Forget what you know: F1 is the best sport in the world

Brazil Grand Prix over Barclay Premiership any day mate

One question I am asked pretty regularly is why I watch F1. In fact, I’m pretty certain it is the response I get from the majority of people when reveal my Sunday plan is to watch the Grand Prix live. The only response going through my mind is why wouldn’t you watch it?

It’s not just for beer-bellied blokes

A common misconception about F1 is that its exclusively for men who remember money prior to decimalisation (1971 for anyone born after that) and who only shop at shops like Jacamo.  I know  when I was younger, I thought the same, but crucially this is not the case.

Maybe there was a time where it was less suited to a younger, student based audience. However, in 2016, over 70 per cent of all F1 drivers are under 30 and last year the youngest ever F1 winner, Max Verstappen, was just 18 years old.  F1 strives to open up to the younger population, shown via the recent interaction fans can have after a race to vote their Driver of the Day.

It’s exciting

F1 has to be one of the most exciting forms of sport. All motorsport is fantastic; I’m not ruling out bike racing such as MotoGP, nor lower formulas in the progression to F1. However F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. The excitement shown on track action that has the ability to mesmerise the viewer. In all honesty, Sunday’s tend to be viewed as the ‘quiet’ day of the week. People don’t get properly dressed, work hours are shorter, and a huge Sunday roast is consumed followed by a leisurely snooze. On these quieter days, F1 is something we should embrace.

Over-excited that I was a few metres from my childhood hero!!

Over-excited that I was a few metres from my childhood hero!!

This year the title showdown, between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, went down to the wire in the last race in Abu Dhabi. This marks the third year that Rosberg has been chasing the title, and this year we watched his maturity on track; finishing either 1st or 2nd in 14 out of 21 races. To have watched this battle, to have seen Rosberg finally beat his teammate, has been incredible viewing. Could Antiques Roadshow compete with that?

F1 constantly changes

In terms of regulations, and with what driver is at which team, F1 always keeps changing. Next year there will be substantial changes, such as wider tyres, an increased allowance in the total weight of the cars, and potentially improved sound from the engines. Such changes do have the potential to change which team is the quickest, and to end the dominance seen by Mercedes in the past 3 years. Speculation about what these changes will do is at the very heart of why I like F1. This sense of not really not knowing what will happen continues weekend to weekend as the season unfolds, demonstrated by Red Bull’s resurgence this year in becoming Mercedes’ closest competitor.

Driver changes also peak my interest. This year we witnessed mid-season, (an extremely unusual call), Red Bull promoting Max Verstappen up to their team, from their sister team Toro Rosso. The result of doing so was phenomenal. The race craft of Verstappen is incredible to watch, with drives such as his extraordinary comeback in the wet in Brazil being a personal highlight. In fact, he won his first race for the team, the very weekend that pundits (and myself) speculated if Red Bull had made the right call to promote him. The skill he has shown this year has been reason enough alone to watch F1.

own photo of Max and Jos Verstappen probably discussing Max's chances for the Championship in 2017

18 year old Max Verstappen in the car- it makes me feel old…

There are great personalities in F1

The people we value as our sports heroes tend to have a strong personality. F1 is most definitely full of big personalities, whether that be in the form of Bernie Ecclestone and his unusual, rather frank tone, Lewis Hamilton being unafraid to speak his mind over the team radio, or Rosberg outright admitting at the end of the season the severe pressure he has felt placed under. These drivers are relatable, for example they share a passion, like many of us, for social media. Lewis Hamilton faced scrutiny for playing around on Snapchat during the Japanese GP press conference. In fact stories about Hamilton and his social escapades are endless and they’re part of the fabric that helps to make F1 a sport to keep watching.

Its multicultural and internationalist

F1 has to be one of the most exciting, ever-changing sports I have ever come across. I love the ability sport has in general to unite us. Take for example the UEFA Euro’s ability to unite Europe, during a time in which Brexit was announced. F1 has just this same ability; it is a multicultural sport, with teams and drivers from a variety of nations. In fact, our tendencies to support our own nation are less apparent in F1 compared to other sports; a positive thing, reflecting the diverse array of cultures we should embrace. For example, my family are Ferrari supporters and I myself am a Felipe Massa fan. I’m neither Italian, nor Brazilian, but F1 has never made me worry about defining myself through my nationality. Instead, I’ve been too mesmerised by the incredible overtakes, wins and heartbreak endured from watching this amazing sport.