Somebody once said the most exciting thing about Formula one is the first lap and the last lap, with fuck all happening in-between. I'm not sure who said it, possibly my dad after a skip of pints. Anyway they were wrong, or at least they are now.
After a weekend in which Lewis Hamilton overtook teammate Nico Rosberg in Hungary and in the Championship standings, much of what dominated F1 headlines covered an incident concerning McLaren-Honda driver Jenson Button.
Button was effectively taken out of the race after being penalized for taking safety advice from his team when his brake pedal hit the floor. Button stated that "The sport's got a long way to go before it's good again. [...] It didn't make me want to be a Formula 1 driver." A damning indictment from one of the sport's favourites.
Well Formula 1 have been working towards creating more of a spectacle for the fans and here are a few reasons that Formula 1 is actually worth watching.
1. DRS - Drag Reduction System
When people think of Formula 1, they think of a bunch of cars going in circles with minimal overtaking. Well DRS has changed that.
Introduced in 2011, it was designed to promote overlapping. The drag reduction system does exactly what it says on the tin. It reduces the amount of drag on the car and makes it go faster. DRS zones are essentially designated overtaking zones where the car looking to overtake can get a speed advantage by opening an adjustable flap on the rear of the car to increase aerodynamic efficiency.
What this means is that the average Formula 1 race is now filled with attempted overtakes making for some very good watching. When you know the car behind you has a chance to go faster than you at least twice a lap with DRS, the dynamic of the race changes utterly.
But there will always be some tracks where overtaking is nearly impossible.
2. KERS - Kinetic Energy Recovery System
KERS essentially allows a car to use energy that would otherwise be wasted and use it to boost acceleration and make the car go faster. Introduced in 2008 by the FIA, Kinetic energy is created when a car uses its brakes, something it does quite a bit I've noticed.
The recovered energy is stored in high voltage batteries which is later turned on with a boost button on the drivers wheel. Think NoS from The Fast and The Furious and you're about a sixth of the way towards understanding it. There have been issues with teams deciding not to use it but now everyone is on board and KERS is quietly making Formula 1 less sleep-inducing. It's always on a Sunday and you were probably out on Saturday making your weekly attempt to pickle yourself so lay off!
3. Max Verstappen
The 18-year-old is a genuinely exciting driver and deserves a sub-heading of his own. The Dutchman signed for Toro Rosso last year when he was just 17-years-old. In fact, he was legally unable to drive a road car while he was racing Formula 1 last season. He won his first Grand Prix this season and became the youngest driver to do so.
Verstappen is simply fearless and his overtaking immense. He won over many pundits and fans last season with a series of daring yet hugely skillful overtakes. Verstappen impressed so much in his first Championship that he was promoted into the Red Bull team this year where he regularly mixes it up with the big boys. A reason to watch F1 all on his lonesome. He also looks like his face has been randomly generated in a character creation menu of an Role Playing Game.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 22, 2016
4. Genuine competition
When F1 was at it's peak popularity, Ferarri were dominating with Schumacher steering them to 5 straight Championships between 2000-2005. A lot has changed since then. Red Bull dominated from 2010 to 2014, with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel.
More recently, Mercedes have streaked away from the competition with Hamilton and Rosberg taking first and second in the Championship respectively in the last two years. That looks to be a distinct possibility again this year but with Ferarri and Red Bull closing the gap with each year, F1 looks set to become a much more competitive sport ultimately making it more enjoyable to watch.
5. Team Radio Shenanigans
Listening to the radio chatter between the drivers and their engineers is always interesting. Those with an interest in the sport enjoy getting the driver's perspective while travelling at 300 km/h. Those who are casual watchers may just enjoy Kimi Raikkonnen throwing a tantrum and calling another driver a f*ucking idiot.
It's also fun to watch strategic team orders come through and be subsequently ignored like when Lewis Hamilton refused to get out of teammate Nico Rosberg's way. Wonderful stuff! Once you know the ins and outs of the personnel F1 becomes a sport with a whole load of drama and baggage attached!
Formula 1 is quite possibly the most technically complex sport there is. At the risk of sounding facetious, it's like a high octane game of chess. But even after all the complex car building and tweaking, once the drivers get onto the tracks it's much more than going the fastest.
The thinking behind tyre selection, engine use and pitt-stop strategies is more extensive than you would think. In particular, a well timed pitt-stop can win a race if you out-think your opponent and manage to have fresher tyres coming into the final stretch of a race.
Also, the pit-stops are an isolated art-form in themselves.
Pitt stop in a tad over 2 seconds. ...I can't even get out of my car at the petrol station that quickly! #F1
— Ian Royce (@officialroycey) July 6, 2014
7. Camera Angles
If you watch Formula 1 for more than a couple of minutes (which many don't, hence this article), you will become immediately aware of the ridiculous camera angles on display. These are cars hurtling around a track at speeds of over 300 km/h, a couple of inches from the ground and we can see exactly what the driver sees from their point of view. We can see them changing gears, we can see them making contact from up close on any part of the car, we can see attempted overtakes from the perspective of both cars. We can see a lot is what I'm saying.
8. Embrace the family-hating introvert within
Formula 1 gives you so much more time to ignore your family when you claim to be watching an F1 race. I can see now that my dad used to say he was watching the racing so we would stop bothering him and he could sleep for a comfortable 2 hours and still catch the end of the race. It's the stuff lazy Sundays and repressed memories are made of.