Motorsport! I love it… I mean… what’s not to love? The coming together of man and machine–athletics meets engineering. For me, this is the ultimate in excitement. I like to watch pretty much everything and anything… except things with boats… I don’t really get the appeal there.
Let’s take Nascar for starters. There’s kinda a stigma associated with it for some reason… but I find the racing very interesting. Yes… they do drive round in circles (ovals actually… with two road courses… but who’s checking), but saying that this is like saying baseball is like hitting a ball with a stick. So what do I find appealing about Nascar? I’m glad you asked. In this racing formula, the cars are, as near as makes no difference, equal in capability–they’re stock cars, the clue is in the title. What this means is that the majority of the car’s performance comes down to the driver. What’s more, it’s not about the driver who has the best ability to hustle a car round an oval. The best drivers are skilled at driving, but they are also masters at setting the car up for a race. What this means is, they are skilled and experienced enough to understand every nuance of every track, which includes everything from weather traits to bumps and characteristics. Using this knowledge they can set up a car to perform better than their peers. Going one step further, the very best drivers understand how their environment is changing while in the race. Is the weather getting cooler? Am I going to have enough fuel to finish the race? All these things and more feed into an ever evolving beast that is the race, which the drive must react to in real time.
Formula One in contrast is a very different sport. Despite their similar styling, every car is very different from the next. A relatively (note, relatively) open formula facilities engineering innovation. Therefore, many approaches can be taken to achieve a given solution. In fact, the engineers in F1 are among the best in the world. They’re so good that the sporting regulations are changed yearly in an attempt to slow the cars down! Why would you want to slow the cars down? Well… a modern F1 car can brake at a sustained 5Gs and corner at a sustained 3Gs! Think about that for a moment: An F1 driver will experience similar loads to that of a fighter pilot. In years gone by, the cars could corner even faster, which meany they were cornering at exceptionally high speeds. Accidents at these speeds easily become fatal… therefore, the governing body intentionally slow the cars down.