Formula 1 Insight

The Enjoyment of Formula One
Oh dear, I seem to be making a habit of disagreeing with Ben Evans who writes the occasional piece for F1 Fanatic. It was only a short while ago that I tried very hard, but failed in the end, not to say something about his dismissal of Scott Speed in the article entitled Bull (snappy title, I admit).


Today Ben has posted an article on the tedium of this year's racing, just at the moment when I have become heartily sick of our constant whining about that very subject. Yes, I am as a guilty as anyone else on that score, I know. But it really is time that we recognized that there is nothing we can do about it.

To listen to us must be to wonder why we class ourselves as F1 enthusiasts at all; all we ever seem to do is complain and grumble about the state of the racing. And today I have had enough, especially as last night I read something that refreshed my love for F1, instead of just raising my frustration level.

It's that man Patrick, of course. On his excellent blog, Motorsports Ramblings, he has gone to the trouble of providing a list of all his previous posts (rather like the Contents on my own blog - hmmm) and I was digging around in there when I came across two gems: Why I'm a motorsport fan - the first in an occasional series and Why I'm a motorsports fan - The second in an occasional series. And that made me think about my own reasons for remaining an F1 fan, in spite of all the problems we list again and again.

I should stand up now and confess that, in spite of my rants against politics in F1, I get a perverse form of enjoyment from it all. Although I know just how bad they make the sport look from the outside, all these wrangles and arguments and court cases are wonderful fodder for endless debate between the insiders. If given the chance, yes, I would put a stop to them forever but, in the same way that I now feel a pang of nostalgia for the demise of the Bus Stop chicane at Spa, I would miss their convoluted and speculation-inspiring drama.

And this is just one example of the many facets of F1 that keep us watching, no matter how predictable and boring the racing becomes. It's a package, you see, and the true F1 fan has signed on for years of constant work, steep learning curves in arcane disciplines like aerodynamics and tire technology, dust-inhaling ventures into internet archives in search of some long-forgotten fact that proves an argument, interminable discussions about the relative merits of one driver over another, lonely hours spent reading dissertations on the reasons behind some engineering tweak that has given one team an infinitesimal advantage over all the others, the need to keep up with the continuous change that is the only constant in the sport, the commitment to memory of the names and characters of every member of the teams and so on and so on.

Whether he or she realizes it or not, the F1 enthusiast is a very special animal, a fact frequently missed by Mr Bernard Ecclestone in his quest for ever-growing viewing figures. There are those who come and go, unable to find entertainment in the enormous learning experience that is essential to the enjoyment of F1. These form a rotating outer fringe around the hard core of dedicated enthusiasts that stay through all the twists and turns of the sport. And the survival of F1 is dependent upon the hard core, not upon those who come to see what the fuss is about and leave to find their entertainment in simpler pastimes.

Of course, an important part of the experience is the right to pontificate at length upon what is wrong with F1. There is even a guilty pleasure in being one of that select group who know enough to be able to put forward proposals for improving the game. But it would be good if we were also to remember why we are watching, that our enjoyment stems from factors ranging far beyond the races themselves. Yes, the race is the central focus, the hinge upon which everything else turns, and of course we should desire that it remain a pure expression of competition between the best that humankind can produce. Without the surrounding learning experience, however, the race can be little more than cars buzzing around in circles.

So let us have our gripes and moans about the state of the sport. But let us also celebrate the depth and breadth of the world that F1 gives us. Thank you, Patrick, for reminding me that damn, I love this sport.


Alex Andronov

I have also posted a piece talking about improvements that can be made to F1. Boredom. Sorry about that. I agree though that we F1 types do have this incredible love of complaining about something that we can't stop watching. Some would call it hypocritical, I would put it this way: We want to take part in the quest for excellence that F1 essentially is, we can't design a new front wing or increase fuel efficiency, but we can help improve the show, and that's what we're all trying to do.
Date Added: 30/08/2007

Hey, I love complaining too, Alex - it was just that Patrick reminded me that we need to look on the bright side occasionally. ;)

Very good point about being part of the show. We are so powerless to change anything that it helps to be able to suggest ways to improve things. And sometimes it might happen that those who do have the power change something in the way that we suggested and then we can say, "Hey look - Max reads my blog!" :D
Date Added: 30/08/2007

Thnks for pointing out the contents page - I hadn't noticed that before. Must take a look around...

You're certainly a good deal more prolific than I am when it comes to posts!
Date Added: 30/08/2007

As you pointed out in one of your early posts, Patrick, you're in the game as a hobby; I'm in it to earn my crust and so I have to produce, whether I feel like it or not. But your posts are easily good enough to get you a job in journalism anytime you want it - every post I read in the Archives was giving me ideas and making me want to write my take on what you were saying. Great writing and a clear eye - what more could you want?
Date Added: 30/08/2007

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