HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014
Honestly, it’s one big yawn trackside
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Greater Noida, October 29, 2012
First Published: 01:21 IST(29/10/2012)
Last Updated: 02:28 IST(29/10/2012)

So you spend Rs. 21,000 for a Grand Stand ticket. Then you leave two hours before the race to negotiate the traffic and figure out your precise seats. You buy overpriced beer and pick up the free ear plugs that BIC had been nice enough to provide.

Then, you wait. First sound of the cars and everyone gets excited. Eventually, the race starts and the cars begin to zip by. It's all quite deafening and honestly, all quite boring.

For, unless you have an F1 app on your phone or are right in front of a tv screen beaming images from the majority of the track that you can't see, you are pretty soon clueless about just what is happening.

Half an hour into the race and most people are no longer excited. In fact, the cacophony of the screaming engines has most squirming in discomfort as they look to adjust those ear plugs to their snug best.

The adrenaline inducing world of motorsport — reporting on which this journalist has made his career and a living for over a decade — is at its most divorced from the spectator in F1.

The drivers are specks flashing by as you struggle to read the car number or catch a glimpse of the chakra on top of his helmet to figure just where Narain Karthikeyan is placed. The sweat and the hard work that goes into steering the speed beast are impossible to figure.

Of course our man is fundamentally handicapped because his car is one of the worst on track. To use a tennis analogy, he's trying to play with a wooden racquet while everybody else is whacking out the speed astride carbon composite frames.

Money matters

The lack of a level playing field in F1 boils down to the kind of money a team is willing to spend. So you have money and you are better placed to win. This unequal aspect of the contest takes the 'sport' out of this game.

F1 cars are giant banners for corporates and the paddock club is its exclusive schmooze zone. Now, if you have a paddock invite, it is interesting to go and experience the hospitality.

They cook well there and the booze flows. For the party set in Delhi, it must be the new place to be seen. This bit of the circuit was and will stay packed.

As far as the rest goes, one is not too sure whether the Indian audience would like to fork out R 2000 (the cheapest ticket price) for an afternoon watching an event which is far more exciting on TV.

At least that way you actually get to know what's happening. You can come and experience the noise and the atmosphere once, but again and again? Unlikely.

The funny bit is that this is also one sport where the majority of the journalists sit in the media centre and file their reports after watching a fancier version of the feed that you get on your screens. After all they know that trackside, it's just one giant blur.

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