Looking Forward to the 2010 Formula1 Season


What Happens When the Past Provides Excellent Material

12:09am EST — The following article was first posted on August 8, 2009, and serves as a reminder why fans the world over enjoy Formula1, what was happening in the middle of the 2009 season, and how much racing stirs the blood.

The past week has been one of the most exciting and newsworthy weeks in the recent era of Formula 1.  Still, I woke up this Sunday morning out of habit at 7:00 am prepared to watch live timing and scoring and American SPEEDtv coverage of a race (a. forgetting that there was no race this weekend, b. thanking the fact that there was no longer a tape delay in my coverage, and c. cursing the time difference that requires me to watch most races too early in the morning).

Instead I was stuck with Internet news feeds telling me the same five things: 1. Michael Schumacher is testing a Ferrari/driving a Ferrari in Valencia/being investigated for using slicks while testing the 2007 Ferrari (GP2 or Pukka tires?  your choice, FIA); 2. Nelson Piquet, Jr. has been sacked by Renault; 3. a Concorde Agreement has been/will be signed for through December 2012; 4. BMW will quit F1 at the end of the season, but Peter Sauber and Dr. Mario Theissen are looking to “do a Brawn,” possibly; and 5. Ferrari drivers crash but are doing ok (Raikkonen’s rollover in the WRC Rally Finland and Massa’s Hungarian incident, from which he is recovering nicely…and, apparently, showering.  Good to know.).  Also included were interesting tidbits about various drivers’ vacation plans, Stefan GP’s fight against the FIA over Cosworth engines, Jaime Alguersuari’s Formula Renault win, and Renault’s Valencia ban.  Granted, I’ve been talking about the same things ad nauseum.

[Note: Schumacher did not return to a race drive in the 2009 F1 season, though speculation currently runs rampant that he might do so at the new Mercedes team, Piquet had given testimony to the FIA that he participated in a race-fixing scheme at Renault before this article was published, and an odd Middle Eastern consortium called QADBAK bought the BMW share.]

Still, amidst all the politics and gossip and Machiavellian maneuverings, I think its important to remember why we watch the sport that the intrigue often overshadows.

Excitement.  Speed.  Danger.  Lifestyle.  Poetry in Motion.  An hour or two spent worrying about someone else’s life and not our own.  Combat (generally) without bloodshed.  Show business.  Entertainment.

There’s the sheer joy of watching beauty in sport like the clean lines and often sweeping arcs required to maintain the perfect lap in qualifying.  Or the dichotomy of very fast cars driven by very fast men, bouncing off curbing and Armco barriers and each other in Monaco, a bastion of leisure.  Then there is the elegance and efficiency of a car and engine combination that slices through air, with only a bit of slide for drama.

Speaking of drama, where else does one find changing conditions that bring a championship down to thirty seconds after the winner has already finished the distance?  Then there’s the fact that, while being extremely well compensated for their time and name, most of the drivers we watch had the dreams of winning as a child we might have had.  “We didn’t race go-karts as kids dreaming of being rich, we dreamt of being the world champion,” as Jenson Button said after winning in Australia.  They’re real people, in real life, not a movie; even if what really happens would have been tossed out of Hollywood as simply too impossible to be put on film.

It is the impossible task to be completed: finishing a rigorous season, winning enough points to be proclaimed the best in the world.  While the beauty is in the win, it is also in the effort.  The attempt is all. The bravado and skill required to play is sometimes enough.  Though never enough to finish first. It is that determination we viewers sometimes wish to apply to our own lives.  Or the personalities that make the beauty more humorous.  There’s always a Michael Schumacher or Aryton Senna willing to push a few people out of the way to get to the front.  Mark Webber will throw a few curses at the television cameras, just to see if the ratings people can catch them in time.  Polarizing figures give someone to cheer for, or root against.

Let’s take a moment to remember why we watch the races themselves, the drivers who participate in them, and the engineers and mechanics who build and maintain the machines that make it all possible.

Now, since we won’t be seeing any of that for another three weeks, let’s fill our time with what we can.  Have you heard that Jenson Button just participated in the London Triathlon with two of his race engineers?

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