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Long avenues of trees, top-heavy with foliage and gaunt in their very nakedness of trunk; a long, never-ending white ribbon, stretching away to the horizon; the holding of a bullet directed to that spot on the sky-line where earth and heaven met; fleeting glimpses of towns and dense masses of people - mad people, insane and reckless, holding themselves in front of the bullet to be ploughed and cut and maimed to extinction, evading the inevitable at the last moment in frantic haste; overpowering relief, as each mass was passed and each chance of catastrophe escaped; and beyond all, the horrible feeling of being hunted. Hundreds of cars behind, of all sizes and powers, and all of them at my heels, traveling over the same road, perhaps faster than I, and all striving to overtake me, pour dust on me, and leave me behind as they sped on to the distant goal of Bordeaux.

Even at the start, the remembrance of the gigantic line of vehicles at Versailles, all awaiting to receive the signal to dash after me, weighed me down and as we sped on and on and they came not, the strain became worse and worse. I have sympathy now with the hunted animal, for once in my life I was hunted; and of all the impressions of that wild rush to Bordeaux that awful feeling of being hunted was the vivid and lasting, and having experienced it, I do not wonder that Number One has seldom won a race.

Charles Jarrott


Born on July 15, 1906, Rudolf Uhlenhaut was an engineer and designer of Anglo-German descent, who later sat on the Board of Management at Daimler-Benz.

In 1955 after a test session on the Nürburgring, for example, world champion driver Juan Manuel Fangio reported that the car was not quite set up as it should be. So after a substantial lunch Rudolf Uhlenhaut, head of the racing department, climbed into the car, dressed in suit and tie, and lapped the Ring three seconds faster than the world champion. When Uhlenhaut pulled up alongside Fangio he told him it was nothing a little practice wouldn't put right.

As of 2009 teams are limited to 15,000 test kilometres during a calendar year. Young driver training and promotional events do not count towards this tally. Testing can only take place at FIA-approved sites and, ahead of a session, teams must inform the governing body of their schedule so that an observer can be appointed if deemed necessary. Testing during the race season itself is banned (from the week preceding the first Grand Prix to December 31), with the exception of a small number of straight-line aero tests.

With evermore restrictions on testing more and more time is given to racing simulators. One of the leading providers of simulators to motorsports is Cruden B.V. out of the Netherlands. These simulators provide six degrees of freedom (6-DOF or forward/back, up/down, left/right, pitch, yaw, roll). The use of simulators has their detractors. Former Ferrari president, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo slammed Formula 1's reliance on simulators. "It is a joke," said di Montezemolo during a lunch with media. "We have been forced to invest a huge amount of money in these terrible machines, artificial, instead of testing here [at Fiorano] and Mugello. Of course it should be remembered that Ferrari alone amongst Formula 1 teams has its own private test track.

The concept of a qualifying for the pole position has not always existed in Grand Prix Racing. In fact at the first Grand Prix drives were flagged off at intervals. When grids became the rule starting position was determined by ballot. Each marque had the right to place its drivers according to their own judgment but in conformity with the ballot. Eventually starting positions were awarded based upon practice and later special qualifying times.

Antonio Ascari and Giuseppe Campari were fierce rivals on the Alfa Romeo and it was not enough to beat Campari, Ascari had to destroy him and this would prove his undoing at 1925 French Grand Prix at Monthlery ...

During practice Campari had, most unusually, set a faster time than Ascari. Grid positions being decided by ballot in those days, the team gave their fastest drivers the front positions. This always went to the younger and more talented Ascari, Alfa’s number one. “But one of the directors, Rimini, who normally didn’t attend and knew nothing about racing, insisted that Campari be given the front slot, based on his practice time. Ascari was furious, for there had always been some envy and friction between the two drivers. Antonio had a point to prove and charged ahead from the start, increasing his lead despite my signals to slow down. He just misjudged that long corner. It was not even raining at the time, and he died in my arms.” The 24-year-old Giulio fainted, and took some time to recover, for he idolized Ascari, telling me “He was the first Nuvolari, very soft on his cars , smooth and so fast.”

The quote from Ramponi was relayed to Patrick O'Brien during a personal interview fifty years later and is used with his kind permission. More can be seen here: http://grandprixratings.blogspot.co.uk

During the turbo era of the 1980s engines were allowed unrestricted turbo boost in qualifying, where they were developing 1,350+ hp at 5.5 bar boost (80 psi). These engines and gearboxes would only last about 2–3 laps.


Earlier race cars did have starters but as we can learn from the following turn of the century recounting by Charles Jarrott that all was not so simple ...

