F1 Dictionary

Everything you need to know

Fernando Alonso: Really quite good



The single-lettered word with which many sentences related to F1 sometimes begin.

Abiteboul, Cyril

One-time Renault Sport deputy chief who in late 2012 succeeded Tony Fernandes as Caterham's Team Principal before then returning to Renault in mid-2014 as Managing Director.

Abu Dhabi

City which hosts a GP under its own name rather than, as convention dictates, the country it resides in - the United Arab Emirates. See also: unanswered mysteries of F1; the Yas Marina Circuit.

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Bottas: No wonder he's smiling


Badoer, Luca

Former long-time Ferrari test driver and the holder of two notable records in F1: the most races started without scoring a point - 50 - and most test laps completed. Because we're a nice bunch, we don't like to talk about his two-race return to driving duties in 2009.


Kingdom state which hosts the annual April controversy which is the Bahrain GP. You probably heard something about it. Also held two winter tests at the start of 2014.


The ambiguous term used to describe and gauge the virtues of a car's set-up. Also one of the most uttered words heard over the pit-to-car radio system during practice sessions.

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Champagne: Not always wasted, then



The name of Sauber's 2014 car. Successor to, yes-you-guessed-it, the C32. And no doubt set to be succeeded by the C34. F1 tends to be imaginative on things like this.


The angle of a car's wheel in relation to the track surface.


One of F1's favourite destinations, home of a cracking motorsport circuit, and full of people who love to party when the F1 circus is in town.


The alterable angle of displacement of the front suspension from the vertical axis. Obviously.


Tony Fernandes-founded outfit which ran under the badge of Team Lotus in 2011 but hasn't yet done quite as well as hoped and finished bottom of the Contstructors' Championship in 2013. Sold to a group of as-yet-unknown-and-unseen Swiss and Middle Eastern investors following a similarly torrid start to 2014.


The people who stand around gormlessly on the grid getting in the way of the people who actually have a purpose being there, but who help make F1 the glamorous travelling circus that it is.


The expensive liquid refreshment wasted as a cooling-down agent on the podium by F1 drivers - apart from in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi where rosewater is wasted instead.

Changeable conditions

The phrase used when F1 is either unsure if it is about to rain or has just been caught out by an unexpected shower.

Chapman, Colin

Multiple-championship winning team owner and designer with Team Lotus who is credited with leaving a lasting legacy on F1 following his work in the 1960s and 1970s.


Alternative word used to describe a Formula 1 car when the word 'car' has been overused. See also: The Sky Sports F1 website.


The main shell of the car to which the front and rear suspension, in addition to the engine, are fitted.

Chequered Flag, The

The essential item that all grands prix venues need to be in possession of to signal the end of a race when the winner crosses the finishing line.


An artificial corner used to slow down cars at the end of straights or fast corners. Generally unliked and occasionally missed due to what we will euphemistically describe as 'over-eagerness'.

Chicane, mobile

The disparaging description applied to backmarkers by disgruntled frontrunners.

Chilton, Max

Baby-faced Marussia driver who became the fourth Briton on the grid and the first rookie to finish every GP in a season in 2013.


The tarmacked bit at a grand prix venue.

Circuit of the Americas

The imaginatively-titled name of Austin's Grand Prix circuit. See also: Austin.

Clark, Jim

Genius Scottish driver and sheep farmer. World Champion in 1963 and 1965,

Clark was tragically killed in a F2 race at Hockenheim in 1968.


The official final order at the end of a race. Please note: A driver can still be a classified finisher even if he has retired before the chequered flag, provided he has completed 90% of the race distance.

Clean air

The turbulence-free track conditions that teams love their cars to run in. In effect, it means no one is directly in front of them. See also: 2013; Vettel, Sebastian. And: 2011; Vettel, Sebastian.

Clean side, The

The side of the grid that also includes the cleaned-up racing line, thus offering more grip than the other side. Usually the odd-numbered grid slots. See also: Dirty side, The.

Cliff, Falling off the

The analogy which found favour in 2011 and through the first half of the 2012 season for describing the critical moment when the performance of Pirelli tyres started to rapidly deteriorate. See also: Pirelli.

Coanda effect

The snake-sounding term that became an important area of focus for F1's designers - and a certain Adrian Newey in particular - owing to the downforce benefits gained from using clever sidepod and exhaust exit designs to direct airflow between the diffuser and rear tyres.


