For many people, Formula 1 is their ticket to a career in motor racing, but how does the sport’s governing body – the FIA – ensure that Formula 1 is governed by such strict rules?
The basics of how Formula 1 works are fairly simple, but you would need to study the regulations to learn the details. The minimum age for a driver in F1 is 18, with only the top few teams having a minimum age below 18. Each season, racing teams are required to replace their top three drivers on the priority list. If a team does not have a replacement driver in place by the start of the season, they receive penalties and deducted points. The priority list system is based on the results of the last season, with the worst driver being given the worse punishment.
Attractiveness and experience are two important requirements
The regulations do however state that a team is only allowed a certain number of designated chassis for a season. A replacement driver cannot join the team until a chassis has been fitted and insured for the season. The driver cannot drive for a particular team until a valid MOT has passed.
Another requirement is that a driver cannot take part in any races until he has a guaranteed car; although this is not necessarily a strict necessity, especially if other members of the team are unaffected. Another requirement is that a team must be able to Tempest; if the list outside of Europe during a race weekend, they will be forced to play catch-up with crews from rival teams.
The idea is to encourage teams to grow as they play catch-up with one another rather than having every race at the same time. However, given that no team is the same, how different can a team be once a driver has been added or a team depleted?
Driver selection is crucial
Creating a team that is made up of strong, professional, motivated drivers is perhaps the key to success. Whilst all of the above characteristics are important to winning races, each is as important to choose who to send to the grid for that particular race.
Generally, unless you have the height or build to drive a hard race, you’ll never be a great racing driver. Weight is vital too, as your car and especially its chassis is heavy, especially if it’s a new car or you’re driving an old one. Think about it, a lot of people are taking aerodynamics into account when choosing a car. A lighter car means it will be more aerodynamically efficient, and going faster will require less energy to push along the road.
Mentally focus on driving
This is a big one. Australians are often told not to drive like Brits, nor are Americans to stick to long trips instead of daily commutes. Of course, the standards of British driving are quite undoubtedly better, as our friends across the pond certainly can’t match our courtesy, patience, and general flexibility. Americans may be quicker, but they are more careless.
What about European teams?
Just like a golf match, the team that gets the most holes in a day is automatically eliminated. In golf, the worst two players on the course are usually the ones to drive poorly and put the other ones in danger of being outright disinvited. The same logic applies to Formula 1.
Taller teams need to control more areas. While it’s true most of the top teams are aerodynamically capable, the 2011 championship has also been won by brassy teams like Renault and McLaren who possess the same capabilities.
Often overlooked because they don’t have quite the same styling as the Aston Martin cars have driven by dynamics -obsessed like Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, they can also get away with less understeer and take corners at a higher speed. This helps considerably with the points lanes, which are narrower and are angled down on the in-boxes.
Choosing the right car
Considering there is one valid reason for this whole rule – advancement of the rubber on the racetrack – choosing the right car for a season is complicated.
For manufacturers like Renault, this is the ideal car to enable the single-seaters to become more than just a means to an end. It will also give the manufacturer a healthy financial future. Though, it may be a tad unrealistic to opt for something that is the same (or even better) than whatever they’re doing currently. Red Bull and Sauber are good examples of this.
But make no mistake: these cars were built to race. The power, style, handling, and downforce are all good reasons to switch for a car like this.
Mentally focus on the race
Mentally prepare for the race and the experience. Allow yourself to focus on the entire event; from the 1953 ESP system all the way through to Turn 1. Rally is a mentally challenging event and drivers often get stressed out.