My 20 years of Formula 1

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'What are the red ones called again?'

Twenty years ago I got bored, turned the TV on and caught my first glimpse of some funny-looking cars blasting around a place called Silverstone.

It was the 1989 British Grand Prix which, though not remembered as a classic, was my first taste of Formula 1. Without it, I might well have ended up writing Football Fanatic. I’m glad I didn’t…

Looking back at the BBC’s coverage from that weekend, I can spot any number of things that would have caught my attention.

Crowd favourite Nigel Mansell was an obvious draw, and there was other British talent in the form of Martin Brundle, Jonathan Palmer and Derek Warwick.

It was a colourful world that drew me in – of scarlet Ferraris, blue Ligiers, yellow Lotuses and the United Colours of Benetton. And an exotic one – drivers with names like Ayrton Senna, Satoru Nakajima and Olivier Grouillard.

I remember how poorly I comprehended what was going on. When the points table flashed up at the end of the race I wondered if the drivers got the same number of points for winning each round.

And I figured that, although Mansell failed to win, it was good that Alain Prost had won because he was from France, which wasn’t too far away from Britain…

Since then

When Mansell finally got his championship in 1992 I was jubilant – and then had the wind knocked out of me when I discovered my hero was off to race Indy Cars in America the following year. Damon Hill took his place at Williams, but without Mansell’s swashbuckling style it wasn’t the same.

Still, I kept watching. By now I had F1 posters on my wall, Lego racing cars all over the floor and Geoff Crammond’s "Grand Prix" on my Commodore Amiga. I was hooked.

Somewhere along the lines I had discovered a passion for the sport itself, rather than just tuning in to see if my favourite driver had won. And so, whatever trauma F1 has faced – and of my time the horrors of 1994 by exceeds them all by far – the idea that I might not tune in for the next race has always been unthinkable to me.

Family holidays were interrupted by Sunday sojourns to local bars so I could get my F1 fix. Church was tolerated on the strict understanding that we got back in time for me to hear the strains of “The Chain”. Even today, friends don’t call me at 1pm on a weekend just in case…

The 2000s

For me, the early 2000s were spoiled by the Schumcher strangehold. In 2002 especially I begrudged him his success because of Ferrari’s crass manipulation of races in Austria and America (the latter particularly unforgivable because of F1’s fragile foothold in the States).

But in 2004 my indignation turned on the teams that had failed to provide any kind of meaningful opposition to Ferrari – Williams (who squandered their BMW power on a monstrously ugly and not especially quick car) and McLaren (who had ventured up what looked like a conceptual blind alley with the MP4-18 and 19).

In 2005, tired of flame wars on forums and feeling F1 fans were poorly catered for online, I decided to start a Formula 1 website of my own. Four and a half years later, F1 Fanatic has grown far quicker than I ever imagined it might. And it’s brought me in touch with a world of fans who share a common passion for the pinnacle of motor racing.

It’s sad that as I write a reminiscence of my early years as an F1 fan others are penning grim articles describing what some are calling the worst political crisis in F1’s history – even eclipsing that of the FISA-FOCA war, which was a few years before my time.

I have been asked twice in recent days what I would write about next year if F1 were to split in two. I’m not even contemplating it, and none of the parties involved in the discussions over the sport’s future should be either. They have to find a way out of the mess they have gotten themselves into. Splitting in two would be an admission of failure.

A little more reflection on their parts about their own, much longer association with the sport, would surely do no harm.

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “My 20 years of Formula 1”

  1. I have been asked twice in recent days what I would write about next year if F1 were to split in two. I’m not even contemplating it…

    Well, just to be sure, I’d get myself the domain name. ;)

  2. Happy to read your story, Keith.
    Mine was a bit longer. I started in ’81, watching, as you did, the very first San Marino Gran Prix on TV. Piquet was the winner, and my first favourite driver untile he retired. Then I switched to Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.
    I think that eighty’s formula 1 was much better than now: much more spectacular, much more uncertain, much more funny and, unfortunately, much more dangerous. I was just ten when I cried on a May Saturday hearing about Villeneuve death.
    Then everythin got so technical, so strategic, not less interesting but probably less fascinating.

    I sometimes look for old stories of formula 1: picture, articles, movies of sixties and seventies formula 1. Hope something like that will come back.

    It would be interesting to listen to other stories of formula 1 addiction…

    I would like

    1. Can anyone honestly tell me that there has been any really outstanding Races this season? Button may be winning but has it been exciting?

      I really don’t think so myself.

      1. I wouldn’t say we have had any outstanding races so far this season, but I think the best races have again been where there was some rain.

  3. sheesh….. it hurts to look back now….. 1964
    I remember clark, rindt and I remember crying at the news of clarks death a few years later

  4. Great piece, Keith. It probably gets everyone of us thinking of how we started watching F1(in my case; 1991, Japan, Senna lets Berger win after Mansell spins off trying to pass Senna to keep his title chances alive). And it makes me feel 2 things – I too just want this whole mess to be over and to see some more classical races and… I pity people who started watching F1 after 2000… Schumacher stole the fun. We still had a lot of good seasons after 1994, but it was already going downhill by then.

