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Formula One: Tropes N-Z
  • New Technology Is Evil: The controversy around such devices like active suspension and traction control where most people think it takes away from the skill of the drivers. Williams used such devices to dominate the 1992 season. Thankfully inverted with the HANS device, which has saved many lives since it was included and has left drivers with only light injuries when the accident could have been much worse.
    • Whenever a team discovers a way of putting something on their cars that the rules don't specifically forbid, the other teams will kick up a fuss and claim that the device in question is against the spirit of the rules and demand that the device in question be banned. It's really just jealously that they didn't think of it first which usually motivates such protests. Devices that stir up protests include mass dampers, double diffusers, blown diffusers and Mercedes' blown-with-bleed-air-from-the-DRS front wing.
  • Nitro Boost: Although F1 does not actually use nitrous, the 2009 season had the Kinetic Energy Recovery System as a boost mechanism. The KERS converted kinetic energy from the wheels into electrical energy during braking, stored the energy in batteries, and released it at the press of a button for an ~90hp power boost for 6.67 seconds per lap. It turned out to be a Power-Up Letdown, though, since it's price meant that only a few teams could develop it to a useful degree (sacrificing aerodynamics and other factors in the process), and even then, the KERS ended up being heavy enough to adversely affect the car's handling and weight balance to a degree. It had it's moments though, and KERS cars were notorious for storming off the start line and gaining a few places with ease, and then defending them by power-boosting whenever an opponent got close enough to attempt an overtaking move. Kimi Räikkönen's 2009 Belgium victory was basically dependent on this, boosting his way from 6th to 1st and holding on the rest of the race. Still, the disadvantages of KERS outweighed it's advantages to the point of it getting abandoned for 2010 but has become more helpful and important from 2011 onwoards..
    • 2011 also saw the introduction of DRS, a system that allows the driver to "stall" the rear wing of the car and gain an aerodynamic advantage at the cost of downforce. It can only be used on the straights for obvious reasons, and its use during an actual race is far more tightly regulated than during qualifying (you can only use it at 1 or 2 designated DRS zones, and only if you're within about a second of the car in front).
  • No One Could Survive That: Robert Kubica's accident at the 2007 Canadian Grand Prixnote  - he was practically unscathed and missed just a single race. And the only reason he didn't come back immediately was because the doctors didn't want to risk two concussions so close together. Felipe Massa got hit in the face by a kilogram piece of metal while doing 160mph. He returned the following season. Another story to mention is Mika Häkkinen's 1995 crash in Australia, where they had to perform an emergency tracheotomy on the side of the track just to get him to breathe. This was before his two championships.
    • Niki Lauda's infamous fiery crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 probably counts as well. Not only did he miraculously survive, he was racing again just six weeks later.
  • Not So Stoic: At the 1999 Italian GP, the usually ice-cool and unemotional Mika Hakkinen was locked in a championship battle when he span out of the lead and stalled his engine. His (completely uncharacteristic) reaction was to hurl the steering wheel, sprint off into the bushes and burst into tears, all in full view of the TV cameras.
  • Number of the Beast: Lampshaded during Sky's coverage of the 2012 Monaco GP which was the 6th race, which had each had a fastest lap by 6 different drivers from 6 different teams. The commentator wondered if it was an omen.
  • The Obi-Wan: F1 drivers that move on to management or some other role after retiring. Keke Rosberg and Gerhard Berger, for example, have gone on to manage other drivers; Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Jack Brabham and Alain Prost all had their own F1 teams.
  • Off with His Head!: In the 1974 US Grand Prix, Austrian Helmuth Koinigg crashed into an armco barrier. The lower beam wasn't properly secured and buckled as the vehicle struck it. The car passed underneath the top portion... which was very firmly bolted on. Yikes.
  • Off The Scale: Engine outputs in the turbo era. Engine designers would plug their new engines into 1,000-horsepower dynos and watching in disbelief as they ran out of numbers. After that they just guesstimated their power output from intake manifold pressures, with BMW coming up with 1,300 to 1,450 horsepower!
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Race pace is always superior to qualifying pace. An example of this was the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix: Nico Rosberg, on pole for Mercedes, ended up in ninth after the Mercedes' difficulties with tyre management. Inversely, Lotus-Renault, slow qualifiers but excellent on their tyres, made it to second (Räikkönen) and third (Grosjean).
  • Only I Can Make It Go: Michael Schumacher during his Benetton days invoked a mild version of this. Other drivers who tried out his preferred setup were astonished he could control such a nervous, tail-happy car.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: It pretty much sucked if one of your competitors was Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, or Michael Schumacher. The list of victims of this trope is extremely long for F1, perhaps even larger than most other sports.
