GET READY for the fastest, most glamorous sport on the planet as Formula 1 races into view for another breathtaking World Championship. And for those that don’t know their chassis from their chicane, we’ve put together a beginners’ guide to the 2011 Formula 1 season.
The first Grand Prix (French for ‘big prizes’) took place at Silverstone, England, in 1950, with Italian driver Guissepe Farina bagging the World Championship that year in his fancy Alfa Romeo.
Each of the 12 teams (constructors) has two drivers. Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was top dog last season winning the drivers’ championship, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso came second and Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber took third. British drivers behind the wheel this year include Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button (both previous world champions and both drivers for McLaren) and Force India’s new man Paul di Resta.
Drivers are put through three tense qualifying rounds to determine in which order they start the race on the grid, the fastest at the front and slowest at the back. However, the 107 per cent rule has been re-introduced for 2011, which means that any car finishing the first qualifying round with a time that is 107 per cent slower than the fastest car will be automatically excluded from the race. This is to avoid any farcical scenarios where stragglers at the rear of the race get lapped numerous times.
No prizes for guessing that the winner of the race is the first driver to finish the required number of laps. But with pit stops (breaks for refuelling, changing tyres or any mechanical problems), all manner of different circuits and ever-changing weather conditions there are numerous decisions for drivers and their teams to make throughout the race.
The winning driver earns 25 championship points, the driver finishing second gets 18, third 15, fourth 12 and the points sequence is 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 for the remaining drivers in the top 10.
We’re not exactly talking Ford Fiestas here, people. These motors have a top speed of 220mph and take corners at a g-force of 5. As such, the drivers have to be supremely fit to handle the physical demands of high-speed racing.
In 2006, the teams spent a total of $2.9 billion to fund their racing that year. Due to this high cost of racing and the global reach of the sport (TV audience of 527 million in 2007) , the cars (and circuits) are littered in sponsorship.
The 2011 calendar
With the Bahrain Grand Prix postponed (possibly until next year) and the Grand Prix of India added to the 2011 calendar, there will most likely be 19 races again this year:
Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, live 7am, 27 March, BBC
Malaysia Grand Prix, Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, live 9am, 10 April, BBC
Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai International Circuit, live 8am, 17 April, BBC
Turkish Grand Prix, Istanbul Park, live 1pm, 8 May, BBC
Spanish Grand Prix, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, live 1pm, 22 May, BBC
Monaco Grand Prix, Circuite de Monaco, Monte Carlo, live 1pm, 29 May, BBC
Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, Montreal, live 6pm, 12 June, BBC
European Grand Prix, Valencia Street Circuit, Spain, live 1pm, 26 June, BBC
British Grand Prix, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, live 1pm, 10 July, BBC
German Grand Prix, Nürburgring, Nürburg, live 1pm, 24 July, BBC
Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring, Budapest, live 1pm, 31 July, BBC
Belgian Grand Prix, Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, live 1pm, 28 August, BBC
Italian Grand Prix, Autodromo di Monza, live 1pm, 11 September, BBC
Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, live 1pm, 25 September, BBC
Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka International Racing Course, live 6am, 9 October, BBC
Korean Grand Prix, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, live 6am, 16 October, BBC
Indian Grand Prix, Jaypee International Race Circuit, Greater Noida, 30 October, BBC
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, live 1pm, 13 November, BBC
Brazilian Grand Prix, Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Sao Paulo, live 6pm, 27 November, BBC
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