    1. I agree FLIG many of those who started watching F1 this Millenium haven’t really seen the joy of the racing pre Ferrari/Schumacher domination.
      But what do you do when people are not born at the right time. I’d have liked to see the greats race in the 50’s but as i wasn’t born until 1966 not a chance.
      I am really jealous of Keith as it would seem he was quite young when he started watching F1 at the same time as me in 1989.

    2. @Flig

      Why would you pity people started watching F1 in the 2000’s if their hero is Micheal Schummacher. Schummy didn’t stole the fun, he gave them to his fans. His fans are the luckiest people you should be envy of since their idol is the greatest and nothing beats his records til now. You who loves Schummy are the luckiest fans of F1. He did great things no one can ever match and especially gave you fun while watching F1.

  5. schumi the greatest
    17th June 2009, 12:56

    being a big fan of mansell keith have you ever read his autobiography?? i couldnt see it in the sections where you rated all the other f1 books??

    I 1st started watching f1 full time in 1997, id watched bits of races here and there but i watched the whole of the 97 spanish gp and then managed to see the next 1 at canada, i was 9 years old at the time. from there on i hardly missed a race until 05/06 where my intrest waned slightly.

    was always a massive fan of schumacher, looking back now i remember thinking what happend at jerez 97 wasnt that bad but now that im older i can see that he was a flawed genius who didnt need to go to such lengths because he was miled ahead of anyone.

    Anyway ive refound my passion for f1 now and i havent missed a race since the start of 07.

    looking forward to going to silverstone this weekend even though hamilton has got no chance.

  6. Jonesracing82
    17th June 2009, 13:05

    my 1st GP was San Marino 1989, i stumbled across f1 by seeing an ad for that race (i think, i was 6 at the time) and asked mum to tape it for me as it was on at 10:30pm in oz) sadly the race was marred by Berger’s crash and maybe thats what got me hooked as i was watching that and the old ATCC touring cars and was fascinated by the crash’s, my 1st ATCC had a fiery pile-up at lakeside ’89 (it’s on utube) my cousin’s 1st race (also an F1 fan) was Paul Ricard ’89, also had a big crash (anybody seeing a pattern here). my thoughts all changed on Imola ’94 tho b4 then i had enjoyed some on track battles, which actually happened back then, unlike now and to go slightly off topic for a second, i reckon thos “flip-ups” we now see on front wings is hurting the racing again (notice the lack of passing since Bahrain?)
    i still love the sport to this day, tho i cant stand the politics, and a split, while unthinkable, will kill the sport as it did the Indycar/CART scenario we had in the states!

    1. My brother, who doesn’t follow F1, used to joke that people only tuned in to watch the start of the race to see any crashes, and then the end of the race to see the result.

      I started following F1 in 1991 and in the 1990s you had more incidents on the first lap and more restarts. I know that they try to avoid restarts now by using the safety car but there defiantly seems like a lot less first lap crashes now, do people think that this is because the overall standard of driving has increased?

      1. Certainly, the quality of driving has increased – even backmarker teams like Force India have a racewinner like Fisi driving for them, while Toro Rosso has one of the all-time Champ Car greats driving for them.

        Also, I think drivers are now more aware that you don’t win a race at the first corner – so they tend to be more patient and see how things play out rather than get too aggressive.

        1. What planet are you on Journeyer?
          How can you say qulaity of driving has increased by quoting Fisi and bourdais.

          Firstly Fisi is only a race winner by luck. His first win in the Jordan(brazil 2003) he was in the right place at the right time when the race was stopped. And then when he happened to be in the right car( renault) at the right time.
          As for Bourdais He won 4 champ car champs because he had no real rivals (being in the dominant Newman Haas).
          Champ car became a one horse championship. And that could be what F1 will become if Max gets his way and there is a breakaway, leaving F1 as a watered down championship.

          1. How can you say qulaity of driving has increased by quoting Fisi and bourdais.

            I think Journeyer’s right – even the drivers aren’t performing as well this year are much better than some of the rent-a-drivers we saw in the late eighties / nineties.

  7. Jonesracing82
    17th June 2009, 13:08

    P.S i have EVERY season review incl the 70’s collection! and watch them all in order over the off-season to keep my sanity!

    1. Argh, me maty. Want to send them my way for some pirating? You’d get them back of course.

  8. I started in 2003, when my dad introduced me to it. I was only 13, heh, and in a part of the world where F1 wasn’t popular with the masses (I actually still am, despite having moved around). so, naturally, I’m a big Schu and Ferrari fan. I’ve hardly missed any races when I could’ve watched them… The only one I can recall is Imola 2004.

    But I wish I was smart enough to have watched F1 while Senna was still alive :(. Unfortunately I was too young to understand it then…. Nice article btw.

