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10 Crucial Things You Need To Know About Formula 1

It’s not just racing around in circles you know…

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1. Where it all began

Motor racing had been a popular sport well before the arrival of Formula 1, with the world championship being formed in 1950. It was contested over seven races and the drivers’ championship was won by Giuseppe Farina.

2. Under the bodywork


F1 cars may look pretty strange to casual viewers, with their unusual wings and sculpted bodywork for aerodynamics. But under the bodywork is a hugely complicated power unit, with six components helping power the cars to ridiculous speeds.

The core of this is the turbocharged 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged. There’s then an Energy Recovery System, which harnesses energy from braking and exhaust gasses to produce more power. This energy is all housed in an electric battery – so these cars are most definitely hybrids.

3. Around the track

A race track is pretty simple, really. It’s a closed course containing a mix of straights and corners. In American single-seater racing like IndyCar, they race on ovals (literally a course shaped like an oval). But in F1 the tracks are all unique, different and full of tight, twisty and sometimes ferociously fast corners. 21 races are on the 2016 schedule – the most of any F1 season.

4. Drivers and teams’ titles

Since the very first F1 season in 1950, there has been a drivers’ championship where points throughout the year have been added together. The driver with the most, obviously, won the title. It wasn’t until 1958 that a constructors’ championship was introduced for teams, with the combination of points from drivers deciding the crown.

5. Race distances


Each race has to last almost the same distance, with the regulations setting it at 305 kilometres. The length of the track will decide the number of laps each race is. But despite the distance being almost identical, race times can differ depending on the speed of the circuit, weather conditions and interruptions. No race can exceed two hours though.

6. Slowing things down

Sometimes races can be interrupted while incidents or debris are cleared from the track, or due to extreme weather conditions. The safety car can appear in more extreme cases, with a Mercedes AMG GT sports car leading the field around at a slower pace.

The Virtual Safety Car was introduced recently and gives drivers a delta speed to keep, while marshals are clearing certain parts of the track. This will usually be accompanied by yellow flags, which are used to warn drivers to slow down ahead.

7. In the design


F1 drivers wear helmets for head protection. These have special designs for each driver, but they can only be changed once per year and they have to get permission from the series’ governing body, the FIA, to do so. F1 race car liveries rarely change during the season. Both cars have to look the same and the colours are usually decided by title sponsor or the brand colours of the team – for example, Ferrari has always been red.

8. Points


Each race in F1 has the same points system, with only the top 10 scoring. Drivers and teams collect points, which are the only deciding factor in the two championship – as these are worth a huge amount of money depending on where a team finishes, points mean prizes! Here’s the points system:

1st – 25, 2nd – 18, 3rd – 15, 4th – 12, 5th – 10, 6th – 8, 7th – 6, 8th – 4, 9th – 2, 10th – 1.

9. Fun with flags

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There are quite a few different flags in F1. The chequered flag means the end of the race, obviously. Yellow flags warn a driver to slow down and red flags signal the race is being stopped. The white flag states a slow moving vehicle is ahead. Some flags will be accompanied by a number.

Blue flags are used for lapped drivers let faster drivers through. Yellow and red striped signals a slippery track ahead, black and orange instructs a driver to pit, half black/half white warns a driver of dangerous driving and the black flag tells a driver they have been disqualified.

10. Race weekend format


The weekend format is spread over three days. Thursday is used for media day, so the on-track action begins on Friday with two 90-minute practice sessions. On Saturday there is a further 60-minute practice session and then qualifying.

Three segments decide the grid with drivers setting their fastest times. The slowest six drivers drop out in the first two and the top 10 then battle for pole position. The races, limited to 350 kilometres and two hours, take place on Sunday – usually in the afternoon but sometimes the evening under floodlights.

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