Do you want to watch cars designed by mad scientists scream around a track? Do you want to see cars take corners at 180 mph and almost tear their drivers’ heads off? Do you simply want to watch something better than NASCAR? I present to you the pinnacle of motorsports: Formula 1 (F1).
F1 currently has 10 teams, each running two cars. An F1 season typically runs from March to November with about 20 races, each in a different country. Each race weekend has two practice sessions on Friday, one practice and one qualifying session on Saturday, and finishes up with the race on Sunday. Teams use the practice sessions to find the optimal setups for their cars. In qualifying, each driver tries to set the fastest lap time. The fastest driver starts the race from the first position on the grid: the highly coveted pole position or starting position.
In the race, the top 10 drivers are awarded points based on their finishing position, and each team receives the total of their two drivers’ points. At the end of the season, the driver and the team with the most points win the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship, respectively.
The Top Three Teams:
The top three teams currently are Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Red Bull Racing.
Mercedes-Benz withdrew from F1 in 1955 after the Le Mans Disaster. They returned to the sport as an engine supplier in 1994 and powered teams like McLaren and Brawn GP to championship glory. Mercedes finally entered F1 as a works team in 2010 after acquiring Brawn GP. The 2010–13 seasons saw them gradually make their way up the pecking order. In 2014, engine regulations underwent a major overhaul. Naturally aspirated 2.4-liter V8 engines were abandoned for 1.6-liter V6 turbo hybrids. Mercedes, having designed the most powerful engine, leapfrogged every team on the grid and has been unstoppable since. They’ve won every championship since 2014 and secured the 2019 Constructors’ title just last week in Japan.
Ferrari is the oldest team in the sport’s history and also statistically the most successful. From 1999 to 2004, they won six consecutive Constructors’ Championships, with their legendary driver, Michael Schumacher, winning the Drivers’ Championships five years in a row from 2000 to 2004. This was their most dominating period. They last took the Constructors’ trophy home in 2008 and have, since then, been unable to mount a proper challenge.
Red Bull Racing is known for bringing young talent into the sport. Their current driver, Max Verstappen, was only 17 when he made his F1 debut. Red Bull snagged the double championship from 2010 to 2013. Despite having a reputation for building chassis with excellent aerodynamics, 2014’s regulation changes hindered RBR since their engine supplier, Renault, couldn’t match Mercedes. Now powered by Honda, they hope to be fighting for championships soon.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are the two multi-World Champions on the grid. Hamilton, currently driving for Mercedes, is a five-time World Champion and is very close to winning his sixth. He has the record for the most poles and second-most wins in F1 history. Sebastian Vettel, who currently drives for Ferrari, won his four championships with Red Bull Racing from 2010 to 2013. He still holds the record of youngest pole-sitter and youngest World Champion, having won his first championship at the age of 23.
A new generation of drivers is slowly taking over F1. Drivers like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, George Russell and Alex Albon are all aged 22 or under, but they have demonstrated incredible potential. Verstappen and Leclerc have already been touted as future World Champions.
The oldest driver on the grid is 2007 Champion, Kimi Räikkönen. He drove for Ferrari from 2007 to 2009, and again from 2014 to 2018. He is currently in his 17th season and drives for Alfa Romeo. Räikkönen is known for his monosyllabic answers in interviews and love for ice cream.
After a slow start to the year, the last few races have seen Ferrari’s car become the class of the field. But it’s too little too late. Mercedes has already wrapped up the Constructor’s title. The current season has four races left, with the next race being held at Mexico. Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of winning his sixth World Title, which will put him one step closer towards breaking Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles. The question is, can Ferrari take advantage of their momentum and start 2020 off the right foot?