How I Met The Formula 1 F1,Formule 1, construct, konstrukce | Constructors F1

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How I Met The Formula 1 F1,Formule 1, construct, konstrukce | Constructors F1 Constructors F1

How I Met The Formula 1

J.Beneš,text i foto | 15.8.08 | J. Beneš


I boldly borrowed the title of Ota Pavel's short story for the reasons of a coincidence, which lead me so close, unexpectedly and quickly to this thing, without me being a profuse millionaire's son, or being born with a steering wheel in my hand in the pit stop of Monza or Silverstone.

Sometime at the beginning of September a blue-white letter appeared on my desk, inviting me to an action called MICHELIN DRIVING EXPERIENCE, held at the Spain circuit of Ricardo Torma near Valencia. Trying hard, perhaps too hard, to find out what „the fuss is all about," I only got an uncertain reply „it's some kind wild stuff at the circuit, or something" - and I am believed to be the most keen on such relaxation.I felt a little insulted at first, as I think highly of the amateur's circuit races, which I have been taking part in with my mates regularly since 2001. However, I decided to toss the pride aside and got excited about the prospect of an unknown circuit and curious about what kind of vehicle I would be driving there.We landed at Valencia Airport on September 15, after 10pm, and with another about twenty-five people from Czech, Slovakia and Hungary were taken to the hotel.Quite early in the morning, after delicious breakfast we set off for the circuit on the same bus. The female guide managed to tell us a lot of interesting things during the transfer. I found the story about the beginnings of the city park particularly funny.Sometime back in the 60s, the people in Valencia were so fed up with the frequent flooding caused by the river Turia flowing through the city, that they built a dam and let it mouth directly into the sea. After the river had gone, a hundred meters wide and ten meters deep bed remained, with all its bridges and rafting-yards, stretching about ten kilometres throughout the whole city. At the bottom of the bed, they built a beautiful park, that even today, fifty years later, gives you an unforgettable impression, just like the breathtaking walks under the ancient bridges.I have never seen anything like this, and I have travelled quite a lot behind the truck's steering wheel. Having come to the circuit, we were split to the groups of six. They made us fireproof underwear, shoes and overalls, and in an emergency classroom, we received the first concrete briefing on what would actually happen.In the morning the group rides, changing PORSCHE 911 GT3 CUP/ 390 HP and MARTINI FORMULA 3/ FORD engine 2000ccm, 425 kg, 205 HP, apart from that quizzes on F1 and contests, for example changing wheels against the clock. Break afterwards, common lunch and than, no sh..., maybe even FORMULA ONE !! They must be joking, to put an amateur freak like myself into the f1 and unleash him onto the circuit - only a madman would attempt anything like that.They say they have two ARROWS A18 / FORD COSWORTH 3000ccm, 500 kg, 650 HP from the year 1998 and one more, cut in half, stretched by 30 cm, so called double-seater with additional fifty horsepower. Well, I know something about that, I also rode „pincek - doubleseat".The ideal line was marked perfectly with red-white cones, including the braking points, apexes and exit points. The Porsches' speedometers were covered, so as not to disrupt attention from the situation on the track. To put it bluntly, the proper driving school.There were four Porsches on the PIT LANE, four F3s behind them and an instructor in each of the leading cars. Us, „wizard's apprentices" having been broken into the groups of three, lumbered inside and let the local servants to harness us into the seats and furthermore turn us into clowns by letting them start our prams.My confidence dropped bellow the freezing point. Treating us like kids. And don't even think of passing anybody, there's a little boy. Of course, Daddy. A lucky lot determined a Porsche for my first ride. Soon I understood, I'll be happy enough just to get it moving. I needed two tries to do so, but as Mr.Instructor had already seen worse, he waited for me and didn't drive away. Really nice guy.What happened afterwards is hard to describe. I hoped the first lap would be just a warm-up, but the team leader probably wanted to tell the goats from the sheep and drove pretty fast and the three sheep of us had really hard time to stick to him. I have already taken some kilometres with a stiff circuit suspension, you can also guess whether the car accelerates to hundred