Sport Motor sport

The Opera of Formula One

Written by Big Jim

I had the joy of watching a replay of the 2013 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix recently. I was flicking through channels and two hours later I had watched the entire race and thoroughly enjoyed it. In the past I had made the mistake of watching a lot of F1 when Michael Schumacher was at his best, which was fairly predictable and boring.

I now realize that my methodology for watching and enjoying F1 was totally wrong. You need to immerse yourself in the whole sport, not just the race that develops in front of your eyes. The production quality of the coverage is fantastic and adds to the theatre. This is not WWE wrestling – the scripts aren’t written prior to the race – but it is a soap opera nonetheless.

The F1 authorities have created a lot of rules regarding what the cars can and can’t do. Apparently if you finish a race with one gearbox you must use that in the next race, but if you don’t finish the race you can put in a new one. I didn’t know this (and I don’t really care to be truthful) but it all adds to the show. Are the cars on two or three stop strategies? Are they on soft, medium or hard tires? Will the pit crew give you four new tires in under 2.5 seconds? Will you incur a drive through penalty for going through the pits above the 80km/h speed limit?

Even more appealing than the actual racing is the relationships between drivers, teams and the governing body. Who is the number one driver for the team? Is the number two driver going to be ordered to sacrifice himself for his teammate? Is the number two driver going to listen to these orders if they are given? Do the teammates hate each other (usually yes)? What drivers hate other drivers from other teams for something that happened in a previous race? Who is going to be driving which car next year? The list goes on and on.

I have always thought motor sport lacked entertainment value. Unless you were turned on by really fast engines, rich playboys having temper tantrums or burning rubber, I struggled to see the appeal. After all, the cars just go around and around and around. If you have shared my ignorance in the past then maybe it is time to look at this sport through different glasses and you might even enjoy killing a few hours watching a race.