It was exciting, but it was a sort of concocted level of emotion – akin to a when a movie’s dreary musical score forces the sweat from your eyes
Watching the grand prix yesterday, I never felt like I was watching motor racing; I felt like I was watching a Hollywood thriller. It was ‘edge of your seat action’ you could say, but for all the wrong reasons.
When the initial start sequence was aborted, I thought to myself ‘My goodness, should they even be racing? How about we just abort this whole thing, do some more testing and start the season when all 22 cars can actually make it off the grid in one piece?’
Seeing the two Marussia’s and Grosjean’s Lotus starting from the pitlane was almost comical. It’s as if they had built the cars the night before, pushed them onto the track and prayed to the heavens that they would somehow be able to complete a 57 lap race at speed. And I suppose in some respects, that isn’t too far from the truth.
Now I’m not sure this is exactly what the sweeping rule changes for the new season intended – unless the FIA wanted 22 time bombs with unknown fuse lengths to race each other at 200mph. The element of uncertainty has definitely made F1 more interesting, but at what cost?
Steve Matchett, color commentator for NBC Sports and former Benetton F1 mechanic, wondered aloud at one point during the race: “How stressful must this be for all the engineers.” I shared his sentiment because even I was stressed out watching from my comfy leather sofa, feet kicked up and all. Every time they cut to an onboard shot, I expected to hear the telltale sound of engine failure, sending another poor chap to early retirement (although I’ll admit, the way the new engines sound, I can’t tell if they’re broken or operating properly).
And what about the drivers? It must be so disconcerting to go racing not knowing if your car is going to last the distance. For them I guess it doesn’t really matter if the car blows up – it’s not on their dime. But having that doubt in the back of your mind must affect your psyche at least a bit.
I’ll end with a quote from Jurassic Park, from a scene in which Ray Arnold, the park’s chief engineer is consoling owner John Hammond about all the teething problems plaguing his attraction: “It could have been worse John. A lot worse.”
About the Author: Daniel Kim is a graduate of Coventry University’s Automotive Journalism Master’s program. He has worked at Ferrari North Europe, Evo magazine, Autocar and Formula Drift.