Over the past few years I’ve found myself waking up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to drink coffee and watch Formula 1. The routine has become one of my true pleasures, a source of continuous excitement, the starting point of a new hobby, and how I've bonded further with some friends.
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Tons of other people are beginning their foray into Formula 1 fandom right now, like myself a few years ago. Notably, Netflix's Drive To Survive series (Season 3, behind the scenes of the 2020 season, is now live) gave many new fans a taste of the human side of the sport. But where the TV show focuses on the highly-dramatic, I noticed many people wanted more information about the sport itself.
So whether you’ve watched a couple races and want to learn more, saw the Netflix series, or really have zero idea what it’s all about... This guide is for you. Its goal was not to be well-written, totally accurate, or a perfect representation of Formula 1. It's just a quick intro to help you get into the sport and start knowing what to pay attention to.
Here's us pulling out of the garage and driving into this guide. 🤣
Holy shit, where do we start when discussing Formula 1? People new to the sport are always surprised by some of the insane details. Let’s begin with a few of the basics…
The cars reach top speeds of around 220+ mph
But don't worry, they're not just driving around in circles. They're driving on complex tracks with unique layouts, and occasionally on city streets like in Monaco and Singapore.
This gif shows a touring race car on the left, and a Formula 1 car on the right.
There are 23 races in 2021, scattered all over the world. With 1.9 billion yearly viewers. It’s a truly global sport in all senses.
When braking, F1 cars can slow down from over 200mph to 80mph in ~2 seconds... and about 400 feet
The cars have pretty incredible aerodynamic design which help slow the cars down too.
Imagine doing this in your Prius.
They have so much aerodynamic downforce it’s said a F1 car could drive upside-down in a tunnel
This also helps the cars stick to the track in a way that allows them to drive through turns at eye-popping speeds.
The top 3 teams (Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull) have yearly budgets of $400-500 million
Even the smaller teams even have yearly budgets of $125-250 million. The top teams have staffs of up to 1,500 people, with hundreds of engineers.
There are new budget cap rules coming into play starting in 2021, but it'll take a bit before we see the effects.