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Formula One

Formula One is restarting this weekend with the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull ring in Spielburg, Austria. There will be no fans in the stands, but it will be on TV (in the States, it's on one of the ESPNs). As a Formula One fan, I am excited. Yessss! Happy! Happy! Happy!

I realize that many of you are new to Formula One, but might be curious about it. There is a good documentary series on Netflix called Formula 1: Drive to Survive. If you don't have the time to watch more Netflix, here is the Sunshine Jen Guide to Formula One.

Formula One is high level motorsport racing. The cars are built only to race in Formula One, and there are a lot of specs and technical stuff to them that I won't go into. Unlike Nascar which is raced on oval tracks, Formula One cars go to both the right and left on a track made up of corners, chicanes, and straights. Unlike Indycar, Formula One cars do not refuel during a race although they stop for tire changes or repairs.

Some famous Formula One drivers: Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda

Formula One teams each have two cars. There are three teams that are usually in front and win.

First, Mercedes is the premier team. They have won the team (or Constructor's) championship every year since 2014. They are like the Michael Jordan Bulls. They are a dynasty but they also are a solid team. They have one of the best drivers of all time and a solid engineering team. Their Phil Jackson is Team Chief Toto Wolff. I like Toto a lot. During a race, he's calm and focused unless something goes horribly wrong. Then he will pound his fist into the console. Then he is calm again.

The two Mercedes drivers are Lewis Hamilton (from the UK) and Valterri Bottas (from Finland). Hamilton is the best driver of a generation. He's been an individual champion six times. He knows how to drive his car. He hangs out with famous people and does interviews on talk shows. Valterri Bottas is not flashy. He just drives very very fast. He's been with Mercedes since 2017. He and Hamilton will get out in front and stay in front the whole race.

The Mercedes cars are usually silver (Silver Arrows), but this year, their cars are black to show their support for building diversity at Mercedes and Formula One. Also, Lewis Hamilton is a person of color and will have Black Lives Matter on his helmet. He's also been very outspoken about bringing more people of color and women into the sport.

Second, Ferrari. They have been a Formula One team since Formula One started in 1950 (seventy years this year). They are the team of the Prancing Horse. They are team of Michael Schumacher and Niki Lauda. Their cars are red. They're Italian. They're based in Maranello where the bells ring for their victories. Ferrari's Team Chief is Mattia Binotto. Their drivers are Sebastian Vettel (from Germany) and Charles LeClerc (from Monaco).

Sebastian Vettel is one of my favorite drivers. I love it when he gets angsty when things go wrong. What are we doing here??? He shouted into his radio one time when he crashed out. He's also a super smart driver and one of the best starters on the grid. He's been individual champion four times. 2020 will be his last season with Ferrari. Will he retire at the ripe old age of 33????

Charles LeClerc started at Ferrari last year, and he came in strong. He's twenty-two but looks like a sixteen year old. He's like Bottas. He just drives very very fast. He recently signed a long term contract with Ferrari, so he is their future.

The third Formula One team to watch is Red Bull. Yes, it's the sport drink. You don't have to be a car maker to have a team. Last year, they changed their engine from Renault to Honda, and it seems to be working for them. Their Team Chief is Christian Horner. The Red Bull drivers are Max Verstappen (from the Netherlands) and Alex Albon (born in England but races under the flag of Thailand).

Max Verstappen is twenty-two. At the age of 18, he was the youngest driver to ever win a Grand Prix in Barcelona in 2016. He's aggressive, bad ass, and will do anything to pass. He will try to get to the front. He's a Formula One star.

Alex Albon came to Red Bull at the end of last season. I like him a lot. He's also aggressive and will back up Verstappen. He can be a spoiler.

Then there are a bunch of other teams. Some other things to watch:

AlphaTauri. They used to be called Toro Rosso. They are the secondary Red Bull team. They have good drivers and they will be on their home track.

Renault. Specifically Daniel Ricciardo. He's Australian and an aggressive passer. If he has a good engine, he will go. He also has a nice smile.

McLauren. McLauren was the best of the rest last year. Carlos Sainz from Spain is worth watching. He's got hustle. He's going to Ferrari next year.

Haas. The American Team. I just hope Grosjean doesn't crash.

Alfa Romero. They have a driver Kimi Raikkonen who is also from Finland. He's the old guy at the age of forty. He's also been a champion. Lots of experience. Lots of knowledge. His nickname is the Iceman. If the car is good, he'll be in the mix.

Racing Point. They have pink cars. They recently had a change in ownership. They also have Sergio Perez, a very good Mexican driver.

Williams. Do I have to talk about Williams? They are an old team out of Great Britain. They're usually at the back.

What Happens On Racing Weekend:

There are three practice sessions where cars go out on the track and, well, practice. I find practice sessions boring.

On Saturday, there is Qualifying where the spots on the grid are determined. Cars go out and drive their fastest laps. They are not racing each other. They are just trying to go as fast as possible. The fastest car gets pole position at the front of the grid.

On Sunday, it is race day. Cars line up on the grid, do a warm up lap, then start and race. First car to finish wins.

Pit stops are important. A Formula One car will spend two to three seconds in the pits. The pit crews are incredibly in sync. Cars usually have to use two different types of tires, and when those tire changes happen is important.

After the race, the first place finisher gets 25 points. The second place finisher gets 18 points; then the points decrease down to tenth place which gets one point. Each team also gets the points for finishing, so it's important for both cars to do well. This is why Alex Albon and Valterri Botas are crucial. They might not be as flashy as a Max Verstappen or a Lewis Hamilton, but they can get points for the team.

The trophy ceremonies are fun. It will rain champagne. Daniel Ricciardo drinks the champagne out of his shoe. Good on him.

I posted this right after the second practice session. Hamilton and Bottas posted the fastest times with Sergio Perez in third. However, it's only the practice. There's still time to find the winning formula.

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