It is the one thing I cannot reconcile in my life – my worry over the environment and my love of F1 racing. Cars going around at unthought of speeds burning up litres and litres of petrol for entertainment seems ridiculous when we talk about climate change. And as much as I worry about the world I am leaving for my grandchildren, that much I also love about F1. So, for now, I am going to have to live with it. The SMART for Two that sits on our driveway and has been driven now for 13 years at the cost of only $2400 for tires and regular maintenance and gets 70 mpg – well, maybe that makes up for it. On the other hand, that car is also a product of the testing done on F1 cars. First, people look at the SMART and figure you can’t get anything in it. Untrue. There are only two seats, but they are full-size Mercedes sedan seats. And it is safe…although no one believes that either. Mercedes really needed to do a better PR campaign. The car bounces if you get hit and it has a Kevlar cage like in F1. If any vehicle is safe, it is just as reliable as the next. Unfortunately, our family knows that cars are not safe…..
But back to the race. Gosh, golly. I think I have the same seats as I had in 1997. Great view when they come down, slowing into the hairpin and getting ready to speed up for the straight. It seems much too long ago that I was there with my son, Cris. What fun we had that weekend. James Brown was doing the entertaining and we even – how this happened remains a mystery – also got to sit at his table for a while when he was taking a break. That year the race had to be stopped on lap 54 when Olivier Panis had an incredible crash breaking both of his legs if I remember correctly and the Canadian, Jacques Villeneuve crashed out early and walked entirely off the track in a bit of a pout. Michael Schumacher won. It was great to see him race. I only wish I had seen Ayrton Senna and Alan Proust in competition.
The 1997 Suzuka Grand Prix at Suzuka, Japan was another win for Schumacher who, on this last race of the season, won the driver’s championship by one point over Jacques Villeneuve who actually was on pole but finished 5th. It was a different story the following year when Mika Hakkinen won his first world’s championship at Suzuka driving for McLaren Mercedes West. It’s my favourite track, and both times I was so lucky to sit on the start-finish line. Suzuka is a bit like a big circus. OK. Everyone calls F1 a circus…but really, there is literally a Ferris wheel on the grounds during race weekend, and the most incredible Japanese fast food served in the stalls. If you love F1, try and get to Suzuka one day.
Speaking of trying to get to a race…head’s up. If you go to Gootickets.com, you can pay for tickets to any competition on their monthly payment plan. Their offices are in Monaco. Best to do your research on the stands and look at the layout of the track. Sitting in a fast straight will cost you less, but you don’t get to see so much. Personally, that is why I don’t like the start-finish lines…best to see them slowing down at a hairpin and then heading off to the straight. And every track has huge monitors so you can see the leaders on all parts of the track. Take a hat or your head will get scorched unless it is raining-. Go for the weekend, take in the events, make it part of your holiday. Enjoy the smell of high octane petrol!