First things first: Formula 1

Lightning fast cars, luxury destinations, nail-biting suspense, twenty ambitious drivers, immense wealth and plenty of behind-the-scenes scandals, is a simple way to encapsulate the glorious sport of Formula One. Sounds appealing, right? As someone who has found such passion and exhilaration in this sport, I couldn’t recommend it enough. It has come to my attention however, that a few people around Durham and beyond are not so familiar with Formula One, only occasionally hearing Lewis Hamilton’s name in the news, with no faint idea who he is or what he has done. If this may be referring to you, don’t panic. This article’s purpose is to bring you up to speed (no pun intended), with everything and anything about Formula One!

The sport has been enticing and entertaining fans for many years, and holds much history and value. First beginning in 1946, ‘Formula One’ (F1) was created as a representation of a ‘set of rules’ agreed upon by racing organisations to conduct motor events. Although the sport acted and appeared significantly different during these times, the pure essence of the love of racing has been passed and nurtured onwards throughout the decades, preserving the genuine passion of drivers to compete in such powerful machines, and for fans to observe with appreciation. 

How does a Formula One car differ from the average vehicle, you might ask? Well, largely, to say the least. Resembling a car which has been somewhat ‘squished down upon’, a F1 car is designed to be as fast as it can possibly be. The aerodynamically designed machine is extremely light, allowing minimal weight to be carried which could potentially slow down the vehicle as it sprints around a circuit. In order to exercise control of the car, drivers are equipped with two ‘wings’ and diffusers which assist in creating a downforce against the ground. Still following? Well if you are considering participating in the sport because driving a ‘smaller’ car sounds simple enough, you may potentially want to reconsider after hearing about the danger aspect of the sport. F1 can be categorised into many descriptions, but  ‘safe’ and ‘easy’ are definitely not applicable. 

For an activity which involves high speed chasing of up to 340km/h speeds, it would be fair to say an extreme amount of risk is being taken. The anxiousness whilst watching a Grand Prix is heightened due to the unpredictability of a fatal crash or horrifying accident, one in particular being the horrendous accident involving Anthoine Hubert in 2019. The sport has sadly accumulated over 52 deaths over its existence, an unsettling amount which only makes the sport even more serious with such high stakes. On a positive note, The FIA, the association which governs F1, has implemented a number of precautions to limit such danger. In particular, the ‘Halo’ was implemented after the crash of Jules Bianchi. The barrier on the car is placed above the drivers, to prevent head injuries in crashes. Although reluctantly adopted into the sport, it has shown immense usefulness in avoiding destructive, and potentially fatal injuries. Recently in 2021, the crash of Romain Grosjean shocked the world in its intensity, but the driver escaped death narrowly due to this protection device. Thanks to this initiative by the FIA and various others, us viewers can proceed to take a breath after the first few laps of a Grand Prix, what a relief! 

On a more cheerful note, the luxury and wealth of the sport is no secret to the public, providing extra excitement for spectators to marvel at. Drivers are paid hefty multi-million dollar salaries to pursue their passions racing for teams like Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and so on. They will compete in 22 races this year, spanning across the globe, to drive (and more importantly celebrate) in glamorous countries like Monaco, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and so on. The lifestyle of an F1 driver is desired by many, and I for one can see why. Lewis Hamilton, a 7-time World Champion, is perhaps one of the most well known F1 drivers, attaining a net worth of over $285 million from his successes in the sport and other related endeavours. Perhaps this information makes you regret choosing football or ballet as an after school pastime instead of go-karting, I wouldn’t blame you if so.

So there we have it, a brief introduction to the sport that I, and many millions of others, are so captivated by. Although a few aspects were dived into in this article, we have only begun to scratch the surface of the intricacies of Formula 1. I am incredibly excited to indulge in all the details which makes the sport so exciting, stay tuned for more in the coming weeks!

Image: Bill Stephan on Unsplash

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