F1 Primer


I can tell that some of you monkeys aren’t up to speed on the international mechanized bourgeoi-leisure passion that is Formula One Racing (hereinafter “F1”). Now is as good a time as any for us to move a bit further up the learning curve, so that we all might better comprehend and perhaps even join in on the JR/Bif F1 discussions that occasionally flare up, especially with the 2009 season soon to begin on March 29th in Melbourne.

First of all, we have to understand what F1 is not, namely, NASCAR. Race series such as Sprint Cup that are sanctioned by National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) are run predominantly on oval tracks, hence, the cliché “drive fast and turn left”. Not to get overly hung up on class issues so early in the discussion, but it might at this point be noted that some significant contingent amongst America’s NASCAR fans proudly refers to itself, or rather its members, as “rednecks”. Perhaps there is some similar subculture that self-promulgates throughout the F1 fan base, but I will leave it to others, such as JR, to elaborate on the social and other implications of being a serious F1 fan. Also, I want someone to talk about the people who follow the F1 series throughout the world, by that I mean actually attending all or at least most of the races in a given season. (This would probably make for some fantastic reality television, if it isn’t already being done.)

As is often the case, a good place to start is the Formula One wikipedia entry, as well as The Official Formula One Website. But for now (and anyone can argue with me on this point if they want to), it is important to appreciate that F1 wants to be perceived as being the premier racing series in the world, i.e., the one that brings together the very best drivers and technology to compete in a precisely regulated event where glamour, international jet-setting, and/or a substantially even playing field can be relied upon and are consistently delivered. What else (other than money and groupies), would compel owners, drivers, pit crews, mechanics, and transportation and other support personnel to travel across multiple continents with multimillion dollar race cars, a giant bin of spare engines and other parts, and an extremely large number of Bridgestone tyres?

Before (or maybe after) I cover the key personalities and highlights of F1 history in a subsequent post, Bif is going to discuss the evolution of F1 technology (engines, suspensions, electronics, tyres, etc.) and how their development has been influenced by F1 regulations and politics and vice versa.

(To be continued…)

26 Replies to “F1 Primer”

  1. I did not put him up to this. The rabbit writes infrequently, but it is clear he is always thinking. I’m blown away. I logged on because I thought I had something important to say about Afghanistan. I forget what it was now. You suck.

    12 hours at Sebring is actually revving up this week for serious race fans.

  2. No, the only reason I come here is you. Not the rabbit, not Mr. Rogers, you. Ok, maybe the ZK Ladies with their coquettish intellect.

    Christ, I need a brandy.

  3. Donovan, you mean if I had my own blog, you wouldn’t visit it because of me? Now I’m really hurt.

    Speaking of brandy, may I recommend Cardenal Mendoza? It’s Spanish, about $30 per bottle out here in the middle of freakin nowhere, maybe cheaper where you are.

    Nice flavor. The smoother versions are pricey. Korbel makes a nice smoothy for the money.

    Don’t start me on the French ones.

  4. JR says STFU. We know who “Phelps Phan” is

    We like.

    Try “whoever” on the nets.

    They don’t give a fuck. I give a fuck about “Donovan”.

    I do. You are one of my 9 readers.

    When they wasted him, that was it.

    You can rest assured. until his death is avenged. I will kill everything that came within 2 inches of him.

  5. Oh! you constantly piss me of. I think I might love you.

    Yes, Yes. More about the French ones.

  6. Somebody killed Donovan?

    I hope you’re just kidding. JR, what the fuck have you been up to? Have you been reading TOD lately? Euan is dusting it up with memmel and the others. You know the team.

    How does jimmy e fit into this?

    I’ve been busy at work doing projects on deadline. I need some R&R now, plus I’m having a hard time shaking this flu.

    Dononan, we love you. You are our hero. Please say hello to the missus for me.


  7. PP – your blog would be about what? Swimming and making snorkeling sounds with a bong? Mud sharks?

    I’ve a bit of Courvoisier Napoleon in a slow swirl in a snifter now. Cheers.

  8. OK, where do I start?

    You can pay anything you want to for a French brandy, anything at all. How about some nice 100 year old, $1000 per bottle VSOP?

