The new Formula One season starts properly tomorrow ; I’ve been a fan for a very long time, partly, I think, because it’s the sport that so neatly dovetails with my love of games and interest in technology: the first website I ever made supported a Fantasy F1 game; I remember being blown away when Igot about three hundred entrants from places as far off as India and New Zealand, and I ended up needing to write my own Fantasy F1 results software to process all the data.
Anyway, before I turn into the grandad from the Werther’s Originals ads banging on about the old days, let’s get back to the present day. The new season is looking very exciting – no Schumacher, and world champion Alonso has switched to a new car, the McLaren which didn’t win anything last year. There’s a host of new, exciting drivers and the usual buggering about with the rules doesn’t appear to have anything terribly stupid. There’s a wealth of good resources on the web for preparing for the new season – not from the official F1 site of course, which wants to charge £68(!!) for its mobile text and picture update service… First stop, this super F1 2007 season iCal, which has all the race dates and info you’ll need. Secondly, the Guardian’s got an F1 podcast and they’ve put their excellent 68 page guide (which came free with Monday’s paper) on the web, here. Richard Williams, one of my favourite, favourite journalists, is an F1 fan, and his intro to the season, complete with excellent Rumsfeldisms, is well worth a read.
However, the best way to get into Formula One is, by far and away, the obscure but brilliant French board game, Formula De (pictured above). It is the finest boardgame known to man, taking in all the key concepts of F1 – especially the strategies of balancing speed with conserving your car, and mastering cornering speed. I’ve put up a Flickr set, which goes into more detail of how the game works. Once you’ve fallen in love with it, you’ll need to hunt down a copy on Ebay – it’s rare, and most copies will have mutliple bidders!
The real championship is a tricky one to call, but I think I’m going to go for Alonso as champion, but with Ferrari winning the constructors’. Alonso just because I can’t see any of the others managing it – Kovalainen sounds great, but it’s his first year, and the same is true of Lewis Hamilton. Of the established drivers, I’ve never rated Raikkonen that highly – he’s fast, but that’s about it. Massa is better than most people thought he was when he moved to Ferrari, but world champion? Difficult to imagine. That said, Massa and Raikkonen are the strongest pairing I think… Anyone beg to differ?