Formula 1: Extreme sport or go-karting for adults?

Formula 1: Extreme sport or go-karting for adults?

Formula 1 has a well-deserved reputation as the glamorous sport of choice for those who like an element of danger on the track. With a multimillion-dollar prize fund hanging in the balance and guaranteed international stardom for any team that does well, it makes for an attractive prospect. It’s no wonder Formula 1 fans are often drawn to the drama of the sport, with the diva-like drivers, the ingenuity of the teams and the near-misses as much as the spectacular crashes. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Or is it a playground for pampered petrol enthusiasts?

Is it extreme enough?

The first question to ask is: can Formula 1 racing count as an extreme sport? The dictionary defines an extreme sport as an “exciting, physically dangerous sport,” though it’s implied by some to require specific equipment, too. Well, in that case, Formula 1 ticks all those boxes. Traveling at speeds of over 200 mph in a carbon fiber box, drivers risk their lives with every race.

Take the Rough with the Smooth

Despite all the safety measures in place, at the heart of it is a dangerous sport. Restrictions on building materials for the cars, engine construction, fuel composition and behavior on the track all contribute to the prevention of accident and injury during a race. However, crashes happen, and sometimes, with devastating consequences. Perhaps that’s why Formula 1 drivers receive so much praise and adoration: it’s not only about the money made but also, the inherent risk for every driver involved.

Staying Power

The audiences are aware that the slightest mistake is catastrophic, and it’s this tension that keeps them watching. Since its inception in the post-war years of 1946–47, Formula 1 has always drawn substantial crowds of fans eager to catch a glimpse of the fabled cars and their handlers. For proof of the levels of adulation reached, you need only look at the careers of legends like Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel and of course, Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton has a reputation for being something of a maverick, but this hasn’t stopped him from joining his peers as one of the most successful Formula 1 driver of all time.

No “I” in Team

There’s been plenty of speculation around the favorite to win the Grand Prix this year, with Mercedes golden boy Hamilton competing against his rival, Vettel, at Ferrari. Lagging eight points behind Vettel after a couple of underwhelming races, Hamilton has since outstripped him and is back on top form. A lot of the glory in Formula 1 gets directed toward the drivers, drenched in champagne on the winners’ podium and signing multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals. However, a Formula 1 victory is always a team effort, with the dedication and innovation of many standing behind every triumph. This extreme sport is a real team effort.

Have a go, hero!

So, is it accessible to the layman? Well, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the chance to drive your a $10 million Formula 1 Ferrari anytime soon, but there are driving experience days available out there, usually for a reasonable price of around £100. If you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, there are plenty of value go-karting tracks around the country. Go-karting can be excellent fun and a fantastic alternative day out for you and your mates. The competitive element adds a frisson of rivalry to the activity, and once you’re out there on the track, helmet on and engine purring, you’ll feel every inch the champion Formula 1 driver.

It’s safe to say that Formula 1 racing has earned a place on the list of extreme sports. It may not be as accessible to the average Joe as paintballing, parachuting and mountain biking, but it can be enjoyed by fans of everything extreme, whether on the TV screen or trackside, right amid all the action.

Sean Lockwood

Sean is a programmer with a passion for extreme sports. Favourite extreme sports discipline is biathlon. Started this blog because of the great love for nature and adrenaline which results in something extreme like Extreme Sports Lab (ESL).

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