An Introduction into the Fast Lane

Formula One, or F1, are the fastest road racing cars in the world. The F1 season consists of 20 races called Grand Prix, meaning “grand prize” in French. The most well-known of these races is the Monaco Grand Prix. The races are held all around the world, ranging from the U.S, France, Spain, Russia, Australia and China along with 14 other countries. F1 is split into two championships: the driver’s (best driver) and the constructor’s (best team.) Each F1 team has two cars with two drivers and two pit crews. To earn points for these championships a driver must come in first through tenth with 25 points for first, 18 for second, 15 for third, 12 for fourth and so on until tenth with one point. Every point a driver earns goes towards their total and the total for their team.

This year in F1 there are 10 teams for a total of twenty drivers. F1 is complex in every aspect, from the cars to the race itself. Each Grand Prix lasts an entire weekend, with the entire race happening on Sunday. The Grand Prix kicks off on Friday with two practice sessions. The teams and drivers use these sessions to learn the track, test new parts and dial in the car’s set up to get the best out of it come race day. On Saturday, a third and final round of practice is run to fine-tune the car and get it right. Soon after, a qualifying match is run to determine the starting order of all the cars for the race in a three-session elimination-style format. Each session is timed, with the slowest driver eliminated every 90 seconds and only the fastest times advancing to the next session. However, the elimination stops when just two drivers remain and a head-to-head shootout for pole position takes place over the remaining time. Sunday, barring any last-minute penalties or extraordinary circumstances, the drivers line their cars up in the order they qualified. When the starting lights go out, the cars take off, and then it’s up to the Fates to decide who sees the checkered flag first. During the race, teams decide when to call in their drivers for pit stops to change tires, and depending on how the competition is doing on the track, the timing of these calls can make or break their race.

Here are some crazy facts about F1: The budget for the 20 F1 teams is around $325 million vs $6.5 million for the top 20 NASCAR budgets. The fastest pit stop in F1 this year was 2.02 seconds. F1 brake discs are made from a special, indestructible form of carbon fiber. The discs heat up to around 1,200 degrees C— typically the average temperature of molten lava. F1 car engines last only for about two hours of racing mostly before blowing up, while we expect our engines to last for a decent 20 years on average. That’s the extent to which the engines are pushed to perform. An F1 engine usually revs up to 18,000 rpm. The average car revs up to 6,000 rpm.