Fresh start, new rules.
Mixed feelings, same battlecry:
I was supposed to write my own version of an F1 2014 Season Preview.
However, my heart suddenly decided to veer towards a different direction (pun intended).
This is the story of my…curious/unusual/interesting relationship with Formula One.
I’m not quite sure when and how it happened, but F1 took over me in many ways that I cannot even begin to explain.
It was a slow burn, this. Not a whirlwind, love-at-first-sight-will-you-marry-me sort of thing. I started to like the sport when I was young, mostly due to being interested in a certain driver named Michael Schumacher. I liked the look of his car, decided to know more about him and the series, and before long, he won his first WDC. The following year, he won it again and I became a true-blue (or should that be red?), ride-or-die F1 fan.
Fast-forward to 20 years and I still love it. Yes, two whole decades now. Whoa.
No matter what happened, I’ve always had F1 in my life—whether in the forefront or in the periphery. Amidst heartbreaks, illnesses, personal struggles, life peaks, plateaus and pits, F1 has been there. F1 is still there.
There was a period in my life when I was just drifting, simply getting by and not having the motivation to try. I was merely existing, but not really living. F1 gave me something to look forward to, when the days of nothingness just seemed to merge and go on and on. F1 gave me an outlet. F1 kept me sane. F1 became a safe place. Ironic as it may seem, even its unpredictability provided a constancy in my life. So yes, I do get a little defensive when the sport is belittled, or dismissed as nothing but an expensive waste of time and resources. To me, it means so much more than that. As long as I have F1, things were fine, everything would somehow be okay.
Throughout the years I’ve seen my favorite driver of all-time win back-to-back WDCs, change teams, go through a 4-year title drought, win 5 WDCs in a row, retire, come back, and then permanently retire (still hurts, but I’ve come to accept it). My second favorite driver took 6 years to win his first WDC but did so in an amazing, albeit controversial season (many tears were shed during the final race, I tell you). I’ve seen fresh-faced drivers transform from promising, Friday Practice drivers to race winners and World Champions.
On the personal front, despite a not-so-amicable breakup, I’ve stayed friends with an ex-boyfriend of my friend because we are both such huge F1 fans, and we’ve spent a large chunk of the 2007 season talking and discussing F1 that not a few have begun to wonder whether we were dating or not. Also in the same season, my Dad and sister practically had to drag me to the car to take me to the hospital’s emergency room when I suddenly developed an alarming allergic reaction and had rashes all over my body, and yet I refused to budge because I was in the middle of watching the Turkish GP. I watched the nail-biting 2008 Season Finale in a hospital room, watching over a parent who was recovering from an operation and making sure the telly wasn’t loud enough to wake anyone up (Imagine the screams I’ve had to restrain during the final laps). During a holiday in a beautiful beach, I chose to stay inside our room and watch the infamous rain-soaked 2009 Malaysian GP instead of frolicking in the water, horrible TV reception and all. I’ve had CDs and hard drives filled with racing incidents, full races and montages, just so I can rewatch and relive those priceless moments when I need a fix. I can count on one hand the number of times I shed tears on personal matters, but I magically turn into a hardcore dramatic actress when intense races yield epic results.
It is the only sport that made me throw caution into the wind and gave me the courage to travel alone. I’ve gotten to know and befriended people from various countries because they are as F1-crazy as I am, and that makes them fifty shades of awesome in my book.
When I first heard the sound of the F1 engines in person, I wanted to cry. Stepping on to the race track during my first GP, I felt that I found my people. It felt like home.
Perhaps in the future I will find the time and the energy to extensively write about all the crazy, wonderful, WTF-inducing things I have done in the name of F1, but from the aforementioned tidbits, you get the idea of just how…passionately mad I could be. No regrets, though.
F1 is an escape, a sanctuary, a balm, a panacea, even.
So when I hear or read various iterations of complaints about new rules and regulations, how unattractive the new cars look, and basically every minute thing about the sport being slagged off, I can only roll my eyes and shake my head. When you truly love something (or someone), you stick with it through the good, the bad and the ugly. It doesn’t mean being blind to the faults, rather, being open-minded and accepting of the imperfections. The sport has pissed me off far too many times throughout the years too, and it is a sad fact that it is ridiculously expensive to follow—but love makes us do crazy things.