  9. My old man got me into F1 in the early eighties, I remember seeing Rosberg win the title, but my first proper sit down and watch, and know what was happening was the infamous portugese GP in 85 where Senna won his maiden GP…in the wet too. What a race. I agree with David about the technical side and all the team tactics…fuel consuption, tyre wear etc, to me F1 in the eighties was magic, as it was in the 90’s. Ferrari and the german made me stop for a couple of years, as is Loeb in WRC now, it gor so predictable and dare I say it boring. We now though have our great sport back, with only Bernie and Max to ruin it for us.

  10. I got into F1 in 1996. I chose to support Damon Hill because he was British. I watching Australia 1996 and later got hooked very quickly :)

    I must say Keith I wasn’t really into check all the news and fans opinions on websites until I discovered your website :) It has got me into F1 even more and keep me informed during non GP time. So thank you and keep up the good work :)

  11. It was a colourful world that drew me in – of scarlet Ferraris, blue Ligiers, yellow Lotuses and the United Colours of Benetton. And an exotic one – drivers with names like Ayrton Senna, Satoru Nakajima and Olivier Grouillard.

    I really miss how varied the liveries were. Now they are pretty much all white with a bit of colour on. Very Dull

  12. My introduction to F1 didn’t even involve a real race. Like you, it was in 1989 and my younger brother told me about a cool arcade racing game at a local bowling alley. It was Super Monaco GP, and we were hooked. We regularly drove to play the game, and then discovered the actual races were being broadcast on ESPN. I can’t even recall which race was the first one I watched on television, but I haven’t missed a race since.

  13. My first experience of Formula One was a Ferrari with number one on the nose. It must have been the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, when Senna pushed Prost off the track at the first corner. I reckon it was on the Dutch TV. I’ve watched several races in ’91 and ’92, and missed at most a handful since 1993.

  14. Awesome article, simply awesome.

    Although, I loved the early 2000s, the wind was knocked out of me at Monza, 2006.

    1. By Alonsos stupid penalty?

      1. By Schumacher’s retirement announcement.

        That penalty was not stupid, at some points he was too close to Massa. And any other driver would have let Felipe get ahead. Stupid of Renault to leave Alonso’s qualifying for that late.

  15. Thanks for sharing this Keith.

    I can’t quite remember when I first saw a grand prix unfortunately… I do remember watching live the first corner at Suzuka 1990 (I would have been 10) so I guess it might have been this. I’ve been hooked since, getting up for all the early morning GPs, albeit with more of a struggle throughout the Schumi years!

    My best memories are actually in 1994 – getting up in the night to watch Hill win at Suzuka with a cup of hot chocolate and the sound quite low so I didn’t wake my parents who were just above the TV and a thin floor!

    I also got adicted to Crammond’s Grand Prix, although I was one of those Atari ST people. Happy days : )

    1. I also got adicted to Crammond’s Grand Prix, although I was one of those Atari ST people. Happy days : )

      Who wasn’t addicted to that game! Infact I think I played that long before I even saw F1!

  16. Having a single mother and two sisters for siblings, motorsports or any sport for that matter was not introduced to me. Nevertheless I still had a fascination for cars for as long as I can remember.

    I would walk down a street gluing my face onto the window of each parked car trying to catch a glimpse of how many km/h the speedometer marked. Whenever I caught a glimpse of a race on TV I stopped dead on my tracks and watched in awe at the speed of those cars…

    Being from Brazil, I’d also hear about the escapades of our local heroes Senna & Piquet on the Sunday evening news. I remember clearly that 1st day of May in 1994. I was 11 years old. I wasn’t watching the race. I was outside playing with some friends and talking about cars as usual and I remember someone running outside with the news of the crash. The country came to a hault. Everyone in my family was in tears regardless of whether they watched racing or not.

    A few months later, we moved to the US where I lost complete connection with motor racing other than the odd Nascar race, which never got me going really.

    I didn’t start watching F1 again until I was 22 in 2005 and met my wife who is a huge F1 fan and got me hooked again. Since then we haven’t missed any race on TV, and have been lucky enough to have attended two F1 races and other Indy Car races.

    I certainly hope they don’t take it away from me again!

  17. Sush Meerkat
    17th June 2009, 14:35

    My introduction was by my Italian neighbour whose hero was the great Italian Ayrton Senna, oh yeah he thought he was Italian.

    His Italian flag in his lounge was also upside down (i.e. green on the right), the daft git.

    We’d be invited round and the F1 would be blaring out.

    1. Sush Meerkat
      19th June 2009, 19:09

      i’m surprised no ones picked up on my comment regarding an Italian thinking, no wait… insisting Senna was his Italian compatriot.

  18. Can’t remember exactly when I started but marshalled at British Grand Prix around 1970. Visited Hockenheim, Zandvoort, Spa, etc. Proper racetracks in those days!
    Saw Jimmy Clarke, Jochen Rindt, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, and so on. Still love it all but like most of you fed up with current politics which are so demeaning.
    Will watch Silverstone from comfort of sofa but sure all who attend will have a great time.

  19. I don’t remember my first grand prix, I would have been a of about 5 months. My father always watched F1 and my brothers and I always joined him. Can’t imagine not watching it.

  20. Even i am hoping F1 doesn’t split but if by chance that happens,Please cover the alternative championship headed by FOTA,Don’t cover Max Mosely’s F1.

  21. Random Chimp
    17th June 2009, 15:36

    That sounds similar to the way I first saw a GP (despite being about a decade later than you), although with me Geoff Crammond’s GP2 came first ;) I can’t remember the track or year, but I remember seeing Eddie Irvine win in his Ferrari. Crazy, heady days, man…

    1. At a guess I’d say Oz 1997 then.

      GP2 was amazing :)

  22. I don’t know exactly which one was my first gp, my family always watched every race to cheer for senna, but the first one i can remember now is interlagos 93, senna drove a fantastic race… a very good memory… and since then, i became too a f1 fanatic… GP2 fo PC was my favorite game for a long time… and today i feel very sad that people who don’t really care about f1 are killing my favorite sport… it will be a sad sad day when the perspective of seeing my favorite drivers and teams no longer racing in the pinnacle of motorsport…

  23. One of the things that impresses me the most is that real F1 fans usually don’t miss a race since the 1st important one, or they have really complicated stories behind how they lost 2 or 3 of them… I myself have seen every single race since 1991, and even though I didn’t see a couple of them live, I taped and watched them later, not knowing the results. I don’t think any other sport has such loyalty from the viewers.

  24. Interesting read, Keith. And awesome website. I like this site in particular because people post intelligent comments in the forums. All the other F1 sites Ive been to (PF1 in particular) are chock full of fanboys flaming eachother to the point of absurdity. So a big thanks to everyone I guess for being open minded and capable of real discussion.

    P.S. I like that you brought up Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix. That was actually my first exposure to F1, when I was about ten years old! Loved that game…

    1. I like this site in particular because people post intelligent comments in the forums.

      I’ll second that!! :D

    2. Thanks Hallard!

      And yeah I agree, we get great discussions here – so thanks to everyone else for contributing! :-)

  25. Thanks for a good article. I hope the current mess gets fixed. Being in America I saw what happened to the Indycar scene for the last 10 years. It is not pretty. I have said this before. I truly believe the answer is fresh blood. Mosley must go, the teams must get more of a say, and last but not least at some point, Bernie must go.
    It all started for me in 1979 in Canada, (Montreal). Jones won. After that I got to see Gilles win. I can’t tell you how cool that was. It was a special time. Jones, Villeneuve, Reggazoni, Scheckter, Andretti, Fittipaldi et al. That was it for me. Hooked. Saw almost every Canadian GP since then and every venue F1 raced at in America. Even the horrible Phoenix and Dallas races!
    After getting gooned in 2005 at Indy, (the 6 car Ferrari demonstration run), I thought I was through with F1. What a rip off. However, I wasn’t done yet. F1 lured me back in.
    Now, I just don’t know. Every year it is politics after more politics. Pretty much processional racing, with a few exceptions. I want racing without politics. Without constant rule changes. I want to see the opportunity for new teams to enter but I want the established teams to stay too.
    Yes, I’m still attracted to F1. Yes, it has become much more glamourous and a much bigger “show” than it was in 1979. But oddly enough, back in ’79 my first impression was that it was quite a show then. I even thought it was glamourous back then.
    I’ll continue to watch, I guess, regardless of whatever the outcome is of the latest political drama. But I’ve got to tell you guys, that flame of excitement, for me anyhow, isn’t quite as bright as it once was.
    Hope you all have a good British GP.

    1. Being in America I saw what happened to the Indycar scene for the last 10 years. It is not pretty.

      I think a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the IRL/CART split think that FOTA breaking away is magically going to solve everything. It isn’t.

      1. Indeed. It will cause some very big problems just like the IRL/CART split. I do see no another way we are going to get Bernie and Max out however – and seeing FOTA ‘give in’ to Max’s demands would make me feel quite sad.

        Let us all hope there’s a compromise. Bernie must understand that losing Ferrari and McLaren would hurt is pocket more than anything else.

  26. I live in Canada, so yeah, F1 isn’t huge here, but those who love sure love it. I remember back in the good’ol days when we had a Montreal GP that over 300,000 people would flock to montreal. you could hear the engines reving from LaRonde amusment park. I never got to go to a race myself, due to the ridiculous prices of races.
    I first got into racing in general when my older brother brought home a Sega Genesis when i was 6 years old, and we started playing Senna’s Championship racing. Later that week i was in the car with my mom on the way to school when I said that I wanted Race Car driver, I was very adament about it but she and my dad were adament in saying ‘no’. They didn’t even really let me watch racing after that. All i had was Senna’s racing for my Sega Genesis. Then after all the stuff that sent the NHL spiralling down, I decided that I was tired of watching over paid babies that pose as athletes and so i saw and add for Formula 1 on TSN and I started watching again, and I’ve been hooked since. Unfortunately I’m a little too old to start racing now and a little too out of shape, but I still enjoy watching it. I just hope it doesn’t end because of all this crap between FOTA and FIA.

