sport, its teams, and their drivers.

History

formula 1 history

The first Formula 1 race took place in 1950, in Silverstone, England, with a driver's world championship being held for the first time that same year. At the time, Formula 1 racing was not as safe nor glamorous as it is today. A total of 13 drivers were killed during the first 10 seasons. While the excitement that comes from speed and Formula 1 racing has not changed since 1950, safety certainly has. The single-most important advancements throughout F1 history have been those that made the sport safer, such as improved cockpits, the HANS System, and better helmets and flameproof gear. Thanks to these advancements, Formula 1 is still as popular and as strong today as it ever was.

Playing Surface

formula 1 racetracks and circuits

Formula 1 races take place on asphalt tracks. The season is composed of many racing weekends, which are all on different race tracks or circuits. Every Formula 1 racecourse is different from the others: they all have different turns, elevations, widths, formats, formats, challenges, and fast points, and thus, no single race is like the other. Making Formula 1 even more interesting, circuits are either race tracks or street circuits, which are regular streets adapted to receive a Formula 1 race. One of the most well-known street circuits in motorsports is the Monaco Circuit, a glamorous and traditional Grand Prix to which fans, drivers, teams, and anyone in F1 looks forward every season.

Equipment

formula 1 equipment list

Formula 1 equipment is amongst the most technologically advanced in sports. To make cars perform as fast as they can, and to be sure the drivers are safe inside those cars, Formula 1 teams invest a lot of money in developing their equipment. Here are a few of the essential pieces of equipment in F1:

  • Formula 1 Car
  • Tires
  • Seatbelts
  • Tire Blankets
  • Gloves
  • Fireproof Racing Suit
  • Overalls
  • Helmet
  • HANS System
  • Racing Shoes

Gameplay

Formula 1 Gameplay

A Formula 1 race is fast, exciting, and unpredictable. Depending on which circuit the race is, drivers will drive for a number of predetermined laps, trying to overtake each other and cross the finish line in the best position possible. F1 races end at the finish of the first lap in which the distance of the race surpasses 305 kilometers. If that distance is not covered within two hours, the race ends on the next lap. At the end of the final lap, the first driver to cross the finish line is the winner. With that type of competition at such a high speed, mistakes cannot happen. However, they often do, and it is not unusual that there are accidents on the track, which can completely change a race. In addition, Formula 1 also goes on independent of the weather, and races in the rain can be extra entertaining.

Grand Prix Weekend

Formula 1 Grand Prix Weekend

A Formula 1 event takes up a whole weekend, which ends with a two-hour race on Sunday. Teams and drivers start arriving at the race site on Thursday, getting ready for the work of the next few days. On Friday, drivers have an open practice, where they get on track and test their cars. Open practices are open to the public, and fans can go to the track to take a first look at their favorite drivers. On Saturday, qualifying sessions take place, where, based on their lap times, drivers decide the starting order for the race the next day. On Sunday, the Grand Prix happens, and the weekend ends with the top three finishers celebrating on the podium with champagne. 

Rules and Regulations

Formula 1 Rules and Regulations

Formula 1 is considered to be quite a dangerous sport. In addition, any little engineering change can give a team a lot of advantage over others. Therefore, there are a lot of rules that refer to safety, car regulation, and on-track behavior that must be followed by drivers and teams. Take a look at some of the most important rules and regulations in F1:

Maximum Weight, Width, Height

Formula 1 teams must construct their cars to be above a minimum weight, as well as complying with a specified width and height. The exact specifications vary from season to season.

Refueling

Although it was allowed in the past, cars are not allowed to refuel during a race, and thus must start the race with full tanks. Each car is engineered to carry enough fuel to travel the entire distance of a two-hour race.

Flags

During a Formula 1 race, drivers can have flags of different colors waved at them. Each flag has a different meaning. The most common flags are the yellow flag, which means there has been an accident, and thus no overtaking is allowed, and the blue flag, which means that the top cars in the grid are about to lap the slowest ones and they must move aside for that to happen.

Parc Fermé

After their cars are out in qualifying laps, teams cannot make any significant changes to the cars, including engine changes, gearbox, brakes, and others. If prohibited changes are made, teams get grid penalties, and their race start position is worse than it would originally have been. Parc fermé (“closed park”) rules are in place from the beginning of qualifying to the end of the post-race inspection, called scrutineering.  

Penalties

Depending on their behavior on the track, drivers can be awarded penalties by race officials. Things such as cutting corners to gain an advantage, causing collisions, and speeding in the pit lane will cause drivers and teams to receive penalties. Those vary from five seconds added to the final race time to a mandatory pit entrance and can go all the way up to disqualification from the race.