Rules and regulations, car aesthetics, race tracks, teams, personnel and drivers? They’re constantly changing. I’m not always the best fan I could be, and yet, I’m still here.
I’m not even sure if I can make it to a GP this year, but I tell you that I’m sure as hell going to try. I have to, it’s…tradition.
It may not come wrapped in a huge, dramatic revelation, or a Eureka moment-like epiphany, but whether we admit to it or not, we all need to be saved at some point in our lives. I am who I am today because some strange divine machination brought me and F1 together. Life is funny like that.
So here’s to us, F1—we might have had a logic-defying, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously quaint relationship throughout the years, but I honestly would not have had it any other way.
Go ahead and throw whatever you want at me, F1. I am so ready.
Dear Kimi and Fernando,
You better pay attention to what I have to say.
Yes, you have no choice but to read this letter together—because from now on, you are a unit, a team, merged entities, gladiators, even. Don’t worry, I shan’t merge your names and give you a Hollywood-esque monicker, even I draw the line at that.
Remember 2001, when you two were tipped to be The Future of Formula One and fans and experts salivated at the very thought of having you two in the same team in the future? I was one of those wide-eyed, idealistic fans hoping and praying you two would get together (obviously not in a fanfic sort of way–that’s just weird) just to see and experience the…sheer awesomeness of it. Remember when it almost happened in 2010, but due to certain circumstances which I shan’t discuss anymore, that deal spectacularly collapsed and I had to nurse a proverbial broken heart until Kimi returned to F1 in 2012? But enough about my reminiscing, it has finally happened and a lot has to be said, so whether you like it or not, you’re just going to have to read on and deal.
Anyway, here’s the lowdown: First of all, while I am aware of this “All’s fair in love and war” cliché, I still want, nay, demand, a clean and fair fight between the two of you, okay (I may have side-eyed you there, Fernando)? You both have different ways of dealing with conflict—Avoidance (Kimi) and Passive-Aggressiveness (Nando), but you need to dig deep and channel your inner fierce warriors towards the rest of the field, not towards each other. The Mind Games and Politicking? They may be part and parcel of F1, but you need to get a grip and realize that they may do more harm than good, so screw them and just focus on the most important thing: Racing Your Socks Off.
Also, the Constructor’s Title needs to come back to Ferrari, you hear me? There has to be a scarlet-clad driver in every single podium ceremony this season, but most especially in Monza. I need to rekindle my…F1 Feelings again, and you will help me do it in every possible way that you can, capiche?
Kimi, let me just say that although I had my share of trepidation when I found out about your Ferrari return, I have since considerably calmed down and it has now been replaced by excitement. Cautious excitement, but still, a step in the positive feelings’ spectrum. All I can say is that as a loyal fan of yours, I trust in your judgment, and wherever you are happy, I shall support you. In short, win and score as many points as you can. That’s an order, Mr. Raikkonen.
And Nando, I’ll come clean: I like Kimi a whole lot more than you, so of course I’d want him to win the Championship this year. I’m just keeping it real, bro. Then again, if you can prove to be the much better driver and be able to beat Kimi fair and square (notice how I keep repeating the word ‘fair’ here?), which I know you are very much capable of, then I shall gladly and humbly doff my hat to you. And a word of caution, you don’t want to piss off the legions of Kimi fans around the world, so go easy on your…tactics, okay?
Do I sound harsh? Don’t answer that. The fact is, compared to millions, my aforementioned expectations (and demands) make me seem like an absolute pussycat. The expectations on your shoulders are nothing short of monumental only because the racing world knows of what you two are made of–Pure. Class. For every devoted Tifosi (or a Raikkonen/ Alonso fan), there is a rival fan and ruthless critic who can’t wait to see you two struggle, to be frustrated and to fail. But you know what? For every single non-believer out there, I have the faith and the energy of a thousand suns to support you and in some way or another, make the odds be in your favour.
Whatever happens, you both will always be part of My F1 History. Thank you/ Kiitos/ Gracias for that.
So go on and give us all a good show, gentlemen.
I will be watching. And cheering. And possibly judging–in a constructive manner, mind. But mostly being very supportive, I assure you.
Go forth and be bouncebackable, Men in Red. I believe in you.