We would be fooling ourselves if we admitted that we knew everything about all the racing series. In an effort to reduce confusion and hopefully bring some clarity, we will continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series in U.S. and the world. Feedback is always appreciated; let us know what you want to see or if we missed something. Previously we covered Grand Am and American Le Mans Series and this round is all about Formula 1. The opening round is this Sunday in Australia, so it will be an early rise for those of us Stateside.

While we have already had our racing season start here in the US way back in January at the Daytona 24 hour, the true start of the international racing season comes when Formula 1 gets back at it.  F1 is, and always has been, the absolute pinnacle of motorsport.  Agree or disagree, Formula 1 always absorbs the best of the best drivers, the best of the best teams, and the most of the most money.  Huge budgets do not always equal great racing, but if the last few seasons are any indication, there is plenty of excitement to be had by watching.

 

History:

Without Formula 1, there would be a much less interesting history to international motorsport.  F1 is the original professional motorsport which exists only for the enjoyment of the fan.  The cars are constructed and shipped all around the world simply for the fact that people enjoy it.  It is the most watched sport in the world.*

Currently run under the Federacion Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) banner of intercontinental racing championships, Formula 1 has existed as a championship since the 1950s.  The rules change almost every year, and over the years several manufacturers have come to the forefront, be they road car manufacturers like Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes, Peugeot, Honda, and Toyota, or privateer constructors like McLaren, Williams, and Sauber.

In recent years Formula 1 has been ruled by a few very brilliant people.  Bernie Ecclestone became a very wealthy man by selling something which did not expressly belong to him, the television rights to broadcast Formula 1.  He is the current CEO of Formula One Management, making him the single most influential man in the sport.  The current head of the FIA, Jean Todt, also has a say in how F1 is run, as the president of it’s sanctioning body.

Current Season:

The 2012 F1 season consists of a 20 race schedule of sprint races lasting no longer than 2 hours each.  Unlike Grand Am and the American Le Mans Series, there is only one specification of car, though some teams are as much as 7% slower than their quickest competitors.  For the most part, the specification remains much the same as it was last season.  With KERS and DRS still in play, some teams have brought back the idea of the F-duct. 

KERS is the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, or hybrid drive electric motor which provides a power boost to each car for a certain percentage of each lap.  DRS is the Drag Reduction System used to promote passing.  A convoluted system to be sure, DRS can only be used in certain sections of the track, and even then only if you are within one minute second of the car in front of you at another specified section of the track.  On to the F-duct then; F-duct, while not an expletive, is a system that is open to chassis builders by which air is redirected over the wings in such a way that stalls the air over them providing a drop in drag only on straights.  While in previous years it was driver activated, this has been deemed illegal, and now must be a passive system that functions without driver interaction.

Last year’s championship was, of course, won by Red Bull Racing and the young Sebastian Vettel, don’t necessarily expect a repeat this season.  Stiff competition from McLaren will be the primary adversary, and while Ferrari have “had trouble” in pre-season practice, I would not put it past the red team to be…keeping a little in reserves.  Further ransackers at the gate of Adrian Newey’s empire come in the form of Ross Brawn and his team of Silver Arrows, with the charge led by 7 time World Champion Michael Schumacher, and the talented Nico Rosberg.  The wildcards this year will be Lotus Renault and Sauber Ferrari.  If only for the fact that there is a Senna in a Williams powered by a Renault engine, I am excited for the prospect of 2012.  I hope you are as well.

 

How to watch:

In the United States, F1 is broadcast via the Fox family of networks with the vast majority of the season broadcast live on the SPEED channel.  While live broadcasting means you may have to rise early in the morning or stay up late at night to view some events, it becomes almost experiential that way, and only enhances the experience.  4 events each year are broadcast on a tape-delay on “regular television” on Fox itself.

The broadcast team here in the US is pretty interesting.  No changes to the lineup are scheduled or expected, so I again look forward to hearing the play by play of Mr. Bob “Barrett Jackson” Varsha, the exquisite engineering talent of Mr. Steve Matchett, and the ever present and increasingly senile David Hobbs.  While Varsha is away on other assignments, SPEED will throw in the incredibly talented Aussie, Leigh Diffey.

*While, of course, Soccer holds the overall title, each F1 Grand Prix gets more television viewers worldwide per individual event than any other single sporting event, save the Super Bowl, the World Cup, and the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

Schedule:

Race 1 – Quantas Australian Grand Prix – Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia.  March 18th

Race 2 – Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix – Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. March 25th

Race 3 – UBS Chinese Grand Prix – Shanghai Circuit, Shanghai, China. April 15th

Race 4 – Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix – Bahrain Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain. April 22nd

Race 5 – Gran Premio de España Santander – Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. May 13th

Race 6 – Grand Prix de Monaco – Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo. May 27th

Race 7 – Grand Prix du Canada – Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada. June 10th

Race 8 – Grand Prix of Europe – Valencia Circuit, Valencia, Spain. June 24th

Race 9 – Santander British Grand Prix – Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, United Kingdom. July 8th

Race 10 – Grosser Preis Santander von Deutschland – Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Germany.  July 22nd

Race 11 – Eni Magyar Nagydj – Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary.  July 29th

Race 12 – Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Spa, Spa, Belgium.  September 2nd

Race 13 – Gran Premio Santander d’Italia – Monza, Monza, Italy.  September 9th

Race 14 – Singtel Singapore Grand Prix – Marina Bay Circuit, Marina Bay, Singapore.  September 23rd

Race 15 – Japanese Grand Prix – Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan.  October 7th

Race 16 – Korean Grand Prix – Korean International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea.  October 14th

Race 17 – Airtel Indian Grand Prix – Buddh Circuit, Greater Noida, India.  October 28th

Race 18 – Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  November 4th

Race 19 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States.  November 18th

Race 20 – Grande Prémio do Brasil – Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Sao Paolo, Brazil.  November 25th 

(Photos : Speedtv.com)