The area of the car in which the driver sits.


The section of the tyre that is in contact with the track surface. F1's tyre supplier Pirelli provide four different dry weather compounds during the course of the season - super-soft, soft, medium and hard - and two wet-weather tyres. See also: tyres; Pirelli.

Concorde Agreement, The

The binding contract between the FIA, the Formula 1 teams and Formula One Management by which the sport is governed and run. Also a matter of considerable mystery and one of the greatest unknowns in the entire tapestry of sport.


The fancy alternative to saying 'teams'.

Constructors' Championship

The title all the teams are trying to win and worth a big fortune.


The turns that connect the straights to make up an F1 circuit. Sometimes named, sometimes numbered. That's about it.


The commodity that F1 lives on.

Cost cap

Concept agreed in principle in December 2013 by the F1 Strategy Group and the Formula One Commission which was due to come into force in January 2015 before it was agreed it was all too much hassle and shelved. See also: Believe it when you see it.

Coughlan, Mike

Former McLaren designer banned from the sport for two years in 2007 for his role in the 'Spygate' scandal who then returned to F1 in May 2011 as Williams' Technical Director before leaving after the team's dismal start to 2013.


The name applied to events in the 2008 Singapore GP when Renault driver Nelson Piquet Junior deliberately crashed into a wall in order to bring about the deployment of the Safety Car that in turn facilitated the victory of team-mate Fernando Alonso.

Croft, David

Sky Sports F1 commentator. Universally known as 'Crofty' and quite the fan of Darts and West Ham.


The name of Caterham's 2014 car.


The regulation brought in from the 2011 season to prevent sleep-deprived mechanics working all-nighters working on car repairs/changes for the next day's sessions. Team personnel are barred from entering the circuit nine hours before the start of a day's first on-track session, although teams do have four exemptions during the season. In addition to everything else, the View All C's

Ronspeak: Tough to talk about


Davidson, Anthony

Former Minardi, BAR and Super Aguri driver, currently employed an analyst on Sky Sports F1 and a wonderfully nice bloke.


The month of the year when F1 goes into hibernation. Except, that is, if you work in F1.

De Cesaris, Andrea

Journeyman Italian racer of the 1980s and 1990s who has the unfortunate distinction of being the driver to have competed in the most races - a mammoth 208 - without registering a victory. Presumably hoping that Nick Heidfeld, the driver with the next worst start/win ratio, makes an unexpected comeback.

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Eau Rouge: F1's best corner?



The name of Lotus's 2014 car in recognition of it being the 22nd car to be produced at the team's Enstone factory. And sadly, as things stand, not one of the best.

Eau Rouge

The downhill-uphill-left-right-left corner at Spa widely considered to be the best in F1. Although not as fearsome as it once was, Eau Rouge remains an awe-inspiriring challenge for every driver to combat.

Ecclestone, Bernie

Octogenarian billionaire who runs the commercial side of F1. Also famous in non-F1 circles for being the father of Tamara Ecclestone. See also: Ecclestone, Tamara.

Ecclestone, Tamara

Bernie's daughter and much-missed figure in the paddock following her retirement to America and hard work.


Electronic Control Unit which controls a car's engine and gearbox electronics. All teams must use a standard FIA-regulated system.

Engagingly complex

The best definition of F1 we've heard yet. It's true too. Or too true. One of the two.

End plate

The end section of a car's front wing which helps to reduce drag and direct the airflow over a car's front wheels.


The ultimate power source of any car. Although the rules are set to be revamped for 2014, the current regulations state that this season's engines should have a capacity of no more than 2.4 litres, consist of eight cylinders and rev to 18,000 RPM. Engine development has been 'frozen' since the end of 2006 in a bid to keep costs down and a driver is allowed to use only eight units during the course of the season before receiving grid penalties.

Ericsson, Marcus

GP2 graduate who put Sweden back on the F1 map for the first time Stefan Johansson by landing a Caterham seat for 2014.


What F1 is. If you have to look up 'esoteric', this entry wasn't meant for you.

European, Grand Prix

The uninspired, catch-all moniker generally given to a nation's second grand prix which in recent times has been bestowed on a country whose star driver is a big draw for fans. Hence why Germany regularly staged two races during Michael Schumacher's golden era and why the Fernando Alonso-mad Spain hosted the European GP at Valencia in addition to the GP bearing the country's actual name since 2009. However, that logic all goes out of the window in 2016 when the European GP returns in...Azerbaijan.

