Let me get straight to the point here. One Mr. Arif Zakaria took it upon himself to pass the decry that F1 is a sham sport. Well, as a fan of the sport, I couldn't let it pass. So here goes.
"Before the engine roar fades from our subconscious and the race track is swept clean using a million gallons from the coarse Yamuna water and the swish set move on to yet another peeve- let me say this point blank- F1 is no sport, it's not even a game…it’s a conglomerate of top notch automobile companies very shamelessly albeit skillfully parading their metallic wares. How the hell does it qualify to be a sport? Where is the human toil? The sweat and grind, the man vs. man gladiatorial mud scrap?"
You know Mr. Zakaria, there is nothing to say about this. Your point is indeed blank. Have you watched any other F1 race in your life before the one in India? Or are you jumping on the bandwagon like so many others have and feel a need to take a stand against it? I ask this because if you have followed the sport, you wouldn't have let loose about lack of gladiatorial mud scraps and lack of human toil. I hope that you don't seriously think designing and building the race cars is as easy as you and I letting loose our opinions on a blog site. Human toil, sweat and grind is very much part of it not to mention the actual driving of them cars. More on this later.
"Make no mistake this is automobile technology at pinnacle, engineering marvel at its dizzying best. The best and the fastest machines the outcome of relentless human toil in mastering notions of speed, combustion and gravity. Hats off to all, that but it is no sport."
Wait, did you just acknowledge the "relentless human toil" which goes into making the cars? Wow! But you still display your lack of understanding and your ignorance by saying it is no sport. Please figure out what the word "sport" means and I am not talking about your version of it. I am talking about the dictionary meaning of it which says "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc." You see racing there don't you? Racing is a sport Mr. Zakaria and it does require a special bent of mind to not see it that way
"The machines guide the drivers. All they need is a sense of fearlessness and a good anti nausea pill (30 circles in 90 minutes need a bile control prescription). What skill is needed in driving at 300 kmph in a relative straight line?"
Where do I even start with this? The machines guide the drivers? Really? All you need is fearlessness and an anti-nausea pill? I think you are actually crying out for a chance to get strapped into one of these machines yourself because by what you said you could probably do a decent job of it. You are certainly fearless judging by how you are so openly touting your ignorance and an anti-nausea pill is most probably available over the counter drug in any medial store, so you are set Mr. Zakaria. Since according to you, "What skill is needed in driving at 300 kmph in a relative straight line?" If you have ever stepped into a car, sat yourself behind the wheel and driven it, you wouldn't ask the question about skill being required. Yet here you say there is none involved when you are travelling at 300 Kmph! And finally please explain how I can go around in circles 30 times on a circuit which is a relative straight line. That is after allowing you the lee-way of calling the circuit a circle.
"And it’s a bad sport for the feminists with zero women drivers. Why no women drivers yet and just for that I don’t call it fair game."
Another classic piece - no women involved, so it is not fair. I do not know how this disquallifies F1 from being a sport but hey, I am not into ignorance and twisted logic either. Mr. Zakaria, do you know how many of the technical and engineering staff of these teams are women? And coming to your point of drivers, F1 has had a total of 5 women drivers over the years? That definitely is not much of a male vs female ratio to speak about but hey did you even know that they were there? And please do explain your notion of "fair game" because I sure don't see how it is not. Are you saying it should be made mandatory to have female drivers? Is that your idea of "fair game"? IF that is what you mean, then maybe we shoud classify our education system as a "sport", what say?
"Believe me it's all managed. Fixed. Red Bull this year, McLaren next, Mercedes the year after. Settled. So there’s hope for Force India."
