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Formula 1: why you should be watching!

By Korrie Stanley

“The history of F1 is an epic narrative of heroism and technical ingenuity, interwoven with tragedy, politics and greed. Emasculated by the nanny-state culture and top-down regulation of the modern world, the spectre of death no longer hangs over the sport, but it has developed into the most competitive technological arms-race on the planet.” Gordan McCabe.

With the F1 season about to kick into gear I’m here to tell you why you are missing out on one of the world’s greatest sport (yes it is a sport) and why it isn’t just people driving around a circle.

Miles in length, and split into three sectors, F1 race tracks are filled with myriad elevation changes, chicanes, straights and different corners of varying speeds all designed to push the cars to their absolute limit. Gravel traps and barriers wait hungrily on the outskirts of the track ready to embrace those who let their concentration waiver at 200 miles an hour. They span the globe from the night time deserts of Abu Dhabi, and the home of Italian motorsport in Monza, to a converted Second World War aircraft base in England and a small artificial Island in Canada. All are steeped in their own history, and some have corners such as the mighty Eau Rouge legendary enough to have a name that inspires both excitement and fear. These modern coliseums are where championships are made and dreams have been destroyed.

The cars are forged using only the most advanced technology. Their creation restricted by a tight web of rules and undertaken by teams of engineers in their hundreds, each car is designed in the hope that it alone will deliver glory. With tens of millions having gone into their development and hundreds of thousands of man hours, they are works of engineering art that literally warp and harness the very air around them. Throughout a season these thoroughbreds are continually honed and upgraded, pieces added like gentle strokes of a paint brush, searching to improve upon perfection. The piercing screams of their engines destroy the ears and exalt the soul, a siren’s warning of the unbridled power that approaches.

Each driver is a superb world class athlete, their bodies and muscles pummelled mercilessly by G forces created by the extreme speeds of the cars, the forces acting on their neck alone equivalent to that of another human being. With an average heart rate of 180 BPM for 90 minutes, no other sport even compares with the demands put on the heart over such a sustained period of time. The concentration and focus needed are beyond anything else. The car must be danced on the edge of adhesion and grip, the eyes trained to spot braking markers amidst the landscape hurtling past. Each decision, each precise movement of the steering wheel, are based on a variety of assumptions, callously discarded as the track continually changes and evolves every lap. Respect and precision are paramount, as the drivers navigate each other and duel wheel to wheel, in the knowledge that a collision at these speeds means the end of a race, injury or death. They have but one aim; get to the chequered flag first.

Away from the track the teams tap away at computers, analysing the past, assessing the present and calculating the future. Continually drip feeding information to the drivers and deciding when they pit, they move the cars on the track like pieces on a chessboard. Above them all like a shadow is the omnipotent FIA the governing body. Ruled by self-interest, like puppet masters they control and enforce the rules, their aim simply to ensure the audience is entertained and the money keeps flowing, leaving very little room for rigid notions of fairness and justice. Make no mistake this is not just people driving around in a circle…. This is Formula 1.

Note: The next raced the formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix will be held on Sunday 15th April at 07.00am and repeated at 13:00pm.

King's College London. Award-winning student newspaper, a platform to share your story, and a publication that holds entities accountable when no one else dares.

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