So what have we forgotten? Let us know with an email to F1Feedback@bskyb.com

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Ferrari: The first among equals in F1



The lazy and succinct name of the thing we follow.


The name of HRT's 2012 car. Bet you didn't remember that. Or refer to it very often as a 'car'.

F14 T

Not, apparently, the way to spell Ferrari owner FIAT in a numberplate but the name of Scuderia's 2014 challenger.

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The grid walk: Martin always gets his man



The space seen by some drivers that never existed according to others and a topic of considerable contention between Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa in 2011.


The suffix applied to any, and apparently all, F1 controversies. See also: Spygate, Crashgate, Liegate, Testgate.


The rather vital component of a F1 car. The standard, fully-functional unit of a 2012 charger will have seven gears and, as in all cars, the higher ratios are between the lower gears to produce greater acceleration. Over the course of the season, each driver may use no more than one gearbox for five consecutive events while every unscheduled gearbox change will trigger a drop of five grid places.

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Lewis Hamilton: You either love him or, erm, you don't


Hamashima, Hirohide

Former Bridgestone director of motorsport development recruited by Ferrari ahead of the 2012 season to accelerate their tyre development work.

Hamilton, Lewis

Supremely-gifted driver who is widely considered to be the fastest on the F1 grid and crowned World Champion in 2008. Also arguably the most divisive driver in F1 and now a Mercedes employee following his bomsbell decision to leave McLaren at the end of 2012. See also: arguments, rows, and stewards - Lewis frequently does.


Abbreviated name of the Head and Neck Support device that became a mandatory requirement for all F1 drivers to wear after its introduction in 2003. The device is generally credited with saving the life of then-BMW driver Robert Kubica during his high-speed crash at Canada in 2007.

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Iceman: F1's Mr Cool


Ice cream

The sweet-flavored frozen food substance enjoyed in the comfort of the Ferrari hospitality tent by Kimi Raikkonen whilst the rest of the field took shelter on the grid after a rainstorm red-flagged the 2009 Malaysian GP.


The nickname of Kimi Raikkonen even before his Malaysian indulgence which features, in the form of a tattoo, on the Ferrari driver's left arm.


Italy-based circuit which held the San Marino GP between 1981 and 2006 in addition to the actual Italian GP in 1980. Removed from the calendar in 2007, Imola never recovered its appeal after hosting the darkest weekend in F1 history when, in May 1994, both Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger perished in accidents at the circuit.

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Japan: Oh they do like their F1



F1-mad nation which has not only been a permanent fixture on the calendar since 1987 but has also furnished the sport with a number of blue-chip companies such as Honda, Toyota and Bridgestone. Kamui Kobayashi returns for 2014 to fly the flag.


Circuit in southern Spain which was once the host of the Spanish and European GPs but in more recent times has been a regular test venue.

Jones, Alan

Gritty Australian star of the 1970s and 1980s who delivered Williams their first World Championship.

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Kravitz: Always on the move


Kaltenborn, Monisha

F1's first lady after becoming the first lady Team Principal in the sport after taking charge of Sauber two years ago.

Karthikeyan, Narain

India's first ever F1 driver who made his debut with Jordan in 2005 and, after six years away spent competing in various categories, returned with backmarkers HRT for eight races in 2011 - including his country's historic inaugural race - and a full-time seat for 2012.


The Kinetic Energy Recovery System which recovers wasted energy from the car during braking and then stores it in a battery for the driver to use for a regulated amount of time during each lap via a button on the steering wheel.

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Simon Lazenby: The man who keeps order



Noun: A complete circuit of a race track.

Lap, In

The final lap a driver starts before heading for the pitlane.

Lap, Out

The first lap a driver completes after leaving the pitlane. Stay with us, it gets more exciting soon.

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Monza: The home of the Tifosi


Maldonado, Pastor

Winner of the 2012 Spanish GP but who continues to struggle to shake off the 'pay driver' tag, especially after 2014 move up to grid to Lotus after a troubled third season at Williams. Backed by Venezuela's PDVSA oil company but also very fast - if a little prone to controversy and crashing.

