The Truth About Racing

The new season of Formula 1 racing is upon us. The F1 Grand Prix at Melbourne, Australia will start this year’s festivities. I became a fan about 4 years ago or so and I have to say that I could not be happier. Now, if you live in the US, you probably have a tainted view of racing on account of the whole NASCAR abomination. Let me start off by saying that it is my opinion that NASCAR is a disease to the racing world.

You may be thinking to yourselves, “Isn’t that a little harsh?” ┬áThe easiest answer is NO!

The basis of racing is the skill of the driver. Please, tell me how much skill it takes to have the gas on full throttle, turn the steering wheel the same direction, and sweat for three hours. An F1 driver, on the other hand, must actually use the brakes to slow down for upwards of nearly 20 turns per lap and know the optimal speed and angle at which to take said turn.

The “series of turns” are what makes a race interesting. They are also the true test as to whether a driver is worthy to race in the first place.

WARNING: I am about to lay down a harsh insult to any paved oval track racer (I will mention how Indy racing is slightly, and I do mean slightly, better than NASCAR later). I realize that some F1 drivers have made the transition to NASCAR, but I am unable to respect them as a result.

The insult in my own words: “Any monkey can drive an oval track.”

This is an insult because I am implying that a monkey could do a better job behind the wheel than the driver (I know, you really did need the explanation, right?). The curves on an oval track are so big, they’re practically straightaways and they easily run three-wide on them. If you don’t have to down-shift at least one gear, then it’s not a curve. Therefore, oval track drivers are (un?)glorified drag racers. Drag racing surely takes more skill by the way.

Next, comes NASCAR’s concept of “bumping.” I’d be lying if I knew the strategy behind it, because frankly, it doesn’t make sense. Basically, it just involves cars hitting each other, many times this results in crashes. I will note that crashes are the only thing that make NASCAR worth anything to watch, but bumping boils down to lack of respect for the car. You bump, you crash, you wreck a car worth more than most people’s lives (no offense), and these driver’s don’t care. For an F1 car, if you scrape against anything, car or wall or whathaveyou, something important (e.g. nose wing) will probably break off your car or the car may be beyond repair all together to remain in the race. I’d say that’s an incentive to pay strict attention to where you are.

Cautions, those dreaded cautions. There’s a piece of dust on the track, looks like we better put out a full course caution. Give me a break. The beauty of an open F1 course, there are almost exclusively local cautions. That means you don’t have to stop the race and waste precious laps because of the forementioned piece of dust. In fact, in the about four years I’ve watched F1, I have seen between two and four full course cautions. It has to be a bad accident for that to happen, but at least you get to watch an awesome Mercedes safety car drive around the track.

Weather almost goes hand-in-hand with the cautions. How can you not let the cars race in the rain. Tire companies make tires with tread. F1 gives its fans that satisfaction. A couple years ago, I saw an F1 Grand Prix at Hungary where the entire race took place during a rain storm and it was awesome! Only half or so drivers finished the race, but at least they let ’em give it the old college try.

I’m not even going to go into depth about NASCAR fans.

I mentioned earlier that I would explain why Indy racing is slightly better than NASCAR. Indy is cursed from the get go by racing on the oval. However, they do have the open-wheel factor in their favor. Indy drivers must also be careful to not hit each other. They also get props from me for not driving in a huge pack the entire race. Therefore, F1 > Indy > NASCAR.

Remember, if the race you want to watch has turns that go both directions, it’s okay to continue watching.