15 Things You Didn't Know About Formula 1 Racing

F1 racing is one of the most spectacular sports on Earth. Cars go whizzing by at upwards of 300 kilometers an hour, the engines are loud and powerful, and there’s always the possibility of a gruesome death. What’s not to like? Underneath the flashy cars the drivers race, there is a lot more than meets the eye. Millions of dollars have gone into their construction, as well as years of research and development. If something goes wrong, it could send the driver slamming into the wall or erupting into a ball of flames. There is something thrilling about this sporting event, and it’s unlike anything else out there. One thing is for sure, people will be gasping and screaming as they watch Formula One events for years to come.

And beneath the spectacle of Formula one racing, there is many things that no one even considers. What’s it really like to drive an F1 car? What are the secrets of the history of Formula One? How do they build the cars to be so fast? Are deaths really that common? How is the driver protected from danger? What are the plans for the future of F1? How does one become an F1 driver? And lastly, where can I buy a car that goes as fast as this? All these questions are answered, and even if you’re an F1 fan and you think you know it all, there is guaranteed to be something here that surprises you.


15 The Drivers Sweat Buckets

You might think that the drivers of the F1 cars have it easy. All they have to do is sit inside the cockpit and move their hands from side to side, right? Well, it turns out that being an F1 driver is extremely strenuous. So much so that the drivers lose four pounds of weight throughout the race. How? They sweat. The cockpit so hot that they’re constantly sweating. They can lose up to 2 to 3 litres of water in a single race. To combat this, drivers racing in hot regions like Brazil drink up to 8 litres of water before racing. They also have drinking straws installed in their cockpit, connected to reservoirs of mineral water. Water is extremely important to sports performance. A person who has lost 4% of their weight in sweat is 40% less able to function psychologically and physically, and these functions are incredibly important to a F1 driver, who must make split second decisions along the race.

14 There Is No Number 13 Car

The F1 drivers are a superstitious bunch. There is no number 13 car in F1 racing. Usually, the drivers are given numbers based on their performance in the previous championship. But if someone places 13th, they get bumped up to 14th, with nobody getting the number 13 car. F1 Driving is extremely dangerous, and there is a risk of death. For this reason, they tend to avoid putting the “unlucky number 13” on their car. It was used frequently up to 1920s, but then two fatal accidents prompted them to change their system. These were the deaths of two racers, Paul Torchy and Giulio Masetti, both which occurred within a short time. Both of these drivers were using the number 13 on their cars. Other countries also have different unlucky numbers. An example of this is the number 4 in Japan. Because this number is unlucky, Satoru Nakajima and Ukyo Katayama both raced under number 3 instead of 4.

13 The Cars Would Fly Away If It Weren’t For Their Design

These cars travel so fast, it’s almost unbelievable. They are some of the most powerful engines on earth, but that’s not the only important thing when it comes to building these cars. Aerodynamics is incredibly important when it comes to designing these cars. This is because these cars are travelling at such high velocity that they would start to fly if they weren’t designed the way they are. At 160 kilometers per hour, the car has the ability to fly. And these cars are travelling at over 300 kilometers per hour. So how do they keep the cars on the ground? It all comes down to something called “aerodynamic downforce.” This is a force that redirects the force of the air downwards, keeping the car glued to the ground. This is achieved by the car’s “wings,” which have become extremely prominent in today’s F1 world. The force these wings generate is so strong that they can lift manholes out of the ground as they drive over them. Once the car reaches 160 kilometers per hour, the downforce generated by the wings are such that the car could drive upside down on the ceiling of a tunnel.

12 The Cars Are Works Of Art

The cars are some of the most sophisticated machines on the planet. There is so much work that goes into constructing these beauties, and if one thing goes wrong, the car will not function. It is made up of 80,000 different components. Although the engines are incredibly expensive and complex, revving up to 18,000 rpm, they are thrown out after just two hours of racing. The brake discs are made up of carbon fiber, an extremely expensive material that is much lighter and stronger than other materials. They must be able to handle temperatures of 1000 degrees centigrade. These brakes are incredibly strong, and when drivers use them it feels like they just smashed through a wall. The car’s tires are filled with nitrogen, which fills the tires more evenly. The car can accelerate from 0 to 160 kilometers per hour and back down to zero again in four seconds.

