The F1 rules have been largely stable since 2009. The current generation of cars use 2.4-liter V8 engines which produce around 750bhp.
This is enhanced by the addition of a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). This is basically a hybrid engine which gives drivers an extra 80bhp for up to 6.6 seconds per lap.
Another acronym which comes up often in F1 is DRS. The Drag Reduction System was introduced in 2011 to increase overtaking. It allows a driver to lower his rear wing and increase his top speed, but only on designated parts of the circuit and only when they’re within a second of the car in front.
F1’s engine specification has been ‘frozen’ for several years. That has led teams to focus on the aerodynamics of their cars as the best way of improving performance. And the undoubted masters of that at the moment are Red Bull.
Technical director Adrian Newey has been a key part of the team’s dominance of the past three seasons. His unending quest for performance has brought Red Bull in conflict with the sport’s rule makers on several occasions.
A team with the passion and heritage of Ferrari needs no introduction. They are the only outfit who’ve participated in every season of the world championship since its inauguration in 1950.
They wield immense political clout within the sport and their impatience at going four years without any championship silverware is clearly growing.
McLaren’s status as one of the sport’s top teams is belied by the fact that they haven’t won the constructors’ championship for 15 years. Their relationship with engine supplier Mercedes, which began in 1995, appears to be in its twilight phase.
Mercedes returned to F1 as a full factory team in 2010 but have only won one race since. The hiring of Lewis Hamilton from McLaren this year is a clear signal of their intentions.
The Lotus name appears in F1 but it is no longer connected to the sports car maker. The team which was known as Renault until last year have won championships before and are dark horse contenders for success this year.
Sauber mark the 20th anniversary of their arrival in F1 this year. The independent team owned by Peter Sauber is now run by F1’s first female team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn. Fellow independents Williams have multiple championships to their name and ended an eight-year winless streak last season.
Force India has two home races per year: the Indian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, the latter held at Silverstone circuit outside their factory gates.
The role of Toro Rosso in F1 is as a junior team for Red Bull who use it to evaluate potential drivers of the future.
There is room for 26 cars in Formula One at present, but only 22 of the spaces are filled. Three new teams entered F1 in 2010 but one of those, HRT, collapsed during the winter. Only Caterham and Marussia remain, and they are yet to score a point in three years.