The Formula 1 season kicked off in last month in Melbourne with reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel starting his title defence in spectacular fashion and again as he takes his second victory of the season in Malaysia just yesterday.
If there is anything in my previous sentence that you did not understand, read on and I promise if you are clueless about F1, you won’t be by the end of this post.
F1 moves a little closer as it hits the shores of Shanghai this weekend so this is timely to brush up on your F1 know-it-alls!
Photo: Singapore GP Pte Ltd
1. Race Calendar
There are 19 races on the calendar this year, of which eight are in Asia and Middle East. There was supposed to be 20 races initially, with Bahrain as the first, but unrest in the country forced for a withdrawal of F1 and delaying the start of the season to Australia.
2. Teams and Drivers
There are 12 teams this season and each team has two main drivers who will compete in all races. There are also third drivers and reserve drivers who sometimes drive the cars on practice days, or stand in if any of the two main drivers are injured.
3. Race Format: Practice – Qualifying – Grand Prix
Formula 1 takes place over the weekend, typically starting with two 1.5-hour practice sessions on Friday (except at Monaco where it’s on Thursday) and one more one-hour practice session on Saturday before qualifying. The Grand Prix – that is, the race – falls on Sunday. Hence, tickets on Sunday are the most expensive but that’s also the time with the most crowds.
The one-hour knock-out qualifying session on Saturday is broken into three segments and drivers can go out for as many laps as they want. In the first segment (Q1) of 20 minutes, all 24 cars are allowed to go out and the eight slowest cars will be dropped and assigned the last eight starting grid places.
A seven-minute break is given and then the remaining 16 cars will go out for a 15-minute session (Q2). Again they are allowed to complete as many laps as they want and need not make full use of the entire session. The eight slowest cars will be dropped out and the final eight will fight for the first eight places on the grid in Q3.
Starting after an eight-minute break, the 10-minute Q3 segment sees the final eight battling it out for the front of the entire grid.
5. Pole Position
Pole position (P1) refers to the first place on the starting grid, given to the driver who recorded the fastest lap time in qualifying.
6. Championship Points
At every race, the top 10 finishers score points that counts towards both the drivers’ and the constructors’ (teams’) world championships. Both prestigious titles are what everyone in the paddock and factories are working so hard for. Determined at the end of the season, the driver and team of the most championship points take the titles.
The point scoring system for each Grand Prix is as follows:
1st: 25 points
2nd: 18 points
3rd: 15 points
4th: 12 points
5th: 10 points
6th: 8 points
7th: 6 points
8th: 4 points
9th: 2 points
10th: 1 point
At the end of the season, should there is a tie in the eventual total number of points, the driver or team with the higher number of superior race results will be awarded the title.
7. Chequered Flag
The black and white chequered flag signals the end of the race and is raised when the first car crosses the finish line.
8. Pit Stops
The pits are where the garages of each team are, where the cars are worked on and also where the cars are brought in for tyre change during the race. During the race, cars make pit stops to change new tyres or perform repairs to the cars if there are issues or incidents. Refuelling has been banned from 2010 onwards.
No, this is not something to be eaten, but it is the sign on a stick held in front of the car during a pit stop. This is to inform the driver to have the brakes on and then to engage first gear before the car is lowered from its jacks.
10. Safety Car
The Safety Car lines up at the back of the starting grid to prepare for any incidents that might occur during the all-exciting starts. Thereafter, it returns to the pits and is called out in the event of an incident, to run in front of the leading car in the race so as to slow down and keep the cars under a controlled pace. These laps under the Safety Car are counted and once the debris has been cleared and the track is ready for the race to resume, the Safety Car returns to the pits.
This is the enclosed area behind the pits where teams have their hospitality homes or motor homes. The public is not allowed in.
12. Parc ferme
This is an enclosed area where the cars drive in to after qualifying and also immediately after the race. No team members are allowed to touch them except under the strict supervision of race stewards.
If you have ever tried go-karting or taken your car to the track, the pressing feeling on your head in the corners are due to this thing called G-force. Drivers experience severe G-forces in corners, when they accelerate and also when they brake. G-force is defined as the physical force equivalent to one unit of gravity multiplied during quick changes in velocity.
A chicane is a series of tight corners in alternating directions within a circuit to slow down the speed of the cars.
The Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) was introduced in 2009, but suspended for use in 2010. Re-introduced for 2011, KERS recover waste kinetic energy from the car during braking, store that energy and then make it available to propel the car. Using a boost button on the steering wheel, the driver can make use of these additional spurts of power during strategic moments of a lap.
Bridgestone withdrew as sole tyre supplier to F1 at the end of 2010 after being in the sport for 13 years. Taking over for at least the next three years is Pirelli, who was last part of F1 in 1991.
17. Singapore Grand Prix
The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is held in September and was first hosted in 2008 as the first night race ever in the sport. As Singapore has no permanent track, the Marina Bay area is closed during the week of F1 for a makeshift street circuit.
18. World Champion Galore
Formula 1 has five World Champions on this year’s grid – Sebastian Vettel (2010), Jenson Button (2009), Lewis Hamilton (2008), Fernando Alonso (2005–2006) and Michael Schumacher (1994–1995, 2000–2004).
Photo: Beautiful view of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix night race track
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