Safety Car: The course vehicle that is called from the pits to run in front of the leading car in the race in the event of a problem that requires the cars to be slowed. Scrutineering: The technical checking of cars by the officials to ensure that none are outside the regulations. Sectors: For timing purposes laps are split into three sections of about a third of the lap each. These sections are officially known as Sector 1, Sector 2 and Sector 3.Shakedown: A brief test when a team is trying a different car part for the first time before going back out to drive at 100 percent.Slipstreaming: A tactic whereby a driver catches the car ahead and ducks in behind to benefit from a reduction in drag over its body to achieve superior speed and slingshot past it before the next corner.Splash and Dash: A pit stop in the closing laps of the race when a driver calls in for just a few litres of fuel to be sure of making it to the finish.Stop-Go Penalty: A penalty given that involves the driver calling at his pit and stopping for 10 seconds with no re-fuelling or tire changing allowed.Tear-off strips: See-through plastic strips that drivers affix to their helmet’s visor before the start of the race and then remove as they become dirty.Telemetry: A system that beams data related to the engine and chassis to computers in the pit garage so that team engineers can monitor that car’s behavior.Torque: The turning or twisting force of an engine, it is is generally used as a measure of an engine’s flexibility. Good torque is particularly vital on circuits with a number of mid- to slow-speed turns, where acceleration out of the corners is essential to a good lap time.Traction: The degree to which a car is able to transfer its power onto the track surface from its tires.Traction control: A computerized system that detects and monitors traction. Turbulence: The result of the disruption of airflow caused by an interruption to its passage, such as when it hits a rear wing and its horizontal flow is spoiled.Tire compound: The type of rubber mix used in the construction of a tires, ranging from soft through medium to hard, with each offering a different performance and wear characteristic.Understeer: A condition when the front end of the car doesn’t want to turn into a corner and slides wide as the driver tries to turn in towards the apex.
Over Steer: When a car’s rear end doesn’t want to go around a corner and tries to overtake the front end as the driver turns in towards the apex.
Paddles: Levers on either side of the back of a steering wheel with which a driver changes up and down the gearbox.
Paddock: An enclosed area behind the pits in which the teams keep their transporters and motor homes. There is no admission to the public.
Pit Board: A board held out on the pit wall to inform a driver of his race position, the time interval to the car ahead or the one behind, plus the number of laps of the race remaining.
Pit Wall: Where the team owner, managers and engineers spend the race, usually under an awning to keep sun and rain off their monitors.
Pits: An area of track separated from the start/finish straight by a wall, where the cars are brought for new tires and fuel during the race, or for set-up changes in practice, each stopping at their respective pit garages.
Plank: A hard wooden strip (also known as a skid block) that is fitted front-to-back down the middle of the underside of all cars to check that they are not being run too close to the track surface, something that is apparent if the wood is excessively worn.
Pole Position: The first place on the starting grid, as awarded to the driver who recorded the fastest lap time in qualifying.
Protest: An action lodged by a team when it considers that another team or competitor has transgressed the rules.
Retirement: When a car has to drop out of the race because of an accident or mechanical failure.
Ride height: The height between the track’s surface and the floor of the car.
Flat spot: The term given to the area of a tire that is worn heavily on one spot after a moment of extreme braking or in the course of a spin. This can ruin its handling and often cause severe vibration which may ultimately force a driver to pit for a replacement set of tires. Formation Lap: The lap before the start of the race when the cars are driven round from the grid to form up on the grid again for the start of the race. This is also sometimes referred to as the warm-up lap or parade lap.G-force: A physical force equivalent to one unit of gravity that is multiplied during rapid changes of direction or velocity. Drivers experience severe G-forces as they corner, accelerate and brake.Graining: When a car slides, it can cause little bits or rubber (or ‘grains’) to break away from the tire’s grooves which then stick to the tread of the tire. For the driver, the effect is like driving on ball bearings; however, careful driving can clear the graining within a few laps, but will still have an effect on the driver’s pace. Gravel Trap: A bed of gravel on the outside of corners designed with the aim of bringing cars that fall off the circuit to a complete halt.Grip: The amount of traction a car has at any given point which affects how easy it is for the driver to keep control through corners.Installation Lap: A lap done on arrival at a circuit to test functions such as throttle, brakes and steering before heading back to the pits without crossing the finish line.Jump Start: When a driver moves off his grid position before the five red lights have been switched off to signal the start. Sensors detect premature movement and a jump start results in a penalty.Left-foot braking: A style of braking made popular in the 1990s following the arrival of hand clutches so that drivers could keep their right foot on the throttle.Lollipop: The sign on a stick held in front of the car during a pit stop to inform the driver to apply the brakes and then to engage first gear prior to the car being lowered from its jacks.Marshal: A course official who oversees the safe running of the race. Marshals have several roles to fill including observing the spectators to ensure they do not endanger themselves or the competitors, acting as fire wardens, helping to remove stranded cars/drivers from the track and using waving flags to signal the condition of the track to drivers.
Aerodynamics: The study and application of airflow over and around an object. Apex: The middle point of the inside line around a corner at which drivers aim their cars. Ballast: The weights fixed around the car to maximize its balance and bring it up to the minimum weight limit. Bargeboard: The piece of bodywork mounted vertically between the front wheels and the start of the side pods to help smooth the airflow around the sides of the car. Blistering: The consequence of a tire, or part of a tire, overheating. Blistering can be caused by the selection of an inappropriate tire compound (for example, one that is too soft for circuit conditions), too high tire pressure, or an improperly set up car. Bottoming: When a car’s chassis hits the track surface as it runs through a sharp compression and reaches the bottom of its suspension travel. Brake balance: A switch in the cockpit to alter the split of the car’s braking power between the front and the rear wheels according to a driver’s wishes. Chicane: A tight sequence of corners in alternate directions. Usually inserted into a circuit to slow the cars and often just prior to what had been a high-speed corner.Clean air: Air that isn’t turbulent, and thereby offers optimum aerodynamic conditions.Compound: Tread compound is the part of any tire in contact with the road and therefore Read more…