The world’s most popular racing racing circuit comes to this side of the Atlantic Ocean this weekend with the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
The race will be broadcast on Sunday at 2:00 PM on NBC.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Is this one of those races that takes place on the downtown streets of a city?
Sometimes. But this race is held at the Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas, the first track in the United States designed specifically for Formula One racing. This is just the second year that the U.S. Grand Prix has been held at this new track.
What is so special about this track?
The drivers LOVE the track. In addition to being on a surface specifically designed for racing, the 20-turn course also includes two straight-aways, one long straight-away where the drivers can reach speeds up to 200 mph.
Why does the track look like a roller coaster?
The first turn on the track has a very steep incline which gives the track a roller coaster look and feel. The drivers say this 133-foot change in elevation just prior to a hairpin turn is not only a challenge but gives both the racers and the spectators a better sense of speed.
Who is the Jimmie Johnson of Formula One?
German Sebastian Vettel, who drives a Renault for Red Bull Racing is the dominant driver on the circuit having won four straight Formula One championships. He is also just 26 years old and should continue to dominate for years to come.
Who are the other drivers everybody should know?
There are three other former champions competing, including Lewis Hamilton from England (Mercedes AMG team) and Fernando Alonso from Spain (Scuderia Ferrari team), both of whom are among the 25 highest-paid athletes in the world.
This is the next-to-last race of the season, who is contending for this year’s title?
Actually, Vettel has been so dominant this season that he wrapped up his fourth straight championship last month. He is just the fourth driver to win four championships.
Is there anything on the line this weekend other than pride and money?
Vettel has won 11 of the 17 races this year. But more importantly, he has won the last seven races in a row. If he wins the United States Grand Prix, he probably won’t win a set of steak knives, but he would break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven straight wins in a single season set in 2004.
So Vettel should win this race easily?
Not necessarily. Vettel held the pole position for this race in 2012, but finished second to Hamilton.
What is so special about Formula One cars?
While a stock car used in NASCAR is a racing machine built to resemble your typical American sedan, open wheel race cars on Formula One are really more like tiny little jets on wheels.
What is one really cool piece of technology that a non-F1 fan can appreciate?
The steering wheel is more like a video game controller than an actual steering wheel (click on the image at right for a larger version).
OK, but what is something cool we can see on TV?
Formula One races have a drag reduction system (DRS) that can be activated once or twice on a lap and makes the car temporarily faster. It is kinda like Batman’s turbo boost button on the Batmobile. Basically, if a car is trailing a competitor by less than one second heading into a straight-away, the driver will get a signal on their steering wheel that will allow them to open up the tail fin on the car. Once that happens, there is less air resistance and the car can go faster making it easier to pass the car in front.
That doesn’t seem fair to the car in front.
It does suck for him, but it makes for more exciting racing for the fans.
How long is the race?
56 laps around the 3.4 mile track or 120 minutes. Whatever comes first. The 2012 race took just 95 minutes. So there will likely still be time to catch the end of Sunday’s early NFL games.
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