kph in seven or five seconds, but what really took my breath was the way the slicks' grip in the corners and indescribable brakes. I just lay my feet on it and stop immediately. Fantastic.In Formula 3 the experience was even strengthened by the car's low weight, which meant shorter braking distance and even better grip in the corners. But staring at your own front wheels rolling a meter from your face sends shivers down your spine.Another, this time my personal trouble in F3, were my size 46 shoes, which pressed the brake anytime I attempted the clutch.Well, GT3 would be my favourite. Shortly before the lunch we went to the pit stop, where, resting on the stands were the top of the day, FORMULA ONE monoposts, partially uncovered, so that we could check them quite close.I took the first chance I got to dive under the car like a Vinetou under the Pacific Express, to see that the wooden plate is really there. It was, and pretty worn. I quickly took several spy photos and went into the queue for the seat testing in F1. My turn having come I got me feet cold and I felt like Cinderella's stepsister before a shoe trial. My almost hundred and ninety centimetres, in that moment, definitely didn't account for an advantage. I carefully stood on the seat, squatted and stretching both hands slowly pushed my legs under the steering column into the cockpit. Feeling happy when I was almost inside my feet blocked against something hard, which wouldn't let go and I, on the contrary, would never believe it could have been the pedals. Well, so much for my flirt with the FORMULA ONE.When I looked at the instructor, his disapproving index finger confirmed my suspicion using an internationally comprehensible gesture and I began my climb in the opposite direction. I damned all my ancestors taller than hundred and fifty centimetres and all my aunts feeding me with sweets "so that you'd be big and strong, little Georgie".After the lunch, I was put into the team of candidates for the double-seater, to which I was looking forward more, the more guys I saw leaving with the monoposts. The most difficult manoeuvre definitely was the start, and I was happy, that my "taxi driver" would pass this phase without difficulties.My turn finally came. They pushed in the double-seater, took out the interpiece with the roll structure and something like a bathtub on wheels opened in front of my eyes. This, at least, is a vehicle, not like that floppy monopost built to fit perhaps Bilbo Baggins. I got in easy, like a knife through the butter, my taxi driver took his place in front of me, between my legs, and off we go to the circuit. They shove a switch to my hand and say something about a signal to the driver, should I get too excited or something.Already in the pit lane we began to warm up the ceramic brakes, which almost broke my neck. The first ninety degrees corner we took relatively easy, but coming out of it, both the formula and the driver decided to demonstrate their capabilities. All seven hundred wild horses shot us towards the next left u-turn. I felt as if my ears met at the top of my head and tried to count for myself which gear the driver shifted in. The intervals between the changes must have been perhaps the fractions of a second.The cone, around which we had applied full brakes in the morning, we simply flew by like a mightily accelerating missile - the madman was actually shifting up. While I was becoming suddenly a religious man, that person probably decided to decelerate, or whatever he did. Again, it lasted a mere nanosecond and we began to turn. My ears went to my forehead and consequently an unknown force wanted to crush my knee against the cockpit wall.These feelings systematically and very quickly alternated and concentrated into a single monstrous chaos, which effectively didn't allow me to take in where I was and what was going on and what would happen in the next instant. This insanity was backgrounded by the Ford's V8, howling its melody between 10 and 13 thousand rpm.Then we found ourselves in the pit stop. They dug out the safety switch from my spasmodically closed hand, helped me out of the bathtub, I mumbled some words of thanks towards the driver and swayed in to the paddock.Well, that was my meeting FORMULA ONE.Now, conteplating the exeptional event with a time distance, I am coming back to loving my ancestors again, as I am still more and more persuaded that it is much better to be given a lift by somebody who can control the technical jewel, rather than painfully make your own way disclosing its peculiarities at an unknown circuit within a few laps you are allowed to take.



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