The five things that made me an F1 fan

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The first F1 race I saw on TV was the 1989 British Grand Prix
The first F1 race I saw on TV was the 1989 British Grand Prix

It was pure chance that I happened across a live broadcast of the British Grand Prix on BBC Grandstand in 1989.

That first glimpse of Formula 1 captivated me, aged seven, and over the coming years the sport got under my skin.

How did I turn into an F1 fan? Here are the five things that first fired my passion for F1.

Nigel Mansell

In 1989, Mansell-mania was as strong as Hamilton-mania is 20 years later.

The moustachioed Brummie didn?t have a world championship to his name at that stage, but he had been through two heart-breaking near-misses with Williams before leaving them for the most evocative of F1 teams – Ferrari.

The Ferrari 640 was a competitive car ?ǣ when it went the distance. By the time of the British Grand Prix Mansell had only finished one race ?ǣ the season opener in Rio de Janeiro, which he won.

At Silverstone he chased the dominant McLarens of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in the early stages. Senna spun off with broken transmission, but Prost gave Mansell the slip after the Ferrari suffered a puncture. Mansell chased Prost hard, but unlike his famous win of 1987 he wasn?t able to catch his rival this time.

Of course, I became an instant Mansell fan. I was indifferent to his histrionics and whingeing ?ǣ and utterly thrilled by moments like this:

Senna vs Prost

F1 in the late eighties and early nineties bore witness to one of the greatest rivalries of ny sport: Ayrton Senna versus Alain Prost.

It wasn?t until much later that I appreciated the complexities of their rivalry: cool, calculating, political Prost versus the brutally fast and uncompromising Senna.

But even a seven year-old couldn?t miss the ferocity of their battle was: particularly when Prost bundled Senna out of the title decider at Japan in ?89, and Senna returned the favour in even more shocking fashion 12 months later.

Murray Walker

It?s easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses at the years when I discovered motor racing. But it wasn?t all Mansell?s swashbuckling and the bitter enmity of Senna and Prost: there were some crashingly dull races, just as there are today.

The difference was we had Murray Walker. I doubt any other sporting commentator is remembered with such affection by so many.

No matter how poor the race he could summon up seemingly limitless reserves of enthusiasm. And when the dramatic moments came, he left you in no doubt you were watching something truly special.

??Geoff Crammond?s Grand Prix??

Geoff Crammond's Formula One Grand Prix (Microprose, 1992)
Geoff Crammond's Formula One Grand Prix (Microprose, 1992)

Watching Formula 1 on TV is one thing, but getting stuck in for yourself is something else.

Computer gaming was in its infancy when I first discovered F1, but in 1992 Microprose produced the first instalment of a series which became the benchmark by which all F1 racers were judged (and often still are).

??Grand Prix?? may look hilariously simplistic by modern standards but, equipped with my Amiga 500 Plus, it took my enthusiasm for F1 to a new level.

It also taught me a lot about the sport: not just what all drivers? names were, and what their cars might look like from a great distance away, but about aerodynamics, suspension and gear ratios

I hope when Codemasters? new F1 game finally sees the light of day they aim for the kind of detail ??Grand Prix?? had rather than the by-the-numbers efforts Sony churned out.

Knockhill Racing Circuit

My family moved to Dunfermline in Scotland shortly after I discovered Formula 1. This made the logistics of getting to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in Northamptonshire rather problematic, but fortunately Scotland?s best motor racing track, Knockhill, was only a short drive away.

Climate experts will tell you otherwise, but I know from personal experience that Knockhill is the coldest place on earth. But if you can stand the chill (and hardy Scots certainly can!) it is a spectacular place to watch racing from. Especially if you head up the hill in the middle of the track, which affords a great view of the undulating circuit.

Sadly you’re more likely to see sunbathers than F1 cars at Knockhill, but watching touring car and junior formula races there was my first taste of the sights, sounds and smells of motor racing.

I was hooked then, still am now, and probably always will be.

How did you first discover Formula 1? What turned you into a fan? Share your memories in the comments.

Image (C) Honda

83 comments on “The five things that made me an F1 fan”

  1. That first Grand Prix game was absolutely fantastic. A friend of mine and myself really made a sport of setting the fastest practice lap at Spa or Suzuka. Grand Prix 2 was good, too.

  2. it seems my comments are not getting posted here :(
    well may be because I was out of the topic :)

  3. Ye, I remember the game too, good times! Though I remember it mainly for the sprint off the line and trying to cause as much destruction as possible into the first corner. It was great because you actually saw ‘bits’ flying off!

    The only circuit I really remember playing was Phoenix, no idea why.

  4. F1GP was the very first thing that got me interested and at the same time, Damon Hill was challenging for the 1996 World Chamionship. Been watching ever since, though my interest waned in the schuey/ferrari era.

  5. I’d add to this Eurosport pair: Ben Edwards & John Watson. In Poland we didn’t have Murray but this two Eurosport guys were awesome !

  6. Whewbacca the Cookie
    12th March 2009, 12:29

    I watched my first GP (Argentina, Laffite had won that day) back in 1979. I was merely 7 yrs old but luckily a lot of folks around me liked F1 quite a bit, so I got involved very early. Later on I became a strong Senna fan but cheered for Prost as well.

    As for games, Crammond’s games were absolutely fantastic. I still own GP4 and GP3… F1 Challenge 99-02 by EA wasn’t that bad either. But my very first F1 stint was on Pole Position on Atari :) Then came the Pitstop series on Commodore 64. Ah, those were the days…

  7. My first memory (probably not the first race I’ve seen though) is from the wet Grand Prix in Japan in Fuji 1976, where Lauda lost his worldtitle to Hunt.

    I became a Lauda fan the year after.

