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The Fun of F1

Formula One, a motorsport, draws fans from across the globe because of its competition and community.
John Schwaller
Racers competing on the Circuit of the Americas, in the 2021 United States Grand Prix.

“Lights out and away we go!”

Welcome to the world of Formula 1!

F1 is a motorsport, popular among people around the world, but most favored in European countries. First held in 1950, the sport is based on a “Formula” that each team must follow in order to compete. This formula encompasses rules in place for the components of the cars in which the racers drive. Mechanical, technological, safety and sportsmanship are all in mind and are enforced to create a more enjoyable race for the drivers and spectators. Engineers work countless hours perfecting the workings of the car between races and seasons–their aerodynamics, engine, speed and reliability. And the catch is, the Formula has big changes every few years.

On the course, a viewer will see 20 drivers from all around the world, each driver is a part of one of the ten teams (constructors): Red Bull Racing, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Aston Martin, Alpine, Williams, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo and Haas F1 Team. Each season, both the drivers and constructors compete for the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship, based on a point system; points are distributed when drivers win or place above 11th on the grid. While there are reserve drivers in case of illness, the contracted 20 is who the audience will most often see. All racers have worked their way up the levels of racing, starting out their professional career at Formula 4 and all drivers have backgrounds in racing prior to joining Formula 4. Within the teams there are rivals, as there is typically a “favored” driver–one will do better, has a larger fan base, has been with a team a long time or has been in Formula 1 longer.

There are 23 races, called a Grand Prix, each year, although there was an exception in the 2023 season, with flooding near the Emilia Romagna course. Each weekend event lasts three days: there are Free Practices, Qualifying races, Sprints and then races for F1 Academy (women’s racing). Races are held in cities across the globe; this year, one in Australia, seven in Asia, five in North America, eight in Europe and one in South America. The globality of the sport draws in fans from all walks of life from all corners of the globe. Additionally, this diversity of locations presents an interesting challenge for the drivers, the engineers and those putting on the race, as each track is completely different. Some, like Azerbaijan, are in old cities, but in some locations, one being Austin, Texas, it is just on a normal track. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t regulations for track standards; every track has to be between 3.5 and 7 km (with the exception of the Monaco Grand Prix), can be as many as 27 corners/turns, and the very first corner must see a change of direction of at least 45 degrees, with a radius under 300 meters. This provides intense competition from the very beginning of the race, something that fans love to see, as evident by attendees’ desire to sit close to that turn.

Senior Ella Swanson has more recently been involved in the world of F1. “I saw an edit on TikTok of driver Charles Leclerc…I soon watched the Netflix show ‘Drive to Survive’, and then made my whole family watch it, too.” Swanson said. This familial involvement has been something that has further propelled her following of the sport. For race day, Swanson has a bit of a ritual. “My mom and I always watch it together. We kick everyone out of the living room because they talk too much, and then she and I watch it together, it’s my favorite thing,” Swanson said.

The popularity of Formula One is rising in the United States, but it is a traditionally European sport, meaning that there have been some limitations. Other racing, such as Nascar and the Indy 500 has previously dominated the racing scene in the United States, but with the introduction of the Netflix show “Drive to Survive,” accessibility to the motorsport has become much more attainable.

“It is one of those things where like now, I feel like a lot of people are starting to get into it and it’s starting to become so popular,” Swanson said. “But I think there’s a good reason it’s becoming so popular other than the drivers being good looking and stuff. It’s just entertaining to watch.”

Junior Eva Bryant has found many things to be excited about in the world of Formula One racing as well. In addition to the drivers, there are often celebrities, musicians, and the wives/girlfriends of racers attending. Social media has driven this aspect, and Bryant has found that it is ultimately what drew her to F1.

“I first heard about [Formula 1] during COVID when Lando Norris was streaming with other F1 drivers on Twitch and I have been interested ever since,” Bryant said.

Another one of her favorite things is watching racers get better or seeing the more underrated drivers do well in their races; the constant competition keeps audiences wanting to see more.

“I’m not super traditional with the races, especially since most are overseas so they can be at really weird times in the US, but I do like to watch the races if I get a chance,” Bryant said.

People from across the world are interested in the world of Formula One due to its exciting elements, but also the ease of involvement, as it can be seen all across the globe. The 2023 season has concluded, with Red Bull racer Max Verstappen being the winner of the Drivers’ Championship, and Red Bull Racing being the winner of the Constructors’ Championship. The 2024 Formula One season will begin on Feb. 29th, 2024 in Bahrain.

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About the Contributor
Sarah Schwaller
Sarah Schwaller, Opinion Editor
Hello, readers! I am Sarah Schwaller, and I am a senior. This is my second year on the Dart staff, and I could not be more excited! I am on staff as an opinion editor, and I hope to grow in both my writing and editing, as well as my photography skills. In my free time, I play soccer with both Kansas City Athletics and STA, and I participate in musical endeavors with Stage Right Performing Arts.  You will also find me hanging out with my friends and family regularly! I love traveling, and one of my goals is to visit all 50 states and all the continents in the world. Traveling sparked my interest in photography and writing because the world is constantly changing and full of interesting things. I hope you enjoy reading!

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