Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Formula 1 and India

Written By Darshan M (Grade 11)


In the past, car races were not about going fast but about lasting a long time. They would go from one city to another on regular roads. The first big race lasted 24 hours and happened in Le Mans. In 1904, a group was created to make rules for races, and now it’s called FiA. They are in charge of Formula 1, like how FIFA is in charge of football and ICC is in charge of cricket. It wasn’t until 1946 that racing became more organized and professional. They made some rules in 1947 about how long the races should be, what kind of cars could be used, and that the cars should have only one seat and the wheels should stick out from the sides.

Formula 1 racing is a really popular sport that has become even more popular lately. It’s also one of the most dangerous sports in the world. When drivers race in the F1 cars, it gets really hot inside, like being in a really hot room. Sometimes it can even get as hot as being in a sauna! Because of all the heat and humidity, the drivers sweat a lot and can lose a few pounds just from sweating during a race. The cars go fast, so when the drivers turn, they feel a lot of pressure pushing on their bodies. It’s like a really strong force pushing on them. Formula 1 racing started a long time ago in France, and they still use the name “Grand Prix”. Some people even think that the business of Formula 1 is worth billions of dollars. But is it a sport? That’s something people have different opinions about.

Let’s talk about the Formula 1 Championship, which is a big racing competition. It started a long time ago in 1950 with only 7 races in different countries. The first winner was an Italian driver who drove for a team called Alfa Romeo. Now, in the upcoming Championship in 2023, there will be 23 races! The teams in Formula 1 are usually car companies that make cars for common people. But here’s the interesting part, winning the Championship is not just about how good the driver is at driving. It also depends on how well the car is made. It’s like a competition to see which company can make the fastest car. This is important because when new and cool technologies are invented during Formula 1, they can be used to make better cars for everyone else too. So, it’s not just a race, it’s also about making better cars for people like you and me.

Many of the things we use in cars today were first discovered in Formula 1 racing. For example, a special kind of material called Carbon Fiber was first used in F1 cars in 1981. This material is now used in fancy cars like BMW and Porsche because it is strong and light. It helps the cars use less fuel. Other cool things that F1 has taught us are Hybrid Powertrains and Wheel Buttons. The people who make the rules for F1 racing want the cars to be as fast as possible, so they make the companies think of new ideas. The fastest speed ever recorded in a race was 372.5 km/hr. A driver named Valtteri Bottas did this in Mexico in 2016. But during a special test, Honda’s team went even faster, reaching 397.7 km/hr. This test was done in a big empty place with no obstacles. F1 cars are faster than planes when they take off, which is amazing!

Do you know what this means? If these cars had wings, they could fly. But even without wings, they can still go fast. That’s why they have a special shape at the back of the cars. It’s like they have pretend wings to help them stay on the ground. In school, you probably learned that airplanes have wings to help them go up in the sky. But in these cars, it’s the opposite. The shape of the car creates a force that pushes it down onto the track. This helps the tires grip the road better and makes it easier for the car to turn. Formula 1 racing is very dangerous because the cars go fast. It’s even more dangerous than driving on regular roads. Since Formula 1 racing started, 52 drivers have died. One of the most famous accidents was when a champion named Ayrton Senna died in 1994. In 1970, a driver named Jochen Rindt died, but he was still given the championship trophy because no one could catch up to his points.

There are many things done to keep Formula 1 races safe. First, the drivers have special helmets that are very strong and have extra support for their head and neck. This helps protect their spine if there is a crash. They also wear special suits that are made of fireproof material, so if there is a fire, their clothes won’t catch on fire. The drivers also wear gloves with sensors that measure their heartbeat and send the information to the medical staff. The seatbelts in the cars are very tight and need help from another person to fasten them. There are also fire extinguishers in the cars in case there is a fire. But the most important safety feature is something called the Halo. It is a strong steel bar that goes above the driver’s head and it protects the head if the car flips over. Some people didn’t like the Halo at first because it changed the look of the cars, but it has saved many drivers’ lives since it was introduced. So, these safety measures have been added recently to make the sport safer.