Magnussen, Kevin

Son of one-time McLaren driver Jan who followed in his father's footsteps in making his F1 debut for the Woking team in 2014. McLaren's first rookie since Lewis Hamilton and like his predecessor finished on the podium on his Melbourne debut.

Mallya, Vijay

Indian businessman whose properties include United Breweries Group and Indian Premier League cricket team Royal Challengers Bangalore, as well as the Force India F1 team. See also: Force India.

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Noses: Look away now


New Jersey

Place near New York which F1 keeps talking about but never actually goes to in the end.

Newey, Adrian

The closest thing in F1 to a guarantee of success after designing title-winning cars for three different teams over the past 20 years - Williams, McLaren and Red Bull. From 2015 enters into a semi-F1 retirement.

Nose, Boxer's

The description applied to the nosey look of 2012 in reference to the sudden (and somewhat ugly) 'step' bolted on to the majority of the cars.

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Osella: Blink and you missed them


One hundred and seven per cent rule, The

The cut-off restriction that denies a car eliminated from the first segment of qualifying without setting a time within 107% of the fastest Qualy One time access to a race. However, the rule is by no means absolute, and any car which fails to set a qualifying time within the 107% cut-off may be given special dispensation to race by the stewards.

Opposite lock

The performance characteristic which occurs when a car loses grip at the rear to such an extent that a driver is required to steer in the opposite direction to that of the corner he is approaching or attempting to navigate.


Largely forgotten Italian team which competed in F1 between 1980 and 1990. The number of drivers the team got through during that decade more than outweighed the points scored - a measly five.


The only circuit in F1's 62-year history to begin with the letter O, the Osterreichring had something of a fearsome reputation when it staged grands prix between 1970 and 1987 and was ultimately taken off the calendar for safety reasons. A shortened version of the track, equipped with new motorway-esque name of the A1 Ring, returned to the calendar in the late 1990s, before disappearing again. The track is now known as the Red Bull Ring.


The performance characteristic favoured by some drivers that features a lack of grip from a car's rear wheels when it is steered through a corner. In layman's terms: it's what happens when a car is driven too fast.


The performance phenomenon which occurs when the rear tyres lose grip before the fronts, causing a car to turn at a angle greater than that of the corner being tackled.


The process in which one car passes another during a race. Not applicable at Valencia before 2012.

So what have we forgotten? Let us know with an email to F1Feedback@bskyb.com

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Pitlane: You don't want to be pushing your car back up one


Panis, Olivier

Former Ligier, Prost and Toyota driver who remains the last Frenchman to win a race in F1, at the crazy Monaco GP of 1996. These days can be found giving been-there-seen-it-done-it advice to Charles Pic. See also: Pic, Charles.

Patrese, Riccardo

Italian former race-winning driver who for over a decade held the record for the most grands prix starts in history before his tally was surpassed by Rubens Barrichello.

Parc ferme

The secure area, usually at the top of the pitlane, where cars are stationed between the end of qualifying and race day, and then again after the race, for the stewards of the event to complete scrutineering checks.

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Qualifying: It sometimes ends like this



The hour-long, three-part knockout session on a Saturday afternoon in which drivers try to set as quick a lap time as possible in order to determine their position on the grid for the start of the next day's race.

Qualifying One (Q1)

The first part of qualifying where all 22 cars take to the track for an initial 18-minute period. Drivers can complete an unlimited number of laps within that timeframe in a bid to set as fast a lap as possible. At the end of the session, the seven slowest cars are 'knocked out' of the running and make up positions 17-22 on the grid.

Qualifying Two (Q2)

The second part of qualifying which runs for 15 minutes with the fastest 16 cars from Q1 again out on track. Previous times from Q1 are reset and at the end of the session the drivers who have set the 11th to 17th fastest Q2 times are knocked out to make up the corresponding positions on the grid.

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Ricciardo: He's angry here, really


Race, The

The main event of a grand prix weekend. The distance completed tends to be around 190 miles - except at Monaco - and the winner is the driver who passes the chequered flag in first place. See also: Chequered flag, Grand Prix.

Racing line

The preferred part of the track where drivers position their cars during a lap.

Radio, Pit-to-car

Or car-to-pit, depending on which way you're speaking. Either way, one of Formula 1's least-reliable components, not least because it's seemingly not waterproof.

