I had always been crazy about Formula One. After all, who wouldn’t like the sight of sleek cars whizzing past each other at speeds close to 300 kilometers per hour. Although it resulted in me driving at high speeds at times and jumping a few traffic signals. But that is pretty insignificant.
Since the time I heard that an Indian team was going to be part of the Formula One bandwagon, there was a sense of excitement and enthusiasm every time a race day approached. It was a bit difficult at times to switch loyalties so soon, especially for a die hard Ferrari fan like me. But when it came to an Indian connection in F1, even Ferrari had to take the back seat.
Having seen the first season, which saw Force India struggling to even complete the races, leave aside winning points, there wasn’t much hope of anything out of the ordinary from them at the start of the current season. It was obvious then that the anticipation level was at its peak when I heard that a driver from Vijay Mallya’s team had bagged the pole position for the Belgian Grand Prix. Despite the expectation, neither the fans nor the team management wanted to jump the gun and were keeping their fingers crossed till the actual race.
To everyone’s delight, Fisichella did a brilliant job as he maintained his advantage throughout the race to finish second, just narrowly missing a victory.
Much has been said and written in the media about the significance of this win and how it would give a further boost to this sport, which is still in its nascent stages in the country, both in terms of the fan following as well as the number of people participating.
It was a bit disappointing, however, to read certain columns arguing that the win should not be given much significance as it wasn’t an Indian driving the car and how that day could still be years away, when we would actually witness an Indian on the F1 podium. Must say, that is one negative way of looking at things. For me it was enough to read the name Force India on the winners’ list and see the tri-coloured car cross the finish line before a majority of teams. And given that the concept of globalization has assumed so much significance in the present times, it did not matter much whether it was a white or brown skinned person behind the steering wheel.
It was a bit strange, though, to see the Italian flag raised during the presentation ceremony instead of the Indian tri-colour, but then again, let us not forget that the Italian was racing for the team owned by an Indian. It was another satisfying thing to see that the Indians were also ruling the roost in sports other than cricket, where they have even forced players to forego their state teams and play for Indian teams in the Champions League T20.
Let me also take this moment to congratulate the owner of Force India, Vijay Mallya, for turning this seemingly improbable dream of many into reality.
Formula One may be ‘expensive entertainment’ as claimed by our respected sports minister, but then he has done certain other things as well, like asking former All-England Badminton champion Pullela Gopichand who he was, that people have simply ignored.
Call it his bad luck or the good fortune of people vying for a Formula One race in India that as soon as the sports minister uttered those words, Force India came up with this phenomenal achievement. It would be nice to see the Indian Grand Prix become a part of the Formula One season.
Let us hope that Force India continues to enthrall the fans and keeps up the good work for the rest of the season.