F1 Primer: The basics

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Are you just discovering F1 for the first time? Today we’re running a series of F1 Primer articles which will cover all the key knowledge you need. Let’s start with the basics.

What sets F1 apart from other racing series is that each team has to build its own cars. While some parts such as engine and gearboxes can be sourced from manufacturers, the majority of the chassis has to be the team’s own design and construction.

This year there are 19 races which count towards the world championship. There are two titles up for grabs: the drivers’ championship and the constructors’ for teams.

Points are only awarded based on race finishing position, to the top ten drivers. Any points they score also count towards their team’s total in the constructors’ championship:

First | Second | Third | Fourth | Fifth | Sixth | Seventh | Eighth | Ninth | Tenth
25 18 15 12 10 8 6 4 2 1

Each race weekend consists of five sessions. Two 90-minute practice sessions take place on Friday (Thursday in Monaco) and a further 60-minute session on Saturday.

The serious business begins on Saturday afternoon with a three-part qualifying session to determine the grid. This runs in three parts of 20, 15 and 10 minutes named Q1, Q2 and Q3 respectively.

All 22 cars participate in Q1: the six slowest are eliminated and take places 17-22 on the grid. The process is repeated in Q2 to set places 11-16. That leaves a top-ten shoot-out for pole position and the remaining nine places.

For the race on Sunday the top ten qualifiers must start on the same tires they set their quickest Q3 time on. Two different types of dry tire are available for each race from a selection of four: hard, medium, soft and super-soft. Every driver must use the two different dry compounds at some point during the race, unless rain tires are used.

The races last for 189 miles (305km) or two hours, whichever comes first, except in Monaco where the slow track means the distance is reduced to 161 miles (260km). Drivers cannot refuel during the race.

You can read the rules and regulations in full on the website of the sport’s governing body, the FIA.

F1 Primer

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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