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An Indian making the most of life in sports-crazed Melbourne

Far Pavilions

The F1 experience

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

If the sporting scene in India was made into a Bollywood movie, cricket would be the hero and every other sport would be reduced to bit roles. If Sania Mirza’s gutsy exploits on court are making a case for tennis to get its share of glory, Narain Karthikeyan’s debut at the Melbourne Grand Prix and his improved performance at Sepang has shifted the spotlight to the F1 circuit. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone must be mighty pleased with Karthikeyan for almost single-handedly propelling F1 racing into becoming a more well-known sport in India.

Getting excited about the Melbourne Grand Prix is de rigueur for a Melburnian...as is getting excited about the Melbourne cup horse racing, Boxing day test match, the Australian Open, and most inexcusable of all events to not be excited about - the Footy Grand Final. Not having followed motor sports before, I was merely looking at another opportunity to wear my patriotism on my sleeve and cheer an Indian. I had after all gained some experience in doing this duty diligently for Sania Mirza in her encounter with Serena Williams - but we'll leave that for another post.

With a pass to the pit exit suites, theoretically among the better seats in the arena, I made my way to the Albert Park for the first qualifying race. All around the seating areas, giant TV screens project the race with an accompaniment of excitable commentators. In terms of sound clarity, the commentary was a few shades better than the Indian railway station announcements (I am certain there is a circular somewhere in the Indian Railways asking announcers to confound listeners by muffling the microphones with grimy hankies).

The races began shortly. Each car would leave the pits, make appropriate gear changes and leave behind noises of ear shattering mini explosions. I kept an eye out for the yellow and black Jordan cars and also for those who were rumoured to be the best-in-the-business: occupants of the two red Ferraris. Unfortunately, the best view that I could get of any car was a streak of colours as they screamed by doing their laps. Even getting a glimpse of their numbers to distinguish Shcumacher from Barichello or Karthikeyan from his team-mate Tiago Monteiro proved impossible. The only recourse to make sense of the race was to view the TV screens. In all the noise, following the commentary posed additional challenges. In about 15 minutes, every effort to follow the blur of colours as they passed from one side to another was met with a protest of pain developing in the neck. Cheering for anyone in this circus was as effective as a melting an iceberg with a matchstick.

That experience decided it for me. F1 is a sport better followed from the comfort of TV at home. You get to see the driver's relative position on the grid, details of the gear he is in, when he is accelerating and innumerable other statistics. And the commentary is audible. I could almost understand the excitement that the race generates. But, it is clearly not a spectator sport.

Unless your idea of F1 sport spectating is to ogle at the grid girls.

2 Comments:

I agree that it is best watched in the comfort of the loungeroom.

And the funny thing is, the bulk of the seats go to corporates entertaining their clients.

Having been to one such do, I must ask whether the company forking out its hard-earned was getting any mileage out of it, as conversation is NOT possible when the race is on.

The only time when a conversation may be held is during the lunch break-but then everyone is too busy stuffing their faces!

SO, for me-never again at the track.

Soundar
Nice blog I have one myself great idea horse betting calculator

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