Passion, Speed and DramaThe crazy cocktail of the Formula 1 Grand Prix Race
Growing up we played with our matchbox cars dreaming of being a race car driver, but life happened and most of us probably did not get into the elite race care profession. Now we sit or go to car races fascinated by the danger, accuracy and sheer talent it takes to drive one of kind cars at high speeds.
This weekend the 2015 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas starts where we all will be watching anticipating if Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel will win. So, we are giving you the 411 on what the race is all about from Charles Bradley, Editor in Chief of Motorsport.com (the world's biggest motor racing website). He has covered motorsports since he was 16 across five continents from the F1 Grand Prix in Monaco, the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Daytona 500, the Macau Grand Prix, the Indy 500 to the Desert Challenge in the UAE.
Casino Square in Monaco, Raffles Boulevard in Singapore and Austin, Texas all host Grands Prix counting towards the Formula 1 World Championship.
What does Monaco’s exclusive Casino Square, Singapore’s glittering Raffles Boulevard and a large field near Austin, Texas, have in common?
Answer: They all host Grands Prix counting towards the Formula 1 World Championship.
Austin’s Circuit of the Americas might lack the immediate glamour of Monaco, or the shimmering exquisiteness of F1’s first night race in Singapore, but what it does pack is a modern classic of a racetrack which is a short drive from a state capitol city that uses “stay weird” as its mantra. And while you won't find the Pan Pacific or Hotel de Paris within easy walking distance, the track is a few miles away from Congress Avenue - have you ever found brisket and ribs in Monte Carlo or Singapore? Texas one, rest of the world nil.
What is Formula 1?
Formula 1 is quite simply the pinnacle of the motorsport world in terms of the speed, technology, money spent and driving talent. Now a couple of these points are arguable: for example, IndyCars and even NASCAR laps are completed faster on the oval track, but that’s because F1 sticks purely to road courses – although they use to include the Indy 500 on the World Championship schedule in the 1950s, and the historic Monza track featured a banked section too.
Capable of breaking from 215mph to zero in less than 100 meters, the Formula 1 cars are built with carbon fiber and packed with tub-powered hybrid V6 engines.
But put all those cars on racetrack like Austin, and the F1 machine would win hands down. The cars are built with carbon fiber, packed with turbo-powered hybrid V6 engines and can brake from 215mph to zero in less than 100 meters.
In terms of money spent, F1 is also the king of consumption. Mercedes spent over $350million to win the 2014 World Championship, and although it recouped $220m in sponsorship, star driver Lewis Hamilton’s title came with a hefty price tag. Being a global king earns bragging rights for motor manufacturers that money can’t buy (well, apart from the fact that it did). By the way, Hamilton is on his way to a third title in 2015, and he cruises to collect about $30m each year.
Risk remains in Formula 1 racing. The cars remain open cockpit, with the drivers head in the airflow and prone to flying wheels, debris – or being hit by other cars.
Superstar names risking it all
There’s a dark side to F1, however this summer, Ferrari protégé Jules Bianchi died as a result of injuries he sustained in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix. His car left the track in wet conditions and slammed into a recovery vehicle. One of the sport’s greatest drivers, three-time champion Ayrton Senna, was killed in the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in 1994 in front of a multi-million global live TV audience – just a day before the up-and-coming Austrian talent Roland Ratzenberger had died in a qualifying crash.
Although safety levels have been improved exponentially – certainly since that dark weekend just over 20 years ago – the risk factor remains. The cars remain open cockpit, with the drivers head in the airflow and prone to flying wheels, debris – or being hit by other cars.
Yet, despite the dangers, stars like Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button are willing to risk it all. They’re all world champions; they’ve all made millions of dollars, and could retire tomorrow if they chose to without a financial care in the world. But F1 is a powerful drug for its drivers, whether it’s racing around a chic city street or a massive field in Texas all that passion, speed and drama is a hard habit to kick.
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