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F1 For Dummies

You know what they say about liars? They make great salesman. No morals, no guilty conscience, they just make the sale and that’s that. I once fell prey to such a scumbag salesman. He spotted me at a karting circuit in town. Now this was my first time in a go-kart. I was visibly thrilled after my first run around the track and by lap four I was high! Perfect timing then, the salesman approached me and told me I had a great future ahead of me in motorsport. He apparently, was in charge of registrations for the JK Tyre National Karting Championship and thought I should try out. All I had to do was shell out Rs. 1000 towards registration. I was 10 years old – which is another way of saying I dressed the way my mother wanted me to dress and had no money of my own. I begged my father and got him to shell out the money. Based on the eventual outcome, I’d say my father got mugged that night. The salesman thanked us for our time and advised me to dress lightly for qualifying. My mother took this to mean “wear skimpy shorts and canvas shoes.” 

I finally get to the race-track. I’m in the under 13 category. Each driver gets three laps and the fastest lap is considered. Then they’re ranked by lap-times and the top 6 go through to the final race. The winner makes it to nationals. Now this may come as a shock to you, but apparently you need training to drive well on a race-track. All the other kids next to me knew it and were properly trained. Quite predictably I finished last out of 16 racers. My first taste of real failure? – Yes. Was I devastated? – NO! I had the time of my life on the track in what was only my second time karting. I enjoyed watching the others kids set the track on fire as well.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, to tell you how awesome motorsport is. The kids I enjoyed watching drove at speeds of 55 kmph. Come the 30th of October, Vettel, Alonso and company will set the Buddh International Circuit on fire at speeds well over 300 kmph! And what a circuit it is! A 5.14 Km track spread over 875 acres surrounded by an arena that seats 1,10,000 people with provisions to expand to a capacity of 2,00,000! WHOA! It is expected to be one of the quickest race-tracks around. It features a promising 1.5 km straight where cars are expected to touch 320kmph! Shouldn’t be a problem for those awesome 2.4L V8 engines! If you think 2.4L is measly because it’s what you get with a Honda Accord then think again. The kerb weight of an F1 car is about a third of the weight of an Accord. And an Accord redlines at 6800 RPM whereas an F1 car redlines at 18,000 RPM. Yeah 3 zeroes after 18!
The Buddh International Circuit was constructed by Jaypee Group and designed by Hermann Tilke who designed several other circuits including Sepang, Yas Marina, Istanbul, Valencia and Shanghai. In honour of the upcoming Indian Grand Prix, I wanted to introduce newbie race fans to the awesome world of Formula 1. So let me take you back to school. 

If you don’t know what V8 means, if you haven’t heard of aerodynamics and traction there’s not much I can do. If you’re aware of the basics, then let’s get on with the ABC’s of Formula

- The governing body for this sport is the FIA -  Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile.

- An F1 race is called a Grand Prix.
- Points are awarded only to the top 10 drivers in each Grand Prix.
- Points by position –

- There are 12 teams participating this season – Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault, Force India, Lotus, Williams, Sauber, STR, HRT and Virgin.
- Each team has 2 Race Drivers and one or more Test Drivers.

- Teams owned by road car manufacturers usually manufacture their own engines and such teams are knows as factory teams. Other teams use engines from established manufacturers.

- Engines from only four companies feature in the races this season - Cosworth, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault.

- At every circuit, each team gets a garage or a “Pit” allotted to them.

- If a car is to under-go repairs or tyre changes it needs to enter the “Pit Lane” by taking an exit from the circuit.

- The entry to the Pit Lane precedes the starting line on the track and the exit from the Pit Lane is beyond the starting line.

- Further, the Pit Lane is divided in to the “Fast Lane” (outside lane for entry and exit) and the Inside Lane where the cars must stop to receive services.

- During practise sessions and Qualifying, the Pit Lane’s have a speed limit of 60kmph and during the race; the speed in the pits is limited to 100kmph. For exceptionally narrow circuits like the one in Monaco, Pit Lane Speed is limited to 60kmph for the race as well.
- The Driver that finishes with the highest points total in a season is declared the F1 World Champion and the team that scores the highest number of points (aggregate of points scored by both team drivers) win the F1 Constructor’s Title.

A Grand Prix weekend is spread over three days with free practice on Friday, Qualifying on Saturday and the main race on Sunday.

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Nishant Boorla
Sarcasm means the world to me. Yeah that's always a good place to start. I watch movies...a lot of movies! Sports nut and a die hard Manchester United fan. Highly opinionated and that shows in my articles.


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