    Don’t be stupid. Even the French don’t drink that stuff.

    Courvoisier VS is nice, but a bit rough. The VSOP they sell in the US sucks, smooth but no flavor. Pay moron, rich idiot Americans, get less.

    Remy, Martell, Hennesey, all good for the money. Their VSOP will always be smooth, but favor? A bit odd. Napoleon knew the good one was Courvoisier.
    I agree.

    Armagnac is good also. I don’t follow the brands, though, mainly because I usually get them as gifts from my French friends. I have a bottle with my name printed on the label.

    Don’t get me started on Calvados.

  9. Man, all the fun is in the wee hours around here. F1 technology? JR is intrigued with KERS, but as I said a few months ago, I am a little skeptical. But no question, when you drive to work today you’ll be employing technology that was developed and tested in F1 cars. I leave this for my brother to sort out, I am more interested in F1 women, booze and fashion, preferably in combination.

    Calvados is in a different category. Take a pause from your evening meal and have just a few sips. This slows the meal, aids digestion, allows time for good conversation, and for flirting with those French babes over at the next table. Is that Laetitia Casta? You see how much fun the Belgian GP is? Calvados is nice. Just don’t light a match when breathing out your nose, you’ll scare the girls.

    As kids, my brother and I learned about F1 from the old man. He was old school. Jack Brabham, Sterling Moss, Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill. A certifiable Team Lotus hooligan, and ready to rumble with the tifosi every weekend. No Ferrari flags waving in front of this house. He liked how Moss drove. He said the guy would accelerate so hard out of a corner that there would be a trail of nuts and bolts and shit out the back. Brands Hatch. Watkins Glen. These were the Uncle Remus years of F1. Monaco. Grace Kelly. Sophia Loren. Bridgette Bardot. The old man had a picture of Jim Clark. But Clark got killed. Jackie Stewart wasn’t my cup of tea. I liked Fittipaldi, Nikki Lauda and Prost. My brother liked Piquet, Senna, Villeneuve and Schumacher. And so now here we are.

    As PO sets in and F1 dies, this will all just be dreams for memories. Like AIG bonuses. Old fairytales to future generations.

    Coffee, must have coffee. No. Pass the Calvados! Time to go to work.

  10. Sorry, can’t find the picture of the F1 valve gear I had once.
    yeah, no valve springs in these engines; too wide a rev range, spring harmonics kept fucking up valve motion – so they went to a gas cylinder, kinda like a shock absorber.
    Odd thing is, unlike normal(?) ICEs, these massively oversquare engines NEED the exhaust valves to be screaming hot, otherwise the flame front won’t propagate quickly enough at the revs they run at.

  11. “the only reason I come here is you. Not the rabbit, …”

    That’s perfectly fine, but a lie. You also come here to pretend to drink brandy.

  12. Well, it’s true, I don’t drink brandy, or anything else – but swirling it around in a glass, real or otherwise, is not drinking. Without JR, the pixilated incarnation of bunnbunn, as we know it in the context of ZK, would likely not be.

    The interaction of the various sock puppets is determined in part by the host environment. And I would argue a large part. At ZK, it is randomness, spontaneity and a touch of intellectual eccentricity.

    Or something. Your bunn-ness is a part of all that, but JR is at the root.

    And my brandy is warm now. I’d like to swirl some fresh.

  13. As far as the technology thing, my understanding is the F1 rule changes this year have been an attempt to motivate more aggressive driving and have more overtaking (passing) in races. As it is F1 has become a big effort in pole qualifying followed by a pretty much a single-file parade of cars during the race. Apparently the problem is these cars (as opposed to NASCAR sedan-like bodies) create a lot of turbulent (dirty) air in their wake. This hampers running in close quaters at speed, makes passing more difficult, and drivers may tend to take a consevative approach, and even keep their distance, awaiting someone else to make a mistake or drop out.

    New rules on front and rear wings, diffusers and body work are intended to increase handling performance. Allowing cars to be more nimble in complex situations means more overtaking. There is a dispute right now regarding interpretation of the new rules on configuration of diffusers. This is so controvercial that a ruling by the stewards and likely subsequent legal action could affect the season outcome.

