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03. F1 The Tournament

Liberty : reuters.com

F1 The Tournament 

History

Formula 1 traces its roots back to the earliest days of motor racing. But it wasn’t until 1946 that it became an officially sanctioned motorsport tournamet. 
From the start, it was established as the highest tier of single-seater, open-cockpit racing in the world. And it has, for the most part, lived up to that definition. 
Over the years, the cars have evolved, as have the teams and the tracks. Technology has played an increasing role, aiding the design and progressively pushing the boundaries regarding the build. Constant advances can be seen in testing, racing and upgrades bought during the season. 

Formula 

The term “formula” refers to the regulations set by the sport’s governing body, the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile). These rules have been ever-changing from the beginning, sometimes multiple times within a single season. The rules are in place to maximise safety, increase competition, and drive innovation.

More recently, changes have sought to even the playing field between the teams and slow the rampant pace of the wealthy teams. Examples include implementing a cost cap and rationing wind tunnel time with more time available to those at the bottom of the field.

F1 Today

Formula 1 is a truly global super sport with a rapidly growing fan base and venues in exciting cities worldwide. Currently, there are ten teams and 20 drivers competing over a 24-race season (2023 – with a Chinese replacement to be announced), all fighting to accumulate points, secure the titles and maximise their share of the prize money.

Formula 1 is hugely competitive and super expensive, but the amount of money a team can spend is capped. This is an attempt to ensure the smaller teams can keep up with well-funded entries like Ferrari, Mercedes’ and Red Bull. Prize money is allocated based on where the teams finish. 

F1 is available to audiences to addend live and through F1TV, local sports channels, YouTube channels, podcasts and social media. It is the subject of TV shows, books and movies. Drive to Survive on Netflix is a recent addition, proven popular with a wide audience and responsible for drawing in more fans.

Titles and other competitions

There are two primary competitions in Formula 1, the World Constructors Title and the World Drivers Title. The Constructor’s title is about the team’s overall performance, based on the combined points from two cars (irrespective of who is driving, specifically, a reserve driver’s points count). The team’s ranking determines the share of the prize money they will receive.

The drivers are contractors fighting as individuals for the Drivers title. The fight for the two titles can cause conflict throughout the season as the best strategy for the team may not be the best for the driver and team orders may be used. 

Several other ‘competitions’ run over the course of the season, such as pole position, fastest lap, driver of the day and fastest pit-stop.

Liberty Media 

Ae US-based investment company, Liberty Media, owns Formula One Group, which in turn owns the commercial rights to Formula 1. Liberty acquired Formula 1, a global motorsports business, in Jan 2017, valuing the enterprise at $8.0 billion.
They run the events and share part of the revenue with the teams. Each team receives a share of the TV rights, approximately $36m, and prize money based on where they finish (from approximately $60m down to $10m). In addition, there are bonuses, legacy payments and a few other peculiar allocations.
The details are stipulated in the Concorde Agreement, a contract between Formula 1, the FIA and the teams that compete in F1. Its name is due to the first iteration of the document, which was drafted in 1981, being discussed at the FIA offices on the Place de la Concorde in France’s capital Paris.

The FIA 

The FIA is the governing body for world motor sport and the federation of the world’s leading motoring organisations. Founded in 1904, with headquarters in Paris, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is a non-profit making association responsible for the interests of motoring organisations and motor car users across the globe.

It brings together 244 international motoring and sporting organisations from 146 countries on five continents. Its member clubs represent millions of motorists and their families.

For F1Newbies, the FIA is the governing body for Formula One, responsible for setting and monitoring the rules and regulations that prioritise the safety of all involved while running a fair, competitive and entertaining event.

The FIA appoint a Race Director and Stewards as well as run the Safety Car, Medics. They provide the head Marshals to run the events with the aid of hundreds of local volunteers. 

Regulations and application

The FIA set F1 technical and sporting regulations covered in a 112 page document (copy available here). 

Clause 1.1 starts…

“The FIA will organise the FIA Formula One World Championship (the Championship) which is the property of the FIA and comprises two titles of World Champion, one for drivers and one for constructors. It consists of the Formula One Grand Prix races which are included in the Formula One calendar and in respect of which the ASNs and organisers have signed organisation agreements with the FIA”. 

The technical regulations cover all aspects of the sport in minute detail, including chassis, engine, refuelling and tyres. Parc fermé, race procedure, scoring, flags, penalties, and pit-to-car communications. 

An FIA-appointed Race Director, Stewards and Marshals, manage the race weekends. They are present in the pits, scrutinising and monitoring team activities. They can call a car into the weigh station anytime over the weekend and carry out checks post-race: e.g. fuel sampling. 

During on-track sessions, the stewards are responsible for ensuring the teams follow protocol, staying within track limits, giving way where required and observing safety measures such as pit lane speed limits.

Drivers must hold a Super Licence and demerit points can be applied for dangerous driving or repetition of minor infringements. Teams and drivers can also receive grid penalties or fines for breaking the rules. In Formula 1, this can be considered the lesser of two evils, and teams may take the penalty to benefit from the breach.

