Editor’s Note: IF you’re new to F1B (formula1blog.com), we offer a series called “Marbles” which is a reader’s opportunity to send us something they’d like to share with the community. We’ve had some great posts offered by many of our readers/listeners and this week’s edition is no different. Ryland emailed me asking why I was being such a bore regarding the new regulations and the 2014 spec Formula 1 (and with good reason because I’ve been very vocal of late) and he explained that he was brand new to the sport and loved it. We’ve always touted ourselves as a safe harbor for new and veteran fans alike and I thought this would make a great story for the rest of you who may be new to the sport or like the current F1 specification. What better way to shut us “old guys” up about how our sport is being destroyed et. al. than to get a new fan to tell us why he loves the sport after just 22 days. I hope you enjoy Ryland’s piece as much as I do. Here is an opportunity for some of you F1 anoraks to help Ryland out with his questions too…because that’s what we’re all about here at F1B.

Just 22 days ago I knew nothing about Formula 1. Now I can’t get enough.

It started with an innocent looking Wired headline. “Watch: F1’s New Rules Explained in Three Minutes.” (link: http://www.wired.com/2014/03/red-bull-f1-new-rules/) Red Bull’s ridiculously slick graphics told the story of super powered machines employing the very latest in hybrid engine technology to transfer as much power to rubber as possible on a limited amount of fuel. Restrictions such as number of “power units” (love that term) over the course of a season pointed to a playing field that while level in March, could look like a war zone by November. And if the Red Bull video lit a spark, the race in Melbourne poured high-octane fuel on the fire.

Do I really need a new sport to spend my precious DVR disk space on? Between following the Premier League religiously, watching enough golf to make my grandpa weep, and owning the polka dot jersey for king of the cycling-watching mountain (not to mention the upcoming World Cup and NFL season for my defending champion Seattle Seahawks), there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for this all-American sports fan (no, I’m not from England). Alas, I’m unable to resist the turbo-whine’s siren’s call.

And speaking of whines, here are a few observations I’ve made in my first three weeks in the spectator’s seat.

1. Who Cares About Sound?
My thirst for more F1 info during the interval between Melbourne and Kuala Lumpur lead me on a tour of F1 sites and podcasts. While this brought me the pleasure of discovering the excellent F1B podcast, it also meant I was overwhelmed with pundits decrying the execution of their sport because the cars sound different.
Huh?

Now this is simply one newbie’s opinion, but I couldn’t give a downshift about what the cars sound like. Perhaps there is a big difference in person, but on television, I just don’t see (or hear) how it matters. For me, the excitement comes from the competition, not the visceral experience of an engine roar.

2. The Race Is Just Dessert
There is no doubt that just like a nice chocolate lava cake, the race is the sweetest part of the meal, but so far I’ve been just as enthralled by the practice sessions and qualifying as any of it. This points to the real strength of F1: the narrative. Dueling teammates, constructors battling with restrictions, drivers and bosses transferring between teams, and all sorts of rock star personalities (short rock stars, that is) make up a tapestry of story lines that play out from the first televised practice to the post-race interviews. It’s all fascinating, and any moment from a malfunctioning sensor to a slight bump on a crowded chicane can be the week’s biggest plot twist.

3. What Happens Monday to Thursday?
This leads me to one thing that definitely feels lacking in the sport. Maybe it’s just the US coverage, but it seems like F1 doesn’t exist once the box doors close Sunday afternoon. Even in soccer-hating America, there are almost-daily shows on ESPN, BeIN, Fox (actually, what happened to that show?), and enough NBCSN to at least keep Rebecca Lowe employed. I was shocked there wasn’t a single episode of F1 Extra for 12 days after Melbourne and there certainly isn’t coverage on the other networks. What are the teams up to? How the hell do they get all the equipment from Malaysia to Bahrain? Come on NBC. I need my fix!