  27. Interesting article Keith.

    I started watching F1 late 2002. I would have been about 8 years old. I got into it after my dad got ‘F1 2001’ for playstation. For some reason i used to be obsessed with crashing the cars at the 1st corner at Monza. :P

    I think i ended up watching the real Monza race to see if they would crash at the first corner! They didn’t, but i ended up watching the whole of it, and i think although it wasn’t an especially exciting race, i just loved watching the cars go by. I watched the final 2 races of the season and have watched basically every one since!

    God it would be awful if this crisis caused F1 to self destruct.

  28. i was at silverstone in 1989 my first live GP not a classic but an amazing day. started watching around 87 with all the great drivers and cars from that time, it’s great watching all the races again on the red button many times i say “i forgot about him” or “i remember that car” it’s sad that f1 is in it’s best shape for years on the track but being trashed by the money men of it.
    i will not be with you all this weekend – sadly but to everyone going have a great weekend.
    anyone fancy the idea of a f1 fanatic “on tour” next year????

    1. Please Gaz, explain “the idea of a f1 fanatic “on tour” next year????”

  29. You and Clive over at F1 Insight must have been pouring from the same introspective coffee pot this morning. Nice post. I think we’re all looking at this season-and this race in particular- with a bit of concern that it’s all unraveling.

  30. I’m from Malaysia, I still remember I started watching F1 when my younger brother told it was fast and with all the excitement and of course the crash, back in 1992. That time there wasn’t any live coverage, just 1 hour program with a lot of editing. I have no idea what was the racing is all about. Until the tragedy in 1994, one of the greatest lost in motor racing history that have change my favorite sport show to F1. I’m a F1 fanatic too, still remember rushing all the way to get a signature of Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert doing DHL promotion, too bad didn’t get get.

    Just like what Keith said his family holiday were interrupted on weekend just to get F1 fix, I’m too. I started using internet back few years ago and found this fantastic site 2 years ago with all the pictures, fans, news, information. Till today I’ve never turn off my laptop without reading this blog.

    Keep up the good job Keith.

  31. The first F1 footage I can recall seeing was from Fuji in 1976. I doubt this was live, but I was hooked. The world was a much bigger place then and the commentators sounded like they were on the other side of it, talking down a telephone. Seeing any action involved staying up very late on a Sunday evening for some highlights. I was lucky enough to attend some races, most notably the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch in, I think, 1977. I was 11 years old and found my way into the paddock quite easily, I’m still not sure how. I met James Hunt by simply walking up to him and got to sit on the back of a truck with him for a while!!!!!! Topically, Ferrari did not race that day and I felt slightly cheated, like it wasn’t a proper F1 race. I can’t claim to have watched every race since, but I’ve always been a fan. It’s just something that gets under your skin.

  32. Great post Keith, a pleasure to read.

    I cannot remember quite well the first time I watched a F1 GP. What I remember is at that time in Spain was realy hard to be a fan, because there were no way to follow F1 regularly.

    In any case, I remember that I started to become interested in Formula one because I read for first time a Spanish motorcar magazine and there was a great report about Ferrari: history, cars, facilities… and I suddenly fall in love with all I saw. That was in the early eighties…

  33. Ian B and Martin Bell told wonderful stories.
    I hardly can image how great as formula 1 at that time.

    A little secret:when I go around for holiday and we are close to a f1 track (current or old) I always force my travel mates to stop for a visit. Need to face some opposition but it’s worthwhile :-D

  34. F1 is my drug of choice like all of you I’m sure. It happened w/Sennas 92 monaco gp game. I knew that i needed to see what would be my greatest interest in the world. So kyalami 93 was my 1st taste of my 1st love. After donnington I had a fav. driver with barrichello. It’s been that way since then. He was the 1st driver I ever met and the nicest of them all. Thought schumi was cool until he bashed into hill in 94. That’s what nascar is for. Then villeneuve in 97, gimmie a break, he may have won 7 times but… u can fill that in.

  35. Being located in a country where is best athletes keep on getting busted for Steroids, I have pretty much bailed on all but American Football and started following MotorSports of any kind. I grew up with CART and remember when Mansell came over. The move made sense to me as the Indy 500 is the biggest thing ever. I laugh looking back now. Really got into F1 two years ago watching the Hamilton v Alonso teammate battle. Looking forward to an American in F1 next year.

  36. Great post, Keith.

    In my case I Just can’t remember exactly where or when I start to watch and follow F1. It was always there, but I remember some flashes from my early childhood watching and cheering for Piquet and Senna with my father.

    In the early 90s I was absolutely converted as hard core fan. On those years, the Senna´s death has made a huge impact in my love for F1, but even so I keep watching.

    Few races after we lost Ayrton, I got back.

