man driving F1 car during nighttime

The Key To F1 Slang

New to F1? It can be confusing. Not only remembering who drives for what team, which driver number belongs to who, but also, what the lingo means. When watching a race, it’s likely you’ll hear a lot of things that make no sense to the regular ear. Rather than having no idea, here’s a rundown on some of the words and phrases used in F1. 

Racing Lingo

There’s a lot of important terms to know when it comes to a Grand Prix. Especially when it comes to the racing.

Qualifying – A session that usually takes place on the Saturday before the F1 Grand Prix. There’s three rounds and is all about the speed. It also determines the order of the grid for the race. The five slowest drivers are knocked out in the first round and start 20th-16th, the slowest in P20. The same goes for the following round, determining P15-P11. The final round determines the top 10 and determines who starts on Pole.

Pole Position – Another way of referring to a driver starting the race in first. The term comes from horse racing. When a driver finishes the Qualifying session first (by going fastest), they will start the race on Sunday first.

DNF – Simply put, it stands for Did Not Finish. The term is applied when a driver fails to finish an F1 race, whether it be from an engineering failure, a crash, or a puncture.

Slang from the Pits

If a driver has a DNF, they’ll find themselves in the pit lane. Here’s some of the essential pit lane jargon.

Pit Wall – The wall that separates the pit lane from the circuit. It’s where you’ll find engineers and team officials.

Paddock – Where the teams keep their motorhomes and the transport they use to travel between races.

Box – Usually heard on a team radio when a driver is being told to ‘Box, Box!’. Essentially, it refers to the shape of the servicing area in the pit lane, where work is carried out on a pit stop. If a driver is told to box, it means that they need to come into the pits. 

Double-Stack – When a team decide to get both of their drivers to pit at the same time. It’s one car after another. It’s risky and rarely used.

It can be stressful trying to watch an F1 race and understand the jargon behind it. With this glossary, you’ll be ready for lights out!

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I'm an English Literature student at the University of Birmingham, and I'm obsessed with anything literature related! I love reading, watching F1, and listening to music. I've always loved writing articles on my interests and can't wait to get stuck into more journalism.