    • Anyone not driving for (currently) Red Bull. Consensus is that Alonso would be at least a quadruple world champion without Adrian Newey working for Red Bull.
  • Part Time Driver: Generally very common in ages where F1 driving was not a full-time job. Jim Clark is one of the most famous examples for this.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Ayrton Senna used to wave a Brazilian flag while driving his victory laps. Also, Brazilian TV plays a fanfare whenever a Brazilian driver wins. Generally very popular in all nations with a longer F1 history.
  • Pit Girls
  • Porn Stache: Nigel Mansell and Keke Rosberg amongst others.
  • Precision F-Strike: Radio conversations between team and drivers are frequently aired during the race. However, they often contain sensitive information that the teams would rather the others not hear, especially as they're watching the live broadcast during the race for that reason. Supposedly, the best way to keep their messages private is to throw in an f-bomb or two, keeping the TV crew from broadcasting it.
  • Prodigal Hero: Raikkonen: Ferrari World Champion in 2007, but paid an exorbitant sum to end his contract a year early in 2009, to make way for Fernando Alonso. Come 2014, he'll be driving for Ferrari again. His manager must be a magician...
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Sure, the people involved in the 2008 Singapore GP race-fixing got punished, but now there's the knowledge that it DID happen. And sure, Nelson Piquet Jr. was granted immunity from punishment in exchange for testimony, but his career's now suffered a huge blow he might not ever recover from. It's also hard to think of Ferrari without remembering some of their horrid moments of team orders, switching the winning driver with the second.
  • Quit Your Whining: Eric Boullier and Stefano Domenicali's attitudes towards Red Bull's complaining regarding Pirelli's 2013 tyres. And then Pirelli changed them...
  • Red Ones Go Faster: The most successful team is Ferrari. McLaren won most titles with Marlboro's white and red colors. Subverted by Williams in 98-99, as after two titles they got a new red scheme and tanked (while McLaren, who had started using a black and gray scheme in 1997, won twice).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ferrari being the Red Oni while McLaren is the Blue Oni. Many rivaling drivers have demonstrated fitting in this trope.
  • Retired Badass: Technically speaking. Retirement from Formula One doesn't necessarily mean retirement from racing: many drivers move on to another racing circuit.
  • The Rival: Most world champions typically have one driver who will be their main competitor. Hunt/Lauda, Senna/Prost, Schumacher/Hill and later Schumacher/Hakkinen, Alonso/Raikkonen
  • Running Gag: Oh so many. As of 2013, we have Raikkonen coming in second (and usually providing a hilarious radio message on the way), Webber having an awful start (if not then he has awful luck), the two McLarens fighting, Pirelli producing at least one tyre failure...
    • Alonso following in Raikkonen's footsteps. Although it's irrelevant now that they're together for 2014...
  • Sadistic Choice: 2005 United States Grand Prix: Tyres provided by Michelin were failing all throughout practices and qualifying (including a crash by Ralf Schumacher), and the tire company advised their customer teams that it would be unwise to race with them. FIA refused all sorts of compromises to keep them in the race, including constructing a chicane at a difficult curve, saying it was unfair on those with Bridgestone tires (notably, Ferrari, a team long accused of being favored, was among the Bridgestone racers). So the teams running on Michelin tires had this choice: race and risk the lives of the drivers, or withdraw from the race altogether and risk sanctions by the FIA. They chose not to race, leaving six cars on the grid. They were indeed charged and convicted for their refusal to participate, but the ruling was overturned. The story was it was overturned because had they allowed their drivers to race, they would be prosecuted under Indiana state law for knowingly putting others at risk. Of course, all of this led to a "race" that was an utter farce, the fans were enraged, Michelin's reputation was torn to shreds and they were out of the sport altogether a little more than a year later.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Sky's pre race film for the 2013 Australian Grand Prix based on the sport being dull and predictable was full of this. Backfired spectacularly when Sebastian Vettel went on to win the last nine races of the season.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Kimi Raikkonen's "leave me alone" statement. Kimi went rallying for two years. An interview in F1 Racing actually said that he was as fast as Sebastien Loeb... when he knew the stage and therefore did not need to be told what to do by his co-driver. Unfortunately, rallying is all about listening to your co-driver, so he never reached his potential.
