The Magic 8 Spectacle

[Part 1/8]

A lot of unseen effort goes into Formula One. Multi-million dollar deals, driver contracts and immense scrutinizing to keep the protagonists on the grid in check. F1 is a peculiar business. Drivers are employees and their sole objective is to win, whilst their employers are tasked with developing competitive cars and maintain solid sponsorships to fund their endeavours. All at the same time, hundreds of personnel are “back at the factory” working day and night through the year, be it in the sweltering heat of summer or the cold recesses of winter. Here are eight spectacles that run through the heart and veins of Formula One.

Formula One is a scene of an organised chaos. Filled with roughly 2000 people, during a season teams travel across the globe from corner to corner. Once only 8 races filled the F1 calendar, but now there are around twenty each year, beginning in March and ending in November, spanning a massive distance of 160 000km across the rondures of the Earth. But even after the rush of a year traveling around the world chasing a trophy, it is only the racing that stops. Then it is a battle against time for engineers, mechanics and aerodynamicists just to name a few, fill the factory to continue developing a car that has already been conceptualised around July/August of that same year.


During the 9 months of a season, the F1 circus visits a number of fantastic countries. They touch North and South American, European, Asian and Australian continents where they visit world-famous tracks with legendary legacies. The calendar is filled with season jewels like Monaco, Monza and Spa, whilst the ghosts of others still remain like parts of the old Hockenheimring, where nature is slowly reclaiming the track as its own, and the old tarmac has succumbed to shrubs, trees and grasses. A low, winding band of new fauna and flora covers the area where valiant drivers once tore through the air at 220 mph.

Formula One is all about numbers. Races and titles won, seconds in front and seconds behind, laps done and laps to go. Deep breath in. A Formula One car takes roughly 18 months to develop with approximately 80, 000 components that makes up a structure that is 80% carbon fibre. Deep breath out. That’s quite a lot to take in… and many can appreciate this. But what do all fans appreciate? In an a punchy 8-part series, the Formula 1 Issue’s Dane Hansen takes a look at 8 things that make F1 just so special.

  1. Event venues and tracks

Formula One touches the many corners of the globe. From Austin Texas, it moves across the fjords Europe and Asia, to Melbourne Australia, a whopping 17 hours ahead in time and 14 000 km away from the North American countries. Its most illustrious stops have been the likes of the a seven- minute-a-lap journey around the sinister Nordschleife in Germany, the winding affluent corners of a concrete maze called Monaco, the flowing hills and swaying chambers of  Spa Francochamps, and not to forget, the untamed rapidity of  Autodromo Nazionale Monza near Milan in Italy.

The Nordschleife was the first German Grand Prix on the F1 calendar. Teased to be designed by Hitler himself, this track is filled with tragedy and triumph. It was a fixed event from 1950 and was kept for the next 26 years until its eventual demise after the 1976 season. An arena almost impossible for drivers to learn, the 28.2 km track is littered with blind corners, abrupt crests and swift and speedy straits. After a controversial weekend in 1976 during the height of the Hunt-Lauda rivalry, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari in tricky conditions and hit the Armco before being struck by another car. Niki nearly burnt to death. Today it is still in use for track days and has even featured in some video games. It is still a respected and feared layout and remains a challenge for all those who attempt to master its trickery.

Flugplatz - Nordshleife

Spa-Francorchamps. Located in the sinuous hills of Francorchamps this circuit is mysterious. As if it were a sleeping monster, Formula One cars have danced along its terraced back for years. Like something that is alive and wild, it is totally unpredictable and moody. It is home to some infamous names, along with the daunting, swooping hill of Eau Rouge being the obvious that comes to mind. Taken at full speed a driver’s body is subjected to being twice its own weight as gravity forces him downwards into his race seat. It is a driver’s track and is immensely popular amongst all those who adore motorsport. Michael Schumacher drove to glory here on six occasions, and it is this Grand Prix where in 1991 he brusquely made his mark on Formula One and the world of sport.

Spa, 1965

The Grand Prix de Monaco is by far the most glamorous of them all. It is staged in Monte Carlo where the streets, grand stands and casino hotels stand tall and act as an amphitheatre to the harbour that rests below – a place where retired millionaires and celebrities sip real Champagne and work on their eternal suntans. Its design, like to a twisted wire coat hanger, has tested the best of them; Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Nelson Piquet said driving here is like trying to ride a bicycle in your living room and one doesn’t need to stretch his imagination to see why. It’s a place where technical meets romance, and is flaunted by royalty. It is the ultimate track to win at. Drivers barely get a chance to enjoy the beauty of the principality as they are exposed to violent bumps, twists, turns and tunnels which are all navigated with pinpoint precision. Once all this is done after 72 laps, they will have changed gears 3 000 times as they tore past the opulent buildings that tower over the tarmac below.

Senna at Monaco

To be continued…

Revs for thought



About dphansen24

I am an avid freelance Formula 1 writer and blogger. My writings are diverse and range from historical insights, to thorough and exciting analysis of the modern era and the topics that come with it. I am also able to take in requests from readers that wish to gain vision into particular stories. All are welcome. I encourage constructive criticism and conversation in comments or via email. My passion for the world’s fastest show consumes my daily efforts and I am always enthused to write about the sport I love most. Even as a pundit, I too have a curiosity and am always ready to learn more about an ever expanding sport.

Posted on February 24, 2015, in Historics, Original Pieces and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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