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How is a lap time counted in Formula 1 (or other motorsports)?

Does timing begin when the front, or middle, or back of the car touches the start/finish line?

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Besides the primary transponder timing, there is a secondary timing system that uses an IR beam at the S/F line. So you'd want to calibrate the two together.

Because the F1 Regulations (pp. 44-45) specify the transponder placement with respect to the car axles, I suspect (but could not confirm) that the photo beam is placed such that it is not tripped by the nose, but by the vehicle tires. If so, the timing would be calibrated to correspond to when the front axle crosses the line.

I'm not familiar with how much the front nose length is regulated. But this method would allow it to be modified a bit (or damaged in a crash) and not affect the vehicle timing.

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