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Why is it called the formation lap?


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#1 TerryS

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 00:08

At the start of a Grand Prix the cars come out onto the circuit and take up positions as they will start the race. So they are formed up.

 

Then they are sent off on what is called a "Formation lap". They then come back to the exact positions they were in before that lap.

 

so why is it called a "FORMATION LAP"?



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#2 pacificquay

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 01:08

Because they remain in formation during it



#3 Hati

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 06:43

Has there ever been time when they have driven from pits to grid in formation?



#4 wheadon1985

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 06:56

There is a good chance it will have come from Horse Racing terminology as the majority of Motor Racing names and procedures come from there. Clerk, Stewards, Starter etc.

#5 Stephen W

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 08:45

Has there ever been time when they have driven from pits to grid in formation?

 

At Monaco they used to get all the cars to the chicane where they were formed up in grid order. They would then drive to the Gasworks hairpin, They would then line up in grid formation and roll towards the grid proper where they came under starters orders.



#6 BRG

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 10:42

There is a good chance it will have come from Horse Racing terminology as the majority of Motor Racing names and procedures come from there. Clerk, Stewards, Starter etc.

Very true in the main, but I haven't heard of horses doing formation laps.  Usually they just wander down to the start area, maybe have a bit of a gallop, all very random.



#7 Michael Ferner

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 10:47

Has there ever been time when they have driven from pits to grid in formation?

 

Probably not in GPs, but in club racing that's pretty much standard procedure, if I'm not mistaken. And yes, I think pacificquay has the correct and simple answer to the question. In other categories it's also called "parade lap", or "salute lap"; in sprint car racing the "four-wide lap" has become the norm.



#8 9203RW

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 11:02

At Monaco they used to get all the cars to the chicane where they were formed up in grid order. They would then drive to the Gasworks hairpin, They would then line up in grid formation and roll towards the grid proper where they came under starters orders.

 

Sounds like a more involved version of the dummy grid, that used to be normal practice for Grands Prix in the UK and, I assume, some other countries as well.  Didn't what is now referred to as the formation lap used to be called the warm-up lap?


Edited by 9203RW, 23 November 2021 - 11:07.


#9 AJCee

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 12:08

I agree that this one is unlikely to be from horse racing. The chances of getting two excited and eager thoroughbreds in formation is low, the entire field next to impossible. Just look at the palaver at the Grand National start each year.

#10 Izzyeviel

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 12:11

Very true in the main, but I haven't heard of horses doing formation laps.  Usually they just wander down to the start area, maybe have a bit of a gallop, all very random.

For some big races they do get paraded along the course - we dont normally see this on the tv - take the grand national for instance - they parade in some sort of order along the grandstand then trot on towards the start



#11 bsc

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 17:00

I suspect that it is an anglicised French term. Formation translates from French to English as 'training' (or so I recall from school). A lap before the race commenced could be seen as 'training' as it would provide an opportunity for drivers to experience conditions, etc. As a few French terms have been adopted into motor racing parlance (e.g. Grand Prix, parc ferme, etc.), it seems possible.



#12 MCS

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 17:03

At Monaco they used to get all the cars to the chicane where they were formed up in grid order. They would then drive to the Gasworks hairpin, They would then line up in grid formation and roll towards the grid proper where they came under starters orders.

1972:  https://www.bing.com...st=0&ajaxserp=0



#13 PayasYouRace

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Posted 23 November 2021 - 22:27

I always just assumed it was because it's the lap where they "form" the grid.

 

 

Wouldn't that have been because that year the pits were between the tunnel and Tabac, seen in the background of the photo?



#14 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 01:45

Maybe a fancy name in F1 but for us mere mortals it is the warm up lap. From pits in grid order to the start line often behind the ‘safety car'. Weaving and braking to get tyre and brake temps.
On very rare occasions you may get a parade lap from pits to grid, sit on th grid for some time then warm up lap and race.
This has happened at not just the GP but some other major meetings as well for supports and headliners.


Edited by Lee Nicolle, 25 November 2021 - 05:32.


#15 Alan Baker

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 10:23

Sounds like a more involved version of the dummy grid, that used to be normal practice for Grands Prix in the UK and, I assume, some other countries as well.  Didn't what is now referred to as the formation lap used to be called the warm-up lap?

The dummy grid was widely used in the 1960's. Famously, Jack Brabham started the 1967 Italian Grand Prix from the dummy grid!



#16 Vitesse2

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 11:18

I suspect the term 'formation lap' was coined by Bernie or one of his minions at FOM when they were setting out a standard regulatory format for every GP.

 

The standard process - for every race - is now that cars must leave the pit lane within a set time period, do one slow lap, arrive on the grid for final adjustments (or go into the pit lane if a major fault is detected during that lap, in which case they must start from the pit lane). If they don't get out within that set period they have to start 'cold' from the pit lane.  Then - after the anthems, flypasts, etc - all cars which had made it as far as the grid go out on the formation lap, which commences exactly at the appointed start time for the race. This again gives drivers a chance to duck into the pit lane if they encounter a problem and gives the marshals a chance to clear any problem on the grid with cars which wouldn't fire up etc etc.

 

All 'part of the show'. Makes it easier for everyone to understand what's going on and when.

 

In days gone by, every organiser was free to write their own race regs and timetable. Far too untidy for Bernie.



#17 Charlieman

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 12:33

Sounds like a more involved version of the dummy grid, that used to be normal practice for Grands Prix in the UK and, I assume, some other countries as well.  Didn't what is now referred to as the formation lap used to be called the warm-up lap?

At more humble events, the formation lap is preceded by assembly during which cars, in grid layout, await completion of the current race.



#18 MCS

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 13:06

I always just assumed it was because it's the lap where they "form" the grid.

 

 

Wouldn't that have been because that year the pits were between the tunnel and Tabac, seen in the background of the photo?

I have no idea. But the start/finish line was in the usual place.



#19 opplock

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 16:12

 Didn't what is now referred to as the formation lap used to be called the warm-up lap?

 

I think it still is outside F1 although radio messages to marshals posts advise that green flag lap has started. This is done so that post chiefs can remind ageing flaggies what they need to wave.     



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#20 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 17:48

Back in the day, USAC Champcar races were started with an out lap; followed by the formation lap, to get everyone lined up; the parade lap so the drivers could wave at the crowd, the pace lap, and then the rolling start.
 
In, it must have been 1962, as a twelve year old I went to my first race at The Milwaukee Mile, in the turn one bleachers.  I was seated behind some half drunk clod, who on each of those four laps, would set his beer down, stand up, wave his 10 gallon hat, and shout “Yahoo, AJ!” every time Foyt came by.  Just as I hoping Foyt would retire early, on the first lap, the guy next him gently nudged the guy’s plastic beer cup over and the guy plopped down on the cup, crushing it and spreading its' contents on the seat of his pants.  Problem solved.


#21 Odseybod

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 19:08

I've been hatching a theory lately - of which I'm proud, though probably in a minority - that many of the terms originated in air racing around pylons. So, a standing start is one involving a take-off from standstill, whereas a flying start is when you cross the start line already airborne. And a flying lap, as the name implies, one covered while airborne. So a formation lap would involve all competitors in that heat circulating the course together, before setting off to chase individual glory.

 

Much more exciting than hay-bags sorry horses.



#22 Geoff E

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Posted 24 November 2021 - 20:27

I've been hatching a theory lately - of which I'm proud, though probably in a minority - that many of the terms originated in air racing around pylons. So, a standing start is one involving a take-off from standstill, whereas a flying start is when you cross the start line already airborne.

 

I have found the term "flying start" used in 1838 in connection with speed skating, and 1840s in horse racing/trotting parlance.



#23 TerryS

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 05:16

Still confused by the name.

 

It is hardly getting them into formation when they are already in formation on the grid.



#24 Michael Ferner

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 07:43

As already explained in post #2, it's not about getting them in formation, it's about driving around in formation. A lap in formation, "formation lap".



#25 DouglasM

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 08:16

It used to be called the warm-up lap. We use to drive round getting the engine, brakes and tyres warm, and we'd form-up on the grid in a few seconds ready to go racing. Then we'd sit there for five minutes while various officials strutted their stuff while engines, brakes and tyres cooled. Completely daft.



#26 PayasYouRace

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 19:25

I have no idea. But the start/finish line was in the usual place.

 

Yes it was one of those weird cases where the pits weren't on the start/finish straight. In that case it was a one off.



#27 TerryS

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 23:25

Did the Nurburgring have a formation lap when it held a Grand Prix? 



#28 Vitesse2

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Posted 26 November 2021 - 23:51

Did the Nurburgring have a formation lap when it held a Grand Prix? 

There was a short return road called the Betonschleife which peeled off just after the signalling pits, so if any driver wished to do a test run they could use that rather than doing a whole lap of the Nordschleife. But in those days cars were just pushed or driven out onto the grid - either from the pits or through the tunnel from the Fahrerlager.

 

768px-Circuit_N%C3%BCrburgring-1927-Beto

 

However, in the absence of any other evidence, I still think this was a term coined quite recently as part of Bernie's schedule standardization regime.



#29 Stephen W

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Posted 27 November 2021 - 08:13

Did the Nurburgring have a formation lap when it held a Grand Prix? 

 

When I went to the German GP at The Ring the cars were sent out for a short warm up round the Nordkehre and returned to the pits. They were "assembled in the pit lane" and sent out in grid order. They formed up in grid order on a dummy grid and then rolled forward to the starting grid and were then under starters orders.