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Posts Tagged: Monaco

Talent, History and Danger

Monday 17th May 2010

After the last few posts on politics, now back to the really important stuff.

Monaco Grand Prix yesterday. I love this race; it’s a wonderful display of what the cars and drivers are capable of. It’s amazing seeing the speed they can carry through tight and twisty turns, and I am constantly in awe of the ability of the drivers around there. To drive a single quick lap round there is a massive test, requiring an immense amount of concentration, skill and guts. I simply can’t imagine driving any sort of car at 170-180mph on public roads, millimetres from solid barriers. And then I can’t imagine being able to keep that up for nigh on two hours. Great stuff.

I love the history too. The first race was held there in 1929, on basically the same layout (and incidentally, the guy who won that first race went on to work as a spy in WW2. Read this book because it’s fascinating). It’s amazing seeing the old videos and recognising the track, and realising that the challenges that faced Williams and Carraciola and Dreyfus are the same things which have challenged people like Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna and Stirling Moss over the years, and which still challenge the current crop of drivers. Some people fail those challenges, whereas others (people like Lewis Hamilton) thrive on them, and this means that Monaco – more than perhaps any other circuit – separates the great drivers from those who are merely very good.

Of course in the old days there were additional dangers. Note the lack of barriers in the old video, and the presence of street furniture. And the complete lack of protection in the cars. Luxuries that the drivers have today – things like seat belts – simply weren’t there in the past. And on that note, I heard an interview with Stirling Moss in the BBC coverage this weekend and he touched on this point. Listen to this even if you’re not a motorsport fan, because his comments on danger are fascinating:

“I’m glad that I raced when it was dangerous, because the exhileration of going round a really fast corner – 140, 150 miles per hour – knowing that if you go off you might die… Sure makes you feel pretty good when you get through it without dieing!”

It reminds me of another quote I’ve heard from him:

“To race a car through a turn at maximum speed is difficult. But to race a car at maximum speed through that same turn, when there is a brick wall on one side and a precipice on the other… Ah, that’s an achievement”.

Massive respect.

Posted In: Motorsport Tagged: | 4 Comments

I Really Can’t Think Of A Decent Title For This Post

Monday 25th May 2009

Watching the Monaco Grand Prix yesterday, I was extremely jealous of everyone who was there to watch it. I’d love to go to any Grand Prix, but rarely do I watch and wish I was actually there. But the idea of watching the race around the streets of Monaco, over the gorgeous harbour and under a fantastic blue sky, then retiring to a bar for several (probably overly-expensive) cold beers, really appeals.

The race at Monaco is definitely one of the worst. It’s fairly (very) processional, with very little overtaking. Unless it’s raining, it’s very rarely a massively exciting race. Yet if you ask most F1 fans, it’s the race they most want to go to. That’s because even though it’s a crap race, it’s a unique opportunity to see massively powerful, massively fast cars racing on a public road; cars doing an average speed of 100mph on roads that otherwise take normal traffic, and doing it in close proximity to barriers which punish the slightest mistake. On a properly fast lap, the drivers actually brush the edge of the tyres against the barriers. At over 100mph. Oh, and because it’s all really cramped, it’s also the race where you can get the closest to the track and see all this taking place. Great stuff.

Anyway, there are a few things that I’ve been meaning to blog about (and how many times have I said that now?). I’m gonna try to write some of that stuff down though soon. To sort of nudge myself into doing it, I’m gonna list some of the topics here. Hopefully that’ll shame me into writing it, cos in a month or two I’ll look at the list and think “oops, I said I’d write about that”…

  • Technology
  • Photography (this one could be contraversial…)
  • Alcohol
  • Business/economy
  • Politics
  • Life, the universe, everything
  • Driving
  • Engineering/work

Some of those could get amalgamated (“Alcohol” and “Life/universe/everything” are good candidates for that), and I might think of something else to write about before I do any of the above. The list is just there to prod me into writing more (and maybe someone else will prod me, “Oi, you said you were gonna write about x and you still havent!”).

I was somewhat amazed to read the comments on Flix’s blog a while back, with people saying they wouldn’t wanna change uni-world for the real world. I’m the exact opposite. As much as I moan about it sometimes, and as much as I’m utterly bored of getting up at quarter to 7 (or quarter to 6 on Monday mornings), I much prefer work. I like being finished at half 5, I like the feeling of Getting Something Done, and I absolutely adore being out of the Student Bubble. Being paid really doesn’t suck, either. I was back in Cardiff on Friday and went to the pub with a load of my mates down there, and all of us who have done a year out this year agree that we prefer working. In some ways, I’m kinda dreading going back to Uni.

Anyway, 3 months left and allegedly I’ll be moving away from Brize soon, to work in Head Office on another project. Be annoying to be off-site during the sunny summer, but it’ll be interesting to try yet another thing this year. Reduce my fuel bills a hell of a lot, too…

Posted In: EngineeringMotorsportSite Tagged: | 1 Comment