    The death of Ayrton was a tragedy, but I must to say that without him I could appreciate and enjoy the whole game much better…

    In the 2000s I resisted to Schumacher era enjoying Mika, Montoya, Coulthard and mainly Alonso.

    Now I try to write about it, what is a good way to be inside the sport. I´m continue to enjoy it but what most I enjoy now — beside the sport itself — is to build some relationships and be part of a strong community that follows F1 Around the world.

  37. Excellent read Keith… your passion is enviable :)

  38. likethe others carn’t remember when first started to watch f1 but can recall watching james hunt wining in 76.Got hooked on f1 with mansell then followed the brits ever since.Even now if f1 is on dont even think to move me from tv it wont happen,even on hols if its f1 weekend will find a tv somewhere. Luckly going to silverstone this weekend and carn’t wait.Button to walk it i think brillant site keith hope to say hi on fri.

  39. Well Keith excellent article.
    I’ve said before we are so similar. You must be a clone of me. We seem to have started watching F1 at the same time and same race in 1989. I’m a huge Mansell fan (have read his biography). I also did not like the way the sport changed after Schumacher joined F1.
    I would say that if there is a split with F1 and the FIA then you should cover both.
    Maybe you should go as far as changing your site name to
    That way you could cover all types of motor racing. You do pretty much that already lol.

    1. I have given some thought to that – I have been running another site for other motorsports ( but updating two sites is proving very time-consuming and I’m toying with the idea of bringing them together somehow.

      1. I think that would be an excellent idea Keith, and it may even lower your workload having the two sites in one.

  40. My first taste of F1 was more recent than most people here.I was flipping through the channels and just happened to stop on Speed Channel the moment that Schumacher parked his car at Rascasse in Monaco 2006 qauli.Peter Windsor was making quite a fuss about it and I just had to watch the race the next day to find out what happened.I was so impressed at the acceleration and short braking distance of the cars…I was in love.I was VERY impressed with Alonso after a couple of races and soon began learning all I could about Formula One drivers.Keith’s site was where I learned most of what I know about this great sport.I commented on this site (in 2006) how I was grateful to learn here and how well written it is,Keith promptly e-mailed me to thank me for the praise and I knew I had an F1 homebase.

    Thanks again Keith!

  41. Keith, maybe you could expand this article a little. You maybe could do a season by season memory lane piece, where you can show how your following and thoughts on F1 have changed over the years. How your feelings toward the sport you love has changed season by season. You say that you became a Nigel Mansell fan, but he left the sport too soon. Maybe you could explain in more detail who you changed your allegiances to and why.
    As for the 20 years that we both have followed F1, has it only been 20??? seems like so many more.
    And as a Mansell fan i wish i had gotten into F1 in say the beginning of 1985 so i could have watched Mansell in his first race winning year.

    1. Nice idea – could make a good off-season series. I’ve added it to my notepad…

  42. I must have watched pre 94 races as I remember mansell and Indy car and how I wanted him to win. And then sennas funeral (I was on holiday in France at the time of the state funeral) I don’t remember the crash though. I was 11 at the time and remember the front of the paper vivedly. I became hooked with a car racing with 0 on it and it took a while to understand why. I don’t think I could put the funeral I saw in the papers with the fast cars and “fun” crashes I saw. I hope I never see anything like it.

    I hope the younger members don’t forget that death is always possible. Kubica was the last one I really thought about. They are the moments that make you think politics don’t matter, the drivers are warriors who take the risks as we’d never have the guts.

    The wdc might be 80% about having the right car but the 20% is the skill and the belief in your skill to risk everything for that chance. It’s why I will all respect the slowest driver, he still risks everything for the fans

  43. I started watching F1 with my dad. I remember the amazement at the first turbo cars, the six wheeler Tyrell and the black and gold John Player Special car. I got the latter two for my RC Fleischmann race track.

    Unfortunately my dad never wanted to take me to a race on Zandvoort. I would sit in de garden listening to the cars though (I lived about 5km away from the track).

    Probably one of and strongest memories of that time was the slo mo reruns of the death of Gilles Villeneuve. I can still picture his body strapped to the seat flying through the air with a circle drawn around it.

    When I got a bit older I got really hooked and started watching on my own. That was at the end of the 80’s and beginning of the 90’s (Senna vs Prost era). Then I started playing Grand Prix 2 on the PC and I was sold completely. I have hardly missed a race ever since.

  44. Well said, Keith.

  45. Nice story.
    I see this GP in Argentina, on my tv with my father. I was twelve.

  46. I’ve said my story many times, but I remember first seeing F1 in a tape-delayed showing of the 1996 Spanish GP on TV. I saw this red car dominating the field at will. I was interested in it, but I never got to see it again until 1997. By sheer dumb luck, I ended up watching Monaco, where the same red car romped the field to a dominant win.

    And so it was that I became a Michael Schumacher and Ferrari fan. I started watching more often in 2000 (and saw Schumi win the title in Japan), and started watching full-time in 2001. And I haven’t missed a race since 2002.

