Probably the most notable feature of Formula One (F1) racing is the car itself. They are open-air, single-occupant vehicles that ride very low to the ground and use foils on the front and the rear of the car. The design produces significant downforce to keep the car on the track as a result of the cars’ high speeds and lightweight body design. The car is not unique to Formula One, however. Rather, F1 racing is the top level using this vehicle.
Formula One racing is exciting as much for the speeds and the curves in its tracks as it is for the skill required. There is little of the way of a technological edge in F1 racing as the governing body tries to keep the teams with deeper pockets from dominating the sport. As a result, the drivers and the pit crews must rely on their skills to outperform their opponents on and off the track. F1 cars are engineered to such exacting tolerances that literally hundreds of hours are spent using computer models and wind tunnels to develop technologies that can improve the performance of the vehicles all the more.
The race tracks used for F1 racing are mostly purposely built, meaning that the tracks are designed for the unique features of the car. The original tracks were the city streets of whatever town was holding the race. Monte Carlo for example takes place on the streets of Monaco and had undergone almost no change from its original circuit. Other famous racing locations include Nurburgring, the streets of Long Beach, California, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which hosts the Indianapolis 500.
While speed is important, so is safety. Some tracks have been altered significantly, such as the Nurburgring track, in order to better protect the drivers. The excitement comes not just from the speeds the cars reach, but also from the chance of a car going out of control. The redesign of tracks over the years has been to ensure that when an accident does occur, the driver can walk away to thrill spectators again. In combination with the engineering of the cars, some wrecks look spectacular and more destructive than they really are. How close the drivers can push the limits and have the precision to not cross the line between victory and a crash keeps this sport thrilling its audience and doesn’t look to be slowing down.