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And We’re Racing: A Small Guide to Formula 1

After more than three months of waiting, Formula 1 is finally back! What is that you ask? Formula 1, or “F1”, is the highest form of single-seat car racing in the world. It began in 1950 with the first race taking place in Silverstone, UK. 70 years later, Formula 1 has become one of the biggest sporting events in the world, with the 22 races (2020 season) hosted all around the world and an annual cost of $120 million US.

How does F1 work?

A Formula 1 season consists of 20 to 22 races that take place in 4 continents (Asia, North America, South America, and Europe). The season starts with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and finishes in Abu Dhabi with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Each Grand Prix lasts 3 days from Friday to Sunday, with free practices taking place on Friday. During that time, the drivers test their cars and see what strategy is the best for the race. On Saturday, the third and last practice of the weekend takes place in the morning while in the afternoon, there is the qualifying session which decides the grid positions of the 20 cars for the race on Sunday. The qualifying session is divided into three parts: Q1, Q2, and Q3. Q1 lasts 20 minutes and the 5 slowest cars get eliminated at the end. Q2 then proceeds after a short break with the other 15 cars and yet again, the 5 slowest cars get eliminated. There are only 10 cars for the 10 minutes of Q3, where they try to set the fastest lap so they can be on the pole position. The race takes place on Sunday and lasts for approximately 2 hours. The drivers who finish in the top 10 at the end of the race score points, then the points from all the races are added up and the driver who finishes the season with the most points wins the championship. For the past 3 years, the Champion has been Lewis Hamilton and the driver with the most championships (7) is Michael Schumacher.

All the circuits have different layouts. Some of them are street circuits like Monaco and others are regular race circuits like Spa in Belgium. The different circuits layout sometimes suit some cars better than others. For example, the SF90, Ferrari’s 2019 car, was quite fast on straights, therefore the Italian Grand Prix’s track suited SF90 very well.

Since I have explained how the racing aspect of F1 works, you may be wondering who exactly is participating in the race during the Grand Prix. There are 20 drivers who drive the cars. Those drivers are sorted in the following 10 teams: Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Alpha Tauri Racing Point, Alfa Romeo, Haas and Williams; each team has two drivers.

Why do I like F1 so much (in other words why exactly am I obsessed with F1)?

A lot of people have asked me, “why do you like watching cars drive around in circles for two hours?” First of all, the cars do not drive in a circle, they drive around a circuit. Contrary to popular belief, it is not circular due to its sharp turns and long straights (well, not all of them). But on a serious note, I find that there is something about the excitement and adrenaline you feel as the cars race around the track, that I love. Everything happens so fast that you are always on the edge of your seat and you will never know how a race will finish. In my point of view, it’s a very surprising sport since you cannot make concrete predictions. You can’t possibly assume who exactly is going to win the race, who is going to get on the podium, and where the fate of each team will end up in the standings at the end of the season. In short, nothing is sure in this sport. I love supporting my favorite drivers and seeing them get on the podium with the look of happiness they have on their faces after the hard work they put in for the weekend.

However, there is also the drama between the teams or even between the drivers themselves. A famous rivalry involves Lewis Hamilton and his former teammate, 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg as they would sometimes clash on and off the track. There is also drama between the team managers, as they often make snarky comments at each other during press conferences or even accuse some teams of cheating. In fact, you can have more insight at the drama that takes place on F1 paddock in the Netflix show Drive to Survive. The show introduced a lot of people to the world of F1 and brought new fans. It’s definitely a must-watch, even if you’re not an F1 fan.

Last but certainly not least, we have the drivers themselves who play a huge role in my love for Formula 1. Aside from driving the cars, they all have fun personalities, they make me laugh and they inspire me because of all the hard work they have been putting in towards their dream in participating in Formula 1 since a young age.

Formula 1 is a great sport that is entertaining, exciting and fun to watch. I highly recommend outsiders to watch a race. You will not be bored, especially if you watch 2019’s German GP. If you want more insight into F1, there are numerous videos on YouTube that can introduce you to the sport. While there is also Drive to Survive, my best suggestion is to simply just watch a race and get to know the sport, the teams, and the drivers as you watch the 22 races. The 2020 season starts on March 15th – hope you’ll take time to watch the race!

Maeva Lago

Laurier Brantford '22

I am Maéva Lago-Dogo a Digital Media & Journalism major. I love K-pop, K-drama, traveling, Motorsports and spending a dangerous amount of time on Twitter and Netflix. Follow me on my Instagram @maeva_lagodogo.
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