  47. I first got hooked in the late 90s. My elder brother an ardent Mclaren fan was watching F1. I(ferrari one) wanted to watch Cartoon Network( I was 8 or so), he obviously got to watch what he wanted. No regrets at all.

    I don’t remember the exact race but it involved Shumi, the older one, and a certain mika hakkenen. Can’t remember exactly but they were racing and mika was in the lead. Raining heavily and they were racing.(Not the crappy driving they do now when it rains).

    Well, the last lap and he had a 40s lead over shumi and his engine blew. Schumi came limping around to take the victory. I remember him offering a lift to mika. Raikkonen did the same, and I think mika accepted. Thats what got me hooked. Can anyone tell me the race?

    Later on, it was Raikkonens style of driving(even though I was a ferrari fan, conflict of interest, but I survived, cheering him to win, but for ferrari to keep the title.) His swash buckling, I don’t give a damn of the car(he was notoriously fast but kept breaking his car) attitude, just giving it all, kept me in F1. This was during Schumis dominant era.

    Unfortunately after that, it just went downhill. F1 and my interest in it. Was hopeful when Kimi came to ferrari, but just never saw the same style and commitment from him or any of the drivers. Sure Jenson button wins, great rags to riches story, but is it exciting?

    For me F1 lost its charm, with circuits that offer little overtaking, with drivers not overtaking when there are chances, with stewards penalizing those that do take it(Vettels in Australia for the move on Kubica). We can be sure he won’t try that stunt anytime soon. What happened to the risky overtaking maneuvers and strategies? Are the teams and the FIA curbing the drivers free spirit and racing attitude? Which ever drivers been in F1 I notice that they just lose their edge? Why? Teams that think points are more important? Fear of getting penalized?

    Whatever it is,wheel to wheel racing was as common cockroaches now its as rare as the jaguar, an endangered species and soon to be extinct. F1 is going.Its not F1, if the big guns(ferrari, maclaren, renault so on) are missing. Its called GP2. All good things must come to an end I suppose. At least the football world cups going to start.

  48. It’s always interesting to read how people get into jobs and hobbies. But sometimes I’m a bit of a fatalist and what will be will be and so be it in terms the FIA FOTA spat. And who knows maybe this may even be a blessing in disguise…

  49. I think every race should be five laps long , thats when the action happens , after five laps it settles down .
    I still love F1 so i don’t really mean it , by the way look at the cars at the top of this piece the two ferrari’s and the two mclaren’s they are good looking cars very aethetically pleasing .
    for me the drivers are all learning to drive again with out the toys and mods that helped keep them on track a little more testing would have helped to make this a better season and now more changes for next season .

  50. Well i started watching f1 in 1999.My stupid cousin didn’t let me watch cricket cause f1 was happening and so i was forced to watch the race with him.I don’t remember the race exactly.But that’s when i started watching haven’t missed many races after that.In fact i saw the 2002 Malaysian GP even though it was 1 day ahead of my 10th grade board exam.Was a Schumacher fan and by default became a Ferrari fan.So i guess i am pretty much addict to F1.

  51. Great piece Keith,

    My first Race was one of the last ones in 93. the local TV station didn’t cover all of them at the time. but they did the full coverage in 94. by then i was hooked on Senna, and at Imola, well i think a lot of you on this site share my feelings of that dark weekend and the season in general. after Senna was gone my allegiance moved to teams not particular drivers. my favorites were always Ferrari, with a secondary underdog favorite team. at first it was Ligier, and Panis winning Monaco was a blast. Prost as well and last year it was Torro Rosso, and Vettel made it worthwhile at Monza.

    however with the Fota Shmota thing, i fell out of love with Ferrari, Brawn GP are my favorites for this year, and i understand why Ross is hanging with Fota, but even if the unthinkable happens and the split happens, i will stick to F1, nothing else. for some reason i have a feeling it would still be cool to watch ,who knows maybe the fascination of the 80’s will come back.


