Why I love Formula 1, before I answer that question, I need to give you some background.
Grand Prix racing dates as far back as 1894 in France. The very early days were an endurance of man and machine pushing their cars to the limit. It then soon evolved to formula racing, becoming what is now known as “Formula 1”. The circuits of the day were mostly carved around city streets and town roads, most notable of which was LeMans, site of the world 24-hour Endurance Race. Other circuits included the Targa Florio in Sicily, Brooklands in England, and what would become the most iconic circuit in Formula 1, the streets of Monaco. All the famous marques of the era took part; Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, BRM, Ford, the list goes on.
After World War II, all the world’s Grand Prix were consolidated into the World Championship, in a showcase to see who was the best driver. Men like Nino Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio, Alberto Ascari were head and shoulders above the rest, pushing their cars beyond what other drivers could or dared to do. A decade later, in what many historians consider the “Golden Age of Grand Prix Racing”, the cars changed drastically from being front-engined beast of fury, to rear-engined rocket ships. As the cars became faster, the danger increased as well. There was not much in the way of driver safety, very little in fact. Seatbelts were minimalistic at best, the circuits were ill prepared to handle accidents, and worst of all, everybody associated with the sport went along with it because that was the nature of racing. It wasn’t until drivers Sir Jackie Stewart and John Surtees stepped in, demanding better safety. The rise of big-market sponsorship made safety concerns a prevalent topic in the Formula 1 community.
Fast forward to the 1980’s, where politics and greed were (and still are, the status quo). I am not going to bore you with all the details, just the most important. With the influx of money and manufacturers, the privateer teams were becoming more and more frustrated with the governing body, the FIA (Federal Internationale d’Automobile). The war raged on through the early 80’s before it was settled by team owner Bernie Ecclestone (the Napoleon of our time), who promised to give the teams more revenue as long as he holds the commercial rights (he still holds them today).
Now comes the year 1988, the year I was born. The first word uttered out of my mouth was “car”. From that moment on, my dad knew I was going to be a racing fan. Every sunday morning, my dad would have the Grand Prix on TV for us to watch and enjoy. It was at this time I started to hear and memorize the sounds the engines, the howl of a Ferrari V-12, the scream of a turbo-charged Honda, the thunder of a Renault V-10. Those memories of watching drivers; Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher battle it out in those overly engineered monsters still resonate with me today.
Watching Formula 1 for me is like a like a religion. It only comes around every so often, every race is an event to behold, the pageantry, the fans, the glamour, watching the cars on the grid before they start, it gets my adrenaline going. There is a reason why I get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to watch the Malaysian Grand Prix. I know its crazy to want to purposefully get at 4am to watch an auto race, but believe me when I tell you, no matter how I’m feeling; good, bad, sad happy, that passion is always there, waiting to come to the surface.
To put into pictures what I’m on about, please watch this preview for the 2010 documentary film, Senna. It tells the life story of Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna, who many believe to be the best driver of all time.
Stay tuned for more posts and videos about Formula 1 and just cars in general.