    Also I’ve been to a couple of Grand Prix in Zandvoort (Holland) between ’79 and ’82.

    About the games I would say Pole Position on the Commodore 64 was the first F1 game I played a lot.

    1. I also admired drivers like Villeneuve (going around Zandvoort on three wheels!), Jan Lammers, Piquet, Mansell, Senna, and Alesi because of their driving style.

      Just as I liked the fierce fights between Mansell and Piquet and Senna and Prost.

  8. Mansell’s defining quality was drama. The likes of Senna, Prost and Piquet won more titles but Mansell was the best for sheer entertainment value. In many ways, he made things harder than he could have done – but it more than made up for the whining.

    The last race I saw him in, the New Hampshire CART race as part of a holiday in ’93, was one of his special performances. The Penskes of Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy were clearly better than anything else in the field. Convention dictates that if you try to bully your car on an oval then you hit the wall – but Mansell drove out of his skin, was utterly relentless and he won in real style ahead of two drivers with faster cars. It was a jaw dropping performance.

    I understand exactly where you’re coming from on Knockhill – motor racing venues usually flout established patterns of climate! My local track for many years was Thruxton, and I’ve never ever felt colder in my life – despite frequently resorting to Nomex underwear. The memory of Damon Hill demonstrating the ’93 Williams, possibly the most sophisticated F1 car ever, around the UK’s fastest track is not one that will easily go away.

  9. the first race i saw (or at least remember) was the infamous 1994 San Marino Grand Prix… i remember being playing with Legos in the kitchen’s floor while my dad was having breakfast and pretty much white when Senna crashed, i remember he knew something was horribly wrong inmediately…

    Then my first “bright” F1 moment, when i was about 5 years old the 1996 Montmeló Grand Prix, which Schumacher won in style! i loved it, and although i’ve been watching national racing for years by the time, i pretty liked the shape and colours of F1 cars.

    Then at school, i had a couple of friends that loved Mika Hakkinen, i didn’t know why, because at the moment he was battling to win his first race, that he eventually won.

    But i became a huge Schumacher fan, but F1 at that point was still the 2nd thing i’d watch on sundays. National racing was much in my hearth.

    For a couple of years, i forgot about F1. Tho in 2003, i watched the entyre Brazilian GP. And felt in love (yeap, sadly) with Giancarlo Fisichella xD… I remember i loved the Jordan with the snake-painted nose, and i used to play with that car in the Nintendo F1 Grand Prix game (that one that had missions to do, targets to reach reminescent of the 1997 season, a great feature Codemasters SHOULD include!).

    So, from 2003 to 2007 i watched EVERY race and qualy. Live. If they were racing at Asia, i woked up at 3 am. Yeah, quite mad because 90% of the time, the races were horrid, and Fisichella failed to succed.

    That’s my F1 experience :P

  10. I couldn’t even begin to list 5 things that made me an F1 fan, I can’t remember when i first watched an F1 race, but I do know that i was watching them regularly and knew who the drivers and teams were by 92 when Mansell finally won his title (I was 11 at the time) so I must have been in the 7-9 age range when I started paying attention.

    The earliest specific event I can remember in f1 was Senna’s death – I can still remember what I was eating at the time (apple crumble and custard after Sunday roast) and I remember that I knew what a big thing it was at the time. I can remember various other things before that (like I remember watching when Mansell won but can’t remember the specific event if that makes sense).

    I have watched every race I can ever since and haven’t missed a race since Indy in 2005 (what a race to miss) – although I have had to resort to taping some of them.

  11. My first grand prix was sometime in 1997. I saw with what brilliance Schumacher had beaten the Williams, and I instantly became a Schumacher and F1 fan.

    1. Mouse_Nightshirt
      13th March 2009, 3:11

      What, you mean when Schuey drove into the side of Villneuve on purpose and was disqualified from the championship? :D

  12. I remember watching Grand Prix all my life, but it was Mansell mania that made it for me. He was just so exciting to watch – whereas Senna and Prost were absolute masters, Mansell had a do-or-die mentality that meant he was always fantastic to watch. Hamilton is the first driver in a long time to recapture that feeling I had as a lad watching Mansell.

  13. hamilton wc 09
    12th March 2009, 13:22

    i knew about f1 before this and had heard of several drivers names likes schumacher hill and villeneuve but the 1st race i watched on tv was the 97 spanish gp. i dont even know why i was watching it (sunday afternoon boredam after playing football in the morning i guess) i watched in amazement as schumacher went from 7th on the grid to 2nd by the 1st corner. from that race on i either saw every qualy and race live or taped them until the end of the 04 season. didnt bother wachting anything in the 05 or 06 season execpt for the 06 brazil gp because it was schuey’s last.

    i think what made such a huge f1 fan was watching schumacher battling villeneuve in a much superior williams in 97, and them the mclarens in 98 and 99.

    having seen lewis hamilton in a karting magazine about 10 years ago the news that he would be driving in 07 got me intrested again and im now completley hooked again.

    ive been lucky enough to go the british gtwice in 02 and last year and im going this year too.

    long live f1

  14. I got into formula one around the same time as Keith. The first full season I watched was Nigel Mansell’s winning year in 1992. I didn’t realise til years later how much he struggled to win a championship and what it meant to him.

    A friend at school was a big Senna fan and we used to have endless discussions as to who was the best driver.

    I was also into the early F1 games on the good old Amiga. If only I still had it.

  15. hamilton wc 09
    12th March 2009, 13:24

    oh and best f1 game, by miles f1 97 for playstation

    i remember going barrichello in the stewart once and it was really hard to keep ferrari’s williams’s bennettons etc behind cozx they were so much quicker down the straight, thats the sort of realism the codemasters game needs, all the sony games you could win if you were super aguri.