4. I Still Have A Ton To Learn
Granted I could just spend some time researching all of this (come on, the Champions League is on), but here are a few of the elements of F1 that are still mysterious to me two races in:

– DRS. When can it be used? Why isn’t it used more often? Why don’t they talk more about it if it’s such a game changer? How do the DRS detection zones work?
– How do the teams operate structurally? How do they choose drivers? How does the pay structure work with sponsors and prize money?
– How are the courses chosen and why is it one race per country? Why does everyone seem to dislike Bahrain? What is up with the US Grand Prix?
– How are the “minor leagues” structured? What is Formula 3.5? Do teams own cars in all “leagues?” Do they race the same tracks? Do I need to follow all of that?
– Do teams face relegation and promotion? What happened to other engine manufacturers like Toyota and BMW? Is there a consequence if a team (like Sauber) never completes a race?

5. Why So Much Animosity?
In all my reading and listening so far, one thing seems pretty consistent; everyone hates the changes to F1. From the engine sounds (see #1) to the fuel restrictions to the severity of penalties for driving out of your pit minus a lug nut, if something is different, it needs to be decried. I get it. You liked things better before. But please, give it a chance. The fuel efficiency standards are a great way to put some of these millions in R&D money towards technology that could have positive impact on the city streets. And even if not, the restrictions seem like a smart way to increase the challenge, make it more about the driving, and give us even more narrative threads to follow.

You guys have got a really cool sport here. Don’t lose sight of all the great parts of it in the race to complain the loudest. Hell, I’m happy to be on board. Now I have to go clear some space on my DVR.

++
When not glued to the TV, Ryland Aldrich is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles where he also functions as Festivals Editor for movie website TwitchFilm.com. You can find him on Twitter at @RylandAldrich. (link: http://twitter.com/RylandAldrich)

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Cody Carrete
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Cody Carrete

Welcome to the fantastic world of Formula1. We could spend so much time answering your questions but that would take so much of the fun out of your learning journey.

I must say a few things though: Rebecca Lowe is awesome; Fox Soccer Daily and Fone-In were terrible and it serves the world better that they are extinct; and the sound of engines past was always a visceral and emotional connection for most fans.

Live every day expecting something to change. When nothing happens, those days are surprising if not dull. F1 seems to think the same.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Truly, excellent post. Thanks for shutting some of us blowhards and our partisan beliefs up w/ your refreshingly honest, unencumbered observations. I’m envious, you’ve discovered an ever-deepening well of intrigue/drama in F1; no matter what, I hope you enjoy the ride. Some comments on your observations: 1. To some, there’s a visceral energy or excitement in the prior engine’s sound that’s sorely missing in the new Power Units. I’ll reserve judgement until my first race, but until then, I enjoy the various whirs and whistles made by the PU’s Energy Recovery Systems and the more-mechanical note, but do wish for… Read more »

Drew
Guest
Drew

Excellent post and an equally great reply!

jeff
Guest
jeff

DRS *Used at an FIA-prescribed zone (generally 1-2 per race track depending upon layout). FIA monitors yearly results and modifies the length/number of DRS zones to promote its Intended usage (see below for connotation) *There are GPS sensors on each car: In the detection zones, the systems measure the time-distance from 1 car to the next; if the following car is within 1 second of the chase car, DRS is enabled for the associated DRS zone. *Only used on straights. By opening the rear wing, the car cuts drag, but also loses a large % of it’s aerodynamic grip i.e.… Read more »

jiji the cat
Member
jiji the cat

welcome and very good post. us older gen folks have grown with F1. when i started following F1 it was 1300hp turbo’s, then came the v12, v10’s, and v8’s now the v6 hybrids. you have to excuse us older folk harping on about the volume, you see, over the past 30 to 40 or so years, all the engines in all there different specs have been loud, very loud, bone rattling loud…now they are muted. so for us the mute button on the volume of the engine has become a bit of a sore point. i for one am not… Read more »

simoncez
Guest
simoncez

Wonder how loud formula E will be?

Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich)
Guest
Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich)

Wonderful responses everyone, thank you. Wow Jeff that’s some incredible detail. Part of #4 was just a sort of report on what is still mysterious to me at this early stage, The level of detail you’ve provided will greatly increase my knowledge and enjoyment. Thanks all!

jeff
Guest
jeff

Like the other responders, it’s all opinion, so hope my musings were relatively unbiased/factual. Take what you want and discard the rest; your thoughts will undoubtedly be interesting reads as this silly season unfolds. Sorry I couldn’t find the flowchart re: teams. Saw it in the Australian GP free practice show a few years’ back, but it’s nowhere on the inter webs. Unsolicited Advice: Attend a race; both Montreal and Austin are fantastic venues in great towns. I personally think F1 is slightly more involving on TV for the sporting aspect, but there’s an undeniable energy in being there. Like… Read more »

Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich)
Guest
Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich)

You’re dead to me, Jeff. But it’s not too late. Renounce SF. Join the champs. Go Hawks!

