Going cold turkey

So, how did you cope with five months without Formula One? Ben Evans shares his solutions to off-season boredom.

Luca Badoer, Ferrari, Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony, 2006The BBC stepped into the breach with some rather excellent alternatives to the lack of F1 action over the winter. First there was the Winter Olympics – complete with F1 action in the opening ceremony. Admittedly aside from Luca Badoer doing a few donuts (and having a pit stop – how sad a reflection of F1 is that?) there is little in the way of motorised action.

The whole affair seems a little like a busman’s holiday for race freaks. High speeds – check, High tech – check (in fact Team USA’s bobsleighs are designed by NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine), High accident quotient – oh yes!

Indeed most of this year’s games has played like a two week Havoc video, so much so that even the previously sedate figure skaters came up with one of the most wince inducing falls I’ve ever seen. A personal highlight has been the border cross event, which is the snow based brother of the Formula Ford Festival. Insanely close racing, outrageous moves and countless thrills and spills.

The downhill alpine skiing is the closest equivalent of Formula One – the world’s best plying their trade on a knife edge at nearly 100mph. Having once seen the Austian ski team training whilst on a school trip, I can assure you TV does not do justice to the speed these guys reach. As in F1, you only appreciate how fast everyone is going when it all goes wrong.

In contrast bobsleigh is the World Rally Championship, right down to the fact that the driver is entrusted with getting himself and one or three other victims, sorry, ‘team mates’, to the finish. As in WRC some of the cornering seemingly defies the laws of physics and the absolute commitment is admirable, especially as once you get going you can’t really slow down.

Top Gear saw the parallels and the Top Gear Winter Olympics a few weeks ago was possibly one of the finest TV shows of all time. In fact it could only have been improved had Jeremy Clarkson been strapped into the Mini they sent off a ski jump. There must surely be a strong case for the inclusion of ‘Car Ice Hockey’ for Vancouver in 2008, especially if it replaces curling, which was only devised as a sport in the first place to give the Scots something to win.

Thankfully the winter drought has come to an end – and the action in Bahrain made the wait more than worthwhile.

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