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Season Countdown.

Yes, the start of the first race of the 2013 Formula 1 season is coming towards us like a runaway freight train. But where an oncoming freight train most certainly would result in instant death – unless you decided to move out of its way – a brand new Formula 1 season can only be a good hit. The teams have finished their pre-season testing, and all the teams now finally have their driver lineup confirmed and economic obligations sorted.

This year’s winner of the Team Voted Most Likely Not to Make it Through the Entire Season is Marussia: Rookie driver and GP2 Series runner-up Luiz Razia was almost sitting in the cockpit of the Marussia car when the second pre-season test in Barcelona started, but he was suddenly removed from the testing line-up. It was later reported that his sponsors had missed payments to the team, prompting the decision to suspend his testing programme. Poor guy had already updated his Twitter bio with “Formula 1 driver”. Marussia also got into some economic trouble before the pre-season testing had even started: Timo Glock was initially signed to compete for Marussia until the end of the 2014 season, but later announced that he would be leaving the team. Marussia team principal John Booth cited “tough economic conditions” as the reason for the team being forced to let Glock go. Glock literally took one for the team.

But this is what Formula 1 is all about: Drama on and off the circuit. I am a bit concerned about the volume of pay drivers on the grid, however. Should Formula 1 be about driving talent or the ability to bring in sponsor dough to the team? The former, of course: With the talent, the sponsors will flock to you.

Anyway.

With only four days left until the first practice start in Melbourne, Australia, it’s important that you start to prepare for the season. First of all, here’s the race calendar, shamelessly ripped from the Wikipedia 2013 Formula One season article:

Round Race title Grand Prix Circuit Date
1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix Australian GP Albert Park, Melbourne 17 March
2 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix Malaysian GP Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur 24 March
3 UBS Chinese Grand Prix Chinese GP Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai 14 April
4 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Bahrain GP Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir 21 April
5 Gran Premio de España Spanish GP Circuit de Catalunya, Montmeló 12 May
6 Grand Prix de Monaco Monaco GP Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo 26 May
7 Grand Prix du Canada Canadian GP Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal 9 June
8 British Grand Prix British GP Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone 30 June
9 Großer Preis von Deutschland German GP Nürburgring, Nürburg 7 July
10 Magyar Nagydíj Hungarian GP Hungaroring, Budapest 28 July
11 Shell Belgian Grand Prix Belgian GP Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, Francorchamps 25 August
12 Gran Premio d’Italia Italian GP Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza 8 September
13 Singapore Grand Prix Singapore GP Marina Bay Street Circuit, Marina Bay, Singapore 22 September
14 Korean Grand Prix Korean GP Korea International Circuit, Yeongam 6 October
15 Japanese Grand Prix Japanese GP Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka 13 October
16 Airtel Indian Grand Prix Indian GP Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida 27 October
17 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Abu Dhabi GP Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi 3 November
18 United States Grand Prix United States GP Circuit of the Americas, Austin 17 November
19 Grande Prêmio do Brasil Brazilian GP Autódromo José Carlos Pace, São Paulo 24 November

Like every season, the teams have designed new cars with new liveries. Most of the colours are, of course, not that different from previous seasons, So it won’t be hard to tell the different teams from each other. The drivers on the same team, on the other hand, can be a nightmare, but there are three distinct features you can look for to tell them apart: Car number, helmet design and t-bar colour. Unfortunately, The car number is almost impossible too see at the speed these cars are driving. The helmet design is usually a good indication, but the t-bar is your safest bet. The helmet design has the potential to be the easiest way to tell who is who, but some drivers, like Sebastian Vettel, has the annoying habit of changing helmet designs for each race. So, which drivers use what colours, then? The Spotter’s Guide Central has created a great resource with liveries, car numbers, default helmet designs and t-bar colours you can use. Download the Formula 1 2013 Spotter Guide.

A great way to get last minute updates during the race is to use the official live timing on the Formula 1 web site. It requires you to create an account and log in, which is a whole lot of bull crap. But fear not, there is really no need for you to waste any time registering, simply use the following information to log in:

Username: a3627318@bofthew.com
Password: 123456

If this should, for some reason, not work, have a look at BugMeNot for an alternative username/password combination. The official timing application requires Java to run, and you might have uninstalled Java because of all the security issues it’s been having lately. There are alternatives to the official live timing available, but I’ve never used any of them, so I can’t tell you if they work all right or not. But a quick Google search will lead you to them.

If you really want to go all in when it comes to live timing and statistics, you might want to consider the official F1 2013 Timing App by Soft Pauer. On paper, it’s a great app for Formula 1 fans: Real-time track positions, live timing, tyre data feed, race control messages, live leader boards, DRS zones, live pause and replay and the ability to track your favourite drivers on the circuit. But all this comes at a price: It will set you back a whopping £23.99 (~USD 36), which is pretty hefty for a mobile app. That said, if you’re a hard core F1 fan, there are a lot of features there that I think you’ll really enjoy.

But none of this really matters if you are unable to actually view the races. I’ve used premium streaming services to view previous seasons, but in my experience you should avoid using streaming services if you have a choice. Watch on the telly instead, at least if your streaming service option is Viaplay. This year I will do my best to avoid using Viaplay and instead try to find unofficial streams online. Sure, they might be just as unstable as the Viaplay streams, but at least I’m not paying for a premium service that sucks monkey balls when it matters the most. Or maybe they will get their act together this season? Riiiight… If you are able to find a broadcaster or you feel will give you the quality you pay for and you have a lot of money to burn, you might also want to consider a setup like this guy. ironically, he is using Viaplay as his streaming provider (source).

So, with all these resources you should be more than ready for another great F1 season. Grab your favourite beverage and snack, sit back and enjoy the world’s number one motor sport.

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