A – C

Aerodynamics

The study of how the air flows over and around an object and is an intrinsic factor in the design of a Formula One car. Getting a grasp on this and a team can shave important tenths off of a lap time. See also: F-Duct and Downforce.

Adjustable Bodywork

This can be activated by the driver via onboard electronics. This is an option after the first 2 laps have been completed; and the sole purpose of this is for overtaking. However there are restrictions; it can only be enabled if a driver under 1 second behind the car in front and if they are in a pre-determined section of the track. A light will alert them to the system being online (approved); but will be deactivated if the driver applies the brakes.

Apex

Taking the corner as a whole; the apex is the middle point of the inside line, this is where the drivers aim their car. You’ll often hear commentators talk about ‘kissing the apex’, missing this in a sequence of corners can hold you back dramatically.

Aiming for the apex.

Appeal

The team does this, on their driver’s behalf, when they feel they have been penalised unfairly by the race officials. This is a common occurrence as penalties can range from time added to a race suspension. See also: Protest.

Aquaplaning

When a layer of water lies between the tires and the track surface; the car will lose traction and slide.

Backmarker

This is the car that is about to be lapped.

Ballast

The total minimum weight of the car, plus the driver, must be at least 605kg. Ballast comes in the form of heavy metal (usually an alloy called tungsten steel) and is strategically placed throughout the car to get it to that minimum weight. It can also be used to balance the car and keep the centre of gravity low.

Blistering

Excess heat on the tyres cause the rubber to soften and break off in chunks; this happened when the wrong tyres have been chosen for that circuit, high tyre or the car itself has been set up incorrectly. Hence race engineers telling their drivers to ‘manage their tyres’ to avoid an extra pit-stop. See also: Compound, Flat Spot, Graining and Tyres.

Blistering on an option tire

Bottoming

Cars bottom out when the chassis hits the track surface upon a sharp compression and reaches the limit of its suspension. The only literal fireworks you see on the track. See also: Ride Height.

Brakes

Essential component of the race car. The brake discs run at a temperature of 1000°c, these aren’t the kind you find on your driveway, anything below 500°c hampers their performance. Cooled using air ducts to avoid overheating; the ducts are engineered to get the cooling right without disrupting the aerodynamics of the car. Get it wrong and the driver’s create massive wear, and in heavy brake zones you’ll see black smoke billowing from them. And a final note; you think you’ve got it hard applying the brakes…these driver’s have no assistance and have to be strong enough to apply 2000psi of pressure.

Red hot braking

Brake balance

There’s a switch in the cockpit that the driver can use to alter the split of the car’s braking power between the front and rear wheels. This can be down to driver’s wishes; track layout, or to help manage the tires.

Camber

Have a look at the wheels on a F1 car, not exactly vertical are they? This angle is calculated and adjusted to suit a particular driver, driving style, circuit or weather. Just don’t try this with your car at home…

Chassis

Backbone on which a car is based. Older racing cars had a steel or wooden chassis; today’s use carbon fibre. A F1 chassis also incorporates the engine and gearbox.

Chicane

A short and tight sequence of corners in alternate directions put in to slow the cars down. Cars with a good balance of speed and cornering ability can profit here.

Negotiating a chicane in Austria

Clean air

Air without turbulence offers optimum aerodynamic conditions; the best place to experience this it be in pole position and lead. See also: Dirty air (it isn’t as fun as it sounds…)

Clean side (of the track)

This is also known as the racing line, this is where (unless it’s rained) the majority of the rubber from the tires has been laid. This offers the best grip and essentially the best times; starting here means you get that great start which could push the driver up a couple of places before that first corner. See also: Dirty Side (of the track).

Cockpit

This is where the driver sits. (Forumla One is littered with funny words…)

Compound

Tread compound is the part of the tyre in contact with the road; and therefore one of the most important decisions made during the race weekend. What you want from the compound is maximum grip coupled with high durability and heat resistance. See also: Tyres.

Concorde Agreement

This is an agreement between the FIA, the current Formula One teams (represented by Formula One Teams Association, FOTA) and Formula One Administration. This agreement dictates the terms by which the competing teams race and, their share of the broadcasting revenues and prize money.

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