When I was a kid I always wanted to be a footballer. The thought of running out at Highbury, Wembley and the San Siro struck me as being the ultimate goal in life. Some of my mates, though, had a hard-on for being the next Nigel Mansell. I used to think he was the dullest sportsman in the world – until Michael Schumacher came along – but now I’m beginning to think they were right.
As a sporting spectacle I never quite understood the whole Formula One thing. Like most teenagers, I couldn’t wait to pass my driving test and when I did there was nothing quite like the exhilaration of exploring the back lanes of deepest Kent at top speed – well, nothing apart from exploring the deepest back lanes of Julia Sheriff and Sarah McCann on the back seat of my Cortina, anyway. But while it was exciting to go for a burn up, to watch the professionals do the same thing never quite floated my boat.
Of course those were my pre-betting days and as Bet365 will tell you any sport on television ‘matters even more if there’s money on it.’ But in general there are just too many killjoy elements to F1 preventing it from making exciting TV. The winners are largely decided by the best machine rather than the best driver, overtaking only happens when the car in front goes for a pit-stop and the tracks have been made too safe – reducing all probability of a high-speed crashes and live life-threatening injury.
It can’t just be me that tunes in at the start of the race to see if there’s a pile-up at the first corner and then only comes back at the end to see who won. It’s why national hunt horseracing is more interesting than flat racing. The potential for a gruesome accident is always just a fence away – unfortunately, you rarely see a jockey coming a cropper on the flat.
But if F1 is largely dull TV fare, actually being a grand prix driver has got to be the best profession ever. You get to hare it at 210mph around the best race-tracks in the world in the fastest cars known to man with virtually no risk factor; you get flown around the world staying at the most glamorous resorts; you get to wear overalls that make you look like a fucking astronaut and you get the pick of the finest women on the planet. Fuck, even Flavio Briatore got to do Naomi Campbell and Heidi Klum and he wasn’t even a driver.
It’s like every other weekend is the best stag do ever. Throw in the fact that F1 drivers are the highest-paid professional sportsman on the Sunday Times Sports Rich List and suddenly I realise I got it all wrong. I should have been the next Nigel Mansell, not Jenson Button. And now Button’s got it all sewn up. Read more.