Like so many others I expect, my first F1 experience was all down to my parents.
My dad has loved anything with an engine since he was a kid but wasn’t allowed to watch what little F1 was on tv once he got married to my mum. That is until Damon Hill came to F1 & like modern day Lewis Hamilton fans, she got swept up in the British driver in a British team hype. Like Hamilton, Hill was in the best car at the time – the gorgeous early 90’s Williams.
So now F1 was on our tv whenever it was shown, and the rest they say, is history!
The earliest races I remember watching are from ’95 – by the end of the season I was a big Damon & Williams fan.
When Damon was pushed out to Arrows I followed him there, but kept on supporting Williams & Villeneuve. I was absolutely blown away as he nearly won his first race, little did I know at the age of 12 how much the car had to do with it!
I also started to support the lovely Finnish bloke that is Mika Hakkinen, for no reason other than that I felt sorry for him as he hadn’t won a race!
By the end of the ’97 season I was a happy girl – Mika had won a race (yes he was given it by JV & Coulthard but that didn’t matter), Villeneuve was champion and Damon was on his way to Jordan.
98 & 99 were even better, with Mika Hakkinen beating those pesky red cars (granted he made it hard work in 99 against Irvine). This is when F1 became more than Sunday viewing – as artwork drawn in wet playtimes at school & a hand knitted Finnish flag show I was becoming a bit obsessed!
The following years I carried on living F1 as much as I could, we didn’t have the internet but Ceefax did just as good of a job keeping us up to date with what was going on!
Mika pulled a blinder of an overtaking manouver on Schuey around Zonta at Spa in 2000 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqCWsGCeTxs), and in 2000 a cute English boy called Jenson Button made his debut at Williams – so I was a McLaren & Williams fan once again 😉
2001 and a Mr Kimi Raikkonen made his entