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What's your favourite thing about F1? // Worries that the endless debate keeps us apart rather than binds us together

Published by Alex Andronov

Hello, I'm guest poster Alex Andronov, and I have a problem. You see every time I read another furious debate about what Formula One should be I kind of glaze over. I like Formula One. Some things are kind of annoying about it, but mainly I love it. I can tell because although I have a passing interest in other sports, I hardly ever watch them. On the other hand I make time in my life to see every race of the year, I usually catch qualifying but I rarely bother with free practice. I mention this so you can compare my fandom to yours. Oh and I've been watching since 1987.

Never standing still

In the time I've been watching I think there might, honestly, have been a million rule changes. F1 now really isn't like F1 then, is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? I'm going to guess it's good because I have had the option since 1987 to stop watching and I haven't.

So when people start complaining about rule changes that have happened or should happen, I kind of glaze over. I kind of assume that they will either make the show better or they will make it worse and if it's boring enough not to bother watching any more then I guess I'll stop watching. I don't mean that I will threaten to stop watching on the internet - no point in that. Honestly Bernie isn't reading! I mean I would just start skipping a few races or only catching it if I'm around. But that's not happened yet, because every rule change so far has made me intrigued to find out how it will pan out.

The main problem it seems with these debates is that F1 is different things to different people, I see a lot of online debates about the things people hate about F1 but I don't see many people talking about what they love about F1. I do sometimes question why some of the debaters keep watching, my guess is that their favourite thing about F1 is complaining about it - which I suppose in a rather twisted way is valid.

I have a rather strange theory that F1 is such a big global phenomenon that the reason there is so much debate about each rule change is that people's reasons for watching are so varied that people are essentially talking about different things when they are arguing. Are we really interested in the sport or is it a show? Different people will have different answers. So my theory goes that if we all list our favourite things about F1 they will also match to a list of least favourite things about F1 just for different people.

The mission

So here's your task: in the comments please tell me your favourite thing about F1. Just pick one thing. Pick the overarching thing that keeps you coming back week after week. Not about a dream future or past F1, about F1 now. You may also list your least favourite thing BUT you must use fewer words on your least favourite thing than your postive thing. Also if you want to debate somebody else's favourite thing make sure you add more words about your favourite thing before you start.

Here's mine as an example:

My favourite thing about F1 is the overarching story line. I don't have favourite drivers or teams. So currently I want drivers other than Vettel to do well. In part to close up the championship, but also so we get more answers and excuses about Vettel's overtaking. I think the team principals and Bernie are all part of the show. I like the new guys but I think I am currently missing the bitter rivalry of Flav, Ron and Jean. Doesn't mean I want them back, but I want to see one of the current crop sneakily upset one of the others so the need to win seems personal and a bit crazy. So yes the story and the characters are my favourite part of F1.

My least favourite thing about F1: Fans who threaten on the Internet to stop watching if a rule is changed, but don't stop watching. If you are interested enough to watch to see how it turns out then write, "I'll watch to see how it turns out, but I am not confident it will go well".

Pretty simple huh? So please tell us your favourite thing about F1!

  • My favourite thing at the moment is Team Lotus, yay! I like supporting a team that are near the back in the hope that they'll improve. Plus they're going to give me a paddock pass in about 9 weeks time and you've got to like that.

    I can't tell you my least favourite thing, Lou will get mad :)

  • My favourite thing is the atmosphere at the race weekends. If I were to pick one thing that makes it great it would be the noise but it is not only that ...

    What I do not like is that now as ever fans are the last ones to consider when big decisions are made ...

  • My favourite thing? the thinking I need to do to watch a race, look at the data and see if I can predict who can win, what the strategies are. Plus the shiny and gadgetry ;-)

    Least favourite? Lack of insight and originality in jounalism. Why just print the press release...what about some context?

  • My favourite thing, is, I think, the agony of trying to support a team. It's hell at times, especially one who are fighting for the lowest points. There are moments you just don't like, you see the cars come home 12th and 15th and think, well what was the point of that? It's not like being Virgin and knowing you won't get points, its the fact you can and you didn't. But then there is the great feeling when it all comes together, I'm sure when Kobayashi overtook Alonso at Valencia, or when Kobi was fighting for 4th at Monaco, or when Kobi was 2nd at the restart in Canada, those moments are great, and feel like winning a race. 2008 was a great, great year ;)

    Least favourite thing is I know it won't last, its not like football where my team are more than likely to survive for a very long time, give it 2/3/4 years when Peter sells up, I might care about whoever buys them (as long as it isn't someone similar to QADBAK) bu it won't be the same.

  • My favourite thing about F1 is that it's such a community-based sport - be that here, or on Twitter, or meetups... basically I really enjoy getting together and sharing the awesome experience that is a Formula 1 Grand Prix. I like the fact that each season is a kind of journey, sorta like a rollercoaster and that we are all riding it together.

    The thing I like least is that the sport has become very greedy and is becoming less accessible to the fans, which is why I think we all try our best to make a community out of the supporters...

  • My favourite thing about F1 is the people associated with it. Whether it be the wonderful fans whose passion for the sport is infectious, or the people who work within the crazy touring circus. Of course it was the racing that brought me to F1, and drives me to tune in for each race, at silly o'clock in the morning or at whatever time, but it's the people that keep me there. It's my love for a driver or a team that can keep me glued to the racing and adds an extra layer of enjoyment.

    Through a boring race, or a long long rain delay i stick around happily just to hear people chat F1. I think that's why i love meeting up with other f1 fans, getting to talk about the sport we all love is wonderful. From the amazing commentary team, who clearly love their job, and are wonderful at it (i'm looking at you 5 live) to the sometimes ridiculous, sometimes hateable team bosses. I love them all. The fans, drivers, journalists, team members... we are all part of a fantastic community, who are united through our love for the sport. That's something rather special.

    I can't tell you my least favourite thing, Lou will get mad :)

    if it's about Jenson then it's cool, you've just got more pressure to get me into the paddock - which just so happens to be my favourite f1 related place ;)

  • oohh i forgot a least favourite, which as predictable as it may seem, is the expense. Tickets cost so much more than other sports, and even merchandise is ridiculously expensive. I know F1 is a very very expensive sport, but sometimes i wish i'd won the lottery :)

  • Midgets in plastic cars travelling at 300mph. What's NOT to like?

  • Midgets in plastic cars travelling at 300mph. What's NOT to like?

    He he love it :)

  • The more I think about it, the more reasons I can think of why I love F1. Thanks Giggles, this post has really made my day :)

  • The thing that keeps me coming back to F1 now is this community. I've always watched as a casual fan but being part of Sidepodcast has made me want to watch and understand more. The people here in the comments and Christine & Mr C on the podcasts have taught me a lot about the sport and shown me where to get resources like live timing.

    The thing I don't like is the expense both to see races in person and, come next year, to see them live on tv.

  • My favorite thing about F1 would have to be the standing start. Nothing beats 24 cars with 700+ HP all aiming for the same piece of road. Simply amazing.

  • Nice Idea! here goes mine:

    My fav thing about f1 is the racing, pure and simple. The thrill you get when you see a car is catching someone in front and you know there's a titanic struggle about to unfold - or at least hope it will until red flags are dropped ahem Monaco- in 2011, the thrill of knowing x's tires are 3 laps older than y's tires and he's catching him by .5 sec/lap. The adrenaline rush when you see someone dive from behind the gearbox and try a move, how you see the driver setting that move up in the previous corners/laps. So yea, what I love most about F1 is the wheel to wheel racing itself.

    My least favorite thing about f1 is the politics around it. I do kind of enjoy the soap opera aspect of it at times, but it gets tedious quite fast. I don't mind some personal rivalries a la Alonso v Hamilton, Webber v Red Bull as that just spices up the show, but the recent shenanigans about Bahrain and the blown diffusers make me facepalm at F1s consistent failure to speak with one voice and instead make themselves seen as bickering children all only looking out for no.1

  • My Favorite thing about F1 is the technology. I love the grey areas, the boundary pushing, I love watching smart people being as smart as they can. I love watching for the "new" killer feature (double diffuser, f-duct, non-linearly-flexing front wings). I love the competition between a bleeding edge, fast as possible design (Brawn in 2009) and a stable "pretty good" car that can be enhanced (Ferrari 2011). I don't even mind cost restrictions, it's just more fuel for the game, more grey areas to operate in.

    My least favorite thing about F1 is my same complaint I have with almost any motorsport fan base - I dislike fans who can only celebrate their own sport by denigrating others. Indycar short track oval racing can be breathtaking. The physical rigor of a MotoGP rider is stunning. NASCAR restrictor plate racing is an art form. Just because you (the metaphorical hater) don't like them doesn't mean they don't have value.

  • My favourite thing: the noise. Nothing makes my toes curl in happiness like the sound of a Formula 1 engine screaming at full-tilt around a track.

    Runner-up #1: the geek appeal. If you meet someone and discover that they're a F1 fan, you're pretty much guaranteed a good conversation about something technical and complicated.