  16. Keith, I echo your comments about Knockhill – I went on a track-day there a while back in my dad’s Porsche 924, and I guarantee it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on! I love the track; quite similar to Brands Hatch (the short indy loop) I think.

  17. Mansell-mania also made me an F1 fan. I don’t know for certain what the first F1 race I saw was but I defiantly remember watching the 1991 British Grand Prix when I was nine which Mansell won in the Williams and then memorably gave Senna a lift back to the pits when his McLaren ran out of fuel on the last lap, but I think I probably started following F1 a little bit before that.

    The only races I have missed since then have been for reasons beyond my control such having no access to a TV on holiday etc

    I don’t see how I would have started following F1 if there wasn’t a high profile British driver at the time as none of my family or friends followed F1 then or now.

    Forget a country hosting a GP or having a team the quickest way to make F1 popular in a country is if it has a successful driver, just look at Spain with Alonso and Poland with Kubica in recent years.

  18. 5 things that made me an F1 fan :
    Nigel Mansell
    Nigel Mansell
    Nigel Mansell
    Nigel Mansell
    Nigel Mansell

  19. Nigel. Watching Mansell miss out in the last race in ’86 really got me hook, line and sinker. It really was amazing how Senna could still win in an obviously inferior car ( obviously I don’t mean that race ).
    Sunday afternoon on a race day weekend was always MY time on the TV. My sister and the rest of the family never had the courage to challenge me on Sunday afternoons. That was the best thing. Nigel, Prost and Senna. Aggression and mistakes vs the professor vs raw talent. Hamilton has reawakened the raw emotion of F1. The penalty after Spa was the worst thing I have ever seen to date. I saw Hamilton in 2007 at Fuji in Japan. Class performance. I find it shocking how much negative reaction there has been to Hamilton. Ten years ago it would not have happened.

  20. I remember many discussions at secondary school about who’s best and supporting Alan Jones in 1980 before he won the title that year, while all my mates were Prost/Piquet etc fans… but don’t remember watching though am sure I must have seen the races. My memory really kicks off though in ’86 and Mansell and watching every race possible with my mates round.

    Senna v’s Prost… Awesome! and all playing out in front of the fans, not of this behind the doors nonsense!… but let’s not also forget Prost Vs Senna Vs Piquet Vs Mansell… those were great times!

    Murray Walker is F1, nae doot!

    Geoff Crammonds Grand Prix… the original and still the best F1 game.

    What really started it all for me though, was at probably the same age as Keith… getting my first SCALEXTRIC set in the mid/late ’70s… at a time when the toy was coming into it peak, what with the Scalextric Club, the catalogues and cartoon strips, loads of cars, loads of track, any toy store anywhere…

    …ah the memories!

  21. Doh! I meant to say I was ten when Mansell won the British Grand Prix in 1991.

  22. 1) First GP was San Marino ’82. Gilles making lot af confusion, turbo-atmo fight was great, GP’s was so uncertain. And dangerous too. I liked the cars and the tracks also. I didn’t miss any but 8-10 Gp’s on TV, since then.
    2) Noise. That is something you cannot do without. Watching a GP with no volume is nonsense. While I was at my first GP live this was more and more true!
    3) Technology. Cars design is absolute fantastic. Giorgio Piola (italian journalist that focussed on technical aspects) is my idol.
    4) Tracks. I’ve always liked to study tracks, bends, configurations. When I travel abroad if I have the chance I try to visit one venue: I was in Monza, Imola, Mugello, Melbourne, Adelaide, Montecarlo, Budapest, Spa. My dream is make a drive at old Nurburgring.
    5) Drivers: they still are rick knights.

    All the other things (Videogames, trailers, movies…internet sites) are great also, but they came later and I was addicted already…

  23. Grand Prix 2 was a work of art. No game made since has come close. The sheer realism of it all was staggering, used to love being a Sauber, qualifying in midfield, and working my way through a season, picking up an odd point here or there.

  24. I remember the ’82 Brabham (so that would be aged 8) but that would be my first memory that stayed….
    My first would be sometime after ’76 when tv coverage really picked up in the UK

    GP1 & 2 were my addictions at university…..

    head to head games of GP1 (with a serial cable) were my first multi-player gaming experiences. We loved the Mexico track (still do) and Monaco although not for head to heads but for the lap record challenge!

    great days… who else went through the text file in GP1 to change all the drivers names to the correct ones? Nigel Mainsail and all that business!

  25. Watched the first Hungarian GP when I was a kid, got hooked and looked for any bit of info ever since (and the F1 info in Bulgaria was really scarce then).

    Years after I was part of the development of the telemetry software used by Jaguar, BAR and a few other teams – was clearly my happiest days as software engineer :-) One of the best moments – my first test day at Silverstone, Sept 18th 2001 – one of my best birthday presents ever :-) And a funny moment – I was standing at the pit entry, a couple of metres from the cars passing, trying to do an overhead shot of the cars entering the pits … I was told they pass really fast there … the result: 35 frames of just asphalt and a pit wall, 1 frame with 10 cm McLaren nose :-)

  26. We’ve had an eerily similar path to the sport. First race I watched was Imola ’89. I also had my understanding of racing theory greatly expanded by the Crammond game – the manual was fantastic.

  27. My five are:
    1. My Dad, a part time F1 fan
    2. Damon Hill – he got me watching F1 regularly
    3. The spirit of competition – taught me a lot about success and how the world works
    4. The stats – I’m a guy, after all
    5. The colours – and as an artist I’m always interested in the colour schemes. Unfortunately, most of them revolve around red and white (or the radical alternative – blue and white) and are boring as hell. Whither the black, yellow, green cars of yesteryear? I’m looking forward to someone rolling out a purple car! And Super Aguri had by far the best overall design in 08, before they went bust… The way Brawn are going with their vomit-inducing fluoro scheme they’ll be here for ages.

