Formula 1: it’s a never-ending story
or where it should be going. Was the Bard right? Is it all sound and fury, signifying nothing? Or was he wrong? Perhaps it signies us as an amazing species? Perhaps it makes manifest the incredible potential, creativity and determination, inventiveness, competitiveness, tenacity and courage of humans, like some ultimate cave painting, leaving an indelible mark on our minds that says: we were here, we did this, we are alive. I believe there are edifying aspects to our sport, if only we’d spend a little more time advertising them. But then it wouldn’t be F1.
My father had a phrase he’d often turn against his occasionally whinging kids: “No such thing as can’t.”
‘No such thing as can’t,’ is the motto of F1.
Surely there has never been a tribe of people who have been as unstoppable as F1 people? Okay. I admit, 66 years is not the Roman Empire, but it is built on the same stuff, heroes and myths. It exalts the most excellent drivers of the past and hails the new champions. It has created its own momentum and is propelled by its history into the future.
But if I may rewind the clock for a second, there is a story I would like to re-tell.
In the early 1950s, there was a man who was destined to be an ordinary man working on a lathe for a company in England. Then he read an advert offering a few laps of Brands Hatch in a racing car for a pound a lap. So he spent what little money he had and did it. Out of the blue. It was in those few laps that ‘the bug bit’ to use his phrase. What bug? Speed? Power? Adrenaline? Whatever. He gave up the lathe and set his sights on getting more of ‘it’. That man was my father and to this day, Graham Hill OBE, is the only driver to have won all three major motorsport titles: the Indy 500, the Le Mans 24 Hours, and the F1 world championship. It is a feat unlikely to be beaten, unless Jacques Villeneuve gets a decent seat at Le Mans, which is unlikely, but if he does, I’ll be there. You bet, Jacques!
The date of the last race of 2015, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, is 29 November; it marks an unfortunate anniversary – one most likely to send a shiver down the spine of those affected by the accident 40 years ago that ended the lives of Graham Hill and the key personnel in his team: Ray Brimble, Tony Alcock, Terry Richards, Andy Smallman and Tony Brise.
Burns had a good line to describe it: ‘…grief an’ pain for promis’d joy’. The team were going places. They might have been a McLaren or a Williams of today. But life doesn’t always work like that. There are no rules that obey the dreams of man, only innite possibilities. Graham Hill’s team, Embassy Racing, made instant history, but it is part of the whole story of F1 and that story, like the cosmos, is being born and destroyed all the time.
I tease Sir Jackie Stewart that he won three titles and the Hills also have three, but that if we add my 22 wins to Dad’s 14, we have won more grands prix [Sir Jackie won 27]. But we are squabbling over second place, since history, being the domain of the victor, is being written by Lewis Hamilton now, with three titles and more wins and poles than all but the very special few. Who knows where his story is going? You see, the story never ends and it doesn’t have a script. Wonderful, isn’t it?
Lewis Hamilton now has 43 Formula 1 victories to his name, putting him behind only Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher