Formula One 2024: A Beginners Guide to F1

Formula One has taken the world by storm as the fastest growing sport in both popularity and on social media. With that said, curiosity is at an all-time high and it’s the responsibility of the stewards and content creators to not gatekeep and make sure new fans understand what’s going on in the most time-efficient ways. So, enter the “Formula One 2024 Beginners Guide,” where I hope fans find the information they’re looking for in an easy to follow format.

Here’s the outline so you know where to jump to in this post for easy references if you bookmark it–which you should!

  1. Teams
  2. Old Drivers
  3. Formula One Personnel
  4. Schedule
  5. Race Week
  6. Basic Terminology
  7. Technology
  8. Tyres
  9. Basic Rules & Procedures
  10. Flag Meanings
  11. Time Zones
  12. Livery Reveals
  13. Formula One Testing

Formula One Teams

There are only ten teams in Formula One and twenty drivers. Teams have reserve drivers who can fill in or be loaned to other teams, but these are the drivers and teams who will make up the grid this season:

Red Bull: Max Verstappen & Sergio Perez

Ferrari: Charles Leclerc & Carlos Sainz

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton & George Russell

McLaren: Lando Norris & Oscar Piastri

Alpine: Esteban Ocon & Pierre Gasly

Stake Kick Sauber: Valtteri Bottas & Zhou Guanyu

Aston Martin: Fernando Alonso & Lance Stroll

Haas: Kevin Magnussen & Nico Hulkenberg

AlphaTauri: Yuki Tsunoda & Daniel Ricciardo

Williams: Alex Albon & Logan Sargeant

Drivers from 2023 Not On Current Grid

Driver lineups shift and for a number of reasons, but with former drivers being mentioned so heavily during the Formula One season, here are some of the top drivers out of a seat in 2024 and why.

  • Nyck DeVries was replaced ahead of the 2023 Hungarian GP for Daniel Ricciardo. Through 10 races, DeVries hadn’t scored a single point, whereas, during Pirelli tyre testing, Daniel Ricciardo was posting times that could have been front-row.

Formula One Personnel

  • Team Principals: These are the people in charge of teams and personnel, and tasked with making major decisions in several key areas:
    • Red Bull: Christian Horner
    • Ferrari: Frederic Vasseur
    • Mercedes: Toto Wolff
    • Alpine: Bruno Famin
    • McLaren: Andrea Stella
    • Sauber (Kick Stake): Alessandro Alunni Bravi
    • Aston Martin: Mike Krack
    • Haas: Ayao Komatsu (replaced tenured team principal, Guenther Steiner ahead of 2024)
    • Visa CashApp RB (formerly AlphaTauri): Laurent Mekies
    • Williams: James Vowles
  • Race Strategists/Strategy Engineers: They’re in charge of car optimization through data management and assessments. This also includes tire strategies based on performance and degradation and analyzing competitors’ data to formulate winning strategies.
  • Engineers: From the chassis design to power units, front and rear wings, downforce, fluid-based mechanical systems, etc., there are a lot of engineers in Formula One, and each one is integral to performance of the cars.
  • Pit Wall: Usually, the pit wall is comprised of the team principal, chief strategist, engineers, directors, and designers. It’s important to note that these people begin the races in the garages as a safety rule and they can go back-and-forth throughout the race. Once the grid is cleared, team members take their positions.
  • Trainers: Each driver employs their own personal trainers for yearly training and nutrition management. While we’re here, the common joke is that Formula One drivers “skip leg day,” and while their legs are usually smaller compared to other athletes, there’s a reason for this: the lighter the cars the better for aerodynamics and since the majority of a drivers’ strength comes from core, upper body and their necks, bulky thighs and ripped calves doesn’t translate to competitive advantages in the cars.

