WHAT IS FORMULA 1 RACING?
Formula 1 Powerboat racing is the most spectacular watersport in the world. It has been described as driving the F1 race car at full speed over a ploughed field. Formula 1 Powerboats accelerate faster than even the most state-of-the-art F1 cars; they are capable of going from standstill to 160 kilometres per hour in only 4 seconds.
Impressive as this is by itself, they compete at these speeds without the use of brakes or gears. It is competitive, fascinating, challenging, daring, risky and entertaining. Formula 1 Powerboat racing is the ultimate extreme sport.
DEFYING THE LAWS OF GRAVITY
Formula 1 Powerboat racing has to be seen to believe. Spectators who are new to this most spectacular watersport are invariably left spellbound when they witness these lightweight catamarans defying the laws of gravity and virtually lifted in the air during high-speed manoeuvre with only a portion of the boat in contact with the water.
It is amazing that these boats can manage to maintain their balance in more than 225kph, taking hairpin turns at 150 kph without brakes and shifting gears, what's more with limited visibility, One tiny error of judgement would spell high-speed disaster.
Driving a powerboat is like piloting a fighter jet. F1 pilots need to have that split-second decision making capability and nerves of steel because once strapped into his fully enclosed safety capsule, he has only his skills, courage and a certain amount of luck to achieve success on the race circuit.
The rivalry between powerboat pilots often thrill the crowds with near-collision overtaking and daring acts as they blazed their boats across the water in high-octane velocity, considerable dexterity and finely tuned driving skills.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Inaugurated in 1981, this international competition is similar to F1 for cars and similar rules apply. Across the world, teams of different nationalities compete in the Grand Prix, which is regulated by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM).
THE CHAMPIONSHIP RACES
Races are organised at selected locations around the world based on the water conditions, infrastructures, public access, local hotels amenities and telecommunication facilities. Starting 2009 season, during each F1 World Championship venue there are two Grand Prix races – one race on each day of the venue. Each race lasts for 30 minutes of racing time + 2 laps with up to 24 boats hurtle around the race circuit at thundering speed of 225kph (130mph). All races are broadcast worldwide on TV, on local channels and international networks.
Every race circuit is different in size, but are generally about 2000 meters in distance. Each circuit has at least one long straightaway and several tight turns, mostly left with one or two right turns. The turns produce a G-force of up to 4.5 on the driver, which means his weight is multiplied 4.5 times as he makes a tight U-turn at over 100 mph (F1 car drivers endure only 2.5).
Water conditions play a major part in the outcome of each Grand Prix. With water current and wind conditions varying on every lap and spray being continually showered over the tiny console screen, pilots are quite often driving 'blind' at full speed, mere inches away from their rivals. In the event of a 'barrel-roll' (capsize), a mandatory air bag installed above the pilot's head will inflate upon contact with water. This enables the cockpit to remain above water until rescue arrives. All pilots have a self-contained air supply fitted inside the capsule as an added safety features.
EVENT STARTING POSITIONS
Pole position and starting line-ups are determined by a qualifying session preceding each Grand Prix race. State-of-the-art timing equipment records the performances of each boat to decide the final classification and starting positions.
Each team consists of a manager, one or two pilots, mechanics, radio coordinator, technical coordinator and equipped with infrastructure such as trailer workshop and welcome marquee. They should have one or two catamarans fitted with 2.5 litre engine and compete between 8 to 10 Grand Prix events that make up a full season.
Imagine this: up to 24 lightweight, 16-foot carbon fiber catamaran hurtle around a racing circuit at speeds topping 225kph (130mph); all boats are powered by highly tuned V6 outboard engines, each pumping out 425 horsepower at 10,000 rpm; they boast an awesome power to weight ratio, weighing in at around 500 kilos with a 425hp fully-tuned engine strapped on the transom; they have no brakes or gearboxes. Yes, These are F1 Powerboats.
In the last four years there have been four different drivers who have become World Champion. The latest is the American Jay Price who drives for the Qatar Team.
There are a number of new pilots who are making the race more competitive than ever. At each event, about twenty to twenty four pilots represent at least 12 nations, not to mention the countless sponsors, managers, radiomen and women, team members, safety crews and boats, medical staff, doctors, and spectators. The atmosphere is buoyant as tension mounts amongst the competitors, all of whom have worked so hard to be worthy of competing in the F1 Powerboat World Championships.
|Thani Al Qamzi||143|
|Ahmad Al Hameli||84|
|UIM F1H2O World Championship|
|date and venue could be changed|
|Grand Prix of China - Xiamen|
|02||Philippe Chiappe||+ 0.91 secs|
|03||Jonas Andersson||+ 2.75 secs|