Written by Madhav Bahl, a grade 8 student
Formula One (popularly called ‘F1’) is an international auto-racing sport, filled with controversy, big money, and fame.
The first-ever F1 race was the Turin Grand Prix in 1946. However, the World Drivers’ Championship was only formalised in 1947, and the first World Championship race was conducted in the UK in 1950.
Each F1 season usually begins in March and ends between October and December. During this time, a series of races, known as ‘Grand Prix’ (or ‘Great Prize’) are conducted worldwide. Every Grand Prix has 10 participating teams, and each team has 2 drivers and 2 cars. Their total scores determine the winners.
Historically, Ferrari has won the highest number of Grand Prix titles (238), followed by McLaren (182) and Mercedes (116 wins).
What titles do Grand Prix teams compete for?
There are two titles in F1. One is the Constructors’ Championship Award and the other is the Drivers’ Championship Award.
‘Constructors’ are people or companies who design the key components of the competing F1 cars. The drivers, as the name suggests, are people who drive these cars. At the end of the F1 World Championship, the driver with the highest number of points on the grid wins the Drivers’ Championship Award.
Likewise, the constructor company with the maximum points in the given season wins the Constructors’ Championship.
In recent times, F1 has been dominated by two teams, Red Bull and Mercedes, who have been winning the Constructors’ Championship since 2011,
This season, though, we all have reason to believe that Mercedes’ dominance might end, and it will be all but tighter in the midfield after last year’s fight for third place.
Incidentally, last year, other than the last race in which Mercedes had an engine power shortage, all driver poles were won by teams with Mercedes units, with Mercedes leading from the start.
Why is the constructor’s position important?
Each constructor position wins extra prize money as the rank increases. This helps in the development of the car in the following year, which also means that the car has more chances of winning in the next season.
Understanding the F1 Grand Prix:
An F1 Grand Prix has 3 parts: the practice sessions, qualifying, and the main race.
There are three practice sessions (P1, P2, and P3) in F1 that help the teams practice and test various strategies for the race. Two sessions happen on a Friday and one takes place on the following Saturday, before the qualifying stage. This round is just for testing purposes, so it does not account for any points, and none of the drivers are eliminated.
The qualifying stage happens on a Saturday and determines the starting order of a race. This round also consists of 3 stages, – Q1, Q2 and Q3. However, these three stages are conducted in a knock-out format.
In Q1, all twenty drivers come out on the track and set the fastest lap time they can. It is normally an 18-minute session (if not interrupted), and the last 5 (i.e., the slowest) drivers are knocked out.
.Q2 starts with the remaining 15 drivers, lasts for about 15 minutes, and again, the last five drivers are eliminated.
The final stage, Q3, begins with the remaining 10 drivers, and these drivers are given the starting positions. The driver with the fastest lap time is given the ‘Pole Position’ on the grid. Times are reset after each qualifying stage, and the fastest time in each session is recorded/considered.
The actual race starts on a Sunday with all 20 drivers doing a formation lap. The formation lap is the lap that all the cars do just before the actual race. It is used to make the grid according to the starting order. After the lights go off, the race starts and continues according to the laps. The top 10 drivers are given points based on their positions
Each car has 8 soft tyres, 3 medium tyres and 2 hard tyres which can be changed during the race. But even though each step is lightning quick, about 23-24 seconds are lost as drivers slow down and enter the pit lane. In the end, the top three drivers stand on the podium and are awarded a trophy each. They are also given celebratory champagne for hydration as they are not allowed fluids during the race.
The team whose drivers have the most points in that weekend nominate one person from the crew to take the trophy for the weekly constructor but the yearly is of much more importance.
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