The first qualifying session is about to start. Engines are revving up at 17,000 rpm, tyres are screeching and the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel are prepping to make their mark on the sport.
For those lucky enough to have it, then all this race excitement can be watched on Sky's new F1 channel. For those who don't, the BBC has its highlights package. But you can't always be in front of the TV and if you are, sometimes just watching the race isn't enough. If this applies to you, we say hey, this is 2012 - where are your apps man? Any real F1 fan needs some apps, to take a look at timing at least, or keep up with news mid-race. Thankfully there are plenty, but only a few are really worth peeking at. Here they are.
Whatever platform you run it on, Sky Go means you can take the broadcaster's brand new Formula One channel with you. Sky Go lets you stream your whole Sky package via devices such as your computer, iPad, iPhone and certain Android handsets. The app is laid out extremely simply, so you can get to a channel with minimum fuss, and is extremely reliable. It even seems to work in areas of particularly low 3G coverage, which is good if you want to watch the race away from home.
The other thing about Sky Go which is particularly useful, is that you can watch other video content on top of just F1. In fact the only real downside to the whole setup is the 2 device per month limit. It means you have to stick with just a pair of viewing platforms for Sky Go. Not great if you were hoping to view content on say iPhone, iPad and laptop.
At £35 per month for the Sky Go sports and entertainment pack, it strikes us as more logical to just get Sky installed at home, as the service comes with it. If you do want to go standalone though, the cheapest you can get the service is £15. No F1 there though, that only comes with the £35 deal.
Fancy finding out a bit more about Sky Go? Check out our hands-on here.
Download the app for Android here (Free with subscription)
Grab it for iOS here (Free with Subscription)
Maxis F1 2012
This is more an app for the serious Formula One obsessive. It is stat heavy and includes even the most minutest of team based news. Should you be wondering what changes Red Bull has made to its exhaust pipe, or if McLaren has a newly designed front wing, then this is the app to do it with. On top of a pretty robust news section, there is also a Calendar which includes a live race commentary, temperatures, track conditions and best lap times.
The app also includes a results section for live by-the-lap timing and even a track page that lists history and other interesting race statistics. There is even a detailed track map listing each corner and the various sections of the venue. As a free app this is bursting with features and we are mighty impressed that nothing is asked for all the coverage it gives you. Keep this one running in your pocket while the race is on to stay on track with results.
Grab the app here for iOS (Free)
Android here (Free)
Just because the BBC isn't getting all the race coverage doesn't make it entirely defunct. Do remember that it still has one of the best presenting teams available in sports, minus Martin Brundle. If you happen to miss the BBC coverage, or just want to catch up by using its high-quality highlights packages, then the iPlayer app is for you.
Most will already be familiar with the working of iPlayer on the desktop - the iPad and Android app is really no different, it just runs a bit smoother. Programmes are listed in a tiled display, with a single tap bringing up information and the option to stream them. In theory F1 coverage should turn up in the same way from the BBC, once racing gets started.
BBC just recently added 3G streaming capability to the application, which means you can also watch the highlights packages on the go. This could be a good alternative to Sky Go for those who don't want to pay the subscription.
Download it on iOS here (Free)
Android here (Free)
Sky Sports for iPad
Here is where it gets really good. Sky has gone F1 nuts with an update to its Sky Sports News app for iPad. The result is fairly astonishing. You are essentially given the chance to be race cameraman, switching between eight different camera angles, while doing things such as running F1-related Twitter feeds in the app sidebar. You are going to need a Sky Go membership for it, but on race day, for the hardcore fan it's definitely worth it.
The real joy of the Sky Sports setup is the control it grants you over all F1 goings-on during practice, qualifying and race. If you are so inclined, for example, you could just watch a camera of the pits for a whole race. We prefer to use it as a secondary display for what is going on on TV, so say Hamilton comes in for a tyre change, we can watch that on our iPad and still see the race on television, using the red button. It's total coverage and the only way a proper fan can watch the sport.
If you are tempted by the Sky Sports app, then check out our hands-on here.
Download it here (Free with subscription)
F1 News HD
This is the app for the team fan. It works by filling your brain with all the team-related news possible, for everything from Marussia to Mercedes. The app has the ability to store information locally, another useful feature for those away from the television set moments when you just don't get reception. Built into each constructor's page or driver's profile is their Twitter profile and a Wiki page, if they have one. The lead page acts like a rolling news feed of everything F1 related from whatever sources you pick.
The app costs £1.49 but is incredibly well presented and works very smoothly. More like a big roundup of everything you would need to know before a race, the F1 News HD app is useful for filling in the gaps away from the track.
Get the app here (£1.49)
F1 2012 Timing app
This is very much the king of the Formula One apps, minus the live streaming. At £19.99 it is one of the most expensive applications we have come across in the app store and needs to work quite a bit of magic to justify the cost. Thankfully it does, with full 3D live track positioning, so you can follow each individual car as it goes round. You also get things like selectable corner cameras, totally live data starting at lap times and going all the way to championship points.
The application is also extremely well curated and any words written for it are nicely crafted. A notifications system that keeps you posted on race events is a nice touch, as are the race packs - like highlight packages to watch after the race. Being the official F1 app, this is as in-depth as you can possibly get and will satisfy the needs of every Formula One fan.
The app can be downloaded here for iOS (£19.99)
or here for Android (£19.99)
Any other F1 apps you enjoy? Let us know in the comments below ...