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F1 how to… Whether it was binging Drive to Survive through Covid lockdowns, an increase in social media presence or talk around the cooler at work, something has sparked your interest in F1. And now you find yourself daunted by a hugely complex sport, entwined in copious rules and riddled with strange jargon. 

F1Newbie.com is here to help you find your way, answer your questions and unravel the jargon. Our goal is to do this in short, simple and concise bites. 

So what are you watching? 

We’ll explain the sport in the next post, but here we’ll talk about what you’re not watching and how to best engage with the sport. 

While you see ten teams and 20 drivers take to the track, you need to understand that they are not all equal and technically, they are not all competing against each other. The field tends to default into three groups, the leaders, the midfield and the backmarkers. So, in 2022 the fight at the front was between Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. The midfield was hotly contested between Alpine and McLaren and then a decent gap to the rest. 

How do you watch it? 

Pick a team and choose a driver (they don’t need to be in the same team). Work out who they are competing against and remember, a driver’s number one competition is his teammate. This is because they are in equal cars and their performance is measured against each other.

Engage with your driver, watch their interview, follow their social and listen to a podcast (Beyond the Grid) and as you ‘bond’ to your team(s) and driver(s), you will naturally become more engrossed. And you will be surprised about who will respond to your comments and becomes your new F1 buddy. 

I support McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo (2022) but cheer for Max at the front of the field. Nearer the back of the field, I always favour the Rookie

Pre-race 

Media commentary and interviews will provide a great insight into how the weekend is shaping up, what is expected and what variables might impact the weekend. 

Free Practice

Free Practice will give you a good idea of where the car sits going into Qualifying and how the teammates are placed. The results here are only indicative as the times recorded are affected by the team’s run plan – fuel loads, aero adjustments, long run and short run. 

Qualifying 

Qualifying is where you will see the cars at their absolute fastest, over 300kph. The pace exhibited here can only be sustained for one or two laps at a time. Consider the difference between a 100m sprinter and a 10,000m runners – athletes can’t run the 10,000 at the same speed they can over 100m. 

Qualifying is in three parts so as Q1 draws to an end you are willing your driver to be 15th or lower to make it into Q2, then 10th or lower to get into Q1 and then how high up the order they finish becomes their starting position for the race. How did your driver compare to his teammate? 

Watch the sector times where purple shows the best for the session; green indicates a personal best and yellow shows the sector has been completed but with no improvement. If you are supporting a midfield driver and their sectors are all green, they are improving on their last performance and should improve their position, although this can be short-lived. 

Race

An f1 race is approximately 305 km’s or two hours, whichever comes first. The cars will be in the grid for half an hour prior to the start, and at the scheduled start time they leave the grid, in order, to carry out a formation lap. This is the final chance to check the car and warm up the tyres. 

Once all the cars are in their grid box, the start procedure begins with a series of five red lights coming on, holding and then going out. The race is underway, and the next key part is the launch, followed by an acceleration to maximum speed before breaking heavily into the first corner

This is one of the highest risk areas of the race as all 20 cars arrive at the corner at virtually the same time and avoiding a collision while maintaining position, is crucial. The remainder of the first lap is also high risk, and often crashes are noted as “first lap incidents”. 

Hopefully, your driver has managed to avoid the chaos and early retirement. Now comes consistency, management and strategy. Teams will have decided before the race what their pit stop strategy will be, but there is always Plan B, C or even D…

Remember, the car’s position is not always its true position as pitstop timing will cause variances.

Points are awarded to the top ten finishers, and a single point is awarded for the fastest lap, provided the driver is in the top ten. 

Post-race 

Immediately following the race the top three finishers are interviewed to get their reaction to the race, and the rest of the drivers are interviewed in the pen. They are required to attend, so even if they had a bad day and don’t want to, they must complete their media duties.

Online…

There are many resources online to get your F1 fix; dive deep into the detail or follow your favourite driver. 

Where to watch and follow? 

  1. F1TV offers insights, race coverage and interactive content. You can select to follow your driver through his onboard camera – check it out here
  2. App – the F1 App is a great place to track progress during the session. See what tyres your driver has on, check lap times and listen to radio messages. Access the app here
  3. Broadcasters – This international sport is broadcast to every corner of the globe. Find your provider here
  4. Live – You can’t beat being trackside. Read our post on buying tickets here
  5. Podcasts – As with everything these days there are very informative podcasts. We have some favourites that you can find here
  6. Websites and Social Media – there are countless. Formula1.com is the starting place; it is comprehensive and always current. The teams and drivers have their own sites and social accounts. 
  7. Films and Documentaries – shows like Netflix Drive to Survive, Schumacker and Senna.
Andrew Burden

The author Kiwi F1 Fan

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