ATLAS F1   Volume 6, Issue 37 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1   The F1 FAQ

  by Marcel Schot, Netherlands

Have a question about Formula One statistics or history? Well you're not the only one, and it's about time someone came up with the answers to Formula One's most Frequently Asked Questions. Send us your questions, to - we may not know everything, but we will sure make the effort to find out

First a comment about the Brabham BT46B, the fan car. While I stated it was never banned, some readers refreshed my mind. The car was indeed banned, but after Bernie Ecclestone had withdrawn it.

There are some question that keep popping up, but are difficult to answer because these figures simply aren't available to the general public. One of those is about the drivers' salaries:

"Is there a break down of the salaries made by F1 Drivers this year?? Adrian & Janine"

"Two questions for you. Firstly, what is the history behind driver salaries in Formula 1? I understand sources close to the drivers tend not to disclose the money they are earning but it would be interesting to compare the almost amateur days in the 1950's to the stratospheric pay packets the top-flight drivers earn today. It would be good to know who was the first million dollar driver in F1. Dean"

Actual figures are rarely given, but a dive into the Atlas F1 news found the following:

This, however, is by no means everything they get. Some drivers, such as Schumacher, earn money from other sources such as endorsements and merchandise sales.

Another question that keeps coming up is the one about acceleration of Formula One cars:

"The question, do you either have this information or know of a source where I could find it - I would like to know the acceleration speed of Formula One cars throughout the years. I hear that present statistics are something like 0 - 100mph in a couple of seconds, however I am reasonably sure that I read recently that the 0-100mph time of a 1950's formula one car was more like about 10 seconds... I am not sure if I have got this wrong, a friend of mine thinks that cannot possibly be the case. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance Paul"

The acceleration of a Formula One car is something we can hardly grasp. 0-100 mph (160 kmh) takes about 3.6 seconds, while a Ferrari 550 Maranello, not exactly a slow car with its 200 mph (320 kmh) top speed, takes 4.4 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph (100 kmh). So far I haven't been able to find this kind of information about the 50s Formula One cars.

"What is the official reason given for fixing the number of cylinders of a Formula-1 engine at 10? Paul"

On January 15 this year, the World Motor Sport Council made the decision that "All engines will have 10 cylinders at least until the expiry of the current Concorde Agreement on 31 December 2007." No official reason was given for making the decision, or the choice of 10 as the number of cylinders.

"Hi, I would just like to know if you can assist me in the cost of a F1 car. I found an article before, but cannot locate it now. Ferdi"

Building a Formula One car is by no means a cheap hobby. The most expensive part is the engine. It's also the part where the big teams and separated from the smaller ones. Whereas the bigger teams are supported by the engine suppliers, the small teams have to pay in excess of $150,000 per engine. The other essential in a car is the monocoque, which comes around $100,000, but contrary to the engine lasts an entire season if everything goes well.

With other big cost items, such as the gearbox and electronics package, as well as all of the relatively cheap items that complete the car, we're talking of nearly $800,000 for a car in racing condition. Over the season this price only increases as some parts only last a race. With Williams blowing up over 50 BMW engines in pre-season for instance, it's pretty clear that to run a two car team, $10,000,000 is not a high estimate for just the cars.

"I notice that old time racing is referred to Grand Prix and modern racing to F1 or Formula 1. When did Grand Prix and F1 become interchangeable?"

The term Formula One first surfaced in 1946, when the FIA was founded. This new formula had one prinicpal rule, that the engine capacity for supercharged cars could be 1500cc maximum, while there was a 4500cc limit for non-supercharged cars.

"In the past, is it true that refuelling during a race was not allowed? Did they go the full race distance without having to refuel? If this is true, were the fuel tanks that much different from today's tanks. J."

Fuel stops were indeed banned from 1984 until 1994. In 1984, the size of the fuel tank was also reduced from 250 litres to 220 litres, so that brought the designers a major challenge, which more than once ended with a driver running out of fuel in the later stages of the race. It brought out the inventive side of the designers too. Special fuel blends were made to have the cars run further on the same amount of fuel, while making the fuel colder was tried in order to make it more dense so more could be fitted into the 220 litre tanks. From 1984 to 1988, the size of the fuel tanks the turbo cars were allowed was steadily reduced, with the turbo cars allowed only 150 litres to complete each race during the 1988 season.

"What happened to Steffan Johanson after he retired from F1. Can you list his driving CV. The teams he drove for etc. Many Thanks, Denis"

After his Formula One career, which ended after 1991 when he drove six races for AGS and Footwork (now known as Arrows), Johansson moved to America to race in the CART series. There he drove in the midfield from 1992 until 1996 with Bettenhausen Motorsports. In 1997, Johansson turned to sportscars, competing in the GT Championship and at Le Mans. In 1998 and 1999 he drove in the USRCC series. Currently, he owns his own Indy Lights team, Johansson Motorsports.

"Did it ever happen, that a team used tires from different manufacturers in one season ? Andreas"

Yes, teams have changed tyre brands during the season. In particular, 1981 was a total tyre mess with changes of brand by just about every team. In America, Brazil and Argentina, all teams used Michelin. However, at the San Marino race the first brand switches occurred, with Toleman being the first on Pirelli rubber and Fittipaldi changing to Avon. In Great Britain, Arrows also decided to move to Pirelli. Fittipaldi changed again in Holland, now to Pirelli. Several smaller teams later also switched to Avon. And after France Williams, Brabham and Lotus went to Goodyear, followed later in the season by Tyrrell.

"After the 1989 Japanese G.P. ended with the famous Prost / Senna incidents, Senna got disqualified for receiving help from the Stewards to restart his car. There was an appeal afte the race by the Mclaren team, and they got a $100,000 fine + 6 months suspended ban.
  1. What is meant by a suspended ban ? the team was allowed to race the following G.P. in Australia as well as the following year. Please explain this penalty.
  2. Why were they penalized so harshly ?
Ayman "

A suspended ban means that a driver or team will receive the penalty if, within a certain period, another offence takes place. In this case, the reason that the severity of the penalty was larger than usual was because Ayrton Senna had collided with other drivers earlier in the season.

Editorial Remarks:

  • Some of the questions we receive have already been replied to in previous F1 FAQ columns. Therefore, before sending in a question, we suggest you have a look at the back issues, by searching the FAQ database. Not that we mind getting so much mail, just that we feel bad for those who feel they are left unanswered...

  • We receive quite a few questions from you all, and it is absolutely impossible for us to research and respond to each of you, be it here or privately. Please, don't feel discouraged if your question was not replied to; it might come up in the next column. And don't forget - you can always look for answers at the Atlas F1 Bulletin Board.

Marcel Schot© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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