With Drew announcing Alt+F1, I figure there will probably be a bunch of people interested in listening that might not have any knowledge or background in F1 or motorsports, so I thought I would try to put together some tips and advice that I have used to get friends into racing. Note: I am an American living in the US, so these are slightly more focused on that perspective, but if anybody from other parts of the world has pertinent advice please let me know and I'll try to add it in.
- If you have the time, try watching qualifying. Even if you fast-forward through Q1 and Q2, or leave it on in the background, the announcers get much more time to talk about the cars and the goings-on when they don't also have to focus on the play-by-play.
- Don't just focus on first place. Last year was worse than most, and this year should be better with the huge rule changes, but traditionally there's only a handful of possible winners. If you look a little farther back in the standings, there's usually some really great competition going on. Sauber, Force India, Mclaren, and Williams had some truly fantastic racing between them for the (somewhat backhanded) label of "best of the rest." Even if you write off the winner 5 laps in, there will be stiff racing somewhere in the pack.
- Never feel pressured to sit and watch a race start-to-finish. Races are long, and sometimes they can be kind of boring; you're not any less of a fan if you don't see every lap.
- Try watching other, shorter, more contentious series to try and get a handle on racing in general. I always tell people that F1 is the scotch of racing, so they should consider trying something a little more palatable at first. I like to recommend the Pirelli World Challenge series (they have 2013 races archived on their youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/WorldChallengeTV ), rally cross, MotoGP, and Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing. They all have shorter races that have tons of action in them and frequently some very interesting results. In a pinch, IRL is also pretty good when they're on road or street courses. Oval racing is a very different beast though, so only dip your toe there when you think you're ready. I do recommend it though.
- As with everything, immerse yourself in the background. I, personally, mostly read Racer Magazine ( http://www.racer.com/index.php/f1 ), who usually do a good job writing interesting and meaty articles without coming across as a tabloid. The stories and photography in their print magazine are absolutely amazing as well and I highly recommend it. However, they're just one drop in the bucket. Reading the British press is always informative and falling into wikipedia holes of past seasons, drivers, and cars is fascinating. The six-wheeled cars? The ground effect monsters? Pretty much Gilles Villeneuve's entire career? Some truly crazy stuff has happened in F1, so dig in.
- Consider reading a little bit on racing technique. This is probably pretty optional, but with the amount of questions my friends asked me before they got a handle, I think it's a good idea. Check out Speed Secrets by Ross Bentley, Drive to Win by Carrol Smith, or Twist of the Wrist by Keith Code (it's about motorcycle racing but almost all of the skills are transferable). They are all great books. Having a solid understanding of what the drivers are doing to go that fast makes racing much more impressive I find. And if the bug really catches you, go check out Skip Barber or one of the other racing schools. I know from experience that racing is even more amazing than you think it is.
- Take your time. F1's not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, so if you only feel like dabbling for the time being, don't worry. It will all be there for you when you want it.
- Go see some racing live! Seeing and hearing the speed in person goes a long way to conveying the skill that goes into racing. Find a local track and check out some of the smaller series and clubs that race. Especially for the smaller series, walk around the paddock and talk to the mechanics, drivers, and crews. Unless they are super busy, most people would love to talk to you and educate you about their sport.
- Above all: have fun! Racing is super fun, and not everyone loves the same thing. Sample everything to see what you like and if you find you don't like something, don't worry about it, it's just not for you.
I hope this helps. If anybody has anything I missed or thinks I'm completely wrong about, let me know.