    Runner-up #2: the community. I'll give you an example: I went to a race recently and mentioned to the guy in the tent next to ours that I was going to miss the screening of Senna because I needed to catch a bus home. I ended up getting a lift as far as Glasgow with said tent-neighbour, and a long part of the journey was spent playing silly games like "What's Driver X's favourite tipple?" and discussing whether Smedley will go with Massa when he leaves Ferrari. How many other sports have fans who do that sort of thing?

    Least favourite thing: people who cheer when their favourite driver crashes out/has a bad pit-stop/has an engine blow-up. It's okay to be glad, but please (I'm looking at you, McLaren fans) refrain from making boobs out of yourselves to other people sharing your race-watching area; it's unsporting.

  • Favourite thing, the anticipation and then the sound as the cars leave the starting grid and make their way to the first corner.

    Least favourite, definitely post race penalties that change the provisional result 3 hours after the race has finished.

  • One of my favorite things about F1... THEY can drive in the rain!

  • What a great idea for a post.

    My favourite thing about F1 is watching a driver pushing a car right to the limit and getting the maximum from it. Lewis Hamilton on the limit is an incredible site.

    My next most favourite thing is watching two drivers fighting it out on track in equal conditions without one having the advantage of new tyres or moveable aero devices etc.

    Then there is the community aspect which makes it all so much better. I could go on all day about my favourite aspects but that is enough for now.

    Least favourite - I am not having a least favourite because this is a positive post and besides everyone knows what I don't like.

  • My favorite thing about F1 is: you guys. :)

    I love that we have gathered here because of everything you listed here, and we have become actual friends. I've traveled far and wide to meetup with so many of you and it has been so amazing to me to find so many people with which I have so much in common.

    I also love the noise of those incredible machines, the feeling of being in close proximity to these cars and the electricity in the air being around people who share the same excitement and love for the sport. The fact that I could say "I love the smell of F1 cars in the morning" and see knowing smiles all around me was fantastic.

    I love the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, to quote a line from Wide World of Sports. And I love that it's something that my dad and I shared.

    I love that it's the best of the best doing their best. I love the technology and knife's edge that these cars are on all the time. The amount of time and energy that everyone puts into these races is so impressive to me - from the track workers to the tire changer to the team owners.

    And, I love pit stops; the drama, people under pressure, will they do it well? will they mess up? will they get out safely?

    I love this thrilling sport and the people associated with it.

    My least favorite thing about F1 is that it's so inaccessible to me, whether by cost, physical distance, race dates or race times.

    Thanks for this, Alex. Great idea.

  • My favourite thing about F1 is the Cars themselves. Just seeing and hearing them go fast round any track in the world. And the surprise in how much they have changed since 1992, which is when I started watching. I still find it hard to comprehend that in 10 years time, the cars will look so different from now.

    My least favourite is the danger, and the crashes. Especially those where the driver hasn't got out straight away.

  • I have two favorite things about F1. First is the actual racing - the pursuit of speed, the battle of equals. Michael Schumacher got me hooked on the sport, but I have no intentions of switching off after he does. Second is the community! Where else can you learn so much about the sport, where else can you share your passion with other like-passioned people? :)

    My least favorite thing is the money-grubbing. While it's not the worst in that regard (see: football), it's made it do a lot of bad decisions too (most recently with the BBC).

  • This thread has made for awesome reading from everyone, just awesome :)

    It's this which leads to my favourite thing about the sport though. It's hard to simply rule one thing down in Formula 1 that is my one true reason why I love it. I mean, there's just so much about the sport that fascinates me, interests me, amazes me, and just makes me feel so privileged that I can follow a sport like this and know even through the darkest days it may have I'll still stick by it because it means that much to me. But to me, a sport is made by it's fans just as much as it's made by itself. I love that Formula 1 fans can discuss, entertain, analyse, and be completely geeky in how we follow the sport and it's that geekiness which just shines through and makes me love being part of a community that really does love the sport it follows. There's nothing, to me at least, quite like having a proper Formula 1 discussion (it's possibly why I enjoyed taking part in so many podcasts) and just having this community of people absolutely transformed how I viewed the sport. It just makes me love a sport even more. So yeah, I think I would go with the fact F1's community makes an already fascinating sport to me just even more exciting, interesting and just fun to follow, discuss and just be a part of.

    My worst thing has to be the costs though. It upsets me greatly how hard it is to even get close to the sport. Of course it's a global event and there's only going to be a handful of events realistically to attend if that but the fact I'm not going to a race this year because it's just too expensive. I do wish the sport wasn't so dear in it's ways but it's to be expected.

  • This is an excellent idea.

    My favourite things are the developing stories of the competition over the year. That they aren't spec cars, developments change who is competitive, even if there is no development a team might find a new way of running their car which makes it more raceable (in the way Hispania have been getting faster).

