What is lift and coast in F1?
Imagine you’re driving your regular car on the highway, and you see your exit coming up. Instead of hitting the brakes at the last moment, you ease off the accelerator a bit earlier and let the car naturally slow down. That, in its essence, is “lift and coast.”
In F1 terms, “lift” refers to lifting off the accelerator pedal, and “coast” is about letting the car roll without fully accelerating or braking. In short, drivers momentarily stop pushing the pedal to the metal and allow the car to coast for a bit before they reach a corner.
Why do drivers lift and coast?
Now, you might be thinking, “Why would racing drivers do that? Don’t they want to go as fast as possible all the time?” Well, there are a couple of key reasons:
⛽️ Fuel Saving: F1 cars have a limited amount of fuel they can carry for a race. By lifting and coasting, drivers can reduce fuel consumption, ensuring they don’t run out before the finish line.
Brake Preservation: Brake wear is a real concern in F1. Coasting can reduce the load on brakes, helping them last longer.
Tire Management: Going all out puts a lot of stress on tires. By lifting and coasting, drivers can manage tire wear and make sure they don’t degrade too quickly.
Disadvantages of lift and coast in F1
Sure, there are benefits, but like most strategies in F1, lift and coast comes with its downsides:
Loss of Time: Obviously, if you’re not on the throttle 100% of the time, you’re going to lose some time. If done excessively, this time loss can be significant.
Vulnerability to Attacks: If a driver is lifting and coasting, they might be more susceptible to being overtaken by competitors who aren’t doing the same.
Rhythm Disruption: Constantly lifting and coasting can disrupt a driver’s rhythm, especially if they’re trying to balance between attacking, defending, and managing their car.
Races where lift and coast affected the race
🥈 Alonso defended 2nd place against Lewis Hamilton.
🚫 Team boss Mike Krack: False alarm.
🛑 Team prioritized securing Alonso’s podium finish.
❓ Mercedes mistakenly thought brake problems for Alonso.
2022 Mexico GP
🤔 Expected: medium compound to wear quickly. Reality: opposite occurred.
🏎️ Lewis Hamilton, on hard tires, awaited Max Verstappen’s tire issues.
🛑 Using “lift and coast,” Max reduced tire wear and saved fuel.
2021 Hungarian GP
🏁 After the race, Sebastian Vettel was told to stop his Aston Martin.
🏆 Post-podium, car checked by stewards for legality.
⛽ FIA found just 0.7 liters of fuel in the tank → Vettel disqualified.