These special cars called F1 cars are amazing creations. It took a lot of smarts and knowledge to make them just right. Now, let’s talk about how the money part works. There are two types of companies involved in Formula 1 racing. One kind makes the cars, and the other kind makes the engines. Right now, there are about 10 companies that make the cars, like Alpha Romeo, Alphatauri, and more. But only 4 companies make the engines, like Ferrari and Mercedes. Ferrari’s team has been the most successful in Formula 1 history, winning lots of championships. It’s important to know that in Formula 1, there is a winning driver and a winning car company. Each team has two drivers, and a team can be a champion if both drivers do well. But a driver can also be a champion if they get the most points on their own. Some people think that the car is even more important than the driver when it comes to winning races. That’s why sometimes the best drivers don’t win as many championships. For example, Fernando Alonso is considered one of the best drivers ever, but he only won two championships.

In this game called Formula 1, the way the cars are built is really important. It costs a lot of money to make the cars better. The teams with more money can use better technology and strategies. But it’s risky for companies to join in. Let’s look at Red Bull’s money situation. They won a big prize and their drivers were really good. In 2018, their sister team, Toro Rosso, spent a lot of money, about ₹15 billion. But they only made a small profit, about ₹150 million. That’s not a lot of money considering how much they spent. The companies think they can get more benefits from investing in other things like publicity and technology. In 2022, the rules said that no team can spend more than $140 million. This is to make it fairer for all the teams.

This year, they made a rule that says teams can only spend a certain amount of money on their cars. But, the rule doesn’t apply to how much they pay the drivers. So some drivers get paid a lot more money than others. Max Verstappen, who has won a lot of races, gets paid around $60 million a year. But Mick Schumacher, who is still new to racing, only gets paid $1 million. The amount of money a driver gets paid depends on how well they do in races and what team they race for. Mick Schumacher races for a team that is still trying to get better.

Right now, there are no Indian teams in Formula 1 racing, but there used to be an Indian connection. Two Indian drivers, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, used to drive in the championship for a few years. However, the highlight for India was having a team called Force India in Formula 1. It started in 1991 and changed owners in 2007. The team’s name was also changed to Force India. It had some sponsors like Kingfisher, RIL, and ICICI Bank. In 2011, Sahara India Pariwar bought some shares of the team. The team’s name was then changed to Sahara Force India. Although the team wasn’t very successful at first, it was getting better over time. Even this year, three drivers from that team will be racing for other teams.

Until 2017, the Force India team kept getting better every year. They were doing well in 2017, with their drivers Perez and Ocon. They were even in 4th place in the rankings in 2016-17, which is pretty good. But then in 2018, things started to go downhill for them. Right before their summer break, it was revealed that the team had very little money in the bank but owed a lot of money in loans. The person who used to own the team, Vijay Mallya, also owed a lot of money to Indian banks and had to freeze his assets. This meant that if he wanted to sell the team, he would need permission from the banks. Eventually, a Canadian businessman named Lawrence Stroll bought the team and its assets. His son Lance Stroll was already a driver for the team. Because of the ownership change, the team was renamed Racing Point Force India.

In 2019, the team that used to be called India changed its name to Racing Point. Then in 2021, it became Aston Martin F1 Team when someone named Stroll bought part of the company. In India, some people say that a guy named Vijay Mallya used his racing team to do bad things with money. And another person named Subrata Roy did bad things to become rich. Some people think that Formula 1 racing is not important and just causes pollution. That’s why they made Formula E, where they only use electric cars. Recently, they had a Formula E race in India on regular streets. They closed the roads for the race. Until 2039, Formula E has the rights to the races. After that, they might combine Formula 1 and Formula E into one sport and only use electric cars.


Featured Image Courtesy – Autosport



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