  28. Sorry, it was San Marino’81.

    Ukk, great story :-D.

    I also loved Mexico track. Mixed part opposed to the boxes is only comparable to Suzuka “S” bends, and Peraltada was Peraltada…Terrible asphalt made the race one of the hardest, at the end.

  29. My first experience of f1 was actually the geoff crammond games which i got with my amiga 600 when i was a young lad. I started watching it in 1994 and i have been hooked ever since. Unfortunatly i didn’t get to watch ayrton senna career but youtube has helped me see how amazing the guy was!

  30. the year was 2002, I was 10.
    my 2 r:
    1) Montoya in his Williams outfit. I was kinda Shumi hater, I liked watching him getting beaten.(

    2)just liked the sport, every race was different(removing Shumi from the scenario)

    3)humm… cant think of any other reason

  31. Watching Schumacher v/s Hakkinen at a title decider. Schumacher stalled his car, started dead last, managed to set the whole track on fire before he got a puncture. Pure magic!

  32. I started in 2001 in Australia and what made me an F1 fan was that race in Interlagos with Montoya and Schumacher, I just loved that pass.. to bad for Montoya and that incident with Verstappen.

    But from then I became a Montoya fan and since I’ve watch every single race live, just missed Monza 2007 and because I was on a trip and there was no TV coverage

    And what still makes me a fan are the cars, they are just amazing

    F1 2001 was my first game, awesome game, I currently own F1 2006 Championship Edition (PS3) and waiting for the 2009 version to come out

  33. Here’s my 5 reasons:

    1. I bought the 1998 F1 season review video. I was only 8 back then, and I doubt I had ever watched a full race

    2. I started a 6 week go karting course back in early 2001 which I loved- it may be a coincidence but this coincided with the days where I first began getting up early to watch the Asian/ Australian races and watched every single GP.

    3. Finding a team to support, Mclaren, and more importantly a team to hate, Ferrari, from about 1999 onwards. To this day I still like to see Ferrari fail, even though they are less dominant and people like Todt and Schumacher are gone.

    4. I got a season review book every christmas, starting with the 1999 Formula 1 Yearbook, which I remember taking to school all the time

    5. Probably the main reason I started following F1 was to see the cars crash. This may seem a bit strange now but I had no interest in things like strategies when I was 8. Thankfully, I soon discovered there was more to F1 than Belguim 98 style pile ups!

  34. Andrew White
    12th March 2009, 17:15

    The first race I remember was Spa ’98. I was five, but I’m not exactly going to forget that race!!

    My dad was (and still is) an F1, and so is my brother. They got me into it and now we all sit down on Sunday afternoons and watch the Grands Prix. :)

  35. My first was portugal 1991, when i was eleven, i remember eating 2 kit kats sat on my bed as Mansells wheel fell off in the pitlane – felt so sorry for him – had no idea who he was or what I was really watching, whatever it was, it had me hooked! been obsessed ever since! (nearly gave up through the dire schumacher-ferrari years though)

  36. Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton.

  37. well i started watching f1 when i was ten years old in 1998…mika heikinen vs shuamacher….i was a big fan of football at that time but it seemed that i lost it somewhere in the shadows of the formula 1…mika was my favourite..i wAS SO busy in my studies that i couldnt watch 2004 n 05 seasons..n in 2006 i became a fan of fernando alonso..but i cant deny that im a big fan of maclaren…so 2007 season will always be my favourite season.

  38. I first started watching when Renault with the turbo’s came. There was just something exciting about a team bringing a new technology.

    A few years later the battle between Senna and Prost really got me hooked.

    Mansell never did anything for me. Was he really any good? I only remember him from the year he drove the super Williams, from the lost rear wheel and from being behind Senna at Monaco.

    I visited Spa and heard and saw the cars reasonably close for the first time. Amazing experience. Though my best F! experience was a demo on Zandvoort. At that time they only had a single fence. You could actually feel the cars come past, smell the rubber and the sound was deafening.

    The Grand prix game sure helped too. I think it was mostly GP2 though that I really played to bits. Especially when they hacked in the telemetry monitoring. Awesome. I’d work all week to shave a few tenths off my time. Post my times on the internet and usually some other kid had gone even an extra tenth faster :)

    So that’s only 4 reasons, but still.

    1. Actually let me just add a fifth item. It’s websites like this (that I keep reading several times a day) that keep me involved.

  39. Five things? That would be Monaco 1961, John Surtees, Lola F1, Porsche F1 and Chris Amon. There are about five million others but those would probably top the list.

  40. The 1997 Australian GP qualifying rerun was the first time I watched F1. I was 8 years old at the time. I’ll never forget seeing villeneuve’s Williams for the first time, that was what made me love F1. My brother also had the F1 grand prix game on his amiga 600 which taught me lot of the basics of F1. I still play that game now.

  41. Eduardo Colombi
    12th March 2009, 20:04

    really bad memories from the Tamburello curve in the first video. Ayrton Senna is and was the best driver ever, Schumacher can have almost all rescords in track but he’ll never beat Senna in his carisma, determination or in his driving.

    SAUDADES ETERNAS AYRTON SENNA! We miss you very much!

  42. Scott Joslin
    12th March 2009, 20:48

    Wow, great post, I am not going to think about this – just type so bear with me.

    Things that got me hooked on F1.

    My first toy as a lad was a black and gold JPS lotus, I used to take it around with me all the time. My Dad used to take me to watch my uncles race in in UK Club championships and I would long for the day when I could see a beautiful machine like the JPS Lotus and not the ugly machines they raced.