  52. Hi, this is my first comment on this fantastic site. I’m really loving it. Wish it had been around when I started following Formula 1…
    It was back in 1977. I live in Sweden, and in those days motorsport, and Formula in particular, wasn’t shown on television at all. I think it was considered too commercial by the public service network. So I went to the library and borrowed the swedish magazine Teknikens Värld which had a short report from every Grand Prix written by Fredrik af Petersens, still covering Formula 1 today.
    Ronnie Peterson was of course my childhood hero. The 1978 season was very special and even Swedish television started to get interested with Ronnie fighting with Mario Andretti for the championship. They even broadcast the Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort with Ronnie finishing second behind Mario. The next race was the Italian Grand Prix from Monza. I remember the startcrash, seeing that it was Ronnies Lotus 78 that was on fire, long before the swedish commentators knew what was going on and the numbness I felt.
    I also remember Jody Scheckter crashing his Wolf at the exit of the second Lesmo in the build-up for the second start. I have heard rumours that he did it on purpose to stop the race from being restarted. I find it hard to believe since the Armco barriers were much closer to the track in those days. And the cars were very dangerous back then.
    The morning after I went to school, knowing that Ronnie was injured, and by lunchtime the news of his death had reached us. And a few weeks later my second hero Gunnar Nilsson succumbed to cancer.
    After that my Formula 1-interest faded considerably. I didn’t care about Andretti and his World Title.
    But it changed in 1979. I was in England in Paignton on Language School and one sunday evening I saw the coverage of the French Grand Prix from Dijon Prenois. That was the most amazing duel I had ever seen and it got me hooked for real again. I bought the magazine Grand Prix International the next day. It covered the Monaco Grand Prix and had fantastic four colour pictures!
    When I got home I started buying GPI reglarly and also Motor Sport with the fantastic Dennis Jenkinson and also the german Auto Motor und Sport-magazine. I had realized, that I had to go to better sources to feed my interest. I also started buying the Autocourse Yearbook – and I am still doing so.
    Sadly I think that Formula 1 has lost a bit of it’s charm. I like close racing on the track and I don’t like that most duels are decided in the pits. But maybe I’m a little bit too conservative…
    I think it is fantastic that we have so many big manufacturer-teams in the sport today. That wasn’t the case in the seventies. But I would like to have more cars on the grid as well. Why not consider customer teams where constructors points go to the manufacturer of the chassis or engine? I think that was the case in the old days. And, more racing on the track, less in the pits…

  53. Late 91 for me. 1992 season was the first full one I watched, handy being a Brit.

    A Williams with number ‘0’ on it then engrossed me for two years. I still cant stand Schuntmaker for Adelaide ’94. Was well pleased when Damon finally won his title. Think I’ve missed half a dozen races in 18 years? Maybe more when the red car was boring the backside off me in the early ’00’s…

    Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix took over my childhood.

  54. Well I started to watch the same year as Keith,
    but it was the japanese GP.

    It’s once again a nice peace of writing,
    and on the eve of thursday june the 18th… this is also a bit creepy.

    I see on forums, lot’s of people are just against Max & the whole FIA, and they would jump for joy if they split tomorrow. But I know, I feel, that’s the worst thing that can happen,
    The chance for peace was on tuesday down to almost nothing (5%) .. yesterday it looked better … But silence from some and stubborn attitude keep the hopes down to only 15% .. now it’s just waiting for tomorrow.

    fingers crossed, hoping that my letters and mails to some involved people in the talks just made them realise not everybody would be happy with the end of F1 as we know it untill today.

  55. first F1 race 1996 monaco GP i was only 4 but remember the white and red mclarens

  56. The year David Coulthard was heading for victory in Adelaide but then beached it in the barrier on the way into the pits….

    I remember the ferrari cars of Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi with the low noses.

    I remember the year Ayrton Senna was killed (I wasn’t into F1 at that stage but I remember it being all over the news).

    These were the 1994-95 seasons I think… I can’t remember that well. I was ten.

    Hoping for a resolution to be found before tomorrow but it doesn’t look good……

    Really cool post Keith.

  57. I’ve never been to a F1 race but it started in the mid 60s with P Hill, D Gurney, S Moss, and others. It wasn’t fun waiting for my Competition Press to come and at that time the greatest hill climb races was going on. It’s funny I’m just getting set up to watch F1 and the real F1 might not be on. I do hope A1 comes back to California soon

  58. Looking back, I am a bit puzzled as to where I had my initial exposure to F1. I was aware of what F1 was in 1995; the kid across the street had a Formula 1 game for his Playstation. I remember thinking, “An F1 game, great! I hope they have Schumacher and Andretti!” Like most, I only won at Hockenheim because I cut the chicanes. For whatever reason though, probably because American TV coverage of F1 was sparse at best, that was most of my exposure to F1 for the next few years. I focused on CART.

    Around 1998, ESPN started to rebroadcast European races for the American audience, recapturing some of my pre-teen interest. While many of the backmarker names had changed, Mika, Schumi and this Canadian IndyCar driver were the (still) recognizable name plates. But even then, I naively thought Michael Andretti was better than Michael Schumacher. My dad had to explain why I was wrong, and, out of defiance, I refused to listen. How wrong I was.

    Then 2000 came, and my interests shifted away from CART and back towards F1. Partly because Zanardi had went to F1 and had his hat handed to him, partly because JPM had won the Indy 500 and would be going to Williams, but mostly because my dad and gotten us tickets to the USGP. Turn 13. Mika v. Michael. THE American Track (even if it does have a crap road course). And the roaring sounds of V10s.

    Looking ahead to 2010, I am troubled. We Americans destroyed our open wheel legacy, and when it comes to recovering that legacy, I have my doubts. We lost a generation of drivers to NASCAR. Gordon. Stewart. Allmendinger. We lost Ford and Chevy power. Indy lost its soul. Sure, many believe that the marquee names of F1 will continue to attract fans no matter the series. But as an American open wheel fan, I have my doubts that a split will benefit anyone.

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