Formula 1, your significant other, and you
Sunday morning. The alarm blares. It’s not a weekday; you shouldn’t be up this early. You shut the alarm off and close your eyes. Something clicks in your brain: Formula 1. It’s race day. Half an hour until "lights out." Your eyes flash open, you throw the blankets back, and you sprint to your computer. Two hours spent watching the world’s best drivers battle for position; every second is fascinated upon with unwavering attention. Last Sunday you did the same thing. And you will again the following. But only after poring over every piece of news and media as the week goes on. Just like the rest of the motorsport community. And, now, alongside your significant other. Formula 1 might be the racing of the elite, but it’s a sport for everyone, to be enjoyed by everyone. And in 2020, eight years after we met, I finally have my wife on board.
Formula 1 is widely regarded as the world’s premiere motorsport. Despite that, its prominence in the USA is somewhat limited. Until recently, my wife struggled to understand why I watched the events. In all fairness that’s also because she doesn’t quite get cars the way I and we at EDD do. But amidst quarantine earlier this year, she took an interest in the fantastic Netflix show Drive to Survive. This coupled with some help from the drama and beauty seen on Instagram, and now she’s a believer, going so far as to wake up early on Sunday mornings to watch the races with me, and even yell at the screen when something exciting happens.
It hasn’t been an easy road to get here, though. My wife fortunately understands (or is it “tolerates”?) my vehicle obsession enough to let me swap cars/trucks semi-frequently. She doesn’t, however, love sports the way I do. Or did. Despite my waning interest in professional baseball or football— which, it must be said, over the last couple years has largely been renewed especially on the NFL side— she remains less of a casual fan than I am in what are considered to be the USA's major sports. And even though rally and other auto racing events are fun to watch, they don’t pique my interest the way F1 does. F1 simply is a spectacle and full-fledged entertainment. Thanks to Netflix, my wife now understands why. Between the characters and the flashiness of the teams and so on, I’ve finally struck a chord with F1, and F1 has finally struck a chord with her.
Kudos do have to be issued where they're due, and Drive to Survive is fully deserving of such. Filling in the gaps where the season leaves off, it showcases the drivers, teams, races, and the whole sport in a way that hasn’t been done before. It brings more drama and more of a personal feel, focusing on people, allowing motorsport to become about humans rather than cars. Season two of the show was released earlier this year-- just in time for lockdown and providing perfect entertainment amidst a desperate plea for television-sourced amusement-- and in the middle of an episode my wife sat down next to me on the couch and promptly got sucked in. We finished the season a few days later, then she went on to watch the first series on her own. The rest, as they say, was history.
While many of us would be content if Drive to Survive was purely focused on the racing, it isn’t. Its broad appeal is largely thanks to the focus on the teams and drivers. It’s this aspect which keeps you interested. Playing out like a good drama, the show brings to light just how much goes on behind the scenes, and just how convoluted the inter-F1 relationships are. The show, the prevalence of social media, and the current state of the internet has allowed true characters to shine through. And when their helmets are on and the cars are racing, those traits are simply reasons to root for— or against— a driver.
There's a beauty to the madness and enormous enjoyment that comes in feeling like a participant when you're fully invested. Every week the cycle starts again. The teams arrive from their transit, press events start, and then comes practice. As news evolves-- like Checo Perez being sidelined due to testing positive-- my wife and I exchange texts and gossip about the happenings. It goes further when rumors start spreading, like those of where Sebastian Vettel might end up next yer.
Talking F1 also become a joint pastime. Whereas we have a hard time keeping up with the nonstop doings of the NFL and MLB, F1 is much easier to stay on top of. Fewer drivers and teams helps. So does the charm and personalities. And, yes, the racing.
Part of F1's intrigue is truly thanks to the excitement on-track. The racing is still genuinely fun to watch, the speed and competitiveness something new fans do not understand until they see their first cut of in-car footage. Battles for position-- be it first or mid-pack-- captivate you like a good battle should. Then there’s the stories, in which drivers switch teams and make their careers with one program or another. It stems even deeper, from the fueds to the crashes to the victory celebrations and everything in-between.
It goes to show just how much F1 has to offer. So long as you care even the slightest about the automotive world, it truly does have something for everyone. And it goes further. Interest in technology can draw you in, as the innovation brought to the forefront by F1 is regularly groundbreaking and trickles down to consumer-grade items. If you have any interest in competition, it obviously has quite a lot to offer. And if you want your sports with a side of education on world culture, you’re found the right place. The cultural education provided by “visiting” different countries is something the sport holds at its core.
Changing countries each week (or every few weeks as we are in the 2020 season) allows the viewers to explore and experience culture-- from afar, yes-- vicariously through the drivers and teams. Each week somehow incorporates something that serves almost as a bit of a built-in travel documentary. Even in our shortened 2020 season, we see Spain, Austria, Hungary, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Germany, Portugal, Turkey, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and possibly more as events are released. Each race, some even within very different parts of the same country, affords the possibility to explore different languages, lifestyles, and ways of living. Even the cut-scenes and quick tidbits about the country in which the race is happening give a quick world education. It’s like The Amazing Race or Planet Earth tacked on to a raging battle in some of the world's fastest, most advanced race cars. Unlike NASCAR, F1 opens up a broader world for the viewer, in both the literal and metaphorical sense. It’s this worldliness that contributes to why it’s palatable for those who aren’t just die-hard gearheads, but for the casually interested as well.
Say what you will about Formula 1 being “boring,” what with Hamilton and Mercedes running away with the titles yet again, but even now, even in the time of no legal gatherings of large groups, F1 still manages to draw a crowd and bring not only the motorsport community but also the world together. Few things, let alone sports, can claim that.
This past stretch has left me fortunate to watch F1 again, and even more so to have my wife watching by my side. In an extraordinarily short time she has gone from asking about drivers and teams to throwing in questions about the nuances of the cars themselves, the technical side of things, and what makes the winners (er...winner) win.
As somebody who is regularly up far too early on the weekend and married to someone who loves sleeping, it’s brought a sincere smile to my face every Sunday this season when I can share the big weekend event with her. Few things get her out of bed early on a Sunday-- the beach and plans with friends make up the majority of such-- but she has willingly and happily gotten up early on Sunday mornings to sit by my side (or in bed, streaming the race on her laptop) while we cheer and boo, holding our breath as we wait for our favorite drivers and teams to succeed. Proud isn’t the word I should be using, but sharing my favorite motorsport with my wife has brought me true happiness.
A marvel of modern engineering and a total demonstration in branding, Formula 1 still stands as the top-tier motorsport worldwide. Yes, there's an automotive aspect to it, but ultimately F1 serves as entertainment. It’s exciting, enticing, and can be enjoyed by all. And as I regularly reiterate, that’s the best thing about cars: Sharing the hobby with friends and family. Being able to do so with my wife is just icing on the cake.
Now Lando or Danny Ric just need to have a good season and I’ll be even happier. And by that I mean we, since now we are both looking forward to them racing together for McLaren next year. Bring on the smiles and laughs.
Hi, my name is Ross. I write primarily for Hooniverse.com and co-host the Off the Road Again Podcast. As you can guess, I’m an off-road enthusiast/self-proclaimed expert and an ever-improving amateur autocrosser. My current car is an NC3 Miata Club PRHT but the joke goes that I’m perpetually looking for the next vehicle I will regret...