Formula 1 has Arrived
Author Steve B.
It’s no secret that I love Formula One. With the first race of the 2015 season coming up in Australia this weekend, I figured I should discuss what makes F1 special, as well as my thoughts on the upcoming season.
“Who Cares? Racing is boring… All they do is turn left.”
Wrong, that’s NASCAR. To put it simply, F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. This year, the series travels to 5 continents and races on some of the greatest road and street courses in the world. The cars are the most advanced in the world, with teams spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to get an edge on the competition. This truly is a “world” championship.
“Ok, so they make left and right turns. But the cars look weird, like alien space ships.”
This isn’t a glorified spec racing series like NASCAR or Indy Car, every team designs and builds it’s own car each year. Each car has a different body, a different engine, different suspension setup, etc. Designers need to be on top of their game because if another team comes up with a better design, they’re in deep trouble come race day.
Here’s a good comparison: NASCAR Sprint Cup cars use 358ci (5.9 liter) V8s with 850~hp. The 2014 Mercedes 1.6 liter turbo V6 F1 power unit had roughly 800 hp. Take into account that F1 cars weigh less than half a Sprint Cup car, and you start to get the picture of how fast these cars are. They’re capable of doing 0-100mph in 3 seconds, hitting 220mph on straightaways, slowing from 200-0 in a couple seconds, and pulling up to 5Gs in corners.
Technology developed from F1 include antilock brakes, traction control, semi-automatic gearboxes, kinetic energy recovery, mass produced carbon fiber, active suspensions, active damping, advanced tire tread and rubber compounds, ground effects, active aerodynamics, and countless others.
“Ok, so the cars are pretty cool… But isn’t it a sport for rich and famous douches?”
“Kinda… But drivers aren’t real athletes.”
Unlike NASCAR (I’m looking at you Tony Stewart…), the drivers are actually very fit. F1 drivers are world-class athletes, with extremely intensive training regimens. F1 drivers train like Olympic athletes, strictly managing what they eat and what time they eat it, and of course, working out regularly. Drivers wouldn’t be able to handle the sustained G forces for hours at a time without being very physically fit. Seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher was an extremely talented soccer player and skier. 2009 World Champion driver Jenson Button competes in IRONMAN as a way to stay in shape for the F1 during the offseason. Also, they date supermodels and pop stars. That has nothing to do with their athletic ability, but I felt it was important.
“Impressive, how long has Formula One been around?”
Grand Prix racing has been around almost as long as the automobile, but the first World Championship race was held at Silverstone, England in 1950.
“Ok, ok… I’ll watch the race this weekend. What should I look for? Who should I root for?”
Ferrari, duh. Ok, my family is Italian, so we always root for Ferrari... I even dragged my wife to the Ferrari factory on our honeymoon last year.
Last year, Mercedes dominated the sport. Their engines were generating significantly more power than the other engine suppliers, Ferrari and Renault. This led to a thrilling battle for the championship between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, however the rest of the cars weren’t really competitive. Expect the Mercedes to continue to be extremely fast, but the gap won’t be as big as last year. Ferrari seems to have made a big step forward in the preseason testing, but no one really shows their hand in testing. Honda has returned to F1 with McLaren after leaving in 2008 due to the economic collapse. It will be interesting to see how they do against the teams with more established engine suppliers.
Some big names switched teams this year with 2 time World Champion Fernando Alonso moving from Ferrari to McLaren and 4 time World Champion Sebastian Vettel taking his spot at Ferrari after spending his whole career at Red Bull. Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing Alonso in Australia due to a concussion he sustained in testing. Hopefully he’ll be back in time for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
So this year will be interesting, I’m super excited to see what happens this weekend when all the cars crank it up to 11 for the first time. I’m hoping to see some quality racing and some closer competition throughout the field. Coverage starts on NBC Sports at 12:30 AM ET (with encore viewings at 6 AM and 4 PM ET). Get PUMPED!