Table Of Contents
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This is a glossary of some of the most commonly used terms in the sport of Formula One.


A[edit | edit source]

Aerodynamics[edit | edit source]

The study of air movement over and around objects.

Airbox[edit | edit source]

The engine air intake, located above the driver's head. This part of the car also serves as the roll hoop which protects the driver if the car overturns.

Apex[edit | edit source]

The innermost point of the racing line around a corner, where the racing line meets the inside point or kerb of the turn.

Appeal[edit | edit source]

The action to attempt to overturn the race stewards' decision if the team feels that a driver was incorrectly penalized.


B[edit | edit source]

Backmarker[edit | edit source]

Drivers located at the rear end of the field. This term is most commonly used when a driver is being lapped by the race leader.

Ballast[edit | edit source]

Weights placed around the car to improved balance and ensure that the car fills the minimum weight regulation.

Blistering[edit | edit source]

The result of tyres overheating. The heat causes the rubber to soften and break away in chunks.

Bodywork[edit | edit source]

The external pieces of the car that are fitted prior to the race. Bodywork was originally made of iron or steel, and later went to aluminum, then carbon fiber.

Ex. Engine cover, cockpit cover, nosecone, wings, etc.

Bollard[edit | edit source]

A vertical tube located in the corners of some circuits to prevent corner cutting. Sometimes these tubes are equipped with cameras.

Bottoming[edit | edit source]

When the bottom of the car comes in contact with the track surface.

Brake balance[edit | edit source]

A switch in the cockpit that adjusts the braking power to the front or rear of the car. This switch can be changed by the driver throughout the race.


C[edit | edit source]

CAD[edit | edit source]

Short for Computer-aided design

The computer software used to design the car.

Camber[edit | edit source]

The angle at which the tyre leans vertically.

CFD[edit | edit source]

Short for Computational fluid dynamics

A computer software used to simulate airflow and assist in aerodynamic calculations and tests.

Chassis[edit | edit source]

The section of the car to which the engine and suspension systems are attached.

Chicane[edit | edit source]

A tight sequence of corners in alternate directions, designed to slow cars. This is most commonly used in high speed areas of the track to prevent accidents.

Clean air[edit | edit source]

Air that is not affected by an object before reaching the car and that provides the best aerodynamic conditions.

Cockpit[edit | edit source]

The section of the chassis in which the driver sits.

Compound[edit | edit source]

A chemical term for the mixing of two or more elements or previous compounds. In racing, it is often used to describe the difference between types of tires.

Contact Patch[edit | edit source]

The section of tire that comes in contact with the track surface. Also referred to as the footprint.

Corner cutting[edit | edit source]

When a driver steers the car under the apex to shorten the distance of the corner.


D[edit | edit source]

Debrief[edit | edit source]

A meeting between the team drivers and engineers after an on-track session to discuss strategy.

Degradation[edit | edit source]

The process by which a tyre loses performance and/or grip.

Delta time[edit | edit source]

The time difference between two different laps or two different drivers.

Diffuser[edit | edit source]

The rear of the car floor where air under the car exits, its also a necessary component for creation of downforce.

Downforce[edit | edit source]

An aerodynamic force that pushes the car downward while driving forward.

Drag[edit | edit source]

An aerodynamic resistance when the car is traveling in the forward direction.

Drive-through penalty[edit | edit source]

Also referred to as a Drive-through

A penalty in which the drivers must enter and drive through the pit lane while following the pit road speed limit. The driver is not required to stop in their pit box and may rejoin the race after reaching the exit of the pits.

Drivers' briefing[edit | edit source]

A meeting held by the FIA before the start of a racing event. The race director discusses issues with the circuit and Grand Prix, as well as other many other topics such as safety.

DRS[edit | edit source]

Short for Drag Reduction System

Adjustable rear wings that allow the driver to activate from the cockpit when in a per-determined area, known as the DRS Activation Zone. When combined with other systems in the car, boosts overtaking.


