Thursday, April 24, 2014

F1 - A guide for Americans

    F1 has always had a large following in almost every country but the united States.  The lack of races in the US  and no American teams or drivers has contributed to this. If you want to be an F1 driver, you probably need to be the son of rich European parents. There are a few exceptions to this (Senna) but even those probably had very wealthy parents and started racing go karts while still in diapers. But just because you won't be a millionaire driver yourself, you can still enjoy F1 (Quick joke - How do you become a millionaire race car driver? Start with a billion dollars.) It's like NASCAR but better because the cars are faster and they turn both left and right. No,  not really but that just emphasizes the stereotypes that keep gear heads from enjoying all forms of racing. In order to bridge the gap, let's start with the basics to understanding F1.

  The season;  The 2014 season started on 14 March in Australia and finishes on 23 November with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.  There are a total of 19 races scheduled, each in a different country.  While eight of the races are in Europe, there is one scheduled for the United States from 31 October to 2 November in Austin, Texas.  There have been discussions and rumors of a race in New Jersey but it doesn't look like that will ever happen.

  The tracks;  The majority of the races are held on purpose built circuits but there are a few still held on public roads which are temporary converted into race tracks.  The most famous of which is the Monaco Grand Prix.  This is also one of the most prestigious events in the F1 calendar and the expense and extravagance surrounding this event is beyond belief.  During practice runs, many of the drivers have unofficial agreements to leave as much rubber on the road as possible in order to burn off the layer of filth left by the previous night of partying.

Grand Prix De Monaco 2014

  The cars; The single seat, purpose built, open wheel cars are the fastest multi-turn circuit racing vehicles in the world. On the faster tracks, the cars reach speeds over 200 mph and up to 5 g's of force in turns.  During the race, cars will make several pit stops to change tires and make basic repairs.  Since 2009, there is no refueling during the race.  An F1 pit stop is an incredible coordinated event involving upwards of 30 people and should take less than two seconds for the top teams.

Sebastian Vettel

  The teams and drivers:  There are a total of eleven teams for the 2014 season.  Mercedes, Red Bull,
Ferrari and Lotus are the most popular and well known.  The top drivers to keep an eye on this year are Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.  Vettel, racing for Red Bull, has won the championship in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  He is one of the most successful F1 racers of all time.

  Where and when to watch;  CBS Sports Network airs most of the races live and frequent replays the following day.  The replays are extremely helpful unless you want watch live in the middle of the night.  Just make sure if you are watching the replay to avoid spoilers on Facebook.

Bernie Ecclestone
  Bernie; While not critical to understanding F1, no guide would be complete without mentioning Bernie
Ecclestone. Bernie, who is now 83 years old, became a key player in F1 for many years, turning it (and himself) into billion dollar industries. He is a very savvy businessman but may soon be a prisoner in Germany.  His trial started on Thursday, 24 April 2014 in Munich.  The charges, of bribery and incitement to breech of trust, stem from a 44 Million dollar payment to a German banker named Gerhard Gribkowsky to facilitate the the sale of F1 Group to a buyer of Ecclestone's preference.  Gribkowsky has already been found guilty and is serving an eight and one half year sentence.  If convicted, Ecclestone, even if only receiving a fine, would be forced to finally step down from F1.

Hopefully that's enough to get you started.  We'll be posting throughout the season and providing a few more guides on the car details and drivers as the year goes on.