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Technical innovations bring more speed, thrill to F1

In a few days Formula One, the biggest touring circus in the world, will host its first contest of the year in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-four of the best racing drivers from all over the world are competing for the Formula One World Championship 2011. The first race will be held this Sunday with the tour of 19 races ending in Interlagos, Brazil on Nov. 27. On the way drivers will visit Korea in October for the Korean Formula One Grand Prix in Yeongam.

Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport. A Formula One car produces over seven times the power of an ordinary car but has only half its weight ― generating five times the force of gravity under braking and cornering. Engines at 18,000 revolutions per minute create ear-splitting noise, the tire temperature soars to over 100 degrees Celsius and brakes glow at 800 degrees Celsius.

Last season’s Formula One was one of the most exciting seasons of the past decade. Unpredictable was the word to summarize the amazing season. Until the last race in Abu Dhabi the championship could have been won by four drivers of three different teams.

For this year the story will continue. Among the new technical rules, 15 in total, a significant change is the return of the KERS ― the Kinetic Energy Recovery System ― which generates energy while braking. With the push of a button, a car gets an extra 80bhp. With this system overtaking possibilities will be improved and should make races more exciting to watch.

Another change is the introduction of the adjustable rear wing. On the straight down force is not needed so a rear wing is only creating drag, but by pushing a button the angle of the top rear wing element changes and reduces the drag of the car. This makes passing on the straight easier and should bring more excitement for the fans. 
 
The Korea Grand Prix held in Yeongam, South Korea, Oct. 24. (Korean GP)
The Korea Grand Prix held in Yeongam, South Korea, Oct. 24. (Korean GP)

Some of the drivers have changed this year. One of the most surprising differences is Robert Kubica’s name missing from the Lotus Renault GP team. Kubica, who was injured in a crash in February, will be replaced by German driver Nick Heidfeld.

The pre-season winter testing has established something of a pecking order. Red Bull and Ferrari look like they will take up their battle at the front, where they left off last year, but who will be joining them is still the question. All eyes have been on McLaren and Mercedes in the past couple of weeks, as both teams would normally be expected to fight for the title. However, in testing, both seemed to be struggling with their new cars.

As always, no one has shown real strengths at the winter testing and for everyone it will be a big surprise who will be on the highest step of the podium upcoming Sunday at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

By Recardo Bruins  (RB@swa.co.kr)

Korea-born Dutch racing driver Recardo Bruins, whose Korean name is Choi Myung-gil, is an honorary ambassador of the 2011 Korean Grand Prix. ― Ed.
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