Formula One: The Coolest Sport You May Never Have Heard Of

The Basics

Ever since I can remember, my family and I have followed Formula One. What is Formula One? You may never have heard of this amazing sport as it is not super well known in the United States, though it is extremely popular in many other countries. Formula One is the highest class of single-seater auto racing. It is an international sport, whose races are known as Grands Prix. The F1 season consists of about 21 Grands Prix on tracks all over the world. After each race, points are awarded to the first ten finishers, with 25 for a win, 18 for second place, 15 for third, then 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 for the remaining finishers of the top ten. At the end of a season, the driver with the most points total wins the Championship. There are other Formula series, such as Formula Two, Formula 3, Formula E, etc. which are all sanctioned by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), but F1 is the crème de la crème. In Formula One, there are 10 manufacturers or teams that run two cars each, meaning that there are 20 drivers (two per team). Some of the top manufacturers are Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull. Formula One cars do not look anything like streetcars (the kind that you or I can drive); they kind of look like go-karts on steroids. They don’t have doors, windows or a roof; they do have wings (front and back), open tires, and room for only one person. These cars can reach extremely fast speeds, upwards of 230 mph! 

Part of what makes the sport interesting is that the cars are not all the same, meaning that the manufacturers design the cars meticulously to enhance whatever aspects they feel to be strategically beneficial. There are rules and regulations that teams must adhere to, but as long as it’s within the guidelines, they can alter the car to perform as well as possible! These cars are insanely cool feats of engineering, by the way. We wouldn’t have such advanced technology in automobiles, aerospace, etc. if it wasn’t for the super talented engineers behind F1 cars. The strengths and weaknesses of different cars from different manufacturers come into play on the track, with certain cars being more suited to specific tracks. For example, this season Ferrari’s cars are faster on straightaways, while Mercedes’ cars are better on street tracks where maneuvering through turns with precision and control is necessary. Therefore, on street tracks, Mercedes has the advantage, while on tracks where speed matters more than maneuverability, Ferrari has the advantage. There are so many other factors that go into the sport and make it really fascinating (like crashes, which usually do not end in someone getting hurt, but really throw an unexpected wrench into a race and add to the excitement of spectating). In some ways, a lot of the strategy and behind the scenes stuff that happens off the track contributes more to the outcome than what happens on the track during a race.

Why I Love It

Formula One is basically the only sport I follow. I grew up watching it with my family on Sunday mornings, kind of like our own form of church. My dad has always loved cars and racing, and I was raised around motorsports. My dad races for fun, he has since I was about seven or eight, and I’ve been around tracks even before that. I’ve been my dad’s pit lane helper at High Plains raceway in Colorado (where I’m from). He also sometimes travels for races, and I’ve watched him drive on tracks such as Miller Raceway in Utah and Sebring International Raceway in Florida. He has even driven at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in Texas, where the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix is held. In 2015, my family and I went to France for two weeks during summer vacation and we had the amazing experience of going to watch the Monaco Grand Prix! We all bought matching hats and t-shirts (Mercedes-AMG Petronas team shirts and hats because that’s the team for which our favorite driver, Lewis Hamilton, races). That was a day I’ll never forget.

Basically, racing is about 50% of my dad’s personality, and about 90% of the packages that get delivered to our house are car parts. Growing up, I had my dad’s interest passed to me. He tried to get me into karting (the first step toward a career in racing) but I don’t have much of a competitive streak, so that never took. However, once a month we would go to “Cars & Coffee” with his friends from the PCA (Porsche Club of America). We would eat so many chocolate chip pancakes and talk about cars. I was the youngest person there; everyone else was a middle-aged or slightly older man (there were only a few women). I enjoyed the attention though, and I loved spending time with my dad. After a while, we couldn’t always fit Cars & Coffee into our busy schedules, and I couldn’t come to watch him at every race, but we’ve always had room for Formula One. Even now, with me at college five states away from home, my dad and I talk on the phone and send each other texts about every Grand Prix that we don’t get to watch together.

 

Lewis Hamilton

I’m not religious, but Lewis Hamilton is basically my god. He is an F1 driver from Great Britain who started racing in Formula One in 2007 at the age of 22. His first season, driving for McLaren, he placed second in the Championship (which is insane)! In his second season, he won. He is also the first and only black person to drive in Formula One. Hamilton has such a positive energy about him and so motivated to achieve his goals. He is a big inspiration to me and many other people all over the world. Also… he’s really attractive. My family and I love Lewis Hamilton so much; we have this running joke about how everything he does is ultra-cool and how he is the coolest person on Earth. He looks good popping champagne after a first place finish and even riding his little razor scooter around the paddock during a race weekend. You can catch me straight-up screaming every time he posts on Instagram and sending screenshots to my mom (who is and always has been an avid Lewis lover). 

On a more serious note, Lewis Hamilton is my childhood hero and I’ve always looked up to him. I have so many memories of sitting a mere foot from the tv screen in the living room, eyes glued to car number 44, listening to the ramblings of the hilarious British F1 commentators and cheering for Lewis with my parents. That’s my happy place. I get so hyped when I watch Formula One; it always elevates my mood and sets a good tone for the rest of my day. Checking my F1 app is also a fun pastime that I frequently indulge in while waiting in line for coffee, walking to class, and sometimes at the dinner table (oops). It’s just so convenient! Looking at Lewis Hamilton’s points count is super satisfying this season because he’s just so far ahead of everyone else. He’s the king! This season, I have no doubt, will be the sixth Championship win of his career. That will make him the driver with the second most Championship wins in the history of Formula One (behind the legendary Michael Schumacher, with seven wins). There are many other talented drivers in F1, such as Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Botas, Max Verstappen, and Charles LeClerc (who is 21 years old, currently in his second season of F1 and his first season with Ferrari, kinda killing it), but Lewis is and always will be the best in my mind. He doesn’t win every race. When he loses, he does it with grace, congratulating his opponents and remaining grateful to his team and his fans who support him and make what he does possible. He is a true talent, who rose from a humble background in a sport dominated by white men from rich families. Lewis Hamilton is a role model for people who have a dream and an example that through hard work, anything is possible.

 

You Should Check Out F1

Formula One is a sport that brings people together from all over the world. It isn’t very well-known in the United States, but I think it should be. I would love to see a driver from the U.S. racing on one of the F1 teams and I would also love to see a female driver in F1 (because there are currently none). Nonetheless, I love Formula One and I think it is such a fascinating sport both on the track and off! If you ever find yourself wanting to find a new sport to watch, definitely check it out. Maybe do a bit of research for context (like reading this article, to start!) and then sit down with a bowl of Tostitos Hint of Lime chips, a big bowl of salsa, and some warm queso to watch a Grand Prix.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

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