2024 Formula One Schedule

Here’s the schedule:

FEB 21-23: Testing (Sakhir)

FEB-MAR 20-02: Bahrain GP

MAR 07-09: Saudi Arabia GP

MAR 22-24: Australia GP

APR 05-07: Japanese GP

APR 19-21: Chinese GP

MAY 03-05: Miami GP

MAY 17-19: Emilia Romagna (IMOLA)

MAY 24-26: Monaco GP

JUN 07-09: Canadian GP

JUN 21-23: Spanish GP

JUN 28-30: Austrian GP

JUL 05-07: Great Britain (British GP)

JUL 19-21: Hungary (Hungarian GP)

JUL 26-28: Belgium (Belgian GP)

AUG 23-25: Netherlands (DUTCH GP)

AUG-SEP 30-01: Italy (Italian GP)

SEP 13-15: Azerbaijan (Baku)

SEP 20-22: Singapore GP

OCT 18-20: United States GP (Austin)

OCT 25-27: Mexico GP

NOV 01-03: Brazilian GP

NOV 21-23: Las Vegas GP

NOV-DEC 29-01: Qatar GP

DEC 06-08: Abu Dhabi GP

Race Week

Race week in the most condensed form usually begins on a Monday with an advanced team of specialists flying out to the site. From teams assembling the tracks and signage, to the garages and paddocks, to camera crews setting up the miles of cables and cameras, there’s a lot to be done before teams arrive.

Usually on Thursdays, drivers and most of the important team personnel arrive and are immediately thrown into press conferences, briefs, and events. While drivers spend a considerable amount of time in simulators, nothing prepares them for the tracks quite like being on them, so usually on Thursdays, teams do track walks which help drivers get a feel of new additions to tracks or where bumps are. On Thursdays, teams hold strategy and communications meetings to go over schedules and important matters. The day usually concludes with team or sponsor events, and for personnel, it’s usually a time to explore the nightlife of the host cities, which is usually the routine until the following Monday when everyone flies out.

Fridays are all about the cars and making sure logistics are as seamless as possible. When the paddocks and garages are broken down after each race, the cars are disassembled so the installation lap during “Free Practice” sessions are to make sure assembly and new parts are correctly installed. It’s also important to note that new parts can’t be tested on the cars in between races so a lot of tweaking is done during this time. Usually there are two practice sessions lasting 60-minutes on Fridays with one FP session on Saturday morning.

Between sessions, you’ll see a lot of movement in the garages as engineers and personnel are doing data extraction to assess aerodynamics and strategies. While it’s difficult to know what most data reveals, one that’s relatively easy to understand if you know what you’re looking at is a fluorescent “spray” on the car called “Flow-viz (visualization),” which is a wet paint used to analyze aerodynamic testing to show where the airflow is moving the paint. The paint dries on the car and engineers are able to compare this data with what they’ve tested in their simulators and revise strategies based on that. This is important to understand in real-time as weather changes, and how a car performs in wind is critical for optimal race results.

Back to the weekend… in a traditional Formula One race weekend, Saturdays begin with FP3 to prepare for qualifying (quali). Most people are confused by quali but it’s one of the easiest aspects of race weekend. It consists of three sections spanning an hour where drivers who finish the first session with lap times in places 16-20 are eliminated for Q2, and the drivers with the slowest lap times in that session in positions 11-15 are eliminated for Q3. By Q3, the remaining drivers are put into a shoot out to determine the grid based on lap times. I’ll discuss tire strategies later on, but if a driver moves on to the shoot out, they get to use a fresh set of tires but must start with the tires they used in Q2.

In a non-traditional sprint weekend, qualifying occurs on Fridays and only soft tires are permitted, which eliminates the Q2 tire rule previously mentioned for quali. Essentially, teams can start on whichever compound they prefer for the race itself. This means a reduction in free practice session to just two, which will start around noon on Friday with the second session on Saturday morning. Friday night quali and Saturday sprint races are great for fans who can only attend one or two days, as race days can be expensive and/or too crowded for some people’s liking.