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Strategy: No pressure guys


Safety car, The

The svelte silver 571-HP Mercedes-Benz SLC AMG that is dispatched from the pit-lane by race control at irregular intervals during a grand prix to control the pace of the field due to a crash, debris, sudden tropical downpour or, at certain races in the past, a crazed track protestor. Its appearance can often inadvertently enliven boring races, as Nelson Piquet Jr aptly demonstrated in Singapore in 2008.


The age-old term often used in testing or Friday Practice to describe a team who, rivals suspect, are running heavier on fuel in order to mask their car's true pace.


The Peter Sauber-founded Swiss team that have competed in F1 since 1993. Bought by BMW in 2006 before being sold back to Sauber in 2010. See also: BMW.

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T-bone: Looks a bit like this


Tank slapper

The term used to describe the performance characteristic when the back-end of a car steps out and, in rather violent fashion, starts to zigzag as the driver attempts to wrestle it back under control. It's also what commentators might refer to as a 'big moment'.


The steak-sounding description applied when one car unceremoniously crashes straight into the side of another to produce something akin to a carbon fibre fireworks display.

Technical Working Group

The technical version of the Sporting Working Group which consists of all the team's relevant Technical Directors. See also: Sporting Working Group; FIA.

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Unpredictable: F1 at its best



The term used to describe a car pitting ahead of a rival for fresh tyres in order to take advantage of any subsequent tyre performance drop-off suffered by the latter. See also: Pirelli; Tyres.


The performance characteristic featuring a lack of grip in a car's front wheels when its driver steers through a corner. See also: Oversteer.


The performance phenomenon that occurs when a car turns by less than the amount by which it is being steered on account of the front tyres losing their grip before the rears. See also: Oversteering.

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Seb Vettel: F1's reigning champion



Former venue on the F1 calendar that, prior to welcome exception in 2012, did not agree with overtaking. See also: European Grand Prix, The.


The configuration of the 1.6 litres engines that become mandatory in F1 from 2014. The name comes from the fact that they have six cylinders and are arranged in a 90-degree 'V' configuration. See also: Engine.


The configuration of the engines used in F1 from 2006-2013. V10s were previously in use. See also: Engine.

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Wolff: F1's resident Arnie impersonator



The name of Mercedes' all-conquering 2014 car.

Walker, Murray

Legendary F1 commentator whose famous 'trousers on fire' style of delivery and sometimes intended, sometimes unintended, turn of phrase made him a household name and much-loved figure around the world. See also: Murrayisms.

Watkins, Professor Sid

Formula 1's late doctor and medical chief who between 1978 and 2004 played a central role in improving levels of safety in the sport.

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X-Wings: Now banned from F1


X-factor, The

The intangible quality a driver needs to make it big in F1. Note: Not the other one.


The hideous-looking wings erected on to Tyrell cars during the season 1997 in an aesthetically-ignorant attempt to increase downforce. Banned by the FIA on safety grounds the following year. Thankfully.

So what have we forgotten? Let us know with an email to F1Feedback@bskyb.com

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Yas Marina Circuit: We'd like to see their electricity bill



Japanese company more famous for their motorcycles than the reliability of their F1 engines during an ill-fated stint in the sport from 1989 to 1997.

Yas Marina circuit

Futuristic-looking venue which hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and is situated next to the Ferrari World theme park and a number of swanky hotels. Not noted for its overtaking opportunites. See also: Abu Dhabi; Abu Double.

Yellow flag

The item waved on a regular basis by marshals during the course of a grand prix warning them to slow down for a potential obstacle or incident ahead. Overtaking is strictly prohibited until the driver passes a green flag, with the waving of a double yellow meaning a driver must be prepared to stop. See also: Black flag; Red flag; Marshals.

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Alex Zanardi: A rare Z in F1


Zanardi, Alex

Former F1 driver who won a medal at the 2012 Paralympics ten years after an accident resulted in both of his legs being amputated. See also: Perspective; Inspiring.


The home of the Belgian GP in the mid-1970s after the original incarnation of Spa was deemed too dangerous. Held 10 grands prix but the death of Gilles Villeneuve at the circuit in 1982 signalled the beginning of the end of its F1 days.

Zonta, Ricardo

The driver who was the meat in a Mika Hakkinen-Michael Schumacher sandwich during the former's spellbinding passing move at Spa in 2000.

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