Everything you need to know about F1

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Formula One, also known as F1, is a type of formula racing that involves the use of open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars. The sport has ten teams with two drivers each, and a season typically consists of between 19 to 25 races, which are referred to as "Grand Prix". These Grand Prix races usually take place on purpose-built tracks or on city streets, and the cars race at high speeds, with some reaching over 200 mph.

F1 races are significantly different from NASCAR and IndyCar races, as F1 cars are open-wheeled, reach higher speeds, and operate more like a long and speedy go-kart. NASCAR and IndyCar are specification-based series, with all of the cars being essentially the same, while in F1, car designers follow a set of rules (or a "formula") with guidelines on car weight, mirror size, tire composition, and more.

F1 has been gaining a foothold in the US over the last few years, with ESPN reporting that eight out of 23 races it broadcast in 2023 set US television F1 viewership records, and viewership has doubled since the 2018 season. For those looking to get into the sport, F1 fans recommend the Netflix docu-series Drive to Survive, which gives an inside look at each season of F1.

Here are some common terms that you'll hear during an F1 race:

  • DRS (Drag Reduction System): A mechanism on F1 cars that reduces drag by opening a flap on the back wing of the car. DRS can only be applied at certain points of the race, called DRS zones, and when two cars are within a certain time distance of each other (1 second).
  • Understeer: Happens when the front of the car is harder to turn than expected, so the car will not turn into a corner as sharply as the driver intends to turn.
  • Oversteer: Happens when the back of the car turns too much and slips a bit when a car is turning. This means that the front of the car will turn too sharply into a corner.
  • Undercut: When a driver makes a pit stop to put on brand new tires before an opponent does, which, if done correctly, allows the driver who pitted to gain time on a driver who did not pit and is running on older tires.
  • Overcut: The opposite of an undercut, when a driver chooses to remain on the track on older tires while other drivers pit. If executed properly, a driver can get a few more laps out of their tires and pick up a few seconds on opponents on a less congested track.
  • Degradation: F1 tires are usually smooth and are under a great deal of strain during races. As a result of temperature and wear, the tires can degrade and slow down the car and make it harder to control.
  • Box: A call made to the drivers from their pit to come into the pits for a tire change or a part replacement. Teams will often make dummy calls to trick other teams into making a strategic response to something that is not happening.

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