For many years I watched Formula One as a kid, the Senna years in particular but as the sport became more technologically advanced I slowly lost the enjoyment that I got from Formula One.
The 1997 season was the season I finally lost interest, blatant cheating by Micheal Schumacher cost Damon Hill his first world championship. I couldn’t understand at the time (I was 14) that crashing in to a fellow driver on purpose was a legitimate and excepted way to win the title, I guess thats the way it was but this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened Senna vs Prost was a prime example of cheating at its best.
Fast forward to early 2003 bored one weekend at home with nothing to do I decided it was maybe time to give F1 a go again, the regulations had changed to make the championship more TV friendly and with schumacher dominating the previous season, it was seen as the time for someone else to win. The excitement had started to come back, I always followed the UK drivers but for me David Coulthard (although a great driver) was too boring and that a new up and coming driver called Jenson Button might finally be that cool/good-looking/gentleman racer type that would hark back to the days of James Hunt.
Over the years as Jenson made his way through the ranks, I would tune in and then tune back out of Formula one as the continual Schumacher domination raged on but when the 2009 season came about I thought at long last F1 would be the sport I once loved as a kid.
Slick tyres returned, cost cutting to team testing was implemented and KERS was introduced, the championship was anyone’s to win as the regulation changes created havoc in the offseason with teams not being able to fully test their creations. Jenson Button had been driving for Honda in the previous season but now the team was to be rebranded Team Brawn (named after team manager and owner Ross Brawn) The beginning of the season was pretty much a clean sweep for Brawn and Button, the middle to end of the season started to slow down as the other teams started to catch up with Brawn.
Button was the eventual winner of the world championship, I remember the day so well because not only did a british driver win the championship but it also reignited my passion for F1 which I had had as a kid!
Up until now I had only ever watched F1 on the TV but when i planned my trip the US I had noticed that it coincided with the US F1 round. Seeing as Austin is just a 3 hour drive from where my folks live, I thought it would be rude not to at least try to go there. Luckily for me, my Dad surprised me for my 30th birthday and got us weekend passes!
Unfortunately the season was already wrapped up with Sebastian Vettell winning the championship in India, there were still places to be had though, the wonderful thing about F1 is that finishing in the top 10 constructors yields some very valuable testing revenue for the less fortunate teams.
The season for me hadn’t been all that exciting and to be honest I was starting to lose that feeling of love for the sport but as soon as I got trackside that pretty much slipped away. I had asked people who had been before “what is it like?, Is it loud?, Do you get to see much?” they all laughed at me and said “just you wait”. I now know why that was their reply, never and I mean NEVER have I seen and heard something soo loud and soo awesome all at the same time. I can’t describe the sound, its unlike anything I heard before and I like to think I have heard a lot of different cars/bikes when I have been trackside.
Another thing I worried about was being bored, you know what some events can be like and after watching 3 or 4 cars go by you just wanna go home. However F1 isn’t like that, the constant noise of the cars and TV screen action makes the minutes fly by and when the latest F1 cars aren’t going round the Vintage guys are out rocking the track.
The Ferrari 458 Challenge also follows the F1 circus, I would have loved to be out there in one of those 458’s it looked awesome fun and must have been a buzz flying round the track in front of 115,000 people on race day!
In the end Mr Vettel did his thing once again and got over the line first, the race was pretty much a non event with only one slight incident at the beginning of the race to cause any disruption but it didn’t matter the/my bug for F1 was back!
With the race at an end it was time to hit the track, with us being at Turn 19 we were in the best place to get onto the track and round to the main pit straight. I had always marvelled at the fact that the minute the podium is over, the F1 circus starts to pack up and I wasn’t wrong. The pits were alive with forklift trucks and storage boxes for the teams to pack their pits into.
The cars sit waiting to be checked over by the officials.
As I wandered up the straight I noticed a crowd gathering near the fence, I moved closer to spot this man
The man that I started this post with, the man who had been robbed of the title as those years ago Damon Hill. I knew exactly who’s autograph I needed at that minute and with the help of my brother (who is 6 ft 7in) we managed to get to the front and pass my programme to Mr Hill who obliged kindly. I thought it was the best way to end my F1 weekend and quite weird how I had watched all those years ago nearly in tears as he watched his F1 title slip away.
I guess its just the way it is and there is always someone who is in tears but I just wonder who will be the happy and who will be the sad one’s next season? Here’s hoping he could be British!