Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: F1 vs NASCAR

Monday, November 2, 2009


OK, this will be the last time I mention automobile racing this year. I promise. I am an incurable Petrolhead (Gearhead in the U.S.) so I can't help it.

What I am about to say is probably going to alienate me from many friends, readers and coworkers. The Abu Dhabi Formula 1 race I saw on TV was BORING! I was not excited by a race car going by every two seconds on an otherwise empty track. It looked like the qualifying rounds the day before. There was only one instance of overtaking that I know of. These guys weren't racing, they were just driving fast. The race was too short at 55 laps and an hour and a half of action is inadequate for the culmination of four days of festivities. I was hoping for Round 2. It was anti climatic.

The most exciting racing I saw at Yas was the Porsche Supercup. Those guys were intense!!

To be fair, this is the first Formula 1 race I have seen from start to finish as in the U.S. there is not much media coverage and maybe this race was a bad example. I always considered F1 cars to be the pinnacle of technological advancement but I think the track designs that discourage overtaking and head-to-head racing do a disservice to the sport and fans. I understand the F1 hot-shots are considering rules to make the series more NASCAR-like, re: entertaining.

I grew up in the South of the U.S. where NASCAR rules. Many consider NASCAR crude and the drivers lacking in skills, but from a fan's point of view, it is a much more entertaining event in my opinion. You can see the whole track from your seat. The cars are actually within feet of each other for most of the event, door handle to door handle and a lot of "trading paint" is going on. With the cars in close proximity, tactical moves are key and there are many lead changes. Look at the photos above and judge which one you would rather watch as a spectator.

There are usually enough yellow flags during the long races to keep the pack together. The races are much more than 55 laps and it is an all day event. NASCAR races are not all pedal to the metal and turn left, there are a variety of tracks and even some road courses where they get to turn right a few times.

Also, the rumble of 43 big bore American V8's passing by the grandstands at full throttle can't be beat.

Anyway, both types of racing have their advantages. From my initial exposure to F1, I remain a NASCAR fan for now, but I have an open mind.

I found the "celebrity aspect " of the F1 race here somewhat off-putting too. It diluted the intent of the event. Somewhat like the hoopla surrounding NFL Superbowl in the U.S.

Everything seemed to run smoothly and I have heard mostly good reports. The Yas Marina complex was completed just in time for the race and it could have been much worse if not for the massive efforts of the developers, promoters and sponsors. Abu Dhabi finally got some worldwide attention. Good job!


Dave said...

I agree totally. I have never found the F1 series to be particularly entertaining and the lack of overtaking seems to culminate in one car leading most of the way or forfeited when he blows his motor up.

The limited amount of Nascar I have seen looks like true "racing" with plenty of action to keep spectators enthralled. I believe if you like Nascar you would also find interest in the Australian V8 Supercars which are also much more popular downunder than F1.

Ace said...

Like I said, the Porsche Supercup was the most exciting race I saw at Yas Island this past weekend. If the Australian V8 Supercars are anything like that then I look forward to seeing that. too.

I think F1 has unfortunately become a social/celebrity event that puts the actual race in a secondary position.

F1 tracks should be designed to allow more overtaking. That is what racing is all about.

Neil Roberts said...

As you would expect from an Englishman I am always going to fall on the F1 side. However, you are right, the Porsche racing was excellent and I really enjoyed it more than the F1 - this weekend. Some things that made it less interesting this time around:-

1. The championship (driver and constructor) was over, nothing much to fight for.

2. The circuit actually has limited overtaking opportunities for F1 (they could make at least one more by removing the ridiculous chicane by the north stabd)

3. Lack of familiarity with the circuit (although should have this sussed by the race)

For raw racing, maybe Nascar is better, but I still like the more tactical/technical nature of F1.

.... I'd love a few laps in one of those Prosches though!

Ace said...

Neil, I understand and respect your point of view, much as I will always prefer American NFL football over soccer...err English football, LOL!

On your point #1
I realize the championship was over and the teams were being conservative. If this was the deciding race, there would have been more aggressiveness. The last lap was getting interesting though.

#2 I agree on the unneeded tight chicane.
It choked the pace.

#3 I concur

F1 and NASCAR are indeed different types of racing, apples and oranges and no direct comparison can be made. F1 is more finesse and NASCAR is more brute force. I appreciate the best in each.

I consider F1 automotive technology to be the best in the world. But I think the tracks could be rethought and races made longer. 55 laps was too short for the feature race.

It was also disappointing that Ham had to retire so early.

Those damn Porsches had me on the edge of my seat! WOW!!!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A very interesting post. I watched it on TV here in the UK, and yes it was quite boring, and flat. I watch as I work for Williams F1 Conference centre, and my husband also works for Formula 1, yes he was there, I watch to see how are team is doing, unfortuately not that well, but next season should be different, we hope, with the new drivers. I also love Nascar, and that is where one of our drivers went, Juan Pablo |Montoya...!!

Ace said...

Anne, as I read your comment, I am watching a documentary of Juan Montoya on Nat Geo Adventure TV. How strange is that?????

I appreciate F1 for what it is, the epitome of racing technology and sophistication.

But for pure spectator enjoyment, NASCAR has the edge IMHO. I also like the fact that stock car racing developed from the hillbillies running moonshine in their souped-up cars back in the day. A true "grass roots" and uniquely American history.

Granted it is a big business today, but an interesting background nonetheless that appeals to many race fans.

Ace said...

Thanks Dominico!
By the way.....its OTC here.

Neil Roberts said...

is it..where? ;-)

Ace said...

Ask any chemist....just like buying Panadol!

Juegos de Ben 10 said...

have never found the F1 series to be particularly entertaining .