The Grand Prix Weekend
Practice 1&2. Completely uninteresting to all but the most die hard fans. Allows the drivers to familiarize themselves with the track and allows the teams to let their young Test Drivers out in a real F1 car so that they at some point in the future can start competing.
Practice 3 & Qualifying. Qualifying is where the fun begins. There are 3 qualifying heats; the first is 20 min, the second 15 min and the third 10 min. In qualifying each driver tries to set the fastest lap time they can, there is no racing against each other just against the clock (though many cars might be running at the same time). After each heat the 7 slowest drivers are given their starting position with the slowest at the back and the times for the cars fast enough to continue are wiped. The 10 fastest drivers, that run in the last final qualifying heat, will have to start the GP with the same tires they set their fastest lap.
The Race: Exactly what it sounds like, the actual race.
Tire choice and pit stop strategy is one of the most integral parts of F1 racing.
All the teams have access to the same 6 kinds of tires: 4 slicks -[Super soft, Soft, Medium and Hard] and 2 treaded -[Intermediate and Wet].
Of the slicks each team has to select 3 sets of 'prime' tires (Medium or Hard) and 3 sets of 'option' tires (super soft or soft) for each driver. These 6 sets are the only tires a car is allowed to use during qualifying and race. As mentioned previously the front 10 on the starting grid has to start with the same tires they set their qualifying lap. Both 'prime' and 'option' must be used during the race.
(If it rains almost all this can be ignored, any car can always use wet or intermediate tires for no penalty)
The different tire types function differently, each one gives its maximum amount of grip when they are at their boiling point (if you will) which means that different tires are better in different weather and on different tracks. On slow speed tracks softer tires are better while at high speed tracks harder tires might be better.
The tires also degrade at different rates, a set of super soft might make you go 3 seconds faster each lap but might only last half as long as a set of hard tires.
Which is where pit stops come in. Choosing the right time pit dependent on things such as changing weather conditions, tire degradation, the traffic on the track etc. can win or lose a race.
Put on super soft to catch up with the cars ahead of you before they pit? If you come out from the pit lane behind a row of slower cars suddenly you can't make up the seconds you wanted and instead sit on a set of fast degrading tires without getting the speed you needed. Do you go for 2 stops or 3 stops? Maybe even 4 or just 1? Different teams and different drivers run different strategies which makes the races dynamic and exciting.
There are two bits of technology that might be good to have a handle on.
"Kinetic Energy Recovery System". A battery that stores energy when the car breaks. That energy can then be used to boost the car with extra power and acceleration when the driver presses a button. That KERS button can only be pressed for a set amount of time each lap.
"Drag Reduction System". Its a flap in the rear wing that the driver can open up to reduce drag (and down force) to increase top speed. Is only allowed to be used on certain straights when within 1 second of the car in front. Closes the moment the driver start breaking.