Formula 1: It's back.

Ferrari vs. Mclaren-Mercedes.
What else is on?
What ever happened to the days when all you needed to know about F1 could be summed up in one breath? Ferrari was the best, Mercedes always came second, and BMW sometimes made a run at third. There were two drivers: the champion, and his arch rival. The other 14-18 drivers were merely there to parade advertisement past the spectators. Occasionally the two best drivers would crash in to each other, and a BMW driver would take the win. Ocassionally. Anywhere throughout history you could tune in to a F1 race and know exactly what to expect, exactly which one of two drivers would win, and which national anthems they would be playing at the end of the race.

But not anymore. FIA rules, car configurations, engine restrictions, and rivalries have all changed so much, that F1 has been turned upside down. Aside from the pit girls, and maybe the exploding champagne, everything else has been altered as a result of regulation changes. Since it started out in 1950, Formula 1 has been all about evolution; subtle aerodynamic changes from year to year, a new race track once every 10 years, and the very occasional new team. Today, F1 is about revolution, and it's occurring each year, so try your best to not fall behind.

It took Schumacher 7 Championships
to get tired of spraying champagne.
What caused this unprecedented shift in philosophy is Bernie Ecclestone. Bernie, regarded as the GodFather of F1, and the owner of F1's commercial rights, concluded somewhere in the mid 2000's that people had gotten bored of watching Schumacher run laps around everyone else. Eventually even Schumacher got bored and decided to pursue more exciting avenues a year after winning his 7th World Championship. Any race held in the mid 2000's was turned in to a race for 2nd place due to the German Ferrari driver's sheer dominance. When Schumacher eventually decided he'd embarrassed enough drivers and called it quits, it was Fernando Alonso's turn to completely obliterate the competition and bore everyone to tears as he cruised to consecutive World Championship titles driving for Renault.

So Mr. Ecclestone, in an attempt to juice up Formula 1, decided to address F1's most criticized issue. Namely, the lack of overtaking. Fans said if they fancied watching a group of cars blast down a track in an orderly fashion they may as well drive down to their local egg shaped race track and watch a few far american saloons turn left for a while. And bonus, a Nascar ticket is a hell of a lot cheaper than a ticket to the grandstands right in front pit lane at the Grand Prix of Rio de Janeiro. So Bernie did what Bernie had to do. He banned traction control and introduced a version of NOS boost to a range of teams. Officially two boost systems exist, KERS and DRS, but for right now I'll refrain from explaining how both systems work. Bernie then then walked over to pit lane and told the teams that they were only allowed to change engines every few races, and that the V10 engines were now to be replaced by high revving lighter and louder V8 engines, which coincidentally also bear greater potential of blowing up in a spectacular fashion.

All of this he hoped would have fans swarming back to F1. Bernie imagined all sunday afternoon TV watchers to change from PGA golf over to F1 to watch the traction control less and boost equipped cars blow up while flying backwards through the first chicane at 350km/h. Surprisingly, his plan didn't work. The faulty KERS systems, the lack of dramatically exploding engines, and the still timid driver's grid had viewers quickly change back over to Ernie Els putting for par on Augusta's back nine.

Rosberg, Hamilton, Vettel. Winning. 
Yet F1 has recently risen in popularity for an entirely different set of reasons. And to who may we accredit it's recent success?  The young talented driver's who have brought back the unpredictability and danger that disappeared from F1 at the end of the disastrous and lethal 1970's. Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg are real life heros. And not only because what they do is astonishingly dangerous, but also because they've managed to bring back F1's audience.

This article has been inspired by a good friend and Alexotics fan, Thomas Sikora, who reminded me that F1 is has once again established itself as the greatest motoring championship in the world. Expect more F1 updates, predictions, and opinion pieces to come as I try and stay on top of the 2011 season.

Tune in Sunday the 8th of May to catch the Turkish Grand Prix. Do I know who will win? Not a clue. Am I excited to watch? You bet I am.

For a truly terrifying documentary, watch