    Mansell in 1986 is vivid too, my Dad made me get up to watch the Oz gp. I was too young to remember the significance of that race other than I slept through the start, missed his tyre blow up, but could see it had a emotional effect on my dad. I never got hooked that day as I was more in to climbing trees and playing football, but I had a favourite driver – Red 5!

    Scaletrix – I had the Mansell V Senna set. It was only a figure of 8 but I loved it.

    1989 Brazilian GP, I remember seeing the higlights and Mansell in the Red Ferrari – I fell in love with the red car and everything else – Murray Walker & James Hunt and late night highlights which ment I could go to bed later.

    My first experience of a F1 car live was a Tyre testing at Silverstone in 1990 – My uncle was a photographer and took me along – the noise and speed was instantly addictive.

    Like Keith F1 Microprose game was massive in getting me more in to the complexities of the sport. I was so consumed by the game I used to close the curtains in my bedroom and put my Dad’s Motorbike helmet on and pretend I was a real race driver – I even got to the stage when I put tear off’s on the helmet! (God I can’t believe I have said that)

    Go – Karting My first experience was at an indoor track in Oxfordshire, I loved the speed and thrill. that got me proper hooked on any for of Motor racing.

    God! Mine reads like – You know you are are F1 Fanatic when……

    Other odd things I did when being bitten by the F1 bug was spend time drawing crash helmet designs on my school books? I really should have been looking at girls or paying attention to my teacher! Ah well, I love it! I am off to F1 championship on the PS3… where is that helmet…..

  43. I can’t really remember why i first got drawn into F1.Maybe it was the “hero factor”.For me everyone who gets in those cars is a hero, and being a kid having the chance to see Mansell, Senna , Prost battling was much better than cartoons :D
    Even this felt great at the time
    GP1 and 2 also consolidated feelings for me.
    I work as an IT engineer and for me all of the attention to every single detail that went into that game is staggering..
    I don’t know if you all are aware but GP2 is getting updates to this day – – you can even drive the 2009 cars :O..

  44. Hehe, good old Microprose Grand Prix. Had great fun with that one, especially at the Phoenix track, where I used to set the brake bias to give massive oversteer so I could brake, then plant the throttle immediately and get round the corner without steering… Taught me a lot about car control and the subsequent Geoff Crammond games were incrementally better each time. I’ve actually still got the original game and managed to get it to run on XP a while back. It was truly horrible to drive compared to modern games like GTR2 or R Factor (especially as I had to use a joystick again) but the nostalgia factor more than made up for it!

    1. Hey speed demon

      I’m a brit now living in PHOENIX so can go downtown whenever i like and see where they drove back in the day. Though it does look a little different now.

      Would be great if they drove here again so i wouldn’t have far to go.

  45. For me I love the sound of F1. No other motor sport has that power.

  46. Keith it would seem we both got into f1 at the same time. In my case i was a little older than you and it was my brother in law who got me into formula one when i was invited to my older sisters house for sunday lunch.
    I was hooked instantly, and just loved the way Mansell, in a far inferior Ferrari could challenge the faster Mclarens. I now wish i had gotten into f1 in 1985. Though since then i have been able to catch up on those earlier years with dvd’s.
    I still insist to this day that Mansell (however you may feel about the man) was a superior driver/racer than senna/prost/piquet snr/andretti and schumacher.

    Keith and i must have had very similar feelings about f1 from the same time in 89′, although i didn’t get into f1 video games until was much older when i tried the playstation f1 95 game then the even better f197 game.
    I now live in america where i find it much harder to get my fix of f1

  47. I’m surprised at how many people got into f1 because of our nige and who are mansell fans, considering how much stick he gets.

  48. Also for every true Mansell fan i have every full race of his championship winning year 1992 on dvd, i just wish i had the qualifying for them aswell.

  49. @ S Hughes:……..sad

    1. Did you say that about the Mansell fan who wrote Mansell five times? Oh yes, I forgot, it’s not okay to be a Hamilton nut, but it is okay to be a Mansell nut. Right, I’ve got it now! Nothing’s changed I see.

  50. Just one for me really. One gentleman to be exact.

    I lost my F1 virginity on a damp-ish autumn night back in 1974, at the tender age of 9. My father was then working at the Kodak factory in Wealdstone, North-west London. He heard from a colleague that the local Scout troop had arranged for a special guest speaker to chat to the boys about his career. Not quite realising what all the fuss was about, but understanding that a later than usual bedtime would probably ensue, me and my 13 year old brother Chris readily agreed to attend.

    Graham Hill was one of the most charismatic and interesting people I have ever met (and I’ve met some amazing people since). He spent over two hours with us 20 boys, showing us slides of his races and recounting amazing tales of unbelievable bravery and places we could only dream of. I really can’t remember the mini-competition he gave us all at the end, but do remember my big bro won the shiney red nylon F1 zip up jacket, adorned with patches of all the F1 sponsers. Loved that jacket and would nick it on occassion for the odd outing some 6 years later, once I’d grown into it. Must ask him if he still has it – I hope so.

    I remember one of my brothers telling me when Graham Hill died. I was sad that he died, but also remember being sad thinking he probably would have wanted to die driving, not in a plane – sort of like a warrior dying in battle, sword in his hand. Kids have the strangest take on things.

    Damon’s entry to F1 was amazing for me. His father had touched and inspired me as a kid, if not to race – a dream beyond the financial reality of my hardworking folks – then into a lifelong passion for F1. Watching Damon growing into that Williams, until Adelaide, with him and Michael Schumacher racing nearly 2 seconds a lap faster than the rest of the field. His WDC the vindication a year later. Then Budapest in a Footwork!! His father would have been very proud.

    Oh, and Geoff Crammond? Guy was a complete genius. Just hope he isn’t now running a hardware store somewhere, amazing programmer. Hmmm… Maybe that’s 2 but Geoff came MUCH later for me….