This here is the author becoming desperate. After the lack of reasoning and logic in the preceeding lines, he needs this final desperate push to sell his point. That it is all Managed. Fixed, he says. Mr. Zakaria, you do of course mean it in the same way as matches are fixed in Cricket right? Yet Cricket is a sport to support but F1 is not even a sport? And to draw a parallel across other sports - Football is fixed because FC Barcelona seem to be winning always; Tennis must be the epitome of 'Fixing' with the Roger domination, Nadal domination, Williams domination, Djokovic domination etc; Long distance running is fixed because the Kenyans always win; Cycling is fixed because the US teams always win - Hope you get the point Mr Z. As an example of how wrong you are, if you actually bother to take a look at the Red-Bull team over the last 5 years, you will know that they have evolved from being the back markers to the mid-field guys and have finally made their way into the leading pack. As for Force India, their position on the grid is going to be decided by the quality of their off-track and on-track teams and not through some mythical fixing that you alone seem to know about.
"It’s also the worst event for a paying public, the true spectators who form the life line of any sport. You shell out 35,000/- per seat to watch the cars vroooom past for all of 3.5 seconds. I watched the F1from the most vantage point this year, better than any paid/privileged seat- on my TV screen sitting at home. Didn’t Mr. Bean, though omnipresent at the venue, watch it on a screen too? We had the same view."
Mr. Zakaria, please grow up. If you did not want to pay through your nose for a premium seat at the venue of the grand-prix, you don't have to. No one is holding a gun to your head to cough up that money. And let me point out that you conviniently left out the part about 35K being the price only for the premium seats. How about the tickets which were originally priced 2500 and 6500 and later sold at half those rates? Are they still un-affordable? And if you do say that, who exactly are you batting for when you cry un-affordable? The below poverty-line population in our country? Well this may be news to you but I bet they aren't really raring to go to a GP event even if the ticket is priced at 100 bucks. They have more existential things to concentrate on. Do you think everyone flocks to the cricket stadia in our country because all the seats are affordably priced for the lowest economic sections of the community? As I said before, please grow up Mr. Zakaria. This is not a supposed to be a reflection of the economic conditions in our country. This is a sporting event like any other and if enough people think the prices are too high, the prices will be corrected for the longivity of the event.
One last thing. Fans go to a stadium or a circuit because they enjoy the atmosphere of sharing their appreciation of a sport and a team with other like minded fans. Not because they get a clear view of the proceedings. You would understand this if you were a fan. Of any sport.
"So, big deal I wasn’t there. From the couch I marveled at the technicalities (the complex communications network) but scoffed at those who were watching it from the stands. How do you pitch this ‘sport’ to your child? For a true sport inspires while leaving behind an easy legacy. So whenever your child is behind the wheels will you coax him to drive real fast, undertake a few sharp maneuovres and try staying alive in the bargain? No way. Give me real sport. Even though it lasts all of 9.5 seconds, I will give all my dimes and the shirt of my back to watch Usain Bolt."
This here is your major problem, sir. You are risk averse. And lazy. And ignorant. And you want everyone to be like you. Pity. How do you pitch cricket to your kid, I wonder. Whenever your child has a stick in hand will you coax him to whack whatever is close by, out-of-sight and hope they don't break something valuable? And may I point out that in spite of your so called support for feminists and lament about lack of females drivers in the sport, you automatically refer to your boy kid when it comes to coaxing your child to take this sport up. :)
How you pitch this sport to your kid is by saying the same thing that his uncle told spiderman - "With great power comes great responsibility". You pitch this sport to your kid by getting him/her into a go-kart at a kart track and teaching him/her the skill of driving fast and specifically advising them that the public roads are not a race track. Driving fast and responsibly is a skill, irrespective of what you think about it, because it involves finding the limits of your own body and the limits of physics while at the same time keeping in mind that there are others around on the same track. It is a hard-earned skill where you spend endless hours toiling away to get the interplay between the clutch, break and accelerator as smooth as a symphony. It requires you to be at the best physical shape you possibly can be at. It requires brute strength as well as technique to hold yourself up against the physical forces at play in an open car and concentrate on driving eye-searingly fast. And if you know what it takes to make a top-notch athlete, irrespective of the sport, you would recognize that training, sacrifice, hard-work and dedication are what it takes. It is down to human toil, sweat and grind but then given your ignorance at display here, I can't honestly expect you to know that.
You say you would watch Usain Bolt. Usain Bolt would probably spend the 9.5 secs productively by running away from you.