It sure has been weird not having any live sports to watch for the last five weeks. And I just can’t get into replays of old football, basketball and baseball games for some reason. Probably because I’ve seen a lot of them, haha. And unless the games are absolute classics (like games from the 2016 NBA Finals where my Cavs won the Championship), I can’t see the point in re-watching them.
But even though I’ve been bored with most sports, in the middle of the void, a sport that I wasn’t really familiar with until now filled that hole: Formula 1 racing. My goodness! I’ve been on an F1 kick for at least a couple weeks! And it all started with watching a YouTube video of Juan Pablo Montoya’s qualifying lap at Monza, a racetrack in Italy. The car’s V-10 engine is loud enough on a laptop. Now imagine that engine on a 50-inch TV with surround sound. Yeah. That was my first exposure to Formula 1. Here’s the link to the video since F1 won’t let people display it on their site. Watch and listen here!
Things I love about Formula 1
I just absolutely love the way that car SCREAMS down the straightaway as Juan Pablo Montoya starts his qualifying lap! Driving one of those cars has to be like being strapped into a rocket ship!
But after I watched that video, I just wanted to learn more about the world of Formula 1. Who the star drivers and personalities are, how the cars work, and perhaps find an F1 team or driver to root for whenever the 2020 season starts (if it does at all).
During a normal year, the Formula 1 season runs from March to December. There are 10 teams of two drivers each, with two championships on the line: the World Drivers Championship, awarded to the individual driver who accumulates the most points over 21 races, and the World Constructor’s Championship, which is awarded to the team that earns the most points. Like for example, let’s say I drove a Ferrari F1 car and won the race, I would earn 25 points individually, while my team (Ferrari) would also earn 25 points because I drove their car. So you can imagine how competitive things get when it’s not just about individual drivers competing to be crowned World Champion, but the teams constantly trying to outdo each other as well.
I love that competitive fire! And I also love the personalities within the sport as well. NASCAR in the 1990s is like what Formula 1 is now. When I was growing up, NASCAR had personalities like Dale Earnhardt Sr., Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin and others. And each one of them had such a unique personality that made them easy to root for (or against). Like I loved Ricky Rudd because he was classy, yet aggressive. But I couldn’t stand Dale Earnhardt Sr. as a kid because he was what I saw as a dirty racer.
It’s the same way in Formula 1. The personalities of all the drivers are really colorful. There are the rich playboys like Carlos Sainz Jr., and Lance Stroll (whose father is a billionaire that bought his team, Racing Point). Guys like Esteban Ocon and Charles Leclerc who worked their way up to F1 more on talent than financial backing. And then there are “bad boys” like Kevin Magnussen and Max Verstappen, who will do whatever it takes to win. This includes trading paint at breakneck speeds or sometimes wrecking people, which is frowned upon in F1.
The teams are unique and colorful too. The two big bullies in F1 are Mercedes and Scuderia Ferrari. They have the most money to be able to build the best cars. While smaller teams like Haas F1 (the only American team), only have a fraction of the budget of the bigger teams, but still have to try to be competitive.
I naturally gravitate to the underdogs, and either classy or aggressive racers, because it’s sweeter seeing good guy underdogs win. Plus if they win, they had to work harder to earn it by playing the hand they’re dealt.
Drive to Survive
At the advice of a college friend, I started binging on a really cool Netflix series called Drive to Survive a couple weeks ago. It’s a series that chronicles both the 2018 and 2019 Formula One seasons from the perspectives of everyone involved in the sport. From team owners, team principals, drivers, and pit crew members, you get a good look at just how intense and emotional the sport is on and off the track! If you want something action packed and entertaining to watch, I highly recommend it! Here’s the trailer for Season 1:
I also recently watched a really neat movie called Rush, that describes the rivalry between two famous F1 legends. James Hunt and Niki Lauda couldn’t have been more different. Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) was the brash, loudmouthed, cocky British superstar. He definitely lived life in the fast lane. Pun intended. He raced hard on the track, and partied harder off it. Booze, drugs and women galore.
On the other hand Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl) was the quiet, calculating Austrian who was constantly trying to find ways to get better as a driver, and make his car go faster. He was portrayed in the movie as extremely dedicated to becoming the best racer in the world. He didn’t party as much as Hunt did because he felt that would hurt his performance on the racetrack. The dynamic between these two men was an amazing choice for a movie subject! Check out the trailer!
I’ve definitely got Formula 1 fever! And that goes beyond just Netlix, YouTube or watching racing movies. I wanted to figure out how the sport itself works. I wanted to know how teams and drivers become, and stay routinely successful. While I likely will never get any closer to Formula 1 than watching a Grand Prix in person one day, a really neat and deep mobile phone game called IGP Manager lets me learn strategy, practice it, and compete against other passionate fans to have the best racing team in the league!
This game puts you in charge of your own racing team. You control everything. From managing your team’s budget, to hiring staff members or drivers, to researching and designing progressively faster cars, you call absolutely every shot. My favorite part of the game is the strategy you plan and execute for races.
You have to make sure your drivers are feeling good about how the car handles, monitor weather and the type of track you’re racing on to get an idea of which type of tire to use, and then carefully manage both of your drivers as they race. If you push too aggressively, or don’t watch how fast your tires are wearing out, you could blow a tire or run out of fuel! The minimum goal in the game should be to manage your drivers well enough so they finish the race. Then, once you have that down, you’ll learn many key things. Like when to pit, when to tell the drivers to be aggressive or defensive, and where the car needs upgraded.
I’m learning that wins are also very hard to come by. Out of the nine races I’ve run so far, I’ve only had a driver win one. Most of of the time, my drivers finish in the Top 10 or on the podium (top three places). But you have to be smart, lucky, and good enough to have a driver cross the finish line first. Overall, I’d say it’s probably a very realistic experience, and gives people a good idea of what real F1 teams have to go through to succeed. If you’re into sports strategy games, check out IGP Manager!
I’m happy to have found a new sport to follow, even if there currently are no live sports. There’s just so much to enjoy about Formula 1. Lightning fast cars. Colorful personalities and rivalries. Dramatic and exciting competition all over the world. It truly is the world’s biggest motorsport. The only knock I have on F1 is that there currently aren’t any American drivers. An American hasn’t raced in Formula 1 since 2015, and hasn’t won a World Championship since Mario Andretti did in 1978. We don’t really have a presence in the sport. But whenever someone represents the Stars and Stripes next in F1, I’ll be even more wound up than I am now!
Hopefully the 2020 season starts sooner rather than later. The season is scheduled to start in June, but who knows if the Coronavirus will cooperate. In the meantime, I’ll be soaking everything up, learning about, and enjoying my new passion. I encourage you to find a new passion as well! After all, if we don’t find something that makes us happy, what fun is life? Later everybody! 🙂