Referees and Officials

Formula 1 Referees and Officials

The officials who enforce the rules and apply penalties in Formula 1 are called the stewards, who work under the race director. Together, they analyze the race and any incidents that may happen, and judge if any rules were broken and whether penalties should be applied. There are no fixed stewards; they change from race to race. It has happened many times that after the end of a race, stewards apply penalties, and thus drivers can lose positions, points, and even trophies. In all, stewards have a lot of power in Formula 1. 

Lingo and Terminology

Formula 1 Lingo and Terminology

Formula 1 is full of terms and lingo that may sound odd to those who don't follow motorsports. In addition, there are a lot of engineering terms that are used to describe cars and their performance. Here are some common F1-related terms and lingo and their meanings:

  • Blistering: When tires overheat, blisters are formed in them. Blistering is not good, it means the tire is worn out, and thus, traction is being lost.
  • Chassis: The frame of the car, to which the engine and suspension are attached.
  • Chicanes: A sequence of turns in opposite directions, chicanes are present in most F1 circuits.
  • DNF: Means Did Not Finish, when a driver cannot finish the race.
  • Drag: Resistance experienced by cars when moving forward. Drag slows cars down.
  • DRS: The Drag Reduction System is an adjustable rear wing, which reduces drag and increases speed. DRS is used during overtaking in permitted zones.
  • HANS System: The HANS (Head and Neck Support) System protects a driver’s head and neck during crashes, reducing impact and force upon these sensitive areas.
  • Lock Up: When a driver breaks abruptly, locking the wheels.
  • Paddock: This is the area behind the pit area, in which drivers, team members, and known personalities stay. Teams also keep their motorhomes and offices there.
  • Pits: An area separated from the track, where teams' garages are. During the race, drivers come into the pits for stops where they change tires.
  • Pole Position: The first position in the starting grid.
  • Safety car: A vehicle that is deployed when there is an incident that requires that cars stop racing. The safety car comes in front of the first driver and dictates the speed.

Skills and Techniques

Formula 1 Skills and Techniques

Being a Formula 1 driver is no easy task. It takes years of learning, experience, and adaptability to get to the highest level of car racing. To be a Formula 1 driver, you first need to be fearless and be able to perform under high speed and pressure. Formula 1 drivers also have to have superior reflexes, knowing when to brake and steer. In addition to that, understanding the car and knowing how to adjust it is a big part of being a driver. With that also comes another necessary skill, communicating well with the team and the engineers, being able to tell them how the car is behaving on the track and why. Naturally, knowing the tracks well (their best braking points, steering points, and overtaking points) is also important when it comes to techniques.

Formula 1 Coaching

Formula 1 Coaching

Unlike most sports, Formula 1 drivers do not have coaches that help them improve. Coaches are simply not part of the Formula 1 world or culture. Still, drivers have a team of people that work to help them perform better on the track, including conditioning coaches, psychologists, engineers, strategists, and special advisors, which are usually former celebrated drivers. Some of the most well-known special advisors in Formula 1 are Nikki Lauda, Alain Prost, and Michale Schumacher, who are also some of the best drivers in history.

Formula 1 Strategy

Formula 1 Strategy

Strategy is crucial to having a good Formula 1 race weekend. In fact, F1 teams have personnel whose entire job is to take care of the strategy, the strategists. Strategy in Formula 1 involves having a knowledge of the car and how it performs on each track, doing mathematical calculations, and thinking about probabilities. Strategists have to decide how to set up the car aerodynamically, which tires to use, and when and how many times to pit. Teams start thinking about strategies for every scenario possible in advance of a race so that on race day, they can adapt their strategy as seamlessly as possible to the conditions. Still, things during the race, such as incidents, rain, and safety can all impact a team's strategy.

Formula 1 Drills

Formula 1 Drills

Formula 1 drivers are elite athletes. Inside the cars, they are under a lot of pressure and g-force. In a race, the driver's neck, shoulder, and core are very tense and tight. Therefore, drivers do drills that focus on endurance and strength, mainly the upper body. When it comes to driving, drivers don't really do drills, but rather when they are not practicing in the cars, they are driving inside technologically advanced, life-like simulators. 

Formula 1 Drivers

Formula 1 Drivers

Formula 1 drivers are like celebrities. They are part of the glamor and luxury that comes with the sport, and many fans look up to them. However, this doesn't mean that they are any less competitive or that they are not elite athletes. Some drivers have made their marks on Formula 1 and in fans' hearts, both for their wins on the track and personalities off of it. Check out some of the best drivers in F1 history:

Formula 1 DriverWorld Titles
Michael Schumacher7
Lewis Hamilton7
Ayrton Senna3
Juan Manuel Fangio5
Nikki Lauda3
Sebastian Vettel4

Formula 1 Leagues

Formula 1 Leagues

There are not really any Formula 1 leagues, but rather, Formula 1 is a league in itself. F1 is sanctioned and overseen by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), which is the global motorsport governing body. There are three lower series of open-wheel racing that function as driver development for Formula 1. They are Formula 2, Formula 3, and Formula E. The FIA also sanctions other types of racing competitions such as endurance and rally racing. While each country might have its own motorsport racing competitions, there is only one global Formula 1.