E[edit | edit source]

ECU[edit | edit source]

Short for Electronic Control Unit

The unit that controls the electrical systems in the car. Literally a small, specially designed computer for managing the power unit.

Endplate[edit | edit source]

Vertical panels on the outer edges of the front and rear wings, to which the main wing components are attached.

Energy Store[edit | edit source]

Usually a set of lithium ion batteries that are used to store energy created by the powertrain and ERS systems.

ERS[edit | edit source]

Short for Energy Recovery Systems
Previously called the KERS or Kinetic Energy Recovery System

A set of Motor Generator Units that harness waste heat and kinetic energy. This energy is then used to aid in powering the car.


F[edit | edit source]

Fastest lap[edit | edit source]

The quickest laptime set during a race (excluding practice and qualifying sessions).

Flag System[edit | edit source]

Flags or signal lights that inform drivers of hazards or other information during a race.

Flat spot[edit | edit source]

An area of the tyre that is worn from heavy braking, usually a skid, in which most or all of the treads have been worn off.

Formation lap[edit | edit source]

Also called warm-up lap or parade lap

The lap before the beginning of the race, in which cars drive a slow lap from the grid, allowing the mechanics to withdraw from the grid area, before the cars re-form on the grid.


G[edit | edit source]

G-force[edit | edit source]

A force that is the equivalent of a unit of gravity multiplied. This occurs during a rapid change in direction and/or velocity.

Graining[edit | edit source]

When a car slides, it can cause little bits or rubber to break away from the tyre's grooves. These then stick to the tread of the tyre, effectively separating the tyre from the track surface very slightly.

Grand Chelem[edit | edit source]

Also known as Grand slam

Awarded to a driver if they score pole position in qualifying, the fastest lap in the race and then winning while leading every lap of the race in the same weekend.

Gravel trap[edit | edit source]

A bed of gravel placed off of the track, designed to slow cars that leave the track. These aid in preventing contact with the wall, but can cause safety car conditions if the offending car gets stuck.

Grip[edit | edit source]

The amount of traction a car has at any point in time.


H[edit | edit source]

Halo[edit | edit source]

A horseshoe-shaped piece of carbon fiber, mounted to the roll bar and in front of the cockpit, designed to protect the head of the driver from external objects.

Handling[edit | edit source]

A car's responsiveness to driver input and corner effectively.

HANS Device[edit | edit source]

Short for Head and Neck Support Device

A required safety device that prevents head and neck movement during an accident, by connecting the driver's head and shoulders to the car.

Headrest[edit | edit source]

Energy-absorbing foam that surrounds the driver's helmet in the cockpit to prevent vibration.

Heat cycle[edit | edit source]

The process by which a tyre is heated during use. One cycle completes after the tyre cools.


I[edit | edit source]

Installation lap[edit | edit source]

A lap performed before the formation lap to test the car functions such as throttle, brakes and steering. Drivers may not cross the start/finish line when performing this lap and must bypass the line by using the pit lane.

Internal Combustion Engine[edit | edit source]

A mechanical motor that uses a controlled explosion within a piston chamber to drive a crankshaft, thus providing power to move the car.


J[edit | edit source]

Jump start[edit | edit source]

Also known as a False start

When a driver moves from their grid position before the start sequence is completed.


K[edit | edit source]


L[edit | edit source]

Lap Record[edit | edit source]

The fastest time ever recorded in a Formula One Grand Prix around that circuit.

Lapped[edit | edit source]

When the lead car passes a back marker.

Left-foot braking[edit | edit source]

A style of racing, in which the driver uses their right foot for the throttle and left foot for the braking.

Lock-up[edit | edit source]

When a driver breaks heavily and one or more tyres stop rotating while others continue.

Lollipop[edit | edit source]

A sign on a long stick which is held in front of the driver while pitting. This will inform the driver to apply the brakes and shift to first gear before the jack is lowered.


