Formula One FAQ (2/2)

Archive-name: formula-one-faq/part2 Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: March 15, 1996 4. THE RULES 4.1 How many points are scored for a win? [MJ] Currently points are awarded for the first six finishers as follows: 10...

Archive-name: formula-one-faq/part2 Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: March 15, 1996


4.1 How many points are scored for a win? [MJ]

Currently points are awarded for the first six finishers as follows: 10 - 6 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1. This applies to both the driver's and constructor's championships. Each team is allowed to enter two cars and both cars scores are counted towards the constructor's championship.

If a race is stopped, due to accident or weather, before completion of 75% of the race distance, only half the points will be awarded for that race.

4.2 Is that a brake light on the back of the cars?

No. The red light you will occasionally see on the back of the cars is not a brake light and is required by the rules for visibility in wet races. The light is required to be on whenever the car is on treaded tyres.

4.3 The start

The starting procedue has been changed for 1996. The countdown begins 17 minutes before the parade lap with a series of lights and horns. The parade lap is started with a green light. The cars proceed in grid order returning to their spots on the starting grid. Transponders in the car signal to the officials when all the cars are in position and the actual start procedure begins. There are now five red lights and NO green light. The five red lights will come on one at a time at one second intervals. When the fifth light comes on the jump start system is activated. At a pre-set, but unpublished interval, all five red lights will go out and that is the signal to start. NB There is no green light. This system eliminates the potential problem of the red light going out but the green light failing to come on. Such a situation has happenned in the past and causes enourmous confusion and is potentially very dangerous. Also, disabling the jump start system until immediately before the start should eliminate some of the bogus penalties we saw last year when the system was activated when the car stopped.

4.4 The finish [CS] & [HG]

When the leader crosses the line and the chequered flag is waved at him, all drivers finish the lap which they are currently driving. The top positions go to the drivers on the same lap as the winner, in the order in which they crossed the line. The next positions go to those drivers who completed one fewer lap than the leader, in the order in which they crossed the line, and so on. Should a driver fail to cross the line (due to an accident, for example), his (or her) finishing position is based on the race position the last time (s)he crossed the start/finish line.

An example may help: It's the 50-lap US GP and the first 4 drivers at the end of lap 49 are Diniz, Hill, Schumacher and Inoue. Fifth is Katayama, one lap down. Diniz crosses the line at the end of lap 50 first to take the chequered flag and win the race. Katayama is the next driver to cross the finish line (albeit after only 49 laps) and is awarded 5th place, since there were 4 drivers on the lead lap (who all completed 49 laps before him). On lap 50, however, Hill and Schumacher collide and both retire. Inoue is the only other driver to finish 50 laps and is awarded 2nd place. Since Hill completed 49 laps ahead of Schumacher, he gets 3rd place and Schumacher is awarded 4th.

All drivers who have completed at least 90% of the distance driven by the winner are classified as finishers. If less than 6 drivers complete the race then the points are awarded to the best retirees.

All finishers must get themselves weighed, put the car in the 'parc ferme' for scrutiny and submit to any other tests required. Top three must attend the podium ceremony and give a press conference afterwards, or get fined. Press conferences take place in a variety of languages - all the top drivers speak English fluently enough for an interview. Naturally none of the English drivers speak anything else! (It is noticeable how much improved Schumacher's English has become in the last two years - he sounds more American than German now; Berger also is fluent enough to tell jokes thanks to his long spell at McLaren)

4.5 What is the safety car for? [HG]

Once this is deployed, the 'SC' board is shown and drivers must slow down and circulate in their current order. The car waves past each driver in turn, until the race leader is behind him. Then all circulate until the race is deemed safe to continue, with the safety car displaying flashing amber lights. Switching off these lights indicates that the safety car will pull off next time it reaches the pit entrance; once it does, the race continues.

It should be noted that, unlike Indy, safety cars are rarely used in F1. In fact, in the semi-permanent "What's the difference between F1 and Indy" thread, the excessive use of the safety car to close up the field is the major criticism of Indy racing by F1 fans.

