Saturday, 11 June 2011

Motor Racing is Really Boring... Unless There's a Crash!

Last night I was watching the F1 practice session while my sister was over for a family gathering. It was all lovely, and then my sister said something that really gets my back up: "Let's face it, it's not that interesting unless somebody crashes". I hate this. I hate it when people watch races to see people crash. Now, it's not my sister's fault - she doesn't watch motorsport at all - but I want to outline why exactly I hate this point of view, and why people should find motorsport interesting without incidents occurring.

Every time anyone gets a ticket to go and watch a motorsport event there's a warning on the ticket saying 'Motorsport is dangerous'. On most occasions, there's little risk to a spectator but the warning is fair nonetheless. Motorsport IS dangerous - and perhaps the greatest risk is for those inside the cars or in close contact with them at least. I really don't like watching people crash in races. My first thought is always for the driver and their safety. At the last F1 race in Monaco I waited with bated breath to hear whether Perez was ok, as it was horrible watching the extraction procedures with the screens covering the car. Thankfully, Perez was alright and it's a tribute to how far F1 has come in terms of driver safety. So while we can be content in the knowledge that a driver's likely to be safe during an F1 race there's still a risk of serious injury - just look at Massa in Hungary. In other disciplines of motorsport there's a higher risk: Kubica's rally accident which left him out of the F1 season so far being an example. This is precisely why I dislike people watching races for the crashes - there's a real chance of serious injury for the drivers, and people shouldn't be willing an incident to happen.

However, I can see why people have this view. Motorsport is a balancing act. To get the fastest car, you have to have it right on its limits. Accidents happen because a driver's gone past this limit. While (hopefully) most of us spectators are watching races hoping that drivers get to the limit, but not beyond it, some people (particularly those who don't know much about the sport) cross the line and hope to see drivers going past these limits. It's here where the accidents and injuries lie. I honestly think that people who watch races for crashes don't have much knowledge of the risks involved. F1 is so safe that serious injuries rarely occur, and so people don't necessarily remember the 2/3 chance of dying during a race many years ago. Ok, it's a testament to those who campaigned to change those odds that people think F1 is perhaps safe enough to be able to "enjoy" accidents, but we shouldn't forget that there are still risks which could lead to death. This was one of the reasons why I wanted more people to see the Senna movie - people would realise that motorsport isn't all that safe and when things go wrong there are occasionally serious consequences.

So, if you're one of those people who does watch motorsport for the accidents then I hope you realise that it's not nice to wish someone would have the risk of serious injury or death. You should watch F1 and other sports for the racing - not for the crashes. It's much more fun to watch two drivers battling for position in close races than it is to watch a driver being pulled from a car and taken to hospital. It's also much more interesting watching a driver push his car to the very limit of its capabilities, rather than watching him spin off in a cloud of dust. Yes, accidents will happen, but they're not the reason why you should watch races.