    I was already well on my way to getting kicked outta college the year you were born – oh well, so much sand through the fingers sir.

    Good post – as usual maestro.


  51. i’m brazilian and my first f1 memory was when i was 5 years old in the 94 san marino gp. I woke and the first thing that my father told me was that Senna was dead.

  52. The five things that made me an F1 fan
    4.Wheel 2 wheel racing
    5.Jaw breaking moment

  53. Wow, nice article. I love to share mine.

    It was in the early 80’s (when i was in grade school) when I first got interested in F1. Here in the Philippines, we have a trump card featuring airplanes, motorcycles, tanks, offroad trucks, race cars etc. But what fascinates me is the F1 trump card. Capturing my young mind by the color of the red ferrari. It was then where my first favorite sports car was born, a “Ferrari formula car”. Back then I was not so keen to identify what model the ferrari was, all i know is that i want a ferrari formula 1 car and see how it speed up on the track. I was so unfortunate then because we do not have F1 coverage on our local TV here in the Philippines. It was only when Schummy made it to Ferrari (1996) where I started searching for F1 TV coverage. This time I was a bit lucky since our cable tv offers ESPN Starsports where F1 is being covered live during qualifying sessions and race day. Then come year 1997, Shell Philippines come up with a F310B 1/8 scale Model Promo which I got myself one and collect 5 more 1/43 models of F50, F40, GTO and others. After being hooked up collecting F1 models from Maisto and Burago, I got myself into collecting “Ferrari Ideas” items such us 2 Schummy’s Winning Cap, A ferrari Back Pack, Mug, umbrella, Id/pass and ticket laces, Ferrari shirts, Ferrari shoes by Fila, stickers from Shell-Ferrari website and other collections I can’t remember. Up to now, I am still a big fan of Ferrari, Schummy and Kimi. i’m so sorry but I really never liked Felipe ever since. I just don’t know why.

    So here’s my 5 things that made me an F1 (Ferrari) Fan

    F1 Trump Cards
    ESPN Star Sports (F1 TV Coverage)
    Shell Promo F310B (1/8 diecast Model car)
    Ferrari Collections

    It’s a shame that i have graced an F1 grand prix live til now. I only manage to see Asian Formula 3 series every now and then.

    P.S. Kieth, I may be off topic since what I have written here were the 5 things that made me a Ferrari fan instead of F1 fan. My apologies.

  54. Fantastic article- are are great stories, and quite unique.

    Growing up here in the USA, before the advent of the internet age, F1 was something I only head about once in awhile. However, I was blessed to be introduced to the sport when I was very young via the Sega Genesis game Super Monaco GP. I never heard of the Geoff Crammond games before reading this post, but Super Monaco GP was quite similar. I played the gave avidly from the time I got it in 1992 right up to the present day.

    Flip ahead to 2007, when some new driver named Lewis Hamilton comes to Indnanapolis and wins. The win picks up big-time coverage in the mainstream American sports media- something I thought was pretty cool. As the season wore on, and Lewis picked up more victories, I thought “This may be something worth watching”, even as the USGP was yanked off the calendar. In late November I bought my first copy of F1 Racing magazine, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I must note that my discovery of this blog in January 2008 also did a great deal to enhance my interest and understanding of the sport.

    Hats off to everyone on your stories- here’s to many more good seasons of F1 :)

  55. Wow… knockhill – I lived so close to there I could smell the petrol fumes!!! Remember many a touring car race there, and seem to remember watching the then promising teenager David Coultard racing in a Formula Something race there…

    Where in Dunfy did you stay? We quite possibly went to the same school and we aren’t that far apart age wise!!!

  56. Jeez, if I didn’t feel old already from the ‘when is your birthday’ thread, all of the mentions of Atari’s and Commodoore 64’s has certainly done the trick!

    And who needs five things to make you an F1 fan, when your first experience of F1 was the start of Spa ’98?
    I’ve been hooked ever since!

  57. If I may ask, Was the Spa ’98 where Mika made his famous move on Schummy? (The overtaking manouver with a third car before approaching a corner?)

    1. Oh, sorry… i was thinking of another event.

  58. I still remember playing with Pole Position, Pitstop and F1 Grand prix on Commodore 64, Atari 2000 and Super NES.

  59. Another thing i remember fondly about the f1 97 game for the original playstation is..
    I managed to get a copy before the 1997 season began, so it was cool to have the voices of Murray Walker and Martin Brundle doing the commentary even before they had started working at itv. And the differences in the cars were quite accurate even though they hadn’t even started racing for real.

  60. The five things that made me an F1 fan…

    Johnny Herbet Racing game for ZX Spectrum, the excitment whilst waiting for those awful tapes to laod was immense. Does anybody know what this was actually called, love to play it again.

    That Tyre Blow-Out…i must have only been 8 at the time, but for years i thought the car behind Mansell had puntured his tyre.

    Monaco 91…have watched pretty much every race from this one onwards. That season was amazing, the Williams became so competative mid season but was still prone to breaking down. Typical Adrian Neway car really!!

    The arrival of Shumi…Before you all criticise this choise. Just imagine that there are established stars and then some young upstart comes along and acts like he’s the best, he’s going to be number 1. Now forget about it being Lewis or Fernando, they were the new people coming in recently. I absolutely LOVED Michael in the first 3 years. Winning in a less competative car, amazing in the wet, all until he drove into Damon at Australia, after that i still regarded him as the best driver but was happy to see him get beat every now and then. F1 did get a bit boring when he won all the time, but Ferrari just did a better job than the rest. Fair play.

