Monday, 15 March 2010

Formula One

I am very excited at the moment because of the start of the new formula one season. There is no doubt in my mind that formula one is the greatest motorsport that has ever been. The combination of white-knuckle racing with the technical battle really sucks me in. This year there are a couple of big human stories that it will be fascinating to see play out across the season.

The man drama is of course the return of retired Formula One legend Michael Schumacher to the driving seat of an F1 car. If this was a Hollywood movie, Schumacher would definitely be the main character. He would probably also be played by Tom Cruise, so maybe best not to follow this metaphor too far!

The other human drama that I think will prove captivating is the rivalry between the two British drivers on the circuit. Between them Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have bagged the last two driver’s championships. Last season they were on opposing teams, this year they are united at McLaren-Mercedes. Of course being teammates will not stop the rivalry, and now the world will find out who truly is the better driver, as both will be competing in identical cars.

Any great sports story requires a plucky underdog. For the 2010 season this has to be US F1. The sport of F1 has never really been huge in the USA. Why this has been the case has been the subject of some debate. Possibly it is that American motorsport fans don’t like seeing cars driving very fast around anything other than a perfect oval. Possibly it has been the lack of Americans to get behind the competition. Poor US F1 have set out to change this, but have been unable to get any kind of car ready in time for the start of the season. They are unlikely to get any kind of fairy tale ending to the season, but it will be interesting to see how they do once they actually start, and whether they can hold it together for 2011.

So that is the cast of characters and some of the main plot elements, but the drama that is F1 would be nothing without its jaw-dropping, globe-spanning backdrops. The first race of the season was in Middle Eastern Kingdom of Bahrain. The track looked like it supplied some good racing, but construction equipment visible gave it a half-finished appearance. Certainly it lacked the wow-factor supplied by the other Arabian fixture in the calendar.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was an outstanding visual feast last year, with a unique day-night format and some amazing use of lighting on the grandstands. This year it is to be the climax of the season, the very last race. It may very well be that the next Formula One world champion is anointed at Abu Dhabi. That is and the end of the season though, for now the teams, the cars, drivers and all, will have to catch their flights to Australia and set their eyes on the Melbourne Grand Prix.

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