The 2016 Formula 1 season kicks off this weekend with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. It’s been four long months without my Sunday ritual. This will be my third year watching, and I’m so glad I started. I had never followed any other form of auto racing before, but a few years ago I decided to dive in. Having become weary of the endless off-the-field issues and constant commercial interruptions of the NFL, I looked for something new. I highly recommend watching F1. The races have strategy, excitement, and humor. The drivers are highly competitive, and the speeds are intense. If you’re looking to try it out, here are three things you should know going into this season.
If nothing else, you’ve probably heard his name. I would wager that he’s the best known F1 driver in the United States since Michael Schumacher or even Mario Andretti. He’s flamboyant, charismatic, high-profile, high-fashion, and he backs all that up by winning. A lot. He’s won the Driver’s Championship the last two years, as well as once in 2008. He also was a large factor in Mercedes AMG Petronas winning the Constructor’s Championship those past two years. Yes, F1 has two championships; one for the drivers and one for the teams as a whole. The most important thing to know is that Hamilton doesn’t seem to be slowing down or resting on his laurels this year.
The McLaren team is one of the most historic and successful teams in Formula 1. The team holds the second most Driver’s Championships and the third most Constructor’s Championships in F1 history. Unfortunately, over the last few years McLaren has fallen on some tough times. Last year’s partnership with returning Honda in an effort to re-boot the team was a real struggle. I’m watching this year to see if McLaren can bounce back to its former glory or if the woes continue.
Haas F1 is the first American team to compete since 1986. I am looking forward to having an American team to cheer. Haas also has two very likable, and easy to root for, drivers in Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez. I would like to see an American driver too, but with a thirty-year absence from the sport, the lack of candidates makes sense.
If you’re feeling intimidated about watching for the first time, don’t be. The secret is to just start watching. Within a few races, things will start to makes sense. The announcers on NBC Sports do a great job of educating the fans. I also suggest watching the half hour long pre-race show. The team does a nice job of setting up the strategies and explaining the technical aspects in an easy to understand and comprehensive manner. Take a shot, set your DVR if necessary, and jump in this season. I did three years ago and have enjoyed every minute of it.