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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Formula 1: It’s not just cars

It’s 7 a.m. on a Sunday. The glare of my laptop screen momentarily blinds me before I log onto the F1-TV website and click to watch the livestream for the Singapore race. Having watched the qualifying rounds the day before, I know it’s not going to be an easy race for my favorite team (Red Bull), but I have hope. Surely, Max Verstappen, who beat Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine Grand Prix victories in a row, would clutch his 11th victory. After all, it’s Formula 1 and anything can happen. Indeed, something did happen. Red Bull didn’t win and Max didn’t even get on the podium. He placed fifth, whereas Carlos Sainz, who up until that point only had one victory, won the race. Safe to say, it was a rather disappointing Sunday.

I love Formula 1. After all, what other sport could make me wake up early on a Sunday or stay up well into the darkest hours of night? There’s something for everyone in F1. There are cars designed by some of the world’s best aerodynamicists, handsome drivers, fashion, nerve-wracking passes, wild celebrations and incredibly sophisticated strategies to beat the other teams, even if it’s by a hundredth or thousandth of a second.

What I love most about the sport is that it’s the pinnacle of human ingenuity, strength and strategy. With regard to ingenuity, F1 teams push the boundaries of aerodynamics when building their cars to shave hundredths or thousandths of a second off their times. The cars have to generate enough down force that they maintain a firm grip on the ground because speed isn’t the only factor in winning; control of the car is just as important, if not more. A driver can’t win if their car is drifting and sliding along the track. However, there can’t be too much drag either, because that would hinder speed.

For strength, F1 drivers face comparable forces of acceleration (g-forces) on the body when starting, braking and rounding corners, which are not for the faint of heart and require extensive physical training in order to remotely tolerate. A great driver must not only be strong and have quick reflexes, but also understand their car. In other words, an F1 driver can’t be dumb if they want to be any good. As for strategy, F1 includes not only one but two championships, one for the driver and one for the team. Such an arrangement creates conflicting interests, because a driver might have to let his teammate pass him in order to help the team, which would mean fewer points for him individually.

Every race requires at least one pit stop to change the tires. There are three different types of tires to choose from: soft, medium and hard. The soft tires are the fastest but wear out easier. The hard tires are slower, but take longer to wear out. Pit stops need to be properly placed along the track because it takes, on average, about 20 seconds for a driver to enter and exit the pit lane and get their tires changed. If done at the wrong time, a pit stop can result in the driver losing multiple places. Formula 1 is more than just the cars. Having the best car can only take a team and a driver so far if their strategy is awful or if their drivers aren’t as skilled. It is truly like no other sport. After all, no other sport combines strength and strategy quite like F1.

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    Sam AndrewsDec 27, 2023 at 12:31 am

    Oh, hi! If it wasn’t for this article, I wouldn’t even notice that it usually takes less than half a minute to enter and exit a pit stop. There’s a local race track not far from my office building and the owner is keen on upgrading the facilities there. Well, he should call a pit stop dealer for further assistance. unitedraceparts . com