There is something to be said about the subtle artistry of racing. A sport so boisterous and daring, yet meticulously methodical, the art of racing is one that requires a discerning eye to appreciate.
The initial impression to the unfamiliar eye is that racing is just cars circling a track for a number of laps—a sense of repetitive uneventfulness. But as the onlooker peers closer, they can appreciate racing for the unique story of each race.
Behind each race is a plethora of twists and turns, the art of racing is hidden within its context.
Racing’s highest level
Iconic drivers, historic tracks, and euphoric moments have placed Formula 1 (F1) racing at the pinnacle of motorsports. Governed by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, 10 of the world’s most prestigious car manufacturers compete on the grid, each represented by two cars and two drivers. The year-long competition consists of 21 Grands Prix on majestic tracks across the globe. Taking place in the planet’s greatest cities, each race is a weekend-long sporting spectacle like no other. On race weekends, the competition lights up its host city. From famous celebrities and artists in attendance to the posh concerts and parties, the glamorous atmosphere does nothing but capitalize on the grandiose nature of each F1 race.
Every racing event requires a vehicle—one that matches the sense of lucrativity surrounding the event. The F1 racing cars are some of the quickest land-based pieces of engineering. Using the most advanced automotive technology, records far surpassing 300 kph are a norm for these automobiles.
However, in the cockpits of these feats of engineering are the true icons of the sport. With 20 drivers preparing to battle at break-neck speeds, mere seconds could flip the narrative between victory and defeat. The drivers exhibit their mastery of the craft, all in their campaign to claim the chequered flag.
Two honors are awarded in each F1 season, which is why it is regarded as one of the world’s most complex sports. Throughout a series of Grand Prix, points are awarded based on the results of each race, which are then used to determine the victors of both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. Because placement determines the amount of points a driver earns for both himself and his team, racing becomes both an individual and team sport at the same time, which adds to the unfolding drama.
The thrill of a race
F1 is racing at its finest. As the five red lights above the starting line flash one by one—a silent countdown for the race start—spectators sit at the edge of their seats. Hearts thud in anticipation until finally, a familiar David Croft exclamation bellows in the air, “lights out and away we go!”
The cars fly from their starting positions with each driver fighting to break away from the pack. A myriad of action ensues early on in a F1 race. A collection of wheel-to-wheel action and cars pouncing on cars are usual sights within the first few laps. With the slightest margin of error, drivers need to strike the perfect balance between aggression and caution, and in these moments of suspense, fans feel most alive. Fans almost empathize with the driver, understanding nearly every ounce of tension the driver must be feeling on the track.
Races, however, are not constantly packed with action. When the excitement takes a pause, fans can sit back in their seats and watch—but they can never relax. In F1, anything can happen at any given moment. One memorable occassion was the dramatic Monaco Grand Prix in 1988, where racing legend Ayrton Senna led the race for 67 laps, and was practically guaranteed the win with his 55-second lead. He ended up crashing into the guard-rail and not finishing the race at all. It is in this spellbinding unrest where the sport finds its life, and it is what makes F1 so riveting.
After close to two hours of nonstop racing at intense speeds, the drivers marvel at the sight of the checkered flag that marks the conclusion of yet another battle. The podium celebration is one of F1’s most famous sights. Absolutely elated to have bested 17 other racers, the top three drivers and the winning constructor shower each other in champagne. But once the dust settles, the drivers prepare to travel to a new part of the world to duke it out once again.
The grandeur, tension, and pleasure that F1 draws is an electrifying experience, capturing spectators with its enduring magnetism. Once the eyes understand, it is a sport that demands attention like no other.