M[edit | edit source]

Marbles[edit | edit source]

Small pieces of rubber from worn tyres. These pieces gather at the side of the track, off of the racing line and can lower traction when driven on.

Marshal[edit | edit source]

Track officials that oversee the track and ensure the safety of drivers, spectators and staff members. Marshals can fill many roles such as extinguishing fire, remove damaged cars and/or debris and using flags to indicate the condition of the track ahead.

Max Out[edit | edit source]

When a car reaches maximum RPMs in its highest gear and cannot go any faster.

Monocoque[edit | edit source]

See Chassis

Motor Generator Unit - Heat[edit | edit source]

Also known as MGU-H, it is one of the six components of the power units. The MGU-H uses the hot exhaust flowing through the turbocharger to generate power, which can be stored in the Energy Store (ES), essentially charging batteries. The process can also be reversed at times of low RPMs, when the MGU-H acts as a motor to spin up the turbocharger, thus greatly reducing throttle lag.

Motor Generator Unit - Kinetic[edit | edit source]

Also known as MGU-K, it is one of the six components of the power units. The MGU-K is directly connected to the crankshaft of the ICE, thus is charging the Energy Store (ES) via kinetic energy. The process is often reversed under acceleration, boosting power output, and in emergencies this unit can act as a starter motor.


N[edit | edit source]

Nomex®[edit | edit source]

A fire-resistant material used in a driver's clothes to prevent burns in a fire.


O[edit | edit source]

Out brake[edit | edit source]

When a driver brakes too late or too softly and overruns a corner.

Oversteer[edit | edit source]

Sometimes referred to as fish-tailing

When the rear tyres of the car are traveling faster and steering wider than the front.

Overtake[edit | edit source]

To pass a car and gain a position (unless a lapped car is ahead).


P[edit | edit source]

Paddles[edit | edit source]

Levers located on the rear of the steering wheel that the driver uses to change the gears up and down.

Paddock[edit | edit source]

An area behind the pits where teams store their transportation and motor homes. This area is not open to the public.

Parc ferme[edit | edit source]

An fenced-off area where the cars are placed after the qualifying session. Only race stewards are allowed to touch the cars in this area, to prevent illegal changes.

Pit board[edit | edit source]

A board held out from the pit wall to tell drivers their position, the time interval to the car ahead or the one behind and the number of laps of the race remaining.

Pit wall[edit | edit source]

The wall that separates the pit lane from the track. This is also where team managers, owners and engineers spend their race, monitoring data and planning strategy.

Pits[edit | edit source]

An area of track, usually located near the start/finish line, where drivers receive service to their car. The team garages are also located in this area.

Plank[edit | edit source]

A wooden strip that is attached to the underside of cars during test and practice sessions. This helps team engineers to ensure that the car is not running too low to the ground.

Podium[edit | edit source]

The area at which the top three finishing drivers receive their prizes.

Pole Position[edit | edit source]

The first position of the grid. This is usually given to the driver that posted the fastest lap during the third round of qualifying.

Power Unit[edit | edit source]

The group of devices that generate power in the car. It is comprised of six components: the Control Electronics (CE), Energy Store (ES), Internal Combustion Engine (ICE), Turbocharger (turbo or just "T"), Motor Generator Unit - Heat (MGU-H) and Motor Generator Unit - Kinetic (MGU-K).

Powertrain[edit | edit source]

The system that delivers the power to the wheels, allowing the car to move.

Practice[edit | edit source]

The sessions that take place on Friday and Saturday of a Grand Prix event. These sessions allow drivers to drive the car on the track and prepare it for qualifying and the race.


Q[edit | edit source]

Qualifying[edit | edit source]

The knock-out session that takes place on Saturday to determine the position of drivers on the starting grid on race day.


R[edit | edit source]

R&D[edit | edit source]

Short for Research and Development

Activities taken by the team to develop or improve a system or component.

Reconnaissance lap[edit | edit source]

A lap before the race where drivers leave the pits to line up at the grid.

Retirement[edit | edit source]

When a car needs to drop-out of an event because of an accident or mechanical failure.

