There is always an amount of excitement around a Formula 1 race start. Whether it has to do with the drivers, the tyres, or the track itself, is just a matter of opinion. Some drivers may be faster down the straight, others prefer the corner. Some have good tyres, and others have poor tyres.
Well, the practice of giving drivers and team a formation lap to practice the formation is nothing new in Formula One. As I mentioned before a formation lap is also given before a race. The length of a formation lap may or may not be the same as a start line lap.
Formula 1 racing is all about the lap times of the cars because everyone knows that it’s much easier to overtake a slow car than a fast one.
What Happens Before the Race?
After the start of the race, an FIA official will walk around the grid box, checking each and every team’s car to make sure everything is in order. The official will check the fuel level, the rear wing is in place, and the cars are safe for the race.
What is a Formula One Formation Lap in Detail?
The race begins when the chequered flag drops. The race may be over before the green flag drops, if the race leader is eliminated by a collision or other incident that places the leader out of the running before the chequered flag, or if the race leader falls more than five laps behind the pace car before the chequered flag drops. During a yellow flag period, the race is stopped, and drivers are not required to keep their cars in motion. After a green flag is shown, drivers must complete the race, and will be assessed penalties for rule violations.
Drivers will often be seen to weave throughout the track since there’s very little grip. Since the cars are very slow, there’s not much downforce generated, which can lead to drivers drifting off the track.
When the green flag is waved from the start line, drivers race against each other around the full length of the track. The driver who completes the lap first is declared the winner.
Is there a Formation Lap (Parade Lap) at Every F1 Race?
In 2014, the FIA amended the rule stating that the race director can cancel a race start and make a decision to cancel the race to avoid a crash or incident. If the race director chooses to cancel the race, the cars leave the grid and the race is immediately restarted from the original start position.
Why do F1 Drivers Do a Formation Lap / Pace Lap?
When / Why Did the FIA Make Formation Laps Mandatory?
In Formula 1, the FIA introduced a system called “race control”, which made it mandatory for drivers to change tire pressure before each race. The system was designed to reduce the number of incidents that drivers could cause by locking up their tires on the race track. This system is designed to avoid grid lock, because drivers can expect stationary vehicles ahead of them if they start a race with warm tires.
While many drivers will review track conditions during a formation lap, they can also make slight changes to their cars during the formation lap. During this time, they can even make slight adjustments to the settings on their steering wheel.
Can Drivers Change Their Tyres During the Formation Lap?
The change of tyres during the formation lap caused issues for drivers as it’s common practice to use the formation lap to find out more information about the changing conditions of the track. This happened during the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix when the drivers went into the pit lane to change tyres for the first time. This was common practice in the early period of the race, but caused issues for some drivers such as Lewis Hamilton who was forced to start the race on his original tyres.
What Happens if there’s an Incident During the Formation Lap?
The risk of a driver crashing during a lap is low but it can happen. If a crash happens, it is unlikely that the driver will make it to the pits. And if the crash is severe, the driver will have to be extracted from the car by the safety crew. In this case, the driver has to start from the pit lane.
If the car is retired, usually the drivers will leave the start line. In the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix, the starting grid was lengthened, so all cars started at the back of the grid. The grid order would not be reset, and the cars will therefore start in reverse order in terms of their starting position.
This year, the sport is changing when it comes to safety. Drivers will not be allowed to use any cars other than the one they were qualified in, and in the event that a mechanical failure causes a driver to lose his car, the driver will need to start the race in the spare car.
Conclusion: What is a Formation Lap in F1?
At a race, you will often notice that the cars are lined up in a very careful and very precise line. Each car takes its turn at the start and each one does it right.