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I have started becoming more of a committed Formula 1 fan in recent months. I was never one before I went to the UK, it only featured on my map of the sporting world because it was Sumer’s sport, the sport that he was the most interested in and talked about an awful lot. And as one of those de facto things that litter life, if your friends talk about something a lot, you learn a lot about it yourself, and begin to develop a little interest of your own to complement them. But that was initially the extent of my interest; more the interest of my friends then my own.

It changed with university, as did so many other things. ITV in the UK broadcasts F1 free to air, with a top notch presentation crew and commentary that is both accessible and informative and served as a bench mark into the sport. Also the times were suddenly much more reasonable with races being in the afternoon on weekends, times when I had more time on my hand without having to go to madressa or being constrained by the thought of work due in on Monday. I begin to appreciate the excellent fusion that the sport provided between machinery operating at its maximum, the tremendous performance at the top end of any game, and the tremendous focus, precision and concentration that they drivers demonstrated, bringing a car around at 300km/h stopping with infinite precision in a breaking zone all while tussulling with one another for the smallest advantage that they could open out into an opportunity to get ahead or get away from their fellow competitors.

Recently, I’ve managed to ‘acquire’ a copy of EA Sport’s F1 Challenge which is perhaps the bench mark of realistic racing on the PC, a genre so niche that no one even competes with a game that was last really updated in 2003 and only is current today by the endeavours of a committed set of modders that add updates and strive to improve the game as much as they can, which they are able to do by the excellent open ended design of the game to allow modding and amendments that have enabled the success of these dedicated maintainers of the F1 PC gaming legacy.

A few weeks of playing this modest game, has impressed upon me how much I underestimated the top notch professionalism of an F1 driver. The difficulty is not in mechanics and car control, that is a huge potential problem though, and one not to be lightly discarded. A vehicle going at 200km/h going out of control and into a tyre wall is a sobering thought that would keep most sane people firmly glued to their unmoving seats in the audience stand, not rushing out to the raceway. What is more daunting, and perhaps even tougher is the exacting concentration that is required in every moment and at every turn of a race. You cannot switch off for a single moment without dire consequences. You cannot miss a breaking point, you cannot get caught up in the competition, the proximity of another car on the race track, you have to race your own race while all the time being aware of the ever fluid changing circumstances.

It has shown me how weak actually my concentration is. I find it impossible to focus on anything like race distance. In fact in any given lap, there are probably two moments where I’m on the thin line between everything breaking and the car just staying on the road, and I’m not even consistently able to correct when I think that I might be close to overstepping the line without knowing what to do. That kind of focus, that kind of concentration on anything is something that I lack at any level in my life and I really admire the ability for anyone to do it. There’s a hope that the weaknesses in my racing game can finally function to allow me to get more out of life.



    • md
    • Posted December 16, 2006 at 10:35 pm
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    do you watch the new japanese tv serial ‘engine’? it’s good. mondays 9:30pm

    • Dom
    • Posted December 24, 2006 at 9:42 pm
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    I think you will admire their skills even more if you actually drive. No, you cannot run that red line the way you do in Grand Theft Auto. No, you can’t risk taking a turn too fast coz you’ll veer off your lane and hit another car. And no you can’t lose concentrate because a collision even at 60kph can do a lot of damage to you and your vehicle.

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