4.6 What is a stop-go penalty? [HG]

Jump starts and pit lane speeding incur a 10 second 'stop-go' penalty - the driver comes into the pit lane, drives to the end and waits by a countdown marker until released. (The car may NOT stop at their pits for any reason on the way to the end of pit lane). One of the pit crew attends with engine starting kit in case the driver stalls. No other work is allowed on the car during this stop, which will cost the driver about 30 seconds in total. (Jump starts are adjudicated electronically and there has been a great deal of criticism that the equipment is too sensitive in detecting ANY movement after the car first stops even if it is actually stationary when the light goes green. The consensus in rasf1 is that the 10 second stop-go penalty is too severe).

Other offenses can incur fines, loss of points, disqualifications or race bans. Decisions can be appealed but historically the FIA has a propensity for increasing a penalty on appeal.

4.7 What do the different colored flags mean? [HG]

Yellow - caution; no overtaking/safety car out. Yellow with red stripes - track is slippery (usually oil). Blue - car behind is attempting to lap you, give way. Red - race stopped, slow down and return to pit lane. Chequered - race finished. Black, with a car number - car must return to pit lane within 3 laps and not restart race (this may mean a terminal rule infringement, but it can also mean that there is something dangerously wrong with the car that the driver does not know about - hence it is grossly negligent to ignore this flag)

4.8 Is mid-race re-fueling allowed?

After being banned for 10 years for safety reasons, mid-race re- fueling was inexplicably reintroduced for the 1994 season. The re- fueling equipment used by all the teams is identical as the FIA mandates that the equipment be bought from Intertechnique and may not be modified by the teams. Fuel is pumped at a rate of 12 liters (3.3 gallons) per second.

Apart from the FIA, almost everybody associated with F1, fans, drivers and teams, believe that re-fueling is inherently dangerous and that, if not before, it will finally be banned when somebody is killed or seriously injured in a re-fueling accident. Since its reintroduction in '94 there have already been three pit-lane fires caused by re-fueling: Verstappen (Benetton) in '94, Irvine (Jordan) and Gachot (Pacific) in '95.


5.1 Why V10 engines? [PF]

The V10 is a nice compromise, from two points of view -- performance and packaging.

Twelves are good for high-revving, top-endy stuff (this is why Ferraris are usually quick at the likes of Monza and Hockenheim). Eights are torquey and good throughout the range. So a ten is a good compromise there. You get more piston area in a 10 than an 8 -- which means more power, but can run a rather longer stroke than a 12 -- which tends to mean more tractability.

Similarly, the reciprocating components are a nice compromise between the relative simplicity of an eight and the difficulty of a 12.

Twelves are generally long and narrow -- the 'classical' 60-degree angle doesn't give much space within the vee to put ancillaries in. Eights are short, but relatively chubby, with a classical vee angle of 90 degrees. (Ok, Ferrari are about 65-degrees these days and Ford are down to about 75, but the generalization remains roughly valid). V10s have length advantages over the 12 and width advantages over the 8 -- they're typically between 67 and 72 degrees.

It's perhaps significant that next year there'll only be customer Fords and Harts left as V8s in F1 -- everyone else will be running 10s, including Sauber-Ford and Ferrari. It looks like the 8 and the 12 are, for the time being, dead ducks. (it's a pity Hart didn't persevere with a 3l version of his excellent V10...)

5.2 How big are the engines?

Although subject to change periodically, engines are currently limited to 3 liter, reciprocating, normally aspirated with no more than 12 cylinders. These engines produce approximately 750 bhp down from a high of about 1,200 bhp that could be produced by the now banned V6, 1.5l turbo-charged engines.

5.3 How much does a car weigh?

The minimum weight for an F1 car is 585 kg (1,287 lbs) including the driver and 5kg (11 lbs) for either an on board camera or mandatory ballast for those cars not carrying cameras. Regulations define minimum weights to ensure that safety is not compromised by the engineer's efforts to improve performance by making the car lighter.

5.4 What is the tub made of?

The tub, the part that the driver sits in, is made of a composite material consisting of an aluminum honeycomb sandwiched between two sheets of carbon. The result is an extremely strong, lightweight material. Smaller sections, such as the nose-cone and engine cover, use a nomex honeycomb instead of aluminum to allow greater flexibility.

5.5 How many gears do the cars have?

The regulations state that the cars must have at least 4 and no more than 7 forward gears as well as a reverse gear. Most cars have 6 forward gears, Jordan and Benetton being the only cars with 7 speed gearboxes.

5.6 Interesting engine facts. (Based on a Ford Zetec-R).

*In an F1 engine revving at 14,500 rpm, one revolution takes 4 thousandths of a second. *Maximum piston acceleration is approximately 8,000g which puts a load of over 3 tons on each connecting rod. *Maximum piston speed is 47.2 meters per second - the piston in a Ford Zetec-R accelerates from rest to that speed in 1 thousandth of a second. *If a connecting rod let go of its piston at maximum engine speed, the released piston would have enough energy to travel vertically over 100 meters. *If a water hose were to blow off, the complete cooling system would empty in just over a second.


6.1 What happens during a pit-stop? [HG]

Cars must not exceed the pit lane speed limit, which is different at each track. As driver comes in, one of the pit crew indicates the location of the pit (it isn't easy to find in the heat of the moment). The car stops on the marks and is lifted by front and back jacks. Three mechanics are required for each wheel; one to operate the tool to remove/replace the wheel, one to take the old wheel off and one to put the new one on. In addition, two are required to handle the fuel hose, and a couple of spares wipe the drivers' visor etc. The operation is controlled by the chap at the front who holds the 'brakes on' sign, and he looks out for all the mechanics to raise their hands as a signal that they are finished and out of the way. Then he signals for the car to be dropped off the jacks and the driver can leave. Due to the restrictions on the equipment, re-fueling actually takes longer than the tyre change.

Generally McLaren are the speediest pit crew, although Benetton are much improved recently. Crews rehearse before every Grand Prix to keep in practice. As there is now fuel being thrown around in the pitlane, all mechanics wear fireproof overalls, and sometimes helmets too. A few near-disasters have stressed that the pit lane is a dangerous place, and personnel there should be kept to a minimum.(i.e. groupies, relatives, under-age royals etc should be somewhere else!) The driver should keep his visor closed during a pit stop in case of fire. IMHO there WILL be a disastrous fire unless refuelling is banned.

6.2 Sponsorship [HG]

F1 teams could not continue to spend at current levels without sponsors, among which the cigarette compaines are major players. Advertising regulations in Britain, France and Germany mean that Williams appear there with 'Racing' rather than 'Rothmans' written on them, and for McLaren it is 'McLaren' rather than 'Marlboro'. Sponsors can also rent out space on drivers as well as cars, and all spaces are available right down to the back of the mirrors. A six-inch wide patch on the front wing of a Williams will cost you about 2 million dollars for the season. Oh, and you won't be able to see it on the telly, but they'll do you a nice package of sponsored events for the price. (!)

The best advert I saw was in 1993 when Sega sponsored Williams. The Sega character, Sonic the Hedgehog, appeared at most of the races, and the side of the car was painted so it appeared as a cutout showing Sonic's legs doing the driving. McLaren responded by sticking a squashed hedgehog logo to the side of their car each time they won a race at the expense of a Williams. Senna's incredible victory in the wet Donington GP of Europe was headlined in Autosport as 'Senna's mega-drive'.

6.3 What's the difference between F1 and Indy?

Quite possibly THE most frequently asked question and the subject of much debate in rasf1 which generally, after some technical discussion, deteriorates into a slanging match between European F1 fans and American Indy fans. Generally speaking, Indy cars are bigger, faster and more durable whereas F1 cars are more agile and accelerate faster. As to which is better and which would win a head to head race? F1 cars are better under F1 regs at F1 circuits and Indy cars are better under Indy regs at Indy circuits.

Tracks. Indy uses ovals as well as road and street courses - F1 does not. This, along with the use of the safety car, is the most significant difference between the two series. Whilst making for interesting discussion, the technical differences do not have much of an impact from the spectators point of view. However, Indy's detractors would say that the uniform ovals with the resulting left turns only, produce a sterile racing environment which allows no exciting passing. Furthermore, most accidents will result in the safety car making an appearance which will close up the field. Again, Indy's detractors would argue that this produces an artificial racing environment reducing the race to a series of short sprints which are merely used to establish the grid order for the final sprint to the finish.

On the other hand, F1 detractors would argue that because of the wide difference in performance levels, and the fact that safety cars are rarely used, there is very little close racing or competitive passing in F1 and of course as a spectator you cannot see the entire circuit at an F1 race.

(I must apologize if my cultural bias has become apparent in this section but as a Brit living in the U.S., I am living proof that F1/Indy preference is determined by genes not environment).

Weight. F1 cars minimum weight is 585 kg (1,287 lbs). Indy car minimum weight is 1,550 lbs (704.5 kg).

Brakes. F1 cars use carbon fibre brakes which are lighter and more durable than the steel brakes used by Indy cars. (Indy cars are allowed to use carbon brakes on the 2.5 mile superspeedways at Indianapolis and Michigan. Steel brakes are mandatory at all the other races).

Ground effect. [AS] It is generally said that ground effect cars are no longer allowed in F1 but this is not strictly true. All cars generate ground effect, you cannot 'ban' it, only try to design the rules to limit the downforce that can be obtained from it. In F1 this is done by requiring flat bottoms between the wheels (now with 50mm step). In Indycar they still allow shaped ground effect tunnels, but with strictly controlled dimensions and at a minimum height above the bottom of the chassis.

Turbo charging. Banned in F1 but still allowed in Indy - although at a much lower boost pressure than was used by F1 cars in the 80's.

Semi-automatic gearboxes. Allowed in F1 but not in Indy.

Nationality. Indy is basically a domestic U.S. series as far as teams, venues and drivers are concerned. However, there are 3 venues outside of the U.S. (Surfer's Paradise, Brazil, Toronto and Vancouver) and an increasing number of foreign drivers. F1 is truly international in teams, engines, venues and drivers although there is a strong European influence, particularly British and Italian.

And according to Jacques Villeneuve (Electronic Telegraph 3/4/96): "In the last few months I've done over 5,000 miles of testing with Williams and I've learned a lot about the differences between Formula One and IndyCars. An F1 car is slower on the straights but much quicker in the corners. The engine has less horsepower but the power comes on quicker and because a Formula One car is lighter and more responsive it reacts faster to the driver's input and the braking is much better. Because of its extra weight an IndyCar is a bit more physical to drive, it slides more easily and it's harder work to hold it. A Formula One car is more twitchy and when it slides you have to react faster to catch it. It has higher limits but I find this really enjoyable.

6.4 How many teams are there?

There are currently 11 teams, Simtek having filed bankruptcy in 1995 and Pacific pulling out at the end of the season, down from an all time high of 20 in 1989.

6.5 What is the connection between Ford and Cosworth?

Ford and Cosworth first co-operated in 1959 when Cosworth developed a lightweight iron crankcase engine for the new Ford Anglia. Cosworth founders, Keith Duckworth and Mike Costin, then tuned the new engine, code-named MAE (Modified Anglia Engine) and it soon became the power unit of choice for drivers in Formula Junior and later Formula 3.

Next came the Cosworth FVA racing engine and, impressed by the potential of the new power unit, Ford commissioned the Northamptonshire-based company to produce a roadgoing version to suit its new high-performance Escort, the RS1600. The result was the BDA (Belt-Driven A-series) which employed many of the lessons learned in motor racing to achieve excellent levels of performance and efficiency at relatively low cost.

The most successful Ford-Cosworth collaboration to date has been the DFV (Double Four Valve) F1 engine.The 90 degree V8 stunned the racing world when it appeared for the first time at the 1967 Dutch GP in the bank of Colin Chapman's highly effective Lotus 49 chassis and promptly powered Jim Clark to an historic win.

The Ford DFV went on to win 154 more GPs and 12 World Championships in a career that spanned 15 years. During that time, the DFV's power output climbed from 405 bhp to 520 bhp at 11,000 rpm.

The most recent development to issue from Cosworth is the Ford Zetec-R F1 engine. Carrying the same "Zetec" name as the range of double overhead camshaft, four-valve-per-cylinder engines used in the current Fiesta, Escort and Mondeo model ranges, the new 3.5 liter power unit was the highest-revving racing V8 ever produced when it was unveiled prior to the start of the 1994 season at up to 14,500 rpm.

The new 3.0 liter Zetec-R is very similar to the larger 1994 engine with small differences to allow for the new stepped floors and races at engine speeds up to 15,000 rpm. The Zetec-R V10 is provided exclusively to Ford's chosen factory team - Sauber - while customer teams will be supplied with last year's V8 or the ED.

6.6 What frequencies do the teams use?

Unfortunately, F1 teams change frequencies reguarly AND they scramble the signal so unlike Indy and NASCAR you cannot listen in on conversations between drivers and their pits.


7.1 Read 'welcome to hierarchy', posted monthly or so. This covers most of the points made below, which are standard netiquette. Please read it.

7.2 Don't post jpegs,gifs or any other big files. Many people download all messages in the newsgroup to be read off-line. If you pay for connect time it is very annoying to find that you have spent 10 minutes downloading a 7000 line binary. Post pictures to and then you can just post a short message on r.a.s.f1 telling people what you posted and where you posted it.

7.3 Please don't get offensive - a driver can't help his appearance or that of his wife, but their behaviour on or off track is fair game. Also; ANYONE CAN MAKE A MISTAKE!!! Posts on the lines of 'xxx is a complete yyyy' just get tedious. Reasonable analysis please, we can buy junk newspapers if we want rantings. Remember also that F1 is really easy from your armchair, rather less so from the driving seat.

7.4 Great drivers and world champions come from all countries, please keep down the nationalistic bias.

7.5 Not everyone on this group is male; chauvinist pig behaviour will be spotted and rebuked! (By me and others!) Drivers are good or bad on their own merits, not those of their chromosomes. I'll let you get away with sexism, so long as it is in a humorous vein; I too think that the swimsuit clad girlies on the grid are unlikely to be filling in time between rocket-science engagements.

7.6 Not everyone on this group has English as a first language - don't slag off someone for poor grammar or spelling. However English is the language of the group, please try to post in it.

7.7 Spoilers; if you are posting within two days of a Grand Prix, don't put the result in the header, just something like 'Hungarian GP - SPOILERS'; not 'Schumacher wins in Germany' as this upsets people. On the other hand, it is almost certain that somebody will violate the spoiler rule so read the group at your peril - I have never seen the result of a race NOT given away in at least one subject line!!

7.8 Don't ask people to post results, practice times, starting grids etc. All of these will be posted at least half a dozen times so it is not necessary to ask - you will even see Friday's practice times still being posted on Tuesday afternoon. If you haven't seen the results within a few hours, then you have a slow newsfeed and we can't help you with that.

7.9 Don't post test messages. There are many news groups set up specifically for test messages - use them. (If you post to alt.test you will even get automatic responses from a couple of sites around the world telling you how long it took your post to get to their site).

7.10 If you're responding to a long post, please use the delete key liberally to edit the original message. People don't want to page through a three page message to see your "I agree" reply.

7.11 Please ensure that your software restricts your post to 72 character per line. Most people will not read messages which spill off the edge of their screen.


Jordan Home Page http://callan/ The Racing Line: auto racing news, commentary and web links The Anastasia Utendorf F1 Page - multi-media F1 program. McLaren Home Page News, Reviews, Results, Drivers, Teams,History.If its F1,its there.


The contribution of the following individuals is very gratefully acknowledged. This FAQ would not have been possible without them.

David Byrne [DB] Josje Cobben [JC] Tim Downie [TD] Darryl Ellson [DE] Pete Fenelon [PF] Helen Gerald [HG] Andrew Henry [AH] Chuck Ingene [CI] Mark Jackson [MJ] Kim Meijs [KM] AJ Samuels [AS] Chris Simpson [CS] Ulrich Teichert [UT]

Nokia Tyrrell Yamaha website Marlboro McLaren website

Copyright (c) 1996 by Mitchell McCann

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Jim Clark , David Byrne , Colin Chapman
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Jordan