  • Save Our Team: Usually when one team is running out of money and seeks additional sponsorship or for someone to buy the team. A trend in the 90's was to employ pay-drivers with more money than skill to try and stay afloat. Most of them didn't last more then one or two races when they ran out of funding, another driver came in or they were just plain awful.
    • Currently happening with Sauber, who are planning to employ (assuming he gets his Super License) a 17-year old, Sergey Sirotkin, because of his Russian backing.
  • Scandalgate: Crashgate, and before that, Spygate. Lampshaded by "Hulkenbergtweetingwhiledrivinggate"
    • Indygate for the disastrous 2005 US Grand Prix.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Taken most literally by Jim Clark who won twenty five races and finished second once, partly due to his Lotus team's frequent unreliability, leading to the joke that the name stands for 'Lots of Trouble, Usually Serious'. Ayrton Senna was also well known for racing to win at all costs. Second was never good enough for him. Often averted by other drivers, notably Alain Prost, because the most wins does not necessarily mean the most points, i.e. sometimes having more second places is more valuable than a win.
    • Inverted by Keke Rosberg, who managed to win the championship despite only winning one race of sixteen... which was, admittedly, somewhat helped by the fact that Didier Pironi, leading with a huge lead going into the final four races, suffered a catastrophic, career-ending accident at the German Grand Prix.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Pretty much the only ones that believe Mark Webber is at fault for a collision that cost Red Bull a one-two finish in Turkey are Sebastian Vettel, Christian Horner (Red Bull team boss) and Helmut Marko (Vettel's biggest advocate), even in the face of evidence and overwhelming opinion from Webber, other drivers, team bosses, reporters and fans that Vettel is at fault.
  • Serious Business: Felipe Massa was threatened with jail time should he deliberately concede his position to Fernando Alonso in the 2010 Brazilian GPnote . Technically, this goes for any driver or team, but considering the team orders controversy in Germany and that Alonso could theoretically clinch the title in this race, the threat's directed specifically to Massa.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Former McLaren team principal Ron Dennis was famous for employing this style of speaking, to the point where it even received its own name, "Ronspeak".
  • '70s Hair: Just take a look at the trope image.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Somewhat averted. Granted, the rivalry between Michael Schumacher and his brother Ralf was there, but the press didn't play it up as much as, say, his rivalry with Hill, Villeneuve, or Häkkinen, depending on the year.
  • Silly Season: Almost inevitable whenever the contracts run out, but 2013's was worse than most. Months were spent on Red Bull deciding between Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen (they later picked Ricciardo, only for Raikkonen to return to Ferrari.)
  • The Southpaw: Ayrton Senna, for example. Being able to keep your dominant hand on the wheel while shifting gears is a pretty good advantage. Now, however, gears are shifted by controls at either side of the wheel, canceling out the advantage. This is still true in other forms of motorsport, though.
  • Spanner in the Works: What's the one thing above anything that screws with everyone's strategies? Bringing the safety car out which can both work against and for a team.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Intentionally invoked by Nelson Piquet back in his karting days, misspelling 'Piquet' as 'Piket' to avoid detection from his disapproving father. (Also, 'Piquet' was his mother's maiden name.)
  • Spin-Off: usually when teams threaten to break away from F1 and form thier own series. So far been averted every time, with the latest being during the 2009 British Grand Prix.
    • The GP2 series can technically qualify as such, as it had been created by Ecclestone to serve as a feeder series to F1. (Note: all five rookies this year were former GP2 racers, as were Kovalainen, Buemi and Kobayashi. Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Timo Glock, and Nico Hulkenberg were all GP2 champions before graduating to F1.) This year, the GP3 series was started to serve as a feeder to GP2.
  • Start My Own: FOTA's proposed Grand Prix World Championship which was thankfully averted.
  • Stage Mom: Some people have this opinion on Anthony Hamilton, Lewis's father and now former manager. Except, you know, genderswapped. Other driver's family members are not quite as often seen so they get spared from such a public admonishment.
  • Still Wearing The Old Colors: Ferrari red, Rosso corsa, the Italian national racing color from the days when such things were mandatory, while Lotus (who aren't a revival of Colin Chapman's Team Lotus) race using the old team's black and gold.
  • Surprisingly Good English: Considering only a handful of drivers came from English-speaking countries, it's surprising how good their English is.
  • Take That: Done by the Williams team and Barrichello to the Stig and the other F1 drivers that went on Top Gear: at the German GP, Barrichello was presented with a shirt that said 'I Beat The Stig'. Barrichello then gave Button, Hamilton, and Webber shirts that said 'I Didn't Beat The Stig'.
