Formula 1 = NASA

It appears that the tech media (the U.S. based outlets, at least) are finally learning that F1 is the most technological of sports. The first (of many, hopefully) U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, TX was well-run and great fun to watch. The organizers also knew how to attract media and invited tech and business journalists to witness the spectacle. What they found amazed most of them.


We Americans are used to sport as spectacle, but that spectacle is mostly found in advertising, huge audiences and Hulk-sized athletes. This time the spectacle was found in the way the cars launch like rockets, change direction like hummingbirds and stop on a dime. Oh, and the massive amounts of tech that make it all work.

F1 is the NASA of sport. Each race is a moonshot, a shuttle launch, or a 7 Minutes of Terror landing. It requires dozens of engineers, massive amounts of data and computing power, and practice, practice, practice.

Every self-respecting geek should join the speed freaks in watching F1. Each race is as much a celebration of engineering, aerodynamics and physics as it is of sport.

The cars themselves are modern marvels with 130 sensors sending data back around the world in real-time. The drivers withstand up to 5Gs of lateral force as the circuits change direction or compress them into the car. The engines operate at 18k RPM without breaking down (usually) and use hybrid energy recovery systems to boost power. Wins are measured in hundredths of a second.

There are so many reasons for geeks to enjoy F1, but Wired’s GeekDad focused on 10 of them recently.

The 2012 season ends this weekend (and what a season!) but you have until March to learn about the sport, watch this year’s races and prepare for 2013.