Sunday, April 4, 2010

Formula 1 -- so much more fun to watch than NASCAR

I'm embarrassed to say as much of an auto enthusiast as I claim to be, I never really got into watching and following F1 (Formula 1 for those in the "know").  I was even in Monaco/Nice for the Monaco Grand Prix and it never occurred to me what a historical event it was.  When our boat docked at Villefranche, the strip was covered with F1 paraphernalia, and every channel in every coffee shop and restaurant was tuned to the local F1 coverage.

I didn't pay much attention to them and only watched the highlights at the end of the day when I arrived back at the boat.  The day was mainly overcast and rainy, and not a real pleasant weather to be sight seeing.  What I didn't realize was that also made for a very exciting race where ultimately BMW won over the Ferrari team.

My girlfriend is obsessed with it, and started downloading the races to watch.  After watching a couple races with her, I'm actually getting into understanding the teams and the racers.  Honestly, I think my girlfriend really only got into F1 because Michael Schumacher decided to come back from retirement -- and I must say he has been performing really poorly so far.

What intrigues me the most is how creative the engineers are working around the FIA rules and regulations to give their team and the car an edge.  For example, for this season they placed the rear view mirrors between the wheels instead of next to the driver (Ferrari started the trend), to minimize the turbulence the car caused as it races around the track.  Of course, this is now outlawed because the mirrors were placed in such an awkward position that it makes it very difficult for drivers to see who is behind them.

Even throughout the race season, the FIA regulations are continuously updated and changed as teams find loopholes to prior regulations and or make compromises and advancements that give them an unfair advantage. 

This season they have also eliminated refueling during the race so each team had to dramatically expand the fuel capacity of the car.  The benefit is without refueling pit stops there is also less risk of a pit lane fire.  Downside is this almost eliminates pit, fuel, and team strategy.  The less fuel the car carries, the faster it is.

In the past, races were won and lost in the pit lane, now it is more and more about the driver.  Given, there is still things you can do with a 4-second pit, but there is just a lot less variables than a 10-second pit.

Just reading about the technology of each of the team's cars is amazing.  In many instances, my girlfriend mentioned one of the team's vehicle were designed by fluid dynamics and another team never really had a chance to test the completed race car until the actual race weekend.  Lastly, there's a lot more drama and crashes, which always makes watching a race more exciting.

End of the day, it's more entertaining than making left turns for 100-laps.  Sorry Telledega Nights.

No comments:

Post a Comment