    And the graetest voice in sport….MUDDLY TALKER.

    ok he gets thing wrong more often than not and we all screamed at the TV “You Fool! That’s Herbert, not Hakinnen, he has the Red on his Helmet. It’s Obvious from miles away!!!” But in the last few years i started to enjoy watching races even more on ITV, and i think it was because James Allen started to get a bit Murray Walker on us, he kept getting things wrong (almost on purpose) and i started shouting at the TV again, especially Brazil ’08, i think we had all noticed Glock before he did. Although i hate to say i will miss him, his writing is top notch, love his Blog, and he provided a genuine insight for the more than casual fan.

    1. Ok i think history needs revising in regards to Schumacher and Ferrari.
      Ferrari being ahead of everyone else is NOT fair play as you say.
      Ever since Schumacher and brawn got together at Benneton they broke the rules whenever they could and some of these only came out years later. After Senna’s death in 1994 the like’s of Ecclestone and Mosley felt the sport needed a superstar for the world stage as f1 had no champion on the grid. So Schumacher was the best choice, and they gave him a lot of room to do whatever he wanted. Even though he did get penalised a few times during the latter part of 94′ and 95′ seasons. More often than not he got away things. This favouritism carried on after he joined ferrari.
      HE became too big a star for the fia to do anything about. In 1997 jerez the fia had no choice.
      So to say Ferrari were better because of fairplay is nonsense. They cheated and broke the rules and complained when other teams were starting to do better than them.
      I used to like ferrari in the days when Mansell drove for them and when berger and alessi did too.

      I know all teams cheat to some extent, but if you were to take an objective look at how many times the Schumacher/brawn/byrne gang cheated it would outway all other teams put together i’d wager.

      anyway rant over lol

      looking forward to a closer less fia biased season. We need more racing and les input from stewards.

  61. john brownlie
    13th March 2009, 11:10

    well my first memory of F1 was on a black and white tv watching jack braham go straight on into the straw bales at the hairpin when he was in the lead on the last lap of the monaco grand prix – can anyone tell me which yeat that was??

  62. Yorricksfriend
    13th March 2009, 11:36

    I’ve been watching F1 all my life, my earliest memory is watching Grand Prix on television, my first word was ‘car’ and Schumacher was the first driver I knew of. Living in Australia the time difference made it impossible for a young kid like me to watch the European and American races but when the GP was on in Australia I was watching every year. About 5 years ago I got an F1 game dated around 2000, it got me more interested and so that season (which unfortunately was a fairly dominating season for Schumi; 2004) I religiously watched the entire season, and have been doing so ever since.

  63. The first race I remember seeing was 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix, when Senna won his home race for the first time, after losing all but two gears, cried like a madman past the finish line and was so tired that he barely held the trophy on the podium! I was eight.

    I’m a Microprose Grand Prix 2 guy… I remember playing it from 1994 to 1998, and never switched to Grand Prix 3 when it was available.

    And the event that made me a loyal F1 fan was the 1993 European Grand Prix, in Donnington Park… It was as rainy there in my town that day, so I didn’t go to the beach, instead I stayed to watch that unforgettable race…

    Senna running with slicks in the wet, lapping Prost and Hill, and only unlapping the latter to avoid possible team orders… And also a greatly talented newcomer, that unfortunately never won a WDC: Rubens Barrichello, running third with his Jordan before retiring…

  64. I have been following F1 for longer than I can remember.
    At five/six I was always watching it and was always cheering for ‘the man with the yellow helmet’… Ayrton Senna of course :)

    I do remember Barcelona 91 Senna vs Mansell and races like Monaco 92 that I will never forget.
    At around 9 I started to watch every race if possible, and became a huge Senna fan. At 10 I saw him die on tv, that was a bad moment. But the F1 microbe was there and stays untill today!

    The Grand Prix series was a factor aswell (GP1 & 2 mainly)

    then more and more the technology and politics it’s all part of the game wich you must love! :)

  65. In no particular order it was Senna, Mansell, Michael Schumacher who give me the fondest memories.

    On the other hand I dislike Murray Walker intensely and he has made me shout with anger many a time and he has made me come close to turning off the television in listening to his extraordinary ignorance and incompetence especially when one considers how long he did the job for. I’m sure he’s a nice guy in person but a good commentator he is definitely not…

  66. john brownlie
    13th March 2009, 18:51

    i think my favourite drivers were jim clark and jochen rindt – jochen particularly in an f2 event at silverstone when I was marshalling on the outside at woodcote and his starter motor fell off and nearly hit me!!!

  67. I can’t remember the first F1 race I watched, mine was the sort of house where the Grand Prix was always on in the background on a Sunday afternoon …. none of the hardcore fans in my family but a few interested observers. This was around the mid-1990s, after Mansell had retired, so I was initially a Damon Hill fan.

    The first season I watched religiously was 1998, my allegiance was with Jordan and Benetton so Spa was a particularly memorable race for me! Jordan is no more, sadly, I lost interest once Spyker bought MF1, but I still cheer for Renault!

    I used to play GP2 as a kid, even before I was really into F1. Fantastic game, came across its predecessor a few years back and that’s great too (if dated now). I have to ask though, Keith, how did F1GP help you learn the driver’s names when it lacks an official FIA licence and therefore doesn’t have the real names?

  68. And Keith, look at all the wonderful things you have been able to do in your life, all because you like racing cars….
    Racing has been a great thing for me to be interested in since 1966. Just the greatest.
    Good for you.

  69. The five things for me:

    1) France 1993, which happened to be two-thirds of the way through when I came in from a massive thunderstorm and noticed the multi-coloured blobs darting about…

    2) Damon Hill. A helmet design that was easy to remember, a name that was easy to pronounce and a certain je ne sais quoi made me a supporter of him even before the chequered flag waved in France 1993.

    3) Figuring out that the F1 game Accolade made in 1990 (and that I’d enjoyed for a year or so prior to France 1993) and the race I’d just seen were linked.