(Thanks for all the info nonetheless.)

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Greetings, Ryland. Welcome to the site. I suspect that you are probably the ying to a lot of yangs, myself included. A lot of us grew up with the things you either didn’t know about or cared, and that’s okay. Like evolution, things change with the passage of time, and you’re at a very different starting point that will color how you view the world, and every starting point is simply just that. No good, no bad, just exists. Those of us who had a very different starting point are afraid, and maybe it’s justified, that we’re losing the world… Read more »

MIE
Editor
MIE

Welcome to F1B, thanks for posting your experience. F1 has an aging fan base, and needs to attract new fans, so it is interesting that you were attracted by an article on the changes.
Don’t forget to register on the forum if you haven’t already, there are plenty of people there who can help answer your questions.

F1_Knight
Guest
F1_Knight

Rather than give a long explanation here. I’ll point you to some significant Grands Prix and scandals that have shaped the sport:

1994 San Marino GP, 1997 European GP @Jerez, 1998 Belgian GP, 2002 Austrian GP, 2005 United States GP (Oh boy…), 2008 Singapore GP, Mclaren-Ferrari espionage scandal.

there’s many more.

also easy does it on Sauber there. Its Caterham you should be concerned with.

PM
Guest
PM

Welcome. By any chance, have you managed to watch the racer’s edge podcast by Peter Windsor. The clips are free and Windsor has great insight and often brings guests with specific knowledge about f1, Bob wilson for how to drive a car, Zac brown on the financial side of the sport, Scarbs for technical know how etc. Also, he releases new content everyday so its good for us fans who wait Mon-Thurs twiddling our thumbs.

Just a heads up from one fan to another

Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich)
Guest
Ryland Aldrich (@RylandAldrich)

Nice tip PM. Thanks I’ll check it out.

Danfgough
Guest
Danfgough

Not sure how to type the sound of applause but thank you! All the long term, die-hards (I count myself as one of them) need to be give a wake up call every so often.

What a well written, well reasoned piece.

And welcome to F1 and F1B

jeff
Guest
jeff

Bravo indeed. I too count myself as a diehard, and can be mired in what I think F1 is/should become. It’s a wonderful reminder that it can be many things to many people. I’ve already commented here, but think it bears repeating how all our opinions should be respected (including yours Todd :D)

Brian
Guest
Brian

As a bit of advice, don’t get mired in all the nationalism and tunnel vision that seems to cloud most die-hard viewers on the blogs and news sites. I recommend picking a teammate at every team and then a team to root for in each of the three/four tiers. That way, you always have an exciting race to watch and sometimes multiple exciting races to watch. I think its easy to forget that there are many teams and drivers that keep ticking away with no hope of winning the WCC and WDC and their battles with eachother can be just… Read more »

Tom Firth
Guest
Tom Firth

Yes watching some of the sports history is well worth doing, F1 thrives on referring to it’s history and comparing it to the modern day so I absolutely agree that watching older seasons is well worth doing.

Tom Firth
Guest
Tom Firth

Hi Ryland, Welcome to F1 :) The Minor leagues are confusing and depend on geographic location, whether the driver is picked up by a team at a young age and brought up through the ranks with funding, or have to find sponsorship on the way up. The route used to be clearer but today a rough structure for quite alot of the drivers in F1 currently would be, will focus this on Europe and the USA is very different, as is Japan. Karting Karting in run throughout europe in organised events and has long being the starting point for drivers… Read more »

Tom Firth
Guest
Tom Firth

Sorry , maybe that was abit information overload. Basically if you want to watch those series, it will give you a better understanding of when drivers enter F1, the history of the driver but it isn’t required that you watch it, alot of F1 fans will watch the drivers F1 career and no more. That’s fine too.