    • In 1993, Williams was sponsored by Sega and had Sonic the Hedgehog painted on the car. Every time McLaren won, they painted a squashed hedgehog on the car.
      • The most ironic part was that Ayrton Senna's greatest drive, the 1993 European Grand Prix, had Sega as the title sponsor.
    • Italy and Ireland's performances in the 1994 FIFA World Cup (including a game against each other) lead Irish team Jordan and Italian one Minardi to reference this.
  • Thirteen Is Unlucky: When numbers were assigned by the FIA, there was no car #13, with the seventh team in the previous year's championship order instead given #14 and #15.
    • However, for 2014, in which drivers choose their own permanent race number, somebody did choose to race #13 - Pastor Maldonado.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Bernie Ecclestone, who's wife towers over him by a fair bit.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Force India, who started out as a struggling midfield team but by 2012 have become regular points scorers.
    • Renault went from points-scorers to World Champions in 2005/06.
    • Red Bull were just another midfield team until 2009. We all know what happened next.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Jenson Button and his cake, Kimi Räikkönen and his vodka and/or Magnum ice cream.
  • Translation Convention: Pretty much every driver these days speaks English (and very well, one should add). Most notable when the Spanish driver Fernando Alonso speaks to his Italian race engineer Andrea Stella in English over the team radio.
  • Transplant: Some of the older circuits were brought over from Formula One's predecessor, the European Championship, including Spa-Francorchamps, Monte Carlo, the Nurburgring Nordschleife, and Monza.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: Eddie Irvine very nearly did when Schumacher broke both his legs in Britain in 1999 forcing Irvine into the number 1 spot. Unfortunately he lost the championship to Mika Häkkinen at the final race.
    • Mark Webber, while looking like an example, is actually an aversion; despite driving the best car for the past three years, he has lost to his teammate in all three seasons. It got worse in 2012, where he not only finished below his teammate and both of the McLaren drivers, but also the Lotus of Kimi Räikkönen.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: The MasterCard Lola team, which had intended to enter F1 in 1998 but were pushed by sponsors MasterCard into entering in 1997. The cars were barely assembled in time and were never tested, the result being that they were miles off the pace. The team promptly folded at the following race.
  • Unexpected Successor: In some ways, Damon Hill becoming team leader after Senna's death and carrying the team to the constructors championship and to within 1 point of the drivers championship in 1994, which was similar to how his father carried the Lotus team after Jim Clark's death.
    • Lewis Hamilton, a rather unknown British driver, wouldn't have been the likeliest successor in the eyes of fans and the media to Kimi Räikkönen at Mc Laren. Still, he did manage to get second place in his debut year (and he would have won if not for a spectacular collapse, ironically losing to Räikkönen), and win the championship a year later.
  • Vestigial Empire: Ferrari are probably the closest equivalent - their recent cars have been dismal, only looking better due to having Fernando Alonso. They haven't won a title since Raikkonen's victory in 2007 (and that only happened because of Lewis Hamilton crumbling under pressure]].
    • Williams as well; they haven't won a title since 1997, and in the last 10 years they've won just 2 races and have finished outside the top five on seven occasions.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: What does Helmut Marko actually do at Red Bull Racing?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Any time a driver shows rather unsportsmanlike conduct on camera or a team does an unfair strategy or treats his drivers unfairly.
  • Women Drivers: There have been only a handful of female drivers in F1 and none too successful: the last woman to attempt to drive in F1 was Giovanna Amati who failed to qualify in the three races she attempted before being given the shove for Damon Hill. This was down to being unfamiliar with an F1 car's gear-shift system and not having many test chances. This is compounded by a Stay in the Kitchen mentality in Europe: when asked if she considered a move to F1, NASCAR driver Danica Patrick said no, citing an incident when she was driving in British racing when a driver was being berated because she set faster laps than him. It doesn't help that F1 has a number of personalities with chauvinistic attitudes, among them Bernie Ecclestone, former McLaren boss Ron Dennis (despite letting Indycar racer Sarah Fisher do a lap in the McLaren car before the race in the US Grand Prix), and more famously Jenson Button, who made this tongue-in-cheek quote on GQ magazine:
    A girl with big boobs would never be comfortable in the car, and the mechanics wouldn't concentrate. Can you imagine strapping her in? note 
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In the wake of the German GP scandal, while everyone else was quick to judge Ferrari and Fernando Alonso, two people sided with them: Michael Schumacher and Nelson Piquet Jr. - the guy whose team-ordered victory caused the ban on these things in the first place and the guy who screwed over Felipe Massa for Alonso the first time.
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