11 Deaths

F1 racing is a dangerous sport. Many people have died in these races over the years. The total death count is 44 people. 24 drivers have died during the World Championship Grand Prix race weekend. 8 drivers have died during the Indianapolis 500 World Championship events. 9 drivers have died during tests. Four drivers have died during non-championship F1 events. However, for many years there hadn’t been a death in F1 for decades. Before 2015, the last one occurred in 1994. This was Ayton Senna, one of the best drivers of all time. He hit a concrete wall at over 300 kilometers per hour and was brain dead immediately. But then in 2015, Jules Bianchi died after sustaining severe head injuries during the Japanese Grand Prix. He died 9 months after the race, but he never recovered from his injuries, and they later claimed his life. Drivers have died in horrific ways many times, with some burning to death inside their cars or worse.

10 Women In Formula One

F1 isn’t just a man’s sport. In fact, there is no separation between women and men in F1 racing. There isn’t a “women’s league,” women are welcome to try and qualify to race with the men. Although it’s pretty rare, many women have raced in F1 races. It started with Maria Teresa de Filippis, who was the first women to compete in F1 races, and raced in 1958 and 1959, scoring a best position of tenth. Then came Lella Lombardi, who competed from 1974 to 1976, scoring a best result of sixth place in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix. She was the only woman to score points in F1 World Championships. Then came Desire Wilson, who failed to qualify for the British Grand Prix, although she later won at Brands Hatch at the British Aurora F1 Series. She is the only woman to win an F1 event. There have been a few other female F1 drivers that have competed over the years, but these are the most notable.

9 Formula One Safety Precautions

For such a dangerous sport, incredibly sophisticated safety precautions must be in place. The driver’s helmets are almost indestructible. They can withstand temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius, all while keeping the driver’s head cool. They can withstand huge impacts. They are constructed with 12,000 micro-threads, each thinner than a human hair. This makes the helmets impossible to crush. The suits the drivers wear are made of Novex, a type of material that can withstand heats of up to 840 degrees Celsius for 11 seconds straight, leaving the wearer unharmed as long as they can get them out of the flames in time. The cars have no airbags, instead relying on incredibly tough cockpit walls. These walls can resist impacts equivalent to 250 tonnes of weight. These walls are laced with Zylon, a material used in armored vests. The car also features automatic fire retardant systems which spray fire-killing foam all around the car, and they can either be activated by the driver or the race marshals.


8 Crashes

There have been a few races that have been marred by massive crashes that involve several cars. In the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, a whopping 14 cars were involved in a single crash. This included Shinji Nakano, Eddie Irvine, Alex Wurz, and many more. David Coulthard was at fault, using too much throttle in the wet racing conditions. In the end, only 6 cars finished the race. At the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza in 2000, another massive crash occurred. It actually happened in two parts, the first happened in the first lap with Eddie Irvine colliding with two Sauber cars. The second part occurred later in the race, and involved more than 8 cars. A 33-year-old fire marshall was killed by a flying tire from this second crash. At the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, 15 spectators were killed as well as Wolfgang Von Trips, who slammed into a wall and then into the spectators. Wolfgang Von Trips also died, and this is considered one of the worst tragedies in F1 history.

7 They Want To Make The Cars Even Faster

As if the cars weren’t already pushing the definition of speed to its limits, they’re now planning to make the cars even faster. The overhaul is supposed to happen in 2017, although now the process is stalling. They want to make them at least 5 or 6 seconds faster per lap. Not only that but, they want to make the cars look very different. The plan is to change the F1 cars to have a more “aggressive” visage - making them heavier, wider, with lower wings and fatter tires. And even without an overhaul, F1 cars are getting faster and faster every year. Today’s F1 cars are already much faster than the F1 cars at the beginning of 2016. But some drivers say that these improvements are not going to improve the racing, because cars will actually be harder to drive. Also, drivers will find it harder to overtake, and they will be stuck following each other in a line. Fans hate this, and that’s the major concern. Ratings have been going down lately, and F1 thinks that faster, cooler looking cars will bring in more viewers. But drivers are saying that if they make their cars 5 seconds per lap slower, they will be able to overtake more easily and the races will be more entertaining.

