Tag Archive: Lotus

It’s time to watch F1, you guys!

I’ll just come right out and say it: if you don’t watch F1 this weekend, you’re an asshole.

I can hear it already, “Blah blah blah, F1, cars driving round in circles, who gives a shit about NASCAR, whatever, boring, blah blah blah.”  And you’d be a millionth-and-one person who’s given me shit for spending far too much time with this fucking sport.

And that’s because you conveniently dismiss this sport because you have not even a vague idea of how brilliant it is.  Let’s change that, shall we.  Have an open mind, for fuck’s sake.

The thing is, F1 is for everyone.  (Hey, that rhymes, I should copyright that shit.)  Man, woman, child, dog, whomever, it’s for you.  If you have a fucking pulse, no matter how cloddish, you need to take a look at F1.

Jalopnik tried to pull together a helpful guide for F1 noobs, but I found it uninspiring and tedious.  The whole thing felt like a lot of fucking work and it told you NOTHING about F1.  So fuck it, I figure I’d give it a go.

Here’s the gist of the sport.  I’ll give you the meat-and-potatoes, and then I’ll throw in some garnish afterwards.

F1 is car racing.  All the cars look like winged rockets with wheels.  They’re not steel tanks like NASCAR because they have open wheels and open cockpits – neither is covered.  They’re also made largely of featherweight carbon fiber.  And they have big fuck-off wings that create downforce that keep the cars pressed onto the track.  They also have massive fuck-off tires.

In F1, every team has to build their own cars.  If you’re a car racing noob, it might surprise you to know that most other car racing series have teams buying their cars from suppliers, and all they need to do is tweak the car and go racing with it.  Not F1: each team needs to design and build their own chassis.  That’s part of why some of the top F1 teams have annual budgets in excess of $300 million.  In comparison, you can run a shitty NASCAR team for about $10 million.

These cars are the single-most sophisticated machines for sport, and are probably the closest thing to having a NASA space rocket mate with one of James Bond’s Q gadgets.  They’re the coolest fucking thing in the world, alright.

Inside each car is a V8 engine that generates something like 800hp and revs up to 18,000rpm.  Your average 4-door sedan probably sports a 4-cylinder engine that generates 200hp and you’d never rev it higher than 3,500rpm.  Do the math.  These engines can take these cars to over 200mph.  Try that in your shitwagon.  These engines sound like a dragon being put through a paper shredder.

Each team runs two cars – the two cars will look identical; easiest way to tell the two drivers apart is to by their helmets.  But TV commentators do that for you.

Enough about the cars.  Let’s talk about the race itself.  The race starts at 2pm Austin time.  In fact, with a few exceptions, all F1 races start at 2pm local time no matter they race in the world.  You can use that in your dinner conversation this Thanksgiving, you’re welcome.  Each race lasts between 1.5 hours (often) to 2 hours (rarely).

This is the track in which they’ll be racing in Austin: the Circuit Of The Americas.

(from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbonvouloir/)

As you can see, it’s not a goddamn oval.  Because these drivers actually need to have two key skills lacking in NASCAR drivers – knowing how to brake for corners, and turning right.

Let’s get to the drivers.  There are 24 of them.  You don’t need to know all of them.  There are dipshit drivers in the back of the pack that if you got hit by a bus tomorrow and never knew their names, you’d still have lived a full life.  Don’t waste your time trying to learn everyone’s name.  Just the ones who are worth keeping an eye out for:

  • Fernando Alonso.  Drives a Ferrari (the only all-red car in the pack).  He is, by leaps and bounds, the best all-round driver of the lot.  Even if the Ferrari is not even close to being the best car out there.
  • Sebastian Vettel.  Drives a Red Bull (blue car with a yellow tip – yes, the energy drink company own an F1 team).  One of the best drivers driving arguably the best car of them all – that’s a hell of a combination.
  • Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.  Both drive McLaren cars (silver cars with red wings).  Both a brilliant drivers.  Hamilton is the Barack Obama of F1.  Unfortunately, however, is a colossal douchenozzle, and you should totally watch him to hate him.  Seriously, he’s a tool.
  • Kimi Raikkonen.  Drives a Lotus (black car with gold trimmings).  He’s Finnish and a raging boozehound!  And he’s fast!  That’s pretty much all you need to know.

Other drivers who might put in good showings are Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Perez, and Nico Hulkenberg.  Fuck everyone else.  Oh, you’ll also hear Michael Schumacher’s name.  That’s because he’s old, he’s been racing forever, he’s the winningest driver, and he’s a smug, dirty, cheating bastard.

And really, those are the essentials.  There are other nuances, but if you don’t know them, it won’t make the sport unwatchable.  But just in case, here are some of them:

  • Pitstops.  These cars come into the pits at least once to change tires.  That’s because a) the tires don’t last the duration of the race, and b) the rules state that they must race on two different types of tires (two compounds: one harder, one softer)
  • KERS.  This is a F1’s equivalent of a hybrid.  It stands for Kinetic Energy Return System.  The cars use braking forces to charge an onboard battery.   The battery sends and extra boost of 80hp to the engine – it’s a bit like Knight Rider’s turbo boost mode without the turbo.  It’s stupid but it’s in play.
  • DRS. Talk about an even stupider system.  It stands for Drag Reduction System.  When a car is trailing the car in front by 1 second or less, the trailing driver can push a button on his steering wheel that levels out the rear wing (reducing downforce) to help the car go faster to help overtake the car in front.  I have many reasons to hate this stupid system that I’m not going to go into here, but it’s in play, so fuck me.

