51. Formula 1

51. Formula 1

I made another dream come true – I have seen the Formula 1 race in Montreal!

I have been watching Formula 1 since 1998 when I was 10 years old. I remember me and my childhood friend stop everything we were doing and watch the race. I clearly remember 1998 season, Mika Hakkinen won his first title fighting hard Michael Schumacher, they had amazing teammates, David Coulthard and Eddie Invine. I have been a Schumacher fan for all the time and have always wanted to see him and other drivers race myself, not on TV.

Those days are long gone, and in recent years Formula 1 was not as interesting to watch as before (due to stupid rule changes), but a race in Canada has always been one of my favorites and I could not have missed an opportunity to see it myself!

Some fans are really hardcore!

The race weekend starts on Friday with practice session, then qualifying session on Saturday and finally a race on Sunday. But besides that, there is something interesting for a fan when F1 drivers are not competing – support races, sponsor’s events, etc.

As this was my first ever F1 race, and because ticket price is sky-high, I bought ticket only for Sunday. So I missed some of the action, but it’s okay. I wanted to get to track in the morning, but what was my surprise when at 8 am the metro was packed with fans! (race starts at 14.00). As I later figured out, if you are a holder of a general admission ticket, you’d better come early. Some people came at night to occupy best spots.

Formula 1600 support race

A couple of minutes after I arrived the first of the supporting races has started, Formula-1600. It was quite interesting with a lot of action on track. Then there were Ferrari Challenge and Porsche Cup races.

Porsche Cup support race
Ferrari Challenge cars getting ready to start

For those not interested in support races, there were a lot of things to see inside the track. Most of all I liked Canadian Army’s exposition of armored vehicle and jet fighter cabin (I even got inside!)

Then there was a driver’s parade. Very nice event, drivers make a lap on the tack in old convertible car waving to fans. 30 minutes before the race started, cars started to appear on track and take their positions on start grid. They are so small! And loud! Then the was a ceremony of race opening¬† with traditional National Anthem and jet fighters fly-over. Then the red lights on start grid turned off and the race began!

Driver’s parade
RCAF jet fighters fly-over. Those machines are extremely powerful, the Earth was trembling as they flew over our heads.

Some people say that racing is better watched on TV then on track. I strongly disagree. I think it is like football or any other sport – you can see much more details on TV, but you will never be able to feel the atmosphere and what it really looks like! And there is a lot to see! First, I could never imagine that cars could be that fast. It seemed like the laws of physics don’t work for those guys! I was at track’s slowest corner – the Casino Hairpin, where drivers slow down from about 300 km/h to 60 km/h, and then accelerate again with full throttle. It all happens so fast! It takes F1 cars just 1.5-s seconds and less then 100m to brake at this corner and then a second or two to accelerate and go out of sight completely! The race is super intense and much more dynamic then it seems on TV! And so is for many other aspects. For example Red Bull and Ferrari cars look rather bleak on TV, but they are super bright and attractive on a track! Then there is a smell of racing. When you watch the race from track, you can smell the odor of tire smoke and exhaust of 1.6-liter turbocharged v6 engines burning high-octane gas at over 15,000 rpm. Then the sound! Motor racing is really loud!

Sebastian Vettel chasing Lewis Hamilton

The show was amazing, the defending world champion Lewis Hamilton won the race in interesting battle against Sebastian Vettel. Although Formula 1 is really expensive and not so exciting as it used to be, I can totally understand why millions watch it on TV and tens of thousands come to see it on tack, it is an amazing spectacle of technology, people and emotions. I will definitely come back next year!

P.S. Next time I will not buy a general admission ticket, it’s better to pay for a seat,¬† see more and have better angle for photos!

Title photo by f1fanatic.co.uk.


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