    4) Discovering that Dad was a Ferrari supporter (as well as cheering for all the British drivers).

    5) Reading the Grand Prix encyclopaedia a few months after the above. OK, so it was published at the end of 1980 and therefore no use in identifying driver names of the present day, but it explained a lot of the circuits in use, the flag system and the history beautifully.

  70. I recall two real catalysts, though they are not my earliest memories. 1. the 90 Phoenix GP. Alesi v. Senna. Dry dusty streets, a duel of precision and endurance. And in America! 2. 91 British. Mansell flying the Union Jack, giving Senna the lift. The crowd going absolutely insane. I had never seen anything like that, I did not understand it. I do now.

  71. NO’s 1 & 2, Graham Hill & Monaco.

    My first F1 memory is of Graham Hill winning at Monaco, sometime in the 60’s, i remember being fascinated at the idea of racing cars driving the streets of a seaside town. I watched every GP i could after that for a number of years, especially Monaco.

    I missed most races from the late 70’s through till early 90’s due to playing guitar in a local pub most sundays.

    No 3, a mate with a pub.

    In 92 a mate of mine was running my local pub, this was before all day opening on a Sunday, he was a big Mansell fan so watched all the races on the pub TV, this became a bit of an excuse to stay after the pub had shut to watch the end of the race ( with a couple more beers of course). After a few races my childhood enthusiasm for F1 had returned with a vengeance, thanks Mick ( the landlord/mate).

    No 4, Damon Hill/ Jenson Button.

    When it was announced that Damon would be driving for Williams in 93, it seemed natural that having rediscovered my love for F1, that i should support the son of my childhood hero, little did i ( or anyone else) know at the time what he would go on to achieve. So i followed his exploits throughout the 90’s, glued to the TV for every race.

    By the time Damon decided to retire, i’d been watching British F3 on late night TV & had been very impressed by Jenson Button, when i discovered he was from 50 miles down the road, i reckoned it was about time for a local hero & made a note to keep an eye on his career progress. When a few months later it was announced that he’d be driving for Williams, i was a happy man, hopefully this year he’ll get the good results he deserves.

    No 5, Martin Brundle.

    I remember Martins last couple of seasons, & despite not being in the best car, he always seemed to get himself in the mix, & i’m sure he would have had lots of great results in different circumstances. Its since he retired from F1 driving that i discovered he’d been world sports car champion amongst other great achievments. His insight as a commentator & pundit, makes even the dullest race worth watching, & his commentaries with Murray Walker were something i’ll never forget.

  72. I always used to watch on th weekend and first started watching in around 1992ish. In the following year my understanding was greatly increased thanks to the great efforts by Geoff Crammond the man simply made the greatest driving game ever. Nothing has come close and especially with Grand Prix 3 so many people have made mods on it that practically every track in the world can be played on it.

  73. I have been watching from 1999…………Schumi was the thing that got me hooked on to f1…..never missed a race since 1999……

  74. Juan From Mexico
    14th March 2009, 19:44

    I began to watch Formula One since 1998, and that’s why I caught in CART when Adrian Fernandez won the Japan GP, but eventually, changed to F1 mainly for the cars, and the teams, more competitive than CART… from 1999 to these days, I get more and more in Formula One, and hope someday, they came back to Mexico…. My drivers list:

    1.- M. Schumacher
    2.- Damon Hill
    3.- Nigel Mansell
    4.- Jacques Villeneuve
    5.- F. Alonso

  75. I’m glad I’m not the only one that cites a video game as part of my entry into F1, though my real entry is via the series formerly known as CART…

  76. Oooh I like this thread, makes me think of all the things I love about F1!

    I dont actually remember what made me watch that first race properly (Belgium 1995). I was nine and told to keep my younger brother occupied one afternoon so we watched the race – and something got me completely hooked, i dont really even remember what happened in the race but i do recall very clearly being excited about Villeneuve being signed by Williams by the end of the season and can remember races from 1996 onwards quite well.

    What I can say though is what has kept that interest going in F1 –

    Ralf Schumacher – odd choice yes, but its more the having someone to support thing going on. From his first race in 1997 (pre Ralf it was Berger and Hill)I became a massive fan and have remained so for the last 11/12 years. The races he didnt take part in in 2004 were very wierd for me, it was the first time I hadnt had someone to keep checks on during the race and it made me realise how integral to my following of the sport having someone to support is. Now he has retired I obviously am still watching it, and there are guys I like, but its much better when there is someone you will support unconditionally.

    F1 debate – I have been using the internet to chat about and debate F1 issues for about the last ten years – and having other people with the same interest to chat to (shockingly there is a lack of F1 interest amongst my mates, despite my years of trying!)has really kept the passion going. I am always keen for a nice little discussion around F1, I have many opinions on the sport, not necessarily the same as everyone else (liking Bernoldi and Marques was always an amusing topic!) but that is what makes it so good – it would be very boring if we all thought the same and supported the same person. It has also made me some really good friends – people I go to Silverstone with every year amongst others.

    Going to see F1 races live I really enjoy going to live F1, and many other motorsport, events, and am fortunate enough to have gone to Silverstone for the last six years. I look forward to going every year and have a great time whilst I am there (I also managed to twist my gap year travel in 2005 around some of the races, as I intend to next year on my post-uni trip) which always reminds me how much I love the sport – I wouldnt part with my pennies that easily for much else! I really want to have done all the races eventually, although i suspect that is going to take me a rather long time to complete!

    And lastly eventful races . There has been many an eventful race in the time I have been watching F1, and every time there is one it makes watching the more boring races worth it. Ive been watching a few of the races i have kept on dvd over the off season and they make me smile every time!

    I’m sure there is a whole lot more that makes me love F1, but those are the ones i can think of for now…

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