Now, let’s talk briefly about the racing.  This isn’t like NASCAR, where you see a traffic jam going around in a circle for 4 hours, with cars overtaking each other ever 3 miliseconds.  Fuck that pointless bullshit.  No, what you’ll see mostly is a single-file of cars going around the track.  There’s definitely overtaking in F1, but because F1 racing is both an art and a science, this will happen mostly when cars dive into corners at the end of a long straight, trying to outbrake the other car.  The KERS and DRS systems help, too.

And that’s it.  That’s all you really need to know to watch F1 on Sunday.  That, and the fact that it’s on at 2pm ET (work that shit out in your own timezone), it’s on Speed Channel in the U.S. (better go find that channel now), and even though you’ll probably miss the early NFL games, you’ll have a shit ton more football the rest of Sunday to watch so stop being a pussy about it.

Now, don’t be a dick by blowing this off.  This is F1’s first race back in the U.S. after a 5-year absence.  This is F1’s only stop in the U.S.  It’s a big fucking deal.  You can afford to forgo football for a couple of hours on Sunday (your dipshit team will probably lose anyway).  You really can.

Just watch some F1 this Sunday.  Don’t be an asshole.



There is no love lost between me and Malaysia – I left that stupid country ages ago for a lot of reasons, albeit, to the detriment of my ability to be close to family (who are not stupid). And it seems that select folks in that country – not everyone, just a distinguished few – take every available opportunity to further affirm my decision to get the fuck out of Dodge. How that peninsular hasn’t crumbled into the South China Sea under the weight of all the stupidity from these people is beyond me.

Right near the top of this list are the people behind arguably the most loathsome F1 team in recent memory, Team Lotus. The team are an idea born out of egomaniacal greed and an unbridled exhibition of ill-educated thinking. A group led by some Malaysian cut-rate airline boss who decided that he needed have his ego stroked at every turn so what better way than to blow a ton of cash on a multi-million dollar grand prix team. This is how cut-rate this whole operation is: the entire aesthetic of the brand is ripped-off from Virgin. Everything. But props where props are due – this asshole was crafty enough to negotiate a license to the Lotus name from Lotus Cars. While it chapped my ass to no end that some bullshit team had now sullied what I consider the good name of Lotus, it was what it was, and the damage was done. Lotus were being represented in F1 by some cut-rate team (to go with the cut-rate airline) who had absolutely nothing to do with Colin Chapman’s legacy. Team Lotus, the F1 team, haven’t produced a single road-going car despite their namesake, they have contributed fuck-all – technology or otherwise – to the famed Lotus car company. They have NOTHING to do with the real Lotus – Lotus is a name slapped on a registration form filed in Knightsbridge to allow this stupid team to put two extremely shitty cars on the F1 grid every fortnight.

But the straw that broke the camel’s back came this week when the Lotus F1 team bought Caterham cars. Here’s a breakdown of the clusterfuck.

  • The late great genius Colin Chapman started Lotus Cars in 1952, and proceeded take part in F1 with his Lotus racing team in 1958
  • The Lotus Car company as we know it today are owned by the Malaysian car company, Proton, which bought it in 1996
  • In 2010, Air Asia bought an F1 team and entered the competition. They licensed the Lotus name from Proton, raced under the name “Lotus Racing”, and used Lotus’ historic green-and-yellow livery. Beyond that, the F1 team have nothing to do with Lotus. The team race with Renault engines. Renault are also competing in F1.
  • For 2011, the Lotus Car company decided that they’re done being spectators and want back into F1. But instead of going all-in with the Air Asia F1 team (Lotus Racing), they decided to buy into the Renault F1 team instead. The Renault team are renamed Lotus Renault GP. Thankfully, they don’t run the green-and-yellow livery also; instead they use the black-and-gold livery based on the John Player Special tobacco sponsorship from the ’80s. Are you fucked in the head yet? They’ve opted to paint their cars the color of a now-defunct former sponsor in the sponsorship category (tobacco) that is now banned from the sport.
  • In April 2011, Team Lotus F1 (the Air Asia-backed race team) bought Caterham Cars. Caterham’s flagship car, the Caterham Seven, started life as the Lotus Seven in the late-’50s, designed and built by Colin Chapman. That’s right, it was a Lotus. Which eventually got sold off to Caterham in the ’70s. And now this fake-Lotus F1 team have bought a not-quite-Lotus carmaker in a desperate bid for racing legitimacy.

Are you tracking this colossal clusterfuck of stupidity? Are you sufficiently fucked off yet? I know I am. Two Lotus racing teams in F1. Both running Renault engines. Two fuckwit companies engaged in the pettiest of transactions over a stupid name. Both teams are dragging each other to court over the Lotus name. There’s no doubt that the Air Asia assholes are banking on losing their case – so if they can’t use the Lotus name, they’re banking on being able to use the Caterham name in F1. What a fucking joke. A joke that can be traced all the way back to Malaysia on both sides.

Lotus was a brilliant brand, built up by an engineering genius and at some point, it actually stood for something good and wonderful and inspiring. Now, it’s a fucking punchline thanks to two Malaysian companies, who have pulverized it to dog shit. Dog shit laughs at the Lotus name in F1.

I weep for Colin Chapman. The man was decades ahead of his time, and he proved to be one of the single-greatest innovators in past 100 years. He built a remarkable marque and he built brilliant cars – both on the road and on the race track – to back it up. And this is what his legacy has been reduced to. Fucking hell. Sorry, Colin.