On Sprint Saturdays, the format is a 100km race that lasts around 30 minutes, so it’s basically under half a race of pure racing–meaning drivers don’t have to pit unless there’s damage. Similarly to race finals, there are first, second, and third place finishes which awards three points to the winner, two for second place, and one point for third. The results of the sprint race determine grid positioning for Sundays Grand Prix.

For the 2024 season, there are six Sprint Races: China, Miami, Austria, COTA (Austin), São Paulo, and Qatar.

Sundays are race days (with the Bahrain and Saudi Arabian GP [Ramadan] and the Las Vegas GP being the exceptions for the 2024 calendar, which are scheduled for Saturday), and race days usually starts bright and early, regardless of what time the race starts. For the Singapore GP, personnel are on UK time so it’s a night race, but with jet lag still an issue on race day, it’s still exhausting. For most races, however, everyone is up early doing production walk-thru’s, setting up, presenters are doing hair and makeup, there are last minute camera checks, and then fans arrive for the main event.

In the garages, data is being analyzed and strategies are honed in. Drivers are with their trainers and families getting their minds right. And mechanics are preparing everything for all of the chaos on the grid before the race. Unless a driver is starting from the garage (usually due to not being in their place on the grid when the pit lane closes), cars line up on the pit lane in their respective quali or sprint results, and mechanics are given a narrow window to make last-minute adjustments to the cars prior to the formation lap. Last year during the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Mercedes’ mechanics replaced Lewis Hamilton’s breaks on the pit lane, so despite what you might see on television with the grid walk theatrics, it isn’t at all for entertainment.

During the pre-race chaos, you’ll see hundreds of people on the grid, from team personnel to celebrities, and media going good walks. One of the most popular names is former racer Martin Brundle who likes to give us color commentary on what teams are doing beyond the ropes, as well as interview as many celebrities as possible. And yes, this is the Brundle who makes headlines for mistaking the identities of drivers or celebrities or being snubbed by celebrities, but remember, he’s a former driver and if those on the grid are curious about F1 or racing, they should know who he is and be delighted to talk to him. Good PR is good PR, after all.

When it’s time, trolleys and crews leave the pit lane, drivers do their formation laps to warm up their tires, and then the line up and “it’s lights out and away we go.”

Formula One races aren’t timed but every track must be uniquely designed to cover 305 kilometers or 190 miles.

Usually during the race, all non-essential equipment is packed up so it’s easier to break down the motorhomes and non-fixed infrastructure to send off to the next city. Usually from the time the race ends to the time everything is packed up takes about eight hours, but specialized crews (cameramen and media, hospitality, mechanics, etc), are usually done much sooner. After debriefs, personnel are then free to go party, and drivers typically head to the airports, but of course, they’re only human so sometimes they stick around to have some well-deserved fun, too.

Rinse and repeat in one or two weeks time.

Formula One is global circus and these men and women spend an insane amount of time away from their friends and families to put on the show we love so much. They don’t get nearly enough credit for their work, but from the cameramen, presenters, and social media managers who bring us close to the action, to the mechanics, medical staff, chefs, custodians, security, and everyone else who’s involved, THANK YOU.

Basic Terminology

Apex: The midpoint of a turn when the driver comes the closest to the inside curb

Backmarkers: Cars that are being lapped in races

Chassis: The main structure of the car

Chicanes: Sequences of corners intended to slow the cars down–usually prior to what would have been a corner with higher speeds

Delta: This is a term used to describe the difference between two separate lap times or two different cars. For example, “delta positive” would be when a driver is slower than the predetermined lap time. A driver could be “delta positive” when their best qualifying lap is lower than their best practice lap because of tires or fuel.

Downforce: The aerodynamics that push cars down towards the ground, which include (but are not limited to) the front and rear wings and diffusers

Dirty Air: Turbulent air experienced by trailing cars, which hampers aerodynamics

Drag: This is aerodynamic word that refers to a reduction in the top-speed of the car.

DRS: Drag Reduction System is when an adjustable flap is opened on the rear wing of the car to increase top speeds in DRS zones, and can only be activated if the lead car is within one second of the car trailing it

FIA: The Federation Internationale de’l’Automobile is the governing body for most international motorsports series. The FIA controls the safety and governing aspects of F1 while commercial aspects and interests are solely within Liberty Media, which owns F1.

Formation Lap: A single warm-up lap before races start

Halo: Introduced in 2018, the halo received the most pushback of any safety feature in years, but it’s saved many lives in its short time in the sport. It’s the oval-shaped component that’s bolted down to the chassis and connected to the roll hoop, which is just behind the drivers’ head. The angle of the design protects the drivers’ head in the event of an accident, and since Zhou Guanyu’s accident in the British GP in the 2022 season, technical regulations have been modified requiring increased load requirements and a rounded top to reduce the car from digging into the ground if it the car flips.

Overcut: A strategy when a driver pits after a fast lap time to re-enter the track ahead of the drivers they passed prior to the pit stop

Undercut: A strategy when a driver enters the pits before the car ahead of them to get a fresh set of tires to get ahead of drivers in front of them who will have to pit later

Oversteer: When a driver steers the car more than he/she intends to

Understeer: When a driver steers the car less than he/she intends to — both effect tire degradation in some capacity, but it’s generally better to oversteer than understeer

Paddock: Where F1 calls “home” during race weekends, the paddock is essentially central command for teams, media, and others

Parc Ferme: This is a secure area for cars after quali and races, where no mechanical work is allowed, although, some light work is

Pole Position: Also known as “P1,” “Starting from pole,” etc., this is where the fastest driver from Q3 finishes and starts the on the grid for the grand prix

Safety Car: The safety car leads on the formation lap and only comes back out under flagged conditions, such as an accident or a weather-related issue

Virtual Safety Car (VSC): The actual safety car doesn’t come out under the VSC, but instead, drivers have to reduce their speeds by 35 percent and yellow flags are waved in the areas where incidents occurred

Sandbagging: This is a term used in testing where drivers intentionally hide the potential of the car by posting slower lap time than what’s expected

Sectors: Tracks are divided into three sectors to help personnel and fans understand where cars are fastest and where they’re underperforming. The green sector indicates where a drivers’ best time was, yellow indicates where they were the slowest, and purple indicates where they were the fastest among all the drivers during that session

Slipstream: This is the benefit of dirty air, when the lead car essentially punches a hole of low pressure so the trailing car can get a tow on straights and potentially overtake the car in front

Formula One Technology

This guide has already discussed things like flow-viz, roll hoops, the halo, and others, so here are a few other things you will probably hear about this season.

Porpoising (which is essentially when a car bounces) was a cause for concern for teams like Mercedes last season. This forced the FIA to review safety issues, especially when seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton couldn’t walk following a race due to porpoising. Of course, teams disagreed saying it wasn’t their fault that Mercedes couldn’t design a better car and that they shouldn’t have to make changes in response. In any event, for the 2023 season, the edges of the car floors (bottom) will be raised by 15mm (or 0.59 inches), followed by raising the diffuser throat height and edges, with the addition of sensors to monitor porpoising.

Here are other technical amendments for the 2023 Formula One season:

  • In an effort to increase driver visibility, rear-view mirrors will be increased from 150mm to 200m
  • This season, teams are given more flexibility in terms of cooling fuel (which provides greater performance advantages as it’s more dense when cooled). This means that fuel can’t be “colder than either 10 degrees centigrade below ambient temperature, or 10 degrees centigrade (cut from 20 degrees) at any time when the car is running after laving the competitors designed garage area.”


Here are some terms associated with Formula One tires:

Lock Up: This occurs during heavy braking when one or several tires stop rotating. This can cause uneven tire wear and reduce tire performance and is most visible when you see smoke from the tires.

Blistering: This is when rubber softens and breaks off from the tire, which is referred to as marbles

Marbles: Small bits of rubber that have broken off from the tyres and collected on the side of the tracks

Graining: When a car slides around on track, pieces of tire break off and are dispersed towards the outer parts of the tire surface, which reduces grip because the tread has a reduced contact with the track

Degradation: This is a reduction in tire performance (such as grip) due to track conditions such as overheating, or if tires aren’t properly heated prior to driving

Tire Compounds

Pirelli supplies all of the tires for Formula One so at least in that department, everything is even competition. Pirelli supplies teams with five compounds of dry tires that are numbered from C0-C5, in addition to wet and intermediate tires. C0 is the hardest then it goes up to C5 which is the softest of the compounds. Pirelli chooses three compounds for each race based on how the Italian tire maker feels cars will perform the best. According to Pirelli, the 18’inch tires for 2023 were “designed from the ground up, with every element of the tire drawn from a clean sheet of paper.” The tires have undergone 10,000 hours of indoor testing with more than 5,000 hours of testing in simulators among 70 different prototypes.

Tire Identification

RED (softs): These tires are ideal for qualifying because they’re fast, but they lack durability.

YELLOW (mediums): Most favorable to start races because it’s a hybrid of hards and softs.

WHITE (hards): While providing the least grip, the hards are optimal for most race strategies, making them popular up and down the paddock

GREEN (intermediate or inters): These are the most versatile of the rain tires as they can be used on tracks which are wet and on dry surfaces

BLUE (wets): These have the deepest tread of all the compounds making them ideal for track conditions with standing water

Tire Strategy

Formula One teams are usually given 13 sets of dry tires from Pirelli, four sets of intermediates, and three sets of wets to be used in inclement weather. As mentioned above, Pirelli also assess track conditions and weather and confirm the tire choices before races. For example, for the Bahrain GP, Pirelli have recommended the C1 (white hards), C2 (yellow mediums), and the C3s (red softs). For qualifying, teams are required to go with the C3 and the C1 and C2 for the race.

Basic Rules and Procedures

For the 2023 season promotion, many argued that Formula One was also the only sport in the world to have its governing body decide its winner. Those comments weren’t wrong, but that’s the arrangement and we have to live with it, regardless of whether the FIA get calls right or wrong. Lucky for Formula One, however, Liberty Media has a lot of leverage now and can influence the FIA in greater ways, which will hopefully continue to improve the sport.

With that said, I’ve already discussed quite a few of them, but here are some of the most basic rules of the sport, with a few of the regulatory updates for 2023.

  • Paddock working hours have been cut this season with additional cuts coming in the future. Anticipating 24 races this season (although there are only 23), personnel are subjected to Restricted Periods One, Two, and Three, where they’re prohibited from working on the cars. In 2023, teams must wrap it up on Friday nights, 14 hours prior to FP3. There are a few other new curfew regulations, but that’s the big one.
  • The pit lane opens up 40-minutes before the race start and drivers are allowed to drive the track but must drive through the pit lane instead of the grid, and must be in their place on the grid 30-minutes before the race start. 10-minutes prior to race start, the grid is cleared of all non-essential personnel and at :15 seconds, all personnel must be off track prior to the formation lap.
  • Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships are two separate points systems, and just because a driver has won the WDC doesn’t mean their respective team has won the Constructors.
    • In the WDC, the winner of a race receives 25 points, followed by 18 points for second place, 15 points for third, followed by 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, and 1 point for 10th place. One additional point is awarded for the driver with the fastest lap. Minus the fastest lap bonus point, the points system for the Constructors’ Championship is the same as the WDC.
    • Extra points will be awarded in the six Sprint Races on the calendar this season, with the driver who finishes in first receiving 8 points, followed by 7 points for second place and 6 points for third place.
  • Drivers who finish in the bottom 10 or drivers who don’t finish (classified as DNF) don’t receive any points.
  • Engine grid penalties are a big one and you’ll see this penalty doled out a few times throughout the season. The first time a driver changes his power unit he receives a 10-placed grid penalty to start the race. Any time thereafter, and he’s given a five-place grid penalty, but if it’s more than 15 places, they start from the back of the grid.
  • Driver penalty points are given to individual drivers for committing a host of infractions, such as causing a collision, exceeding speeds under safety car conditions, etc. The thing about driver penalty points are that they don’t expire at the end of the season; instead, they stay on a drivers’ record a full calendar year. And if a driver has 12 penalty points at any given time, they’re given a race ban. At the end of the 2022 season, Pierre Gasly had ten penalty points which don’t start expiring until May 2023. Because of this, many speculated whether he would even compete in Abu Dhabi at the risk of earning two more points and facing a race ban to start his career with Alpine.
  • Gearbox modifications are only allowed when “materials, processes or proprietary parts” are unavailable and can’t cause a performance benefit.
  • The cost cap for 2023 stands at $135 million USD, down from $142.4 million in 2022.
  • With a historic 23-race calendar for 2023, there’s been a cost cap increase in the spending limit-per-race set from $1.2m-$1.8m which applies for every race after the 21st race. This is supposed to help teams offset the expenses that come with arranging accommodations, etc.
  • During Sprint weekends, teams will have greater access to change damaged parts whilst in Parc Fermé.
  • In 2022 a new rule was introduced in response to the 2021 Belgian GP where half points were awarded in a race where drivers completed just three laps behind the safety car before the race was called. That rule meant that a certain number of laps had to be completed in a race for points to be awarded at 25 percent intervals, eliminating half points for the completion of less than 75 percent of races. In the 2022 Japanese GP, just over 50 percent of the race was completed before hitting the three-hour window that races must be finished in. Moreover, the race didn’t resume until there was around 40 minutes left in the three-hour window where a race has to be completed in in the event of a suspension. Everyone assumed that the new rule would be applied for Suzuka with reduced points awarded on the following scale: 19 points, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, and one point awarded to the 10th place finisher for completing just 29 of the 53 scheduled laps. That didn’t happen and everyone–including Max Verstappen and Red Bull were confused when it was announced that Max had won his second world title because he was awarded full points. If the “Spa Rule” applied, Verstappen would have been short a point and would have to delay his celebrations until the United States GP two weekends later. This happened because of the interpretation of the rules which state that the reduced points schedule only applies if races are suspended and can’t be resumed. Clearly, the Japanese GP was resumed but this hadn’t happened before, so nobody thought to clarify the provision in the rules–until this season. The FIA’s Motor Sport Council has amended the wording to clarify and “ensure that shorter races have reduced points even if they don’t finish with a suspended race.”

Formula One Flag Meanings

Yellow and Red Flag: These are waved in the event that there’s debris or oil that could change the track’s surface by reducing grip. It’s essentially a warning flag.

Black and Orange Flag (with driver number): When race control notice a mechanical issue on a car that could cause a dangerous situation, they’re flagged which is a mandate that driver goes into the pit lane to get the issue sorted. If mechanics are able to fix it, they’re allowed to return to the race.

Single Yellow Flag: This indicates that there’s a hazard in the road so drivers must reduce their speeds, overtaking isn’t allowed, and if they run into debris, be prepared to avert it

Double Yellow Flags: This tells drivers to reduce their speeds significantly because marshals are working in that area of the track.

White Flag: This tells drivers that a vehicle is on track, such as a tractor. Unfortunately, rain might hinder drivers’ abilities to see this flag.

Red Flag: This indicates that the session or race is being suspended due to an incident or weather, so drivers must reduce speeds and return to the pit lane. Essentially, all racing maneuvers are prohibited. If the session resumes, drivers will line up as they were when the session was flagged. Prohibiting overtaking helps preserve the competition as it was occurring before the incident happened.

Green: Start of the session or resumption of the session/race

Black and White Checkered Flag: This is the flag that’s waved when the race or session is over, and a welcome sight for race winners.

Blue: This indicates that the driver who is being lapped must slow down to allow faster cars to pass. This is also a mandate that lapped drivers have to adhere to, as there’s no position to defend, and if the lapped driver fails to allow the pass, they risk a penalty.

Black and White Flag: This flag is a warning and indicates unsportsmanlike behavior by a driver. If the driver continues to drive erratically, they’re penalized.

Black Flag (with driver number): This flag tells the driver that they’re disqualified from the race/session. They must immediately return to the pit lane.

Time Zones

If you’re committing to Formula One, it’s time to switch your phone to military time. Trust me on this–it makes adapting to the F1 schedule much easier, especially if you’re in the United States. Formula One and teams usually release infographics with time schedules following military time, but races usually favor optimal slots in European time zones–more specifically London’s GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). For example, the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP started at 13:00–which is 5pm in London–would be noon in the United States’ EST, which is less than ideal during football season. Another example is the Monaco GP which starts at 13:00 GMT, which is 06:00 in California. This is less than ideal for people in the Pacific Time Zone, but again, time slots generally favor European scheduling.

Livery Reveals

Livery reveals are less about the development of the car and more about the livery response, and to highlight a teams’ sponsors and partners. For example, this season when Williams released its car, one of the first things people were paying attention to was the airbox, which was cleverly painted as a Duracell battery. For the record, The Duracell battery was also on the Williams’ airbox in 2022 for the Miami GP, but because it wasn’t there during the reveal, it didn’t get as much airtime.

Fans tend to focus more on shakedowns, which follow the livery reveals. There, they can more closely identify changes to the car on track and coming out of the garages–especially among teams that release show cars (which are basically just a chassis with lipstick). It isn’t until preseason testing where we get a true first glimpse of what teams have been working on all offseason, or how drivers are responding to the cars where it matters.

Formula One Testing

Preseason Formula One testing has been a mystery for a long time, and that’s by design. Teams want to let the public in to see the developments on the new cars, but the data they extract is really only decipherable if you’re a true tech head, or you’re actually in the paddocks.

In the past, testing has been almost two weeks, but due to regulations intended to tighten spending and allow for more rest for crew members, testing in 2023 has been pared down to three days. This year, Formula One testing is in Bahrain, which hosts the first Grand Prix a week later.

Teams are limited in terms of how much they’re allowed to test cars out of simulators, so the objective in Bahrain is to have the car you essentially designed in the simulator be as close to the car you’re seeing on track as possible. This is why data harvesting is so important, and why you see additional equipment on cars called rakes, which are metal fences around the body that provide airflow readings. Teams have unlimited lap testing time so from making sure the driver likes how he feels in the car to working on tire strategy and honing in the details among the electrical systems and more, it makes for a very intense three days of self-scrutinizing. This is where veteran drivers have an advantage, because they can assist engineers in assessing and ironing out the kinks.

Additionally, teams are able to practice pit stops which is important, especially for new crew members, and drivers are able to practice starts. This is especially important for rookie drivers or drivers who have been away for a while because penalties are enforced for false starts, and there’s no way to hide it. Cars are outfitted with sensors and if movement is detected or stewards see movement, the driver is penalized with a five or ten-second penalty, which is usually served during a pit stop where they have to sit idle for the entirety of the penalty–meaning, pit crews can’t touch the car.

If I were to make any change, I’d allow teams to have four cars so both drivers could run while they were working on the cars they brought back in as a way to more effectively extract as much data and change as many things as possible during the shortened window.

Testing is a fun lead-up to the race week, but remember that the data we’re given doesn’t tell the whole story. I suppose if there’s one obvious indicator that a car is performing well is how many laps it gets in. A car that spends the majority of the time in the garage is concerning.

I hope you’ve found this Beginners Guide to Formula One helpful, and if you have any questions, let me know. Cheers to a brilliant season!

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