A beginner’s guide in watching Formula 1 during the pandemic- Part 1


Perhaps one of the worst seasons to start watching formula one. 2019 was a rather boring year for someone to begin following this prestigious sport. If you have not had the slightest idea what formula 1, perhaps a slight introduction is in order.

Formula 1 has been around for the past century, once the internal combustion engine was invented, people started racing their cars. Initially, these races (Grand Prix) are consisted of a bunch o localized races all over Europe. Which eventually grew into a series of races that span across Europe and eventually the world for a championship.

Shortly after world war II, automobile companies started investing more and more money into this race series. Ferrari, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Bugatti all had their fair shares of involvement. Today formula 1 for the past three decades has been a grand spectacle of ultimate performance, extracting milliseconds worth of time advantage over their competitors.

I have had friends that asked me what so interesting about cars going around in circles? To which I reply, it is the idea that these “cars” are so far beyond what you see on the road. Engines that are so delicate that they only last one race and must be on a life support fuel system.

The idea that there is a chess game played between teams on pitting strategies, tire management so that they do not explode during mid-race. The drama that ensues from 200-mph adrenaline-fueled race for 90 minutes. These are the things what is exciting for me in formula 1.


(Courtesy of formula1.com)

This year due to Covid-19 at the beginning of the year, formula 1 once canceled, and I was very sad and started to watch older races, and videos to kill the time. Lucky you, since then they have had 14 races so far, and a roller coaster ride of drama due to the special circumstances of Covid.

Under normal circumstances, each formula one season has been for the past half a decade consisting of 21 races. From Australia, Bahrain, China, Azerbaijan, Spain, Monaco, Canada, France, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Russia, Japan, Mexico, United States, Brazil, and Abu Dhabi. This year it was slightly different since the first race of the championship began in Austria in July.

Organizers for formula 1 have since scrambled to organize a calendar of 17 races. Austria (twice), Hungarian, Great Britain (twice). Spain, Belgium, Italy(twice), Russia, Germany, Portugal, Italy(again), Turkey, which is where we just finished at the time of writing this article, Bahrain (twice), and Abu Dhabi.

Each race consists of a weekend of three days, (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). Friday involves two practice sessions, called FP1 and FP2. Drivers in these two practice sessions are allowed to do as many laps as they need, in order to record valuable data for the race. Drivers also would take these practice sessions as an opportunity to test out the track limits, because in formula 1, one mistake could mean going from first place into last in a matter of seconds.

During practice sessions, drivers usually are at their own pace, and occasionally we get to see some conflict between drivers. Radio messages between the driver and the pit wall (crew of engineers) are broadcasted to live television. Engineers' jobs are to communicate the status of the car, the race, weather, and other cars to the racing driver. Drivers in their cockpit are often tunneled vision-ed on certain things and they need clarity and updates constantly for race strategies to work in harmony.


(Courtesy of Redbull.com)

Moving on to Saturday where there is another practice session followed by qualifying. Qualifying is a series of 3 timed lap sessions of 15 min, 12 min, and 10 min sessions in which cars set their fastest time. There are currently 20 drivers on the grid. In the first session, cars that set the slowest 5 lap times are eliminated and the positions they are in will be where they start on the race on Sunday.

The second session follows the same rule, but there’s a caveat in the session in which the tires that set the time for the 15 cars, are what they need to start with on Sunday. The last session consists of 10 cars setting their fastest lap times to fight for advantageous positions on the grid on Sunday start. There have been many instances where starting positions matter in qualifying.

Because the formula is often counted on an infinitesimally small margin. Every position, every inch, every 10ththousands of a second count toward the result. Drivers on Sunday that finishes on the top 10 are rewarded accordingly with points, 1st(25pts), 2nd(18pts), 3rd(15pts), 4th(12pts), 5th(10pts), 6th(8pts), 7th(6pts), 8th(4pts), 9th(2pts), and 10th(1pt). Join me next time where we learn about the teams and drivers that are currently participating in the 2020 championship.

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