    For example a team which is having a nightmare early season could come strong by summer, equally a team which built up a lot of points might find themselves falling over themselves later on, the way Brawn did in '09 or Ferrari ten years earlier.

    How even when a team is dominating you, because what if the race you miss is the one race that year where they fall apart? You'd kick yourself if you missed it. Drama! Even in such a year there are unknowns like that, and of course there are still stories elsewhere in the field.

    The way each team has its own unique struggles and storylines, you have to compare their performance first to their own performance a year ago. I always used to like to follow the Jordan team, so many ups and downs. They still do but it isn't really the same without the yellow, with EJ looking on from the sidelines.

    That Jaguar team which keeps crashing and breaking down, they'll never amount to anything, they'll fold soon. What do you mean they'll win a title in 6 years time? There is a team in the midfield right now who none of us will rate at all, I guarantee within 10 years they'll win a title. None of us have idea which team that will be. Could be Sauber, Force India, could be Lotus, could be Virgin. Let's follow their journey and find out.

    I've focussed on the teams but the same is true of the drivers. Who thought Petrov would be any good? At the end of his GP2 career they were saying he was too old already. At the end of his first F1 year they said he crashed too much. Now look at him.

    My least favourite thing about F1 is the way a lot of fans dismiss other racing with a flick of the wrist, 'oh that's not F1, I can't possibly be interested in that'. Well maybe try.. The storylines are just as enthralling, if you take the time to learn the participants. Can I get an Amen for YAJohn's comment.

    Oh the other thing I'm not keen on is the endless legal hand-wringing amongst teams and rulemakes, and the changing of minds, well I thought it was endless but it seems to have got better lately.

  • My least favourite thing about F1 is the way a lot of fans dismiss other racing with a flick of the wrist, 'oh that's not F1, I can't possibly be interested in that'. Well maybe try.. The storylines are just as enthralling, if you take the time to learn the participants. Can I get an Amen for YAJohn's comment.

    Amen! :)

  • Can I get an Amen for YAJohn's comment.

    Amen! :)

    Is this the start of a split in the original sidepodcast religion?

  • I think the most amazing and exciting feature of Formula 1 is to see drivers and teams fight for tenths of second. This is what made me love the sport. When I was a kid I remember seeing the gap numbers between two drivers (in that case it was Mika Häkkinen and Michael Schumacher), and I still find this fascinating.

    There are plenty other things to say on my favourite sport, but if you want us to pick one that would be this. I agree with you on the fact that hate debates are pointless and can very much harm the sport. I understood that over the years when seeing some people saying stuff like "Bernie is stupid and should resign because he said that once in newspapers," many of them did not understand Bernie's way of dealing with the press.

  • i have been giving this question far too much thought since alex raised it, nothing seemed definitive enough, bold enough or in any way conclusive. finally, an unrelated conversation in another thread on sidepodcast changed all that.

    my favourite thing about f1 - it's a sport that does not force me to pick sides.

    i don't have to support one team. i don't have to support one driver. i don't have to pick favourites, nor put down the competition. there are no enforced "sides" in formula one, and if i decide to, i can simply support f1 for being f1.

    i like the notion of choice. i choose f1.

  • Slow to respond, but ive been working on a similar article for over 12 months. I havnt managed to get it to my liking. So here goes. . .

    I think i have to agree with Alex. Once i thought about it, it is the continual story arc that draws me back. The X-files did the same, and Lost after that. It must be something inate in me that enjoys benig asked questions that may or may not be answered.

    When it comes to F1, those questions can be - Will McLaren build a decent car from Race 1, and when they dont it's, will they turn it into a race winner?

    - Will Webber have another decent crack at the title this year?

    But it also goes back further than that to the Hakkinen/Schumacher days. Even during the ultra boring Schumacher dominance, it was the excitement of "will they fail this race" that kept me watching. I was itching to see Schumacher fail. Its what kept me going.

    The beauty of F1 is that these questions will never cease. Ever.

    I already have thousands waiting to be answered for 2014.

    2013 hasnt even got much of a look in yet. Being Australian, my main interest is if Ricciardo will take Trulli's spot at Lotus. Remember RBR gearbox, and Renault engines!!

  • Oh, and Mr C made me realise there are 2 things i like.

  • I love the fact that the Concorde Agreement ensures it's on free to air television so that we the F1 loving fans in the UK can savour every moment of the evolving season.

    Oh we can't, the BBC just sold us out.

  • ...*ensures* it's on...

  • I love a lot about F1. But the moment the red lights are about to go out... Awesome.

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