Sunday, 7 June 2009

My F1 Story

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted a blog entry, and sorry again for being so lazy that this entry is a duplication of what I posted on last week, but it works quite well here too:

My Formula 1 story starts with a young girl who thinks that motorsport is boring and very annoying when her dad is watching it on the TV instead of something she wants to watch. That little girl turned into an F1 addict.

On the 1st May 1994, when I was only 14 years of age, I was spending Sunday at my grandmother’s house, as I did most weekends. I did not like Formula 1, but it was usually on the TV because my Nan liked to see the start and the finish of a race. I usually sat there doing my home work or something more creative. So, on that dark day in F1’s past I saw the race and the events that unfolded in one of Formula 1 greatest tragedies. This had quite an effect on me.

I remember that day being quite warm and sunny, and after my Dad came to collect me and take me home later in the afternoon, I went and sat by myself in the back garden on a tyre ring that hung as a swing from an apple tree. Thus stationed, I contemplated the events of Imola. I came to the conclusion that Formula 1 was stupid and dangerous, people had died… and what for? Some silly sport? It was totally unnecessary and a waste of life. I just didn’t get why the drivers wanted to race when such things could happen.

By the end of 1994 I was becoming addicted to F1.

It started not too long after the tragedies of Imola. One of my school friends had a bit of a thing for Mika Hakkinen, so when the race was on I would pay a bit more attention to note how he had done so that I would know whether I could tease her about it on Monday morning in class. The rest of the country was getting obsessed with Damon Hill.

As I watched I began to notice that it wasn’t Hill who was the stand-out driver, but a young German by the name of Michael Schumacher. He was clearly the better driver, but because Hill was British and Schumacher was German, the UK fans were all for Damon and all against Michael. I had never really been one for watching sport and had therefore never cared who won and the whole supporting someone just because they’re British passed me by. It seemed to me that the better driver deserved the support, so I secretly started to root for Schumacher.

Before long I was getting up early to watch races live. I remember at the time of the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix I was on a school trip to Paris, but I made sure to wake up early so that I could watch the race on French TV. My best friend and room-mate wasn’t exactly pleased! By 1996, when Michael has moved to Ferrari, I refused to spend a race day without wearing something emblazoned with Ferrari.

Formula 1 had always been about Michael Schumacher for me, and I had supported and defended him through the good times and the bad without fail. I worried about what would happen to my relationship with F1 when he retired. The day he announced his retirement I was at Gatwick airport getting ready to go on holiday. We had listened to the grand prix in the car, but by the time of the post-race interviews I was stood outside departures with my little personal radio, my head in Italy whilst people bustled past.

2007 was a bit strange for me, adjusting to a Schumi-less F1. I was still supporting Ferrari, but had never been much of a Raikkonen fan (it was a McLaren thing), so it was odd cheering the team rather than the driver. 2008 was much better as I liked Massa and the Brazilian grand Prix was probably one of the most emotional I’ve watched. By this time I also had an interest in the fortunes of Honda, as my husband starting working there in 2007, and I also liked Barrichello from his years at Ferrari. Being at Silverstone in the pouring rain (we were in an uncovered grand stand) and seeing Rubens come third in such an awful car was rather special.

My long support of Schumacher also gave me great admiration for Ross Brawn, so when it was announced that he was joining Honda I was very excited for what he could do for the team. It seemed so wrong that he may not get that chance when Honda pulled the plug at the end of 2008. The winter was very strange, with so many different rumours, and then supposed deadline after supposed deadline passed. The night that the Brawn GP announcement was made was quite a late one. I had stayed up waiting for the news, and then when it finally came I was too excited to sleep! I think my bouncy excitement the next day at work was probably a bit on the annoying side for my work colleagues. And Brawn GP just got better and better, as we all know.

So now I am still a Ferrari fan, but one who keeps getting very annoyed with them for somewhat losing the plot so far this season, but also a Brawn fan. However, it all links back to seeing that young German driver beating Damon Hill back in 1994.

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