Grand Prix Basics: Learning Formula 1

The Montreal Grand Prix

Formula 1, the world’s most expensive and glamorous sport, is coming to Austin, TX at Circuit of The Americas. This fall will be the first time in over five years that Americans will have a chance to welcome this international sport and witness a race in their home country.

With the global buzz about the upcoming Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, there’s a lot to learn to enjoy it and be on top of this fast paced sport.  In this synopsis, you’ll learn about five key elements which make Formula 1 unique and attract an audience of over 600 million viewers worldwide.

The Formula

Formula 1 is quite simply the most technologically advanced sport in the world. The “formula” is the set of rules which govern the sport and challenge teams and drivers to perform at their peak capacity.  Hundreds of millions of dollars is spent by the teams each season to break the boundaries of performance under these rules and win races around the world.

These regulations are constantly evolving each year as new technologies and initiatives cause the sport to evaluate its position. Within the next two years, Formula 1 will rely more on its hybrid power systems and continue to shrink the size of their gasoline powered engines. In an effort to increase efficiency and push sustainability research, upcoming developments will accelerate the future of transportation research and translate to better performing cars for the consumer.

Global sport

Formula 1 started in England following the end of WWII.  Though a large portion of the teams and Formula 1 management are based in England today, the sport has a global presence and following on par with the Olympics and Soccer (football if you prefer).  In nineteen countries on six different continents, the sport’s diverse following brings added excitement as fans cheer on their country’s own driver or team.


There are currently twelve teams in Formula 1, hailing from many European countries like England, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. Many of the teams are part of the brands you already know, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren, though many of them are specialized race teams who focus exclusively on Formula 1.

Not only is Formula 1 a driver’s sport, Formula 1 has a rich history of employing the best talent from many industries, uniting them to tackle the challenge of building and supporting a winning race car. Teams employ hundreds of staff in engineering, production, marketing, and research, each of them vital to the success of the car on race day. The quality of work coming out of a Formula 1 factory is more in line with high-end aviation, and though the cars bear little resemblance to your road car, technology you see in cars today was developed many years ago in Formula 1.


The stars of the sport are the twenty four drivers who pilot these powerful  machines to the finish line.  Drivers start early in their careers and make their way up the ranks to become the best in the world. Each team has two drivers, some work closely together, other bitter rivals. The character of the drivers makes each race more dynamic and enticing, drawing you closer to the action.

Human performance is also very important to becoming a winning driver in Formula 1. Drivers routinely train on a program similar to tri-athletes, giving them the stamina and strength to endure the harsh impact of 5g’s of braking and cornering forces, and perform at peak condition for the entire two hour race. High performance athletes also demand high salaries, and Formula 1 is no exception.  The world’s 24 top drivers take home seven to eight figures, putting them on the same level as America’s sports stars in the NBA, MLB, and NFL.


Actors and actresses from Hollywood’s best films, sports stars, socialites, musicians, models, and dignitaries all are regulars at Formula 1 events around the world.  With these guests comes the culture of fashion, parties, and high lifestyle.  Watch the Monaco Grand Prix and you will instantly understand how all of these things collide at once.

Glamour attracts the press and with it comes advertising and sponsorships. Formula 1 has a long history with the world’s biggest companies, attracting global sponsors and major brands from around the world. Close ties with big companies means top brands pay significant amounts to have even the smallest presence on the side of a Formula 1 car, helping to fund the expense of running a top race car.

Red Bull Racing

From the drivers, teams, glamour, history, and global presence of Formula 1, there’s a lot to look forward to for this November’s Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. These five aspects only begin to scratch the surface of F1, there’s a lot more to learn about this fascinating sport and only a short amount of time to do so.


About the author:

Kevin Olsen is the Co-Founder and COO of – the independent motorsports
authority based in Austin, Texas. Originally launched to be the digital venue for updates and news on
Formula 1’s return to the U.S., The Austin Grand Prix has developed content, provided breaking news
and connected Austinites and racing fans around the world.