6 Crazy Rules

The name “Formula One” refers to the set of rules it operates by. “Formula” means “rules.” During the many years of F1, there have been many crazy rules that have been adopted and quickly dropped. In 1998, F1 implemented the use of grooved tires, in an effort to reduce turning speed. The drivers hated these new tires, and it was revealed that they didn’t even accomplish anything. At one point, there was a rule that stated that you were allowed to take over a teammate’s car if your own broke down. That also didn’t last long. Mid-race refuelling was banned until 1994, where it was brought back. This proved to be a bad decision, as that same year a fire broke out as a result of refuelling, injuring the driver and several of the pit crew. It wasn’t until 2009 that it was banned once more.

5 Youngest Ever Winner

Max Verstappen was the youngest ever driver to win in an F1 race. It happened at the Spanish Grand Prix, and he was just 18 years old when it happened. Even more incredible is the fact that he was only 16 when it was announced that he would be racing in F1, and he was 17 when he had his debut. The race was marred by a crash involving Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. This shifted everyone’s attention away from the actual race, and when people looked back to see who was winning, they were amazed to see that an 18-year old was winning. When he talked to reporters after he had won the race, he said, “It’s amazing, I couldn’t believe I was leading. I was looking at the pit board, saw my name with 10 laps to go, then started to watch the board. I was thinking: ‘Don’t look at it, focus on the tires and bring it home.’ It’s a great feeling. I absolutely didn’t expect this.”

4 The Formula One Teams Spy On Each Other

In such a fast-moving technological environment, the fact that F1 teams spy on each other should come as no surprise. Teams have been known to secretly photograph each other’s cars, keeping an eye out for improvements and new advances. But the most well-known F1 spying controversy happened in 2007. At this time, the McLaren team was accused of obtaining secret information about the Ferrari team. In the same year, Renault was accused of obtaining secret information about the McLaren team. The allegations against McLaren were made by Italian courts towards a former employee of Ferrari who had apparently shifted allegiances towards the McLaren camp. After evidence against McLaren started to pile up, they were forced to pay a record fine of 100 million dollars.

3 Formula One Drivers Start Their Careers Driving Go Karts

It may seem a little ridiculous, but most F1 drivers have a long history of racing karts during their childhood and their young adulthood. Many current F1 drivers even drive karts in their spare time in order to keep from getting rusty on the track. Professional karting companies often advertise themselves as the first step to get started in F1 racing. So if you want to get started in F1, you should start thinking about karting not as a fun pastime, but as a serious professional competition. Some of the most famous F1 drivers of all time, such as Schumacher and Senna, loved karting and it helped them get to their level of fame. These two loved to go to the go kart course and race random people on their spare time. It helps you learn how to overtake at precisely the right moment, and it also teaches you how to take corners the correct way.

2 Mercedes Is Building A New F1 Hypercar

Mercedes has dominated the world of Formula One ever since 2014. Now they’re taking things one step further, by announcing that they’re working on a massively improved car for normal folks, dubbed the “Hypercar.” The Hypercar is hardly a new idea, and they’ve been around for quite some time. The general idea is to put the F1 engine into a normal car, so people can feel the thrill of Formula One driving while on their way to work or the grocery store. Other teams, such as Red Bull, are working on their own Hypercars, but the Mercedes version looks set to steal the show. Their plan is to put an F1 engine into an AMG. The Mercedes F1 Hypercar will be released in 2017, the 50th anniversary of the AMG. It will feature carbon fiber construction and biometric inputs, as well as 3 electric engines to supplement the single F1 combustion engine.

1 The Drivers’ Necks Get Stretched When They Race

The drivers’ necks are under incredible stress during a race. That’s because of the huge amount of G forces that drivers are under as their cars go around corners. G force is the amount of force gravity exerts on your body. When you’re walking around on Earth, you experience 1 G, the same amount as your body weight. But when you start to do things at higher speeds gravity pulls on your body with much more force. A person experiencing 2 G’s of force would feel like they are twice as heavy as they would normally. An F1 driver feels 5 G’s of force as they go around corners! That means their necks have to support 5 times the amount of weight as normal, because their heads feel 5 times heavier. In addition, the air that moves over the car at high speeds actually lifts the helmet up to the point where the drivers’ spines are stretched. This makes it necessary for F1 drivers to strengthen their neck muscles, and almost all of them have extremely thick necks that seem disproportionate when compared to the rest of their body.

Sources: Wired, Quora, Wikipedia

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