Formula One exhibits the epitome of auto racing. Combining some of the finest machines ever built with some of the most talented drivers in the world, Formula One represents both the cream of the crop and a multi-billion-dollar industry of racing culture and fandom. The stakes are high, as drivers challenge the most beautiful tracks around the world—all in the hopes of taking home the title of World Champion. And lucky for us, their next stop is here in the United States, to give it their all in the 2018 Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
A Little Backstory
For as long as the automobile has existed, humans have sought to race it. And while Formula One has roots that stretch back to the European Grand Prix championships of the 1920s and ‘30s, the series as we’re familiar with it today began in 1950. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) began setting strict rules and regulations for the sport after WWII, effectively organizing it into the premiere global auto event.
In fact, its very name reflects this history. “Formula” refers to the sort of recipe that these cars need to comply with in order to compete. And “One” refers to the fact that the sport is the ultimate, or number one, example of this type of racing.
This “formula” of Formula One is rich and complicated, changing as technology progresses. Regulating everything from weight and size to power output and tire design, the formula must strike a delicate balance between extreme capability and basic safety. Simply put, F1 race cars are the fastest regulated road course cars on the planet. They stick to the ground as if held down by magnets, easily reaching speeds over 200mph and pulling NASA-grade G’s. Those FIA rules ensure that fans still get a thrill—without the fear of witnessing a horrific tragedy.
A Few Changes
For 2018, some small changes were made to the rules, mostly to close loopholes left by the previous year. First, extended, shark-fin style engine covers as well as T-wings have been outlawed. Many drivers adopted these in an attempt to gain an edge by better directing airflow and creating more downforce. Similarly, FIA regulations also now prohibit trick suspension systems. These devices allow the car’s ride height to be altered over the course of a lap, cleverly improving the aerodynamics.
Perhaps the most notable change you’ll see at this month’s 2018 Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas is the halo cockpit protection device. What looks like a loop around the driver’s head is actually a safety device meant to deflect debris in the event of a crash. And since only the core design is set in stone, keep an eye out for how teams modify their own. Once you wrap your head around 2018’s rules, head over here for a rundown of what’s coming down the pike for 2019.
A Whole Lot of Excitement
Formula One drivers start their engines at the Circuit of the Americas October 19-21 for three days of adrenaline-fueled action. The first night will gift fans with practice and qualifying runs on the track. The next day will run the first races for F3 Americas Series and FIA Formula 4. There will also be more qualifying runs for F1 and a Bruno Mars concert.
But Day 3—the biggest day of the event—is the one fans will be itching to attend most. Formula 3 cars and Formula 4 cars hit the track to shoot it out for their chance at victory. Then after the Formula 4 cars close up their second race, the F1 drivers hit the track for hot laps. By noon the National Anthem and an air display will set the mood, and the big race begins! Closing out the night will be a live performance by none other than Britney Spears (say what??).
Start Your Engines…
2018 Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas is one of the last few for the season. After this race, the F1 drivers will head south of the border for the Mexican Grand Prix, then to Brazil, and off to Abu Dhabi to close up the season in late November.
This means the stakes are high here in the US, with only three more races afterward for drivers to climb the ranks. As of October 1, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads the pack with eight wins and 306 points, Sebastian Vettel of legendary team Ferrari follows with five wins and 256 points, and Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas sits in third with 189 points. While there are still plenty of points left on the track, the odds are on Hamilton to see it through to victory. And with four championships already under his belt, he’s surely a force to be reckoned with…as well as a fan fav!