Formula 1 racing – after soccer, the most popular sport in the world – is returning to Austin for the tour’s only US stop, October 31 to November 2 at Circuit of the Americas! It’s the highlight of the year for US F1 fans – will you be there?
Before we get to the race itself, what is F1? Why is it so popular? And, if you’re going to be in Austin, how will you get there?
Formula 1 (or F1) isn’t your typical car racing, with stock cars from Chevy, Ford or even Toyota, racing around a track in circles, crashing into each other and jockeying for position. F1 is much bigger – the cars are bigger, the speeds are higher and the thrills bigger. F1 cars are single-seat, open cockpit racing cars with the engine set just behind the driver; one driver likened it to sitting in front of a jet engine – just as noisy and just as much thrust. The cars can’t be purchased; they must be designed and constructed by the teams themselves, although they can outsource parts of it.
Just like building a balsa-wood car for the Pinewood Derby when you were a kid, the key to the fastest F1 car is weight. Most F1 cars are built of carbon fiber and they have to meet a minimum weight, including the driver, to be allowed in the race.
Aerodynamics are critical in attaining the speed F1 drivers are known for. To take even greater advantage of the light weight of the cars, wings have been added to the back, allowing the air to flow over the top of the car smoothly. Too much air over or under the car, and it will go flying, end-over-end. Too little air flowing around the car and it can be as good as dead in the water.
The cars, though, are only part of the F1 magic. The drivers are the rock stars of the auto sports world, with personalities to match. The track, rather than being a giant oval, takes twists and turns, just like regular roads, so the skill necessary to control these giant jet engines with wheels is enormous.
The festivities surrounding each of the tour’s events are equally enormous, getting bigger and bigger each year. For 2014, the U.S. Grand Prix includes a Texas Saloon village, a Latin-themed Pachanga village and a Sports Bar, among other things, each set to delight the F1 aficionado in each of us.
But how are you going to get there? Where will you stay? Stick with us – in our next article, we’re going to make it easy to get to all the F1 events in Austin before, during and after the F1 race.