Teams

In 2023 there will be ten teams entering 20 cars and competing in 24 race weekends across the globe.

The FIA stipulates a maximum of 26 cars on the grid, but the cost for new entrants is high. In addition to the cost of the car, Power Unit, Senior Staff and Drivers (circa $300m per annum), there is the entry fee and a one-off payment of $200m. Further, any new team on the grid will not qualify for prize money in the first year. 

Sponsors 

Sponsorship is a key part of funding F1 and provides opportunities for companies to partner with F1, exposing their brands to millions of viewers while providing necessary funding for teams to function.

Sponsorship opportunities are numerous, from Regional Sponsorship to Title, Track, Team and Driver. The cost of sponsorship begins at $100,000.00 and reaches up to multi-millions. The value of sponsorship to F1 is rumoured to be $30B per annum.

Race Schedule

Liberty is responsible for setting the schedule, and over the years, there have been 69 venues, ranging from street circuits to fixed racetracks. Several events under the current schedule have been on the calendar from the beginning, like Silverstone, Monaco and Monza. The latter has hosted 71 events in total, having missed 1980.

Today we have a mix of day or night races, adding to the challenges for the teams to overcome. Other aspects to manage include downforce level, track surface, temperatures, altitude, weather conditions etc…

In 2023 F1 will host 24 race weekends with six sprint-format races. See the full schedule here and follow our calendar here

Circuits

The FIA grades circuits from 1 to 6, with a Grade 1 circuit being the standard set for F1. Promotors and hosts invest millions of dollars to create and maintain the facilities to these exacting standards. The payoff is global exposure for the city, millions of viewers, hundreds of thousands of attendees and tens of thousands of visitors. All are paying for the pleasure, and those visiting the town are spending money. 

Circuits vary considerably from dedicated race tracks to temporary street circuits. Straights, corners, climate, altitude, track surface and whether the race is day or night all play a part in how the cars work. 

Preseason 

Formula 1 never stops, well, nearly never. As soon as the season is over, the team is focused on the design and testing of next season’s car. Developing the design, testing scaled models in the wind tunnel and refining the aerodynamics.

The Power Unit must be assembled, fitted to the chassis and fired up before the team’s official launch and initial scrutiny by the sports pundits. The finished car must be packed up and shipped with all the team’s equipment in time for the official test. Working to a February launch and official test session, to be held in Bahrain over the weekend of 22 – 24th Feb 2023. 

Testing and practice are limited, with teams allowed to run the car for a maximum of 100kms for a media day and then the three days of preseason testing. They will have a further testing day at the start of the summer break. Apart from this, the car can only be run during official sessions over the race weekend. 

Teams have a mandatory two-week shutdown over Christmas and the new year. at Launch – Testing – media day – Preseason, testing, first half, summer break, second half, tyre tests 

Race Weekend

Race weekends are busy times for the drivers and team management, and the team responsible for the cars. Drivers and Team Principals have media duties as well as their own sponsor hosting obligations. 

The standard format is three Free Practice sessions, each for an hour. This is where teams will run set run plans to simulate aspects of Qualifying and the Race, collecting data to inform the strategists. Terms used include Quali run, race simulation, and high fuel run. Drivers will have the opportunity to do a practice start at the end of Free Practice. 

Qualifying, or Quali, is held on Saturday afternoon. Quali is a one-hour session used to determine pole position and the order the rest of the cars will line up behind pole. The hour is structured in three knock-out sessions – Q1 at 18 minutes (five slowest care eliminated), Q2 at 15 minutes (next five slowest cars eliminated) and Q3 at 12 minutes to set the order for the top ten. 

The race is held on Sunday afternoon and is approximately 300km. Drivers will participate in a drivers parade before the grid opens, and the cars carry out an installation lap before being positioned in their grid box for final checks. 

The teams will set their own strategy based on the gathered data; the cars will have one mandatory pit stop and must run a minimum of two tyre compounds

In 2023 there will be six sprint events where a shorter 100km race will be held on Saturday afternoon. Friday will see the cars run one practice session and qualification. Saturday morning is for Free Practice 2 before the sprint race on Sunday afternoon.

The finishing positions of the sprint race determine the order of the starting grid for the race on Sunday. 

Prizes and Points

Podium positions are awarded to first, second and third. Points are allocated to the first ten finishers (first eight in the sprint), and a bonus point is available for the fastest lap of the race, but the driver must finish in the top ten.

Awards are given out for Pole Position and fastest pit stop

Logistics

The logistics of F1 are massive. With partners DHL, the FIA is responsible for moving the cars, and the team’s entire set-up from one event to the next with enough time to get the garage, car, pit wall and hospitality centres set up before the first practice session. Curfews are in place to prevent crews from working excessive hours and making an error through being over-tired. 

The logistical exercise is complicated further when the schedule presents back-to-back events or a triple header. Truck fleets are utilised for short haul across Europe, and a fleet of jumbo jets for what are referred to as ‘fly away’ events in the Americas.  

 

 

Andrew Burden

The author Kiwi F1 Fan

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