Formula 1 Teams

Formula 1 Teams

Throughout Formula 1 history, many teams have come and gone. The financial side of the sport makes it really hard for some teams to be competitive or to stay racing for long. Nonetheless, there are Formula 1 teams who have a history of success in the sport and have been on the grid for many years. The most successful teams in recent years have been Mercedes, Scuderia Ferrari, and Red Bull Racing. There are usually 10 teams who participate in a Formula 1 season, although that number has been both higher and lower at times. Below there are a few teams that have been or were part of F1 for a significant time, and have left their marks on the sport:

  • Scuderia Ferrari
  • Mercedes AMG Petronas
  • Red Bull Racing
  • McLaren Racing
  • Alpine (Renault)
  • Williams Racing
  • Lotus F1

Formula 1 Brands

Formula 1 Brands

Many brands are associated with Formula 1. To begin with, teams are brands themselves; many teams are also car manufacturers and use Formula 1 as a way to market themselves. In addition, teams and F1 itself have lots of sponsors who pay a lot of money for their brands to be associated with the sport. Drivers are also sponsored by brands, which provide them with racing gear and endorsement deals. Check out a few of the brands that are associated with F1:

BRANDCATEGORY
FerrariCar Manufacturer
MercedesCar Manufacturer
Puma Gear and clothing
PirelliTire manufacturer
ShellOil and Gas
RolexLuxury Watches
AlpinestarsRacing Gear

Formula 1 Tournaments

Formula 1 Tournaments

In a Formula 1 season, there are basically two championships for which teams and drivers compete, the driver's championship and the constructor's championship. The top ten finishers in each Grand Prix are awarded points based on their position. At the season's end, the driver who has the most points wins the Drivers World Championship, the ultimate prize. As for the Constructor championships, the team whose drivers have the most points summed up takes home the title of Constructors World Champions. 

Formula 1 Books and Movies

With a rich history, lots of drama, interesting characters, and cool stories; there is a lot of great Formula 1 content out there. Books and movies are widely popular, well-produced, and overall just very fun to watch and read. Some of the best F1 content is listed below:

BOOKAUTHOR
Total CompetitionRoss Brawn and Adam Parr
To Hell and Back: An AutobiographyNikki Lauda
The Mechanic's TaleSteve Matchett
Life to The LimitJenson Button
MOVIETYPE
“Rush”Motion picture based on the real-life rivalry between Nikki Lauda and James Hunt during the 1980s.
“Senna”Documentary about the life and impact of Ayrton Senna, one of the greatest drivers ever who had his life cut short in 1994 during a race.
“Drive To Survive”Netflix-produced show about the behind-the-scenes of a Formula 1 season.

FAQ

What is Formula 1?

Formula 1 (or just F1) is the highest and most prestigious series of open-wheel auto racing. Formula 1 racing features high-tech race cars that are built to meet a number of requirements. Each car is designed to reach approximately 1,000 horsepower, making a Formula 1 car dramatically faster than a conventional race car. Moreover, F1 cars are extremely aerodynamic, containing turbocharged engines and hybrid systems that gather heat energy throughout the race and allow for short bursts of extreme speed.

How much does a Formula 1 car cost?

A complete Formula 1 car costs around $15 million. Teams spend a lot of money developing their cars, which gives an advantage to richer and bigger teams. While big teams such as Mercedes and Ferrari used to spend up to $400 million, a cost cap now sets the maximum that a team can spend on building and developing cars at $145million per year.

How much horsepower does a Formula One car have?

The amount of HorsePower (HP) in a car varies depending on which engine the car uses. Different manufacturers provide different engines to teams, and some develop their own. A formula 1 car has around 1,000 HP.

Why is it called Formula 1?

The formula in Formula 1 refers to the set of rules and regulations that govern this series of car racing. 1 comes because it is the highest class, the one where all drivers want to get. Other Formula series like F2 and F3 have similar rules and car formats, but they are considered lesser series.

How fast do Formula 1 cars go?

Formula 1 cars can go up to around 200 mph in qualifying and a little less in a race. The top speed achieved by a Formula 1 car happened in 2005, when Juan Pablo Montoya reached 231 mph in his car.