(Frank) Wellington who was an expert on ignition burners (so he informed me), then proceeded to light the ignition lamps for the motor. His methods were drastic, novel to me, and terrifying to the bystanders. There was rather a big blaze, but, as he explained to me afterwards, that was a detail, and it really was not dangerous. Anyhow, when I say that he turned on the petrol tap, flooded the whole of the engine with petrol, turned the tap off, lit a match, dropped it inside the bonnet of the motor and then ran away, one can imagine that my criticism of his expertness was somewhat more forcible than my expression of the word "primitive." And having assured the bystanders that the aid of the fire brigade was not necessary, and the flames having subsided, we got the burners to work with the aid of some methylated spirit, and proceeded to start the motor.

The famous Le Mans start and the less famous Tourist Trophy start were some of the few instances where running to your car and starting the engine was part of the race. In most other forms of racing the engines are running or started on the grid somewhat theatrically as at Indianapolis prior to one or more pace laps. The modern Formula 1 cannot start on its own and their unique standing start can only happen after the cars have returned to the grid following a formation lap.

Formation Lap

Before the start of the race the cars must move onto the grid and take their places based upon their qualifying times. Approximately five minutes before the actual start and based upon the length of the circuit the cars take a lap around the track in formation and form back onto the grid ready for the flag to drop, or now for the lights to go out.

During the formation lap - and this is something you learn quickly in the lower formula - the driver must also leave his mark on his opponents, let everyone know he is not there to be pushed around, that he will finish as high as he possibly can. A squeeze on a bend, a hint of overtaking, a braking manoeuvre extended to within a few centimeters of the gearbox of the car in front demonstrates your intention and ambitions: these feints and thrusts are a sort of declaration of war.

The driver in front of us, who may not be perfectly mentally and physically tuned, might actually start the race with his eyes in the rear-view mirror, losing sight of the cars ahead of him. And that is a fatal mistake: if this is how he has started, in most cases he will be easy to swallow up later.

Ayrton Senna


PitstopWith the arrival of re-fueling the modern pit pit crew comprises 17-20 people, each with a very specific role. When a car enters the pit during a regular stop it stops in marked area . If the driver misses the mark it costs valuable time to move the car manually back to the right position. The lollipop man shows the side of his board which says "Brakes on". The refueling man puts the hose into the car. At the same time the two jack holders, one at front and one at the rear, use levers to lift the car off the ground. The wheelmen at each wheel, use air guns to remove the nuts, which hold the wheels in place. While the wheels are taken off, new wheels already waiting by the car are attached. After each new wheel is attached one of the wheelmen holds up his arm. Others check the air intakes for blockages and if necessary wing adjustments are made. When all four wheelmen are ready the Jack Holders lower the car. The lollipop man rotates his board to display "1st Gear" When refueling is completed a light will go on and the hose is swiftly removed. Lollipop man checks for traffic and raises his lollipop to signify to the driver that he can go back out into the pit lane. By this time the driver is focused on the lollipop and the millisecond it is raised, he accelerates off, the average time in the pits between 6 and 8 seconds.

Lollipop Man - The lollipop man heads up the pit crew, often the chief mechanic and it is his responsibility to organize the pit stop. He marks the area where the car should stop and ensures that the car is still while the mechanics change the tires and refuel. Only when the tires have been changed and all the necessary fuel is in the car, does he raise his lollipop to signify to the driver that he can leave the pits.

Wheelmen - The wheelmen are in charge of making sure the old tires come off the car and are replaced by new ones. Three wheelmen are allocated to each wheel, one responsible for removing and reattaching the wheel nuts, one to remove the old tire and one to put on a new tire If the driver requires aerodynamic modifications to his car, two wheelmen are prepared to make front and rear wing adjustments.

Refueling Man - As soon as the car halts outside the garage the refueling man attaches the fuel pump to the car to begin the refueling process. Two mechanics assist in holding the fuel hose. For refueling during a race, teams use identical rigs supplied by one FIA-approved manufacturer. For safety reasons the refueling rate is limited to 12.1 liters per second.

Jack Holders - There are two people in charge of the jacks - a tool used to manually lift the car off the ground. There is one Jack Holder for the front and one for the rear. They use levers to lift the car off the ground immediately as it comes in for its pit stop.

Firemen - Two crew members are on standby with fire extinguishers in the unlikely event of a fire breaking out.

Starter - If a driver stalls the car, a gearbox mechanic is ready to manually start the car from the rear.

