What Does ‘Delta Positive’ Mean In Formula 1?

Formula 1 Grand Prix events are full of technical jargon. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with all of the terms. These terms can be confusing if you are not familiar with Formula 1.

A race might include the term “delta positiv”. This refers to drivers being told to drive slower than the pre-determined lap time. This is usually when the virtual safety car activates.

Today we will explain everything about Formula 1’s delta time. We will also explain why and how it can be used in different contexts.   

What Is Delta Time in Formula 1 Formula 1?

The term “delta”, which is used by scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to describe a change of quantity relative to a reference quantity, is generally understood to be a term for mathematics, engineers, and mathematicians. 

Formula 1 uses the term “delta-time” to refer to the difference in a driver’s lap time from a predetermined lap time. The driver’s lap times can be called “delta positive” and “delta negativ”, depending on whether they are above or below the predetermined lap time.

Delta zero is a term that refers to a driver whose lap time is exactly the same length as the pre-determined lap speed. You can guess that it is very rare for a driver to experience a Delta zero in a race.

There are many ways to use the term “delta time”: it could refer to qualifying time, a competitor’s lap time, or even a target time. However, in practice, delta time is most commonly used when the Virtual Safety Cars (VSCs) are active.

Because it is easier to communicate quickly whether a driver is over or below the predetermined lap times, teams use delta time during races. 

Sometimes, the term delta is used in Formula 1 as a way to describe performance differences between different types of tires.

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What is the VSC?

If you don’t know much about the VSC, we’ll explain it briefly. This might help you to understand delta time. VSC was created in 2015 to replace the traditional safety car. 

The safety car is used to slow down race cars during accidents that could pose a danger from speeding. It’s not practical to have the safety car on every race that may require drivers to slow down. 

The VSC was thus introduced. The VSC has a predetermined lap-time for each track. It is 30% slower than each track’s average lap time as determined by FIA. The VSC activates and drivers are notified via the digital displays located on the sides of the race track as well as a display on their steering wheel.

The VSC is activated, but drivers must keep their speed low in order to meet the minimum lap time. Tracks are divided into sections, and each section has a time limit that drivers must adhere to. 

It helps keep distance between drivers and keeps them from using the VSC. If the VSC lap time was for the entire track and not individual sections, it could lead to drivers driving fast for most of the lap but slowing down at the end.

VSCs have the advantage over safety cars because they can be activated instantly. The VSC can be activated immediately, so it is much safer than using an actual safety vehicle. 

What does “Keep Delta Positive” mean?

We’ve already explained the meaning of delta time and how it is often related to the VSC time. But what does it mean when a team tells a driver to keep their delta positive? A driver must “keep delta positive” if they want to maintain a slower lap than the time set by the VSC.

These situations are where drivers try to keep the others from getting ahead of them.

After being given the delta-positive order, drivers can drive at their own speed. However, the time recorded in each section of the track must be delta positive to comply with the regulations. Drivers who violate these regulations could face a time penalty or be disqualified from racing.  

How Do Formula 1 Penalties Work?

A penalty is usually imposed upon a driver who is found to be in violation of race regulations. Drivers may receive a number of penalties. Most of them, however, are based upon time.

You have the 5- or 10-second penalties. Drivers who get one of these penalties must wait an additional 5-10 seconds in the pits for each pit stop. A driver who is given a time penalty but does not need to pit stop will have the additional time added to their actual race time.

A drive-through penalty is also available. This means that a driver must enter the pitlane and drive through it at the pitlane’s speed limit (60 kph), without stopping. Then, exit the pitlane. This penalty is only for minor offenses and doesn’t slow down a driver.

A driver who violates a more severe regulation could be subject to a stop and go penalty. The driver must park in their pit and wait for about 10 seconds before entering the pit lane. The pit crew is prohibited from working on the penalized vehicle during this period.

A grid penalty may be issued to a driver that is only effective during the next race. A grid penalty will force a driver to start lower than they were during qualifying. A driver who qualifies second but is penalized five places on the grid will be forced to start seventh for the actual race.

The black flag is the most severe type of penalty a driver may receive. A driver who does something that could be considered a “black flag” (usually because it is dangerous for another driver) will immediately be disqualified from the race.