I promised awhile back that I would do a round of explanatory posts on F1 so that those members of my readership who are not avid F1 fans would have some idea about who and what the hell I was talking about. Here is the first part of what may be a lengthy explanation. On a cautionary note, these are just my perceptions. I really doubt that anyone cares, but to be safe I guess I have to say that they may be slightly inaccurate and/or downright ridiculous. If you want to read a more technical/accurate description, feel free to visit www.formula1.com. Or Wiki "Formula 1" because that page is good too.
Formula 1 is a racing series. It's popular in Europe. It dates back to the 1950s, so it is moderately old. If you are in your thirties and are still racing in F1, you are considered moderately to very, very old. The cars are open-wheeled single seaters, meaning that 1) they don't have things covering up the wheels, so they kind of stick off the sides, and 2) they only seat one person.
The series falls under the governance of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) which is presided over by president Max Mosley. He's kind of blunt and long-winded; also kinda old.
Right now there are eleven teams in F1. Right now they are named the following. Sometimes they switch names when they switch ownership. This makes things mildly confusing and sometimes the names are funny. Here I have listed the teams in general order of press importance:
Ferrari: Ferrari is my favorite team. I believe that they are now the oldest team in the sport. They are all-around amazing: fast, resourceful, and their Executive Director/CEO/ex-team principal Jean Todt is trying his darnedest to get Michelle Yeoh to accept his marriage proposal (I really hope she stops denying him and says yes). Ferrari was also #1 on the Financial Times' list of the 100 Best Workplaces in Europe in 2007. More importantly they have Kimi Raikkonen (below left) and Felipe Massa (below right), probably better known to you guys as the guys who live on my fridge.
McLaren: McLaren is becoming best known for two things, 1) new British driver Lewis Hamilton and 2) their involvement in last season's dramatic spy scandal in which they used designs wrongfully appropriated from Ferrari. Tsk.
Renault: Announcers say this funny when they are British: they say Ren-ault.
BMW-Sauber: BMW are the nice guys around the track. They really don't ever offend anyone! What gentlemen.
Toro Rosso: In my opinion Toro Rosso is a little more important than Red Bull because they have two Sebastiens, Vettel and Bourdais. The latter wears badass glasses under his helmet. I also like Toro Rosso because in the past they have made silly commercials. Try to find the one from last season where Scott Speed does that weird ballerina jump on set somewhere in some cathedral-type thing in Bulgaria which is for some reason full of hay (I know, WTF, right?).
Red Bull: They also do silly things, like parking an F1 car on the street illegally, just so they could have it get booted and therefore provide something for wide-eyed old Italian ladies to poke and stare at.
Williams: Wiliams is nice. They have a pretty new blue car this season and they also have Kazuki Nakajima from Japan. He's a wonderful rookie who does things like drive really fast... but unfortunately then does things like hit his pit crew and crash the new car into walls (he's still pretty awesome). They also have Nico Rosberg. He's noble, so I like him.
Force India: They used to be Spyker (see? silly name) but then the team was sold to an Indian billionaire, hence the name change. He made his new drivers wear weird looking leather Indian-style tunics and jodhpurs to the launch of the new car, lol.
Toyota: Toyota is exciting because they have German Timo Glock for their second driver this year and I think he has a really cool name. I'm putting Toyota above Honda because Toyota has a cooler combined set of drivers' names than Honda does: Jarno Trulli/Timo Glock trumps Jenson Button/Rubens Barrichello.
Super Aguri: No one ever really talks about Super Aguri. Whenever I think about them, I think "super girly." But they are nice team and, like BMW, are generally unoffensive.
The current F1 schedule has eighteen tracks. They are as follows:
1) Australian Grand Prix (Melbourne)*
2) Malaysian Grand Prix (Kuala Lumpur)
3) Bahrain Grand Prix (Bahrain)
4) Gran Premio de Espana (Catalunya)*
5) Turkish Grand Prix (Istanbul)
6) Grand Prix de Monaco (Monte Carlo)
7) Grand Prix du Canada (Montreal)
8) Grand Prix de France (Magny-Cours
9) British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
10) Grosser Preis von Deutschland (Hockenheim)
11) Magyar Nagydij (Budapest)
12) Grand Prix of Europe (Valencia)*
13) Belgian Grand Prix (Spa-Francorchamps)
14) Gran Premio d'Italia (Monza)
15) Singapore Grand Prix (Singapore)
16) Japanese Grand Prix (Fuji Speedway)
17) Chinese Grand Prix (Shanghai)
18) Gran Premio di Brasil (Sao Paulo)
These tracks are squiggly. After careful examination, I think that Malaysia (pictured left) is the squiggliest and Monza (below left) is the least squiggly. I really wish that it looked cooler. Seriously, if I were designing that track I would have made it in the shape of Italy. Logical, non?
Michael Schumacher holds the track record on seven of these tracks. So if you like reading Michael Schumacher's name over and over again, this is the sport for you!
*These races may not be around much longer. Australia may disappear after 2010 if they can't make nice and agree upon a night race (to fit into the European TV slots) with Bernie Ecclestone (CEO of F1 management and F1 Administration, but more about him later. All you really need to know right now is that he can make important decisions and looks kind of like a cross between Garrison Keillor and a baby eagle). It's possible that the races in Spain will be dropped if the RFEA (kind of the Spanish branch of the FIA) can't control the blatant racism (>:-( not cool, mean Spanish fans!) towards Lewis Hamilton (McLaren driver, he is really skinny and kind of looks like he is twelve. He also knows karate, so watch out [no lie!]). I would love to tell you that story right now, but really it's a long one and I can't bring in that many characters at the moment.
(Garrison Keillor + Baby Eagle = Bernie Ecclestone)