Formula One glossary

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Part of the brake system that holds the brake pads. When the driver pushes the brake, the calipers push both brake pads against the carbon brake disk to slow the car.


Camber is expressed in degrees, denoting the angle that a tyre stands on the ground compared to a vertical axis. A camber of 0 means perfectly vertical wheels. Negative camber is frenquently seen in Formula One, noting that the upper part of the wheel is closer to the car's centerline than the bottom. On racing cars, this is frequently done to optimise grip in corners in an attempt to increase the contact surface of the outside wheels when the car is in roll.

Carbon brake disc

Formula One racecars are equipped with brake discs manufactured of carbon fibres. This gives a fair decrease in weight over steel, but also impressively short brake distances. Carbon disks operate best above 800°C. Considering that overheating may lead to malfunction, cooling and brake ducts are crucial

Carbon Fibre

Material that has small fibres or "hairs" of carbon added for strength. The base material is typically plastic, which can be moulded and shaped as required. More on carbon fibre in F1...

Carbon nanotube

Single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) can be considered to be formed by the rolling of a single layer of graphite (called a graphene layer) into a seamless cylinder. A multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) can similarly be considered to be a coaxial assembly of cylinders of SWCNTs.

Many potential applications have been proposed for carbon nanotubes, including conductive and high-strength composites. At the moment this material is still very expensive since it must be \"grown\" but it is expected that it will make its F1 introduction in the next few years.


A device through which air and fuel are atomized and drawn into the engine. It meters the proper proportions of fuel and air to form a combustible mixture and varies the ratio according to the engine operation.


Another measure of chassis tuning related to the front wheels. The front wheels are attached to the suspension at the top and bottom of the wheel assembly. The top attachment is typically set a little farther back than the lower attachment, creating caster. The more caster used, the more the wheel resists turning forces, providing stability. Too much caster makes it very difficult to steer, and causes the tire camber to change significantly as the wheel is turned. Not enough caster results in the front end "wandering," or trying to turn on its own.


Substance that, by its presence, modifies the speed of a chemical reaction without changing in the process.

Centre of pressure

The point at which the aerodynamic forces on a body appear to act, and at which there is no aerodynamic movement. It is similar the centre of gravity in mechanical terms.


Backbone on which a car is based. Older racing cars had a steel or wood chassis. Today's cars use carbon fibre.


A tight combination of two corners in opposite direction. Most of the time slow and with curbes.


Often used on F1 cars between 2000 and 2008, a chimney is a cooling and aerodynamic element positioned ahead of the rear wheels on the sidepod. It is an open, aerodynamically shaped pipe that allows the hot air from within the sidepod to escape and flow over the rear wheels.
Such devices are banned in F1 since 2009.


The distance between an aerofoil's leading edge and its trailing edge.

Clean air

Usually experienced only by the car in front, the air behind the leader and the rest of the cars is turbulent and can affect the aerodynamics needed to achieve the smoothest drive.

Clerk of the course

Is the person ultimately responsible for all operational on-track issues related to the running of a motor race meeting.


Foot pedal that disengages the engine from the driveshaft. Used during gear changes. Today's F1 cars use semi-automatic gearboxes, so that these are not necesarry. We can speak of automatic clutches

Coanda effect

The Coandă effect is the tendency of a fluid stream to be attracted to a nearby surface. It is named after Romanian aerodynamics pioneer Henri Coandă who was the first to recognise its usefulness in aircraft development.
In Formula One it is a particularly useful effect in the design of the aerodynamics of a car. By carefully designing a car's bodywork, teams have been exploiting the Coandă effect since 2012 to direct exhaust flow over the sidepods, downward to the car's floor. It would be more efficient to simply have an exhaust pipe to the floor, but the Coandă effect in this particular case is a workaround for the regulation limitations.


Part of a race car where the driver sits and the hub of all the car's controls. In any car, this is the central part around which all safety measures are taken. Formula One cars as well as all modern single seaters or Le Mans prototypes host the cockpit inside the monocoque, making it an integral part of the chassis.

Coeficient of drag (Cd)

Coefficient of drag. It is determined by the shape and smoothness of shape of the object. In this case the car. (see aerodynamics)

Combustion chamber

Area in the cylinder between the cylinder head and the piston. The combustion of fuel and air makes the piston move.


Non-metallic, very light mixture of various materials including Kevlar, carbon fibre and Nomex.


The ingredients of the car\'s tyres, vital to the safety o f the driver and specially designed to achieve maximum speed, durability and grip in various weather conditions. A typical F1 car tyre will contain more than 10 different ingredients such as rubbers, polymers, sulphur, carbon black, oil and other curatives. Each of these includes a vast number of derivatives any of which can be used to a greater or lesser degree. Very small changes to the mix can change compound performance.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

Computional Fluid Dynamics: Computers provide solutions to the problem of external airflow over vehicle shapes. The body of the configuration and the space surrounding it are represented by clusters of points, lines and surfaces; equations are solved at these points. CFD is divided into three steps. Grid generation, numerical simulation and post-process analysis

Computer aided design (CAD)

Computer aided design has replaced the drawing boards, and allows designers to work a lot faster, and decrease production times significantly. All current teams use this method because of its great advantages.

Connecting rod

The connecting rod in an engine connects the piston to the crankshaft. It can rotate at both ends so that its angle can change as the piston moves and the crankshaft rotates.

Continuously variable transmission (CVT)

Most transmissions, whether manual or automatic have a fixed number of forward gears (from 2 to 10 or more). Belt driven vehicles (like snowmobiles) have an infinite number of positions of engagement. The infinitely variable transmission is sensitive to the changes in the throttle position and adjusts the gear ratio accordingly. In this way, the most efficient gear ratio is selected thus improving fuel economy.


Correvit sensorOptical sensor commonly used in F1 and motorsports in general to get accurate measurements of car speed, slip angle and ride height. The are frequently seen mounted underneath a car's nose during testing and free practice sessions. The preciseness and 250Hz output rate (4ms updates) make them very useful in F1.


The crankshaft is a usually metallic part of a reciprocating engine that converts the reciprocating motion of the cylinders into a rotational motion. More specifically to Formula One, the crankshaft is made of steel, as mandated by the regulations, and converts the cylinders' motion via crank throws or crank pins into rotational motion that drives the rear wheels through the clutch and gearbox, the camshaft and other ancillaries.

Cubic centimeter (cc)

Metric measurement of engine displacement. 1000 cc = 1 liter (litre) which is about 61 cubic inches (61.02374409). Thus a 428 cubic inch engine is 7 liters (428/61) and a 2 liter engine is 122 cubic inches (2 x 61).


A cylindrical hole or bore in the metal engine block. During running, pistons move up and down in these holes, when at the certain intervals air and fuel is injected, with exhausts being blown out. The sequence depends on electronics and rpm at that moment.
Some road cars may even have oval cylinders, but that is forbidden in Formula 1.

Cylinder head

The detachable metal (aluminum or iron) section that is bolted to the top of the cylinder block. It is used to cover the tops of the cylinders, in many cases the cylinder head contains the valves, it also forms part of the combustion chamber. It has water and oil passages for cooling and lubrication. It also holds the spark plugs. On most engines a valve cover or rocker arm cover is located on top of the cylinder head. Some engines have just one cylinder head covering several cylinders, while others have separate heads for each cylinder.