Pitstops during the thirty's were a different matter. While there were no international regulations governing how many mechanics could take part the individual race organizers usually set limits of 2-3. Hermann Lang, of the Mercedes team describes such a pitstop: First is a signal for the driver to stop on the next lap, this consists of an inclined red cross on a white background. With three mechanics No. 1 puts the left rear wheel on the track; Nos. 1 and 2 raise the car on the jack; No. 1 changes the left, No. 2 the right wheel. No. 1 gets the starter, No. 2 lowers the car. No. 3 has in the mean time handed the driver goggles, water and leather (to clean the windscreen) and refueled. The team used a pressurized refueling device that dispensed 20 gallons in 8 seconds (compared to 25.5 in 2008) though regulations required the engines to be switched off when used. Altogether the perfect pitstop took 21 seconds, a record amongst teams at the time, front tires were rarely changed.


Mechanician - In the early days of motor racing one mechanic or mechnician as he was know would actually ride next to the driver during the races. S.C.H. Davis served as a riding mechanic to Count Louis Zborowski in the 1924 French Grand Prix:

"Mechanics are always asked whether they feel uncomfortably nervous. The answer is that a mechanic first must have confidence in his driver, and after that should make no attempt to 'drive in his mind,' being too busy with his job. A driver sitting by another who is handling the car nearly always drives in his mind, and if the pair have not got the same cut-off points before a corner, then the one who is not driving is sure to be nervous."

"Our run up the vase of the triangle course was a real joy, but the long straight leg up and down the 'Montagnes Russes' at 117 mph with the wind howling round one's ears and air pressure trying to force our heads back, amply demonstrated the real thrill of racing, the full exhilaration of speed... Every few minutes I would look back, and see if, in the distance there showed the bright colored speck of another car ... if it faded, well and good; if it grew more definite ... gradually overtaking us than I would warn Zborowski by one tap on the shoulder. When the other car was ready to pass, two taps. In between each gauge had to be watched air pressure had to be maintained in the fuel tank and an occasional glance outside to make sure that nothing looked loose and that the tire treads were standing up."


Traction CircleThe art of cornering has many aspects but it all starts where the tire hits the road in what was once referred to as slip angle and is now illustrated in the form of a traction or friction circle.

In the diagram at right the roadway exists in the x-y plane with the direction of travel illustrated by the headlights. The vehicle cornering to the right shows the tire rotated at an angle from its actual direction. This is the aforementioned slip angle. The use of a circle describes how cornering, braking and acceleration forces come into play and using modern data acquisition these forces can be graphed.

A tire can generate horizontal force where it meets the road surface by the mechanism of slip. That force is represented in the diagram by the vector F. Note that in this example F is perpendicular to the plane of the tire. That is because the tire is rolling freely, with no torque applied to it by the vehicle's brakes or drive train. However, that is not always the case for often the is either accelerating or braking.

The magnitude of F is limited by the dashed circle which denotes the maximum level of adhesion. The diameter of this traction circle is affected by many things, including the design of the tire and its condition (age and temperature, for example), the qualities of the road surface, and the vertical load on the tire.

Racing Line

Racing circuits all have one thing in common, they consist of a series of turns connected by straights of varying lengths. The goal of a driver is to complete the circuit or lap in the shortest amount of time. To do this the driver attempts to maximize the time his car is running at full acceleration. If the car is no longer accelerating then it must either be decelerating or has reach terminal velocity. This should happen just before he or she has reached the next corner. If this is not the case then an adjustment to the gear ratio is warranted.

In navigating a turn the driver will follow an imaginary line, which is known as the racing line. This racing line seeks to widen the radius of a given turn. Once the racing line is determined a driver may modify the point on which they turn in, moving the apex further into the corner allowing them to accelerate sooner. This is especially true for a mid to slow corner followed by a longer straight. A driver may also modify their line when defending their position, taking an earlier turn so as not to "leave the door open" for their opponent to pass on the inside following late braking. In judging the proper racing line through a series of turns the driver must give priority to the one leading to the longer straight, especially if the straight offers a passing opportunity.


Peter Windsor, one of the principles of the new US F1 team remarked that "To my eye, as I’ve said before, there appear to be two major divisions: those who brake in a straight line and naturally find the geometrical apex, and those who brake as they turn in to an earlier apex." Jim Clark belonged to the latter group, who would get on the power early and try to drift the car through the true apex and to continue to drift as he set the car up for the following straight.

A modern F1 car will stop from 200mph to 0 in just 5sec. “You have to hit the brakes very hard initially,” says Jenson Button,” “There’s so much downforce – about 5.5g – that your head is pushed forwards. The most difficult part is controlling the middle and the end of the braking. You must try to keep the car balanced and not lock the wheels. With 5.5g of loading, you can lock the wheels very easily.” Using turn 4 at Barcelona, a medium speed right-hander as an example Button uses the car’s natural oversteer to initiate the turn. “Normally you get a bit of oversteer [rear-end slip] on turn-in,” he says. “Then you balance the car using the throttle and the brakes at the same time.”