Ride height[edit | edit source]

The distance between the floor of the car and the track surface.

Roll cage[edit | edit source]

Specially engineered and constructed frame used to protect the driver from being injured in an accident.

Rumblestrip[edit | edit source]

A bumpy section of kerbing to warn drivers that they are at the edge of the track surface.


S[edit | edit source]

Safety Car[edit | edit source]

An official vehicle called to the track to run in front of the leaders and slow cars in the event that the cars need to be slowed. This vehicle is most commonly used when there is a large accident, but can be used in severe weather conditions.

Scrutineering[edit | edit source]

The checking of the car by officials to ensure that it does not violate any regulations.

Sectors[edit | edit source]

The track is divided into three areas for timing purposes. Each area is known as a sector.

Shakedown[edit | edit source]

A test performed by team when using a new component of the car for the first time before resuming the session.

Sidepod[edit | edit source]

The area of the car that projects out from sides of the cockpit, and extends from the side of the monocoque and back to the rear wing.

Slipstream[edit | edit source]

Also known as a Draft

Less dense air behind a moving car. Drivers use this to travel faster.

Steward[edit | edit source]

A high ranking official appointed to make decisions at each Grand Prix event.

Stop-go penalty[edit | edit source]

A penalty that requires drivers to return to their pit and stop before rejoining the race. Sometimes the penalty requires a driver to wait for a period of time before moving. The penalty duration is determined by the race stewards depending upon the severity of the rule violation.

Super License Penalty Points[edit | edit source]

As of the 2014 season, a penalty points system has been implemented whereby a driver may be given between one and three penalty points by stewards for various infractions. These penalty points accumulate but expire one year after they were earned. Any driver who accumulates twelve penalty points within a year will face a one race ban.


T[edit | edit source]

Tear-off strips[edit | edit source]

Clear plastic strips that are placed over the driver's visor before the race. These strips are then removed throughout the race to keep their vision clear and prevent the visor from becoming dirty and/or scratched.

Telemetry[edit | edit source]

A system that sends data from the car to the pits so that teams may monitor their cars' behavior.

Test Driver[edit | edit source]

Also known as Reserve driver

A racing driver who is employed by a Formula One team to be involved in the development and testing of a particular F1 car but is not involved in the actual F1 race.

Testing[edit | edit source]

How teams and manufacturers aerodynamically test newly created or updated parts of the car.

Torque[edit | edit source]

The twisting and turning of an engine throughout the session. This measures the engine's flexibility.

Traction[edit | edit source]

The amount of power that a car is able to transfer to the track.

Traction control[edit | edit source]

A computer system that detects when a car's rear wheel(s) are losing traction and adjusts power accordingly.

Tub[edit | edit source]

See Chassis

Turbulence[edit | edit source]

The disruption of air flow caused by an interruption to its passage.

Turbocharger[edit | edit source]

A component attached to the engine that increases the power that a car is able to produce, by using exhaust gasses to spin an impeller, forcing outside air into the engine. The turbocharger is now one of the six components of the power unit, and is directly connected to the Motor Generator Unit - Heat.

Tyre compound[edit | edit source]

The type of rubber used on a tyre.

Tyre warmer[edit | edit source]

An electrically heated blanket attached to tyres when not in use to allow the tyres to reach optimum operating temperature faster.


U[edit | edit source]

Understeer[edit | edit source]

When the front end of the car does not want to turn and slides wide when cornering.


V[edit | edit source]

Victory[edit | edit source]

The act of winning a race.

Visor strip[edit | edit source]

A strip of strong carbon-fibre that is attached to the top of the driver's helmet visor for protection.


W[edit | edit source]

Wheelbase[edit | edit source]

The distance from the center of the front wheel to the center of the rear wheel.

Win[edit | edit source]

See Victory

X[edit | edit source]


Y[edit | edit source]

Yaw[edit | edit source]

See Understeer

Z[edit | edit source]

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