What is the green track in F1 – and why it represents trouble for drivers

F1 drivers will face a variety of conditions throughout the season, with the green track being just one of them. What exactly does this mean and how does it affect drivers?

Wet, dry or somewhere in between, F1 drivers must adapt their driving style to the track conditions every time they’re off the track.

Maybe there’s a headwind in the big braking zone at the end of the pit-straight, which means you might be a little later and pick up more speed.

Perhaps, that same wind has turned 180 degrees between qualifying and the race, meaning there’s a tailwind when you throw out the anchors and hope it stops.

Adaptation is everything, with one condition drivers facing a ‘green’ track.

What exactly does a ‘green’ track mean in F1 and how does it challenge drivers?

Photo by Vince Mignot / MB Media / Getty Images

What is Green Track in F1?

A ‘green’ track in F1 does not refer to the actual color of the racing surface – unless you are driving a virtual racing line in an official F1 video game…

Instead it refers to the condition of the track and the apparent lack of grip.

At the start of race weekend, when there are no cars on the surface, the track will be referred to as ‘green’, meaning it doesn’t have rubber and isn’t as fast as it could be.

Grip is lacking, but as F1 cars – and in support series like Formula 2 and the W series – people do laps, the more rubber is put down.

Once worn in the track, it is no longer called a green track.

The challenges it presents

With a clear lack of grip when the track is ‘green’ in F1, drivers cannot push as hard as they normally would.

Trying to go through a corner in eighth gear in the first 10 minutes of practice will usually end with a one-way trip through kitty litter and a good chat with the obstacle.

Occasionally, a track may be green again after qualifying and just before a race.

If it rains heavily overnight, the rubber laid can be washed away, leaving the track in the same condition as when it is ‘green’.

As long as a track is completely worn out, drivers will make things easier, remembering that you can’t win a race in practice or qualifying, but can certainly lose it.

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

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