    A recent ruling where the drivers points system was essentially overturned and replaced by ‘whoever wins the most races is the F1 champ’ was a disaster and I believe was recinded in the last day or so. JR may know. Incidently, Massi had the most wins last year. point system seems to now be same as last year?

    I follow euro bicycle racing way more than F1. What they seem to have in common is completely inept governing bodies, incapabale of making decisions, incapable of putting out understandable rules or implementing a workable system. Its just one law suit after another.

  14. Bif, I was having a laugh with some monkeys talking about the Kinetic Energy Recycling System (KERS), optional for the 2009 season, mandatory for 2010 — unless, of course, the rules get changed. Anyway, as you probably know, a simplified explanation of KERS is that it captures energy that otherwise would have been lost during braking and makes it usable to provide a small boost in horsepower (something like an additional 80 hp for about 6 seconds per lap). It is being referred to as “push to pass”.

    Apparently, the FIA is convinced that they have to remake the image of motor racing as somehow being “green” and that KERS will be the means to this dubious end. Kind of like Al Gore and his entourage showing up in an armada of Escalades to give a speech on global warming (except more sexy — yeah, that’s what I meant).

    I also read that F1 cars are being reconfigured so there will be less down force (which, as I understand it, is influenced by the diffuser design). Also, slicks are back. This could make things interesting.

  15. OK, here is what I have learned regarding the use of diffusers. Creating an underbody venturi effect creates a low-pressure high-velocity condition (according to Bernoulli’s principle) thus when teamed with an inverted wing in the venturi (behind the rear axle area), generates downward pressure while introducing minimal additional drag. So it seems getting this venturi/diffuser set-up right for underbody airflow provides a huge advantage as compared to just using rear wings (spoilers) for managing overbody airflow to create the same downforce. Less drag.


    I’m sure JR will be getting a memo out on this but it will be important for all ZK monkeys to a have working knowledge of F1 rule changes and underbody airflow management techniques as we are just weeks away from F1’s governing body completing its bungling this issue, and law suits being filed.

  16. “The motivation is the Wednesday.” — Nicky Lauda

    I’m guessing that EEofDC has at least one F1 story to tell.

  17. First Fittipaldi and now Lauda. You’ve named two of my three heros of yore. Do I know you? Wait, its all coming back to me. Fishnets. Levi jacket. Faux leopard Jackie-O hat. The Ramones concert in Syracuse. It is you!

    Your Youtube documentary preempted an idea I was cooking up to do a post about the history of Nurburgring (aka ‘The Ring’ or the ‘Green Hell’). Just as well though. This was the infamous 12-mile circuit with 74 turns and numerous daredevil elevation changes and jumps. Lauda crashed and burned there and might have died if several fellow drivers had not stopped and help pull him from the burning wreckage, endangering themselves as well. Because the circuit was so dangerous and because of the horrifying Lauda accident, that was the last F1 race held there. A new, more conventional F1 circuit is now used at an adjacent site to Nurburgring.

  18. I wish, Bunn! When I was young, I was fascinated by speed and heights (until I got up to the top and looked down). Plus my family was a bunch of hyper-competitive jocks–my Dad put himself through SU on a basketball scholarship, was captain of the team and later turned down a coaching job there %^[ — so the only thing that was EVER on the boob tube over the weekend were sporting events. Golf, basketball, more golf, football, track and field, etc. etc.

    Eventually, my brother (who is older than I am) came of age and was really, really into cars, so I welcomed a slight change of pace with all of the Formula 1 races and, always trying to fit in with anyone in my alien family, I started reading about and watching the races. When JR, you and Bif started your back and forth on F1 a while back, it didn’t click. But this time–after one of the videos–it all came rushing back. Stirling Moss, Jody Scheckter, Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones, Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda.

    Despite my love of speed, I never “got” why seemingly adult men vied to drive round and round a course at maximum speed, in the midst of cacaphony, all the while tempting death. After a couple of fatal crashes in the late ’70s, I quit paying attention.

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