What Is Tow in F1?

Published 07/10/2021, 2:27 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 4, 2020 Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Racing Point’s Sergio Perez during practice REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini/Pool


A huge amount of complexity goes into making a championship-winning F1 car. Teams like Ferrari that are a part of F1 from the very beginning have done plenty of changes to their cars over the decades. F1 teams use modern technologies to develop some of the best cars in the world. The use of wind tunnel has been highly beneficial for F1 teams to develop cars that are aerodynamically perfect.

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Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 20, 2021, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez in action at the start of the race REUTERS/Yves Herman

F1 drivers use a lot of tactics to win races, one such tactic is Tow or Slipstream. As per F1.com, “A driving tactic when a driver is able to catch the car ahead and duck in behind its rear wing to benefit from a reduction in drag over its body and hopefully be able to achieve a superior maximum speed to slingshot past before the next corner.”

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How tow helps an F1 car

Tow gives a big advantage to the drivers in getting better speed. It helps a driver in getting a better and reduced drag from the driver driving in front of him. As an F1 car is driven around the circuit, it creates air pressure which is called ‘dirty air’ for the following driver. This ‘dirty air’ can be beneficial for the drivers as it can increase the speed by several tenths of seconds. Although, this advantage only happens when the cars are in a straight line.

This phenomenon happens as the car in front drivers directly into the air and that air passes through the following car, with help of this air the driver behind the car gets a better speed without doing much work.

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F1 fans have witnessed some strange qualifying sessions, one of them is the Italian qualifying session. The Italian track has straight lines that give drivers a tow. Due to this reason race cars line up for the last flying lap so as to get a better speed from the driver driving in front.

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Abhay Aggarwal

420 articles

Abhay Aggarwal is sports analyst at EssentiallySports. Having joined ES in early 2020, he has over 300 NASCAR, Formula 1, and Tennis articles to his name. Abhay has been an avid motorsports fan for over a decade, and he even attended the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

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