Grand Prix Time!!!
Yes, ok, I’m sad. I have been following F1 since I was little. One of my early memories of F1 was when I gave my “boyfriend” (well I was only eight) a John Player Special car for Christmas. I still remember buying it in Woolies with my Mum, secretly hoping that she’d let me keep it. The car became his….I got a Strawberry Shortcake set more fitting of an eight year old girl. I still love that car.
I was Team Lotus until I moved with Senna to McLaren in 1988, and have been with McLaren ever since, although I’m pleased to see Lotus back (again)
I know… for most people, mention F1 and their eyes glaze over, their feet shuffle and they try to get away as soon as possible without being obvious. But I LOVE it. The sound of the engines, the bravado of the drivers and the spectacular driving (no, I don’t watch the races for the crashes, there have been too many fatalities for me to really enjoy the bumps that happen).
The drivers are some of the fittest men on the planet, they need to be to be able to stay alert in a car whizzing round a track at nearly 200mph for two hours. If you managed to catch the documentaries on BBC4 this weekend, you may have been amazed at the courage of the early racers. They knew that there was a high chance of a crash during the race, and that death was a very real prospect, they knew they were risking everything when they got in the car, and yet still their love of the sport drove them on. There have been so many deaths it’s heartbreaking, but thankfully today the sport is as safe as it possibly can be. Mind you, who could forget seeing Jos Verstappen engulfed in flames during the German race in 1994 when the fuel pipe leaked over him and his car during a fuel stop? Or the first race of that season in Brazil when Eddie Irvine taught his car to fly? Olivier Panis broke both his legs in an horrific crash in 1997 (yet he still returned to driving) and most recently Felipe Massa suffering massive head injuries after a bolt flew of Barrichello’s car in front? Much of the safety as it stands today is due to the deaths of Senna and Ratzenburger in one weekend 1994, I’m not even going to go there, but their legacy is one of improved safety and the fact that a car can now go flying and its driver can walk away. Injuries are rare these days, so we can enjoy the race knowing that those shunts will be mostly harmless for the drivers, even if they are less so for the hugely expensive cars.
But I digress….see I can see your eyes glazing already!
There’s danger, yes, but there is also humour (Mansell running out of petrol…ok I found it funny), feuds (Senna & Prost, Schumacher & Hill the most prominent), industrial espionage (oops don’t mention McLaren & Ferrari) and the glitz and glamour of the whole F1 scene.
Jack Brabham says that its too easy today and with too much money, but I’d rather watch a Grand Prix race than any other sport, and for me the drivers, and the teams behind them, are worth their weight in gold.
The F1 season is upon us again...I'm very happy (just dont try to contact me during a race!).