Guess I can throw in my own $0.02 worth... I am an engineer by trade and I still don't get why soooo many people around the world LOVE F1. I appreciate and love the tech, but I have to think that 99% of the world does not.
Once Vettel took pole position it might as well have been over. He easily led the race and even set fast lap right at the end, as if to say he could have won it by more. I personally found the practice laps more exciting than the actual race.
For me, taking pictures at multiple corners actually helped make the race more interesting. Sitting at one spot waiting for the long train of cars just got old. They all did the same thing and drove by. I think I got a better sense of the driving by watching how they setup for the different corners.
In the end the weekend itself was fun. Austin is a GREAT town to hang out in and check out the scene. The track is immense and offers a lot of visual activities. But the actual race? Maybe I just don't get it...
But I don't feel like I lost anything by taking pictures...
You're probably right in a way, a good percentage of F1 fans in the world, are kind of like Nascar fans. All they care about are the drivers, not the cars.
However, to wonder why so many people in the world love F1 is not hard to grasp at all
. It's because the spectacle is like nothing else. It's also the rich history of the race...and because the drivers are generally from all over the world, and especially all over Europe, where most of the tracks are. It's also because no other road racing car of any kind can come close to their speed on a road race track. It's simply the physics and resources involved that spell this out.
For example, did you know it takes them 6 months to manufacture each brake disc?
You should have asked your fellow race attendees why they liked it so much, because apparently the crowd attendance was a record high on race day at over 100k (I assume beating last year's inaugural race).
I am not a fan of Bernie Ecclestone, however, and I feel he runs F1 in a very arbitrary way. His tenure can't last forever, though. If he's had an overall positive impact on the series, I don't know of it. Maybe he's helped the manufacturers limit their cost at times, by limiting the amount of time they have to develop...but I have to think the manufacturers, are also generally not pleased with all of F1 management, especially with Bernie.
I am not a fan of Nascar, at all, heritage or not. The cars are ugly, cumbersome, low in technology...and I'm not sure what the goals of the series are, other than to simply make money. They certainly are not striking new ground technology wise, or speed wise. Innovation and Nascar are almost mutually exclusive. Most of the drivers seem very dimwitted to me...and I'm from the South! I guess that might be feigned at times, for the entertainment value of seeing the obligatory hick race driver interviewed in various media, I don't know. I understand people enjoying going to the races, but frankly there's better racing to watch. Anyone who knows anything about driving cars, especially a sports car that can change directions and speed quickly (and not always go left, or not always go straight...ovals and dragsters)...should be in love with F1, it seems to me. Even the "IZOD" Indycars are a pale imitation, whether or not their series predates F1 (which it does).
Since you're an engineer, hopefully you can see where I'm coming from a bit. Sportscar racing, and F1, are the purist types of motorsports. Everything else is watered down, or distilled to something less entertaining...at least to me.