Formula One Racing is, quite simply, the paramount of karting. It is the professional form of the sport in its entirety. Formula One is an international phenomenon, a media conglomerate that rakes in millions and millions of dollars a year from advertising, sponsorship, and broadcast revenues. Professional drivers with millionaire bank accounts race these majestic kart marvels that are unprecedented, flush with technological luxuries – everything from hard to produce lightweight frames that glide the machine to tires with unsurpassed grooving style that exemplify powerful movement on the circuit.
There is no sport that bests epitomizes the term “global sport” like Formula One racing. Many countries serve as active participants in shaping the professional karting scene – for example, Malaysia is a hot spot for racing (Fernando Alonso, a Spanish-born driver under Team Renault recently won a race there) and Italy plays a vital role in designing and manufacturing first class, top-of-the-line karts. Drivers and racing personalities hail from all parts of the word – you have the charismatic and popular Italian Renault boss Flavio Briatore, the handsome young 23 year old racing prodigy in Fernando Alonso who stars in a Renault Megane commercial with his pet pig, and one of the highest earning sports figures in world history in Michael Schumacher. Rivalries are common in Formula One – adding the edge of excitement with every zip of the curve and nitrous boost of the machine.
In order to better become acquainted with Formula One racing, we must understand its organization. Karting goes way beyond pitting 3 2-cycle engine machines against each other on an oval circuit. Formula One is divided into drivers & their respective teams. Under such trademark car companies like Renault, Ferrari, and Toyota – each driver has an assembling cast of staffers consisting of mechanics, engineers, and designers all working towards one goal: to make that speedster faster using all the resources at their disposal. Headed by team bosses that are adept at creating sponsorship opportunities and assembling the best cast for each team, Formula One employs the finest specialists in the business with backgrounds in computer and automobile – even specialists with aerospace experience! High end, (rare technology reserved for space projects) in some instances, create the fastest and most efficient car possible. According to FI rules, racing teams must design, construct, and built their own karts from scratch. The staff is the pride of each individual team – capable and able to win every 57 lap enduro race from Malaysia to Great Britain.
Formula One cars can be summed up in two words: technological marvels. These sleek, low riding gems ripping through laps at speeds topping 200 mph. consist of more than just a chassis, an engine, and four wheels. For starters, the engine is located behind the cockpit as opposed to standard automobiles. They consist of 10 cylinder engines that produce heat which propel the kart forward. Team engineers are always looking into ways to make their engines more powerful. Currently, 1000 bhp (a scale for horsepower) has not been topped – it is up to the teams to produce an engine which would fare well supporting speed as well as support the chassis. And as we know, there is a snug open cockpit for Jarno Trulli to maneuver his machine in.
Construction of Formula One race cars is unprecedented. The first rule of thumb in designing a bonafide piece of framework is to make it weigh as least as possible. Less kart weight correlates to faster speeds. For this reason, team brains use lightweight material that is hard to construct. The minimum weight of a kart must be 600 kg including the driver. This ensures a level playing field, although teams are allowed to keep their money making construction methods a secret from other teams. Team staff is very highly regarded in the Formula One business. Their technological and dynamical know-how of the machines they build is a valuable asset to any team. And like free agents, they are lured and signed by the likes of companies creating a recruiting war for their services. Of course, there are restrictions for creating karts. You cannot add nitro boosts to your machine or use technology that resembles life in the year 3000. Teams are always looking to bend the rules slightly and coming up ways to beat the competition legally.
Professional kart tires have to have optimum characteristics to ensure smooth driving. For one, tires have to have grooving technology built into them. For the novices, grooves are indented lines in tires that allow for it to slow down considerably on turns and to adapt to the track surface. No matter what the technology, kart tires are simply not adept at withstanding the rigors of asphalt, concrete, and dirt. For this reason, Formula One racers are allotted two pit stops during the course of a 57 lap race to change tires. If you’ve ever watched a Formula One race, team staffers with lightning quick hands have an extremely limited time for which to remove and replace tires in the pit stop – often times not exceeding over 7 seconds! Regulations are placed on tire grooves (a minimum of four) to allow for an even playing field for all racers. Remember enthusiasts, grooves serve more to slow down the kart than to speed it up.
Chassis construction with its illustrious carbon fiber material, tires with indented grooves, team specialists with a knack for speed, and engines which burn heat like calories is the epitome of a Formula One race car. All of these attributes contribute to the performance of the vehicle in racing lap after lap. As a result of all this technology, Formula One cars leave people breathless reaching consistent speeds of 200 mph. on the race track. More impressive is the time needed to go from 0 mph to 100 mph – 5 seconds! Formula One is only moving forward with the advent of new features - like improved horsepower engines, more lightweight materials, new ballasts to add weight to the car, and more. Behind that stylish, mind blowing chassis that pique our interest is that top-class technology that makes Formula One racing so great.
Michael Walker is a freelance author providing information about a variety of go-kart topics including go kart kits, go kart engines and go kart parts. His articles prove to be both a useful and entertaining resource of valuable information for the karting enthusiast.
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