Waking up at five in the morning to catch Martin Brundle’s grid-walk before a Grand Prix thousands of miles attracts the same straightforward question. Why? Why do people waste their time watching cars going round and round in circles? You could easily watch that any day of the week with a flask of warm tea and a packet of crisps on a motorway gantry overlooking the M25.
Watching incredibly expensive racing cars being driven by highly paid racing drivers on the same piece of tarmac for as long as two hours may seem quite arduous. However, many of my fellow fanatics believe that it is possible to convert even the biggest motorsport haters into understanding such a passion for what many see as an increasingly underappreciated sport. Viewership of Formula One has decreased rapidly in the past few years. Some have blamed the dominance of Sebastian Vettel and his infamous ‘Vettel finger’ after each of his dominant and oftentimes bland victories. However, the 2014 season has shown that Formula One still has the magic of the good old days of Prost versus Senna, Hunt versus Lauda and Schumacher versus Hill.
The 2014 season has offered almost everything to treat the viewer’s pallet: A fierce rivalry between two old friends involving wheel to wheel action, crashes, drama and a relationship threatening to simmer over at any point. The emergence of brilliant new talents and characters such as Daniel Riccardo and the condemnation of driving villains including the infamous ‘Crashtor’ Maldonado whose ability to dump his car in the gravel trap leaves many miffed as to the reasons for his race seat.
Formula One offers the viewer an experience that no other sport can. Please name a sport where you are able to see; a man at the top of the sport more villainous than Putin (Okay Mr Blatter), Putin himself reluctantly shaking hands with Lewis Hamilton, excessive consumption of expensive champagne and crashes at one hundred and fifty miles per hour all on your screens in one sitting.
Formula One turns the world’s most exotic locations into arenas of racing – Monaco, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and the beautiful Silverstone in the UK. The 2014 season has seen drivers competing on the world’s classic tracks as well as the newest entries into the racing calendar funded by rich Arab Shiekhs and billionaire Russian oligarchs. From the iconic Eau Rouge, a flat out corner where drivers place their lives in the hands of their racing instincts and the competence of their team of engineers in assembling their incredibly intricate car has viewers with their heart in their mouth. The sexy streets of Monaco with super yachts, supermodels and supercars parked up around the Marina as cars race past the Casino Square makes even those with little imagination dream the life of a high flying Formula One driver. As we have tragically seen in the recent past, Formula One remains an extremely dangerous sport and drivers risk their lives to reduce their lap times by as little as one thousandth of a second which adds to the sexy allure of heroic men and their machines.
Formula One is not just about the racing. It is a sport full of Machiavellian characters ruthlessly fighting amongst each other for power and patronage. Whilst this may seem unhealthy in modern sport, there is something romantic about the intrigue, espionage and controversy that goes on behind the scenes. Villains that could have come out of a James Bond novel such as Messrs Eccelstone, Briatore, Dennis and Di Montezemelo, whose management tactics have always been shrouded in secrecy and an unease of deceit.
With Jake Humphrey off of your screens there is simply no excuse to not give it a chance. In the run up to the United States Grand Prix this coming weekend we are left with a number of unanswered questions. Will Lewis Hamilton consolidate his lead going into the final two rounds? Will Caterham be racing next year or even be in the US? Where will Fernando Alonso end up next year? Do tune in.