Left-Foot Braking

During the 70s many young drivers got their start racing karts. Most of the karts came with only two pedals, for gas and brake. The faster drivers soon found that judiciously using the gas while applying full breaking they could adjust the balance of the car and lessened the karts tendency for oversteering. When Ronnie Peterson reached Formula 1 and joined the Lotus team he had retained his preference for left foot braking and found a receptive ear in Colin Chapman. With the 1974 Lotus T76 Chapman produced a Y-shaped brake pedal that could be used by either foot. The clutch pedal was retained but only required for starting. Thereafter, gear changes were performed using a button on the gear change lever to activate the clutch via an electro-hydraulic actuation system. Left-foot braking common in rallying became more wide-spread in F1 with the arrival of Michael Schumacher.

The graph on the left traces the throttle-to-brake response of two drivers. Driver A is using his right foot to brake, while Driver B is using his left foot. From the graph you can see that right foot braking wastes some time in removing his right foot from the throttle over to the brake peddle. This time is marked by points "a" and "b".

Speed Secrets II:
More Professional Race Driving Techniques
But suppose that both feet are working in tandem. One common race situation that requires left-foot braking is when a racer is cornering under power. If the driver doesn't want to lift off the throttle, potentially causing trailing-throttle oversteer, left-foot braking can induce a mild oversteer situation, and improve the car turning in to the corner. Mild left-foot braking can also help reduce understeer.


Overtaking another car is usually the result of greater speed exiting a corner, later braking into a corner, slipstreaming, a mechanical problem or a driver mistake. Add to this you have the artificial means of KERS and DRS. A slower car will be asked to allow a trailing car to pass by being shown a Blue Flag by one of the marshals.

Maurice Trintignant, brother of Louis, had only started racing that year and the organizers at the Grand Prix de Pau, became worried when they realized that Trintignant had qualified for a position in the middle of the field. Charles Faroux wanted to move Trintignant to the last position but changed his mind only on the condition that Trintignant during the race would not try to pass any one and would keep a close eye on his mirrors!


Communication between drivers and their mechanics has always been critical to the success of the team whether the mechanic or mechanics were sitting in the seat next to the driver or safely in the pits.

Now that riding mechanics have been banned and communication between drivers save for the occasional salutes to fellow racers who forget to check their mirrors, communication in now limited to drivers and their pit crew. Before two-way radio this was accomplished through the use of hand signals, flags or sign boards.

Alfred Neubauer was famous not just for his girth but for the host of flags he carried to each race. One drawback though was that the other team or driver could also see these signals, sometimes to their distinct advantage. In response some hand signals were added that could be changed depending on the circumstance similar to the signs used in American Baseball without the theatrical spitting and grabbing of one's crotch! At the beginning of each race Neubauer took his place at trackside, a black and red flag in his hand. An official seeing this strange sight tried to have him removed but to no avail. There is even a photograph of Neubauer at the front of the grid holding up 4 fingers to signal four seconds to start. Amazingly all eyes are on him rather than on the starter! From that moment on a race without Don Alfredo could not have been very important. Woe betide the driver who should happen to miss or ignore these signals. The driver trying to keep his car on the track at speeds of over 150 miles per hour was left to cope.

The introduction of two-way radios, computers and electronic monitoring gives the team and driver real-time information regarding the race as well as the health of the car. While electronic control from the pits is forbidden they can inform the drive to make an adjustment from the cockpit. To top this of the teams also have the latest weather information should a storm be brewing.

As if this information overload is not enough live feeds have now allowed the viewing public, happily sitting on their couch to listen in while the crew exhorts their overwrought driver that the moment had arrived to go all out to catch and pass the car ahead. It's doubtful if this sorry spectacle would have ever been directed at a Tazio Nuvolari or Gilles Villeneuve had the technology been available. They knew nothing else.


Race strategy is constantly evolving, but goes through particularly marked transitions when major rule changes are introduced. Shortly after the reintroduction of refueling stops in 1994, the teams' race strategists worked out that at some circuits benefit could be gained from making two or three stops, rather than just one. This was because the car could run substantially quicker on a lower fuel load (with less weight to carry around) and using the grippier, but less durable, soft tyre compounds. The difference in performance was such that it could be sufficient to offset the effect of the 30 or so seconds lost making a pit stop.

Regardless of rule changes, there are certain factors that must always be considered. Data such as weather forecasts, the likelihood of overtaking at a particular track, the length of the pit lane and even the chances of an accident likely to require the use of the safety car all come into play when deciding strategy. And, of course, one of the largest ingredients remains, as always, luck.

But with built-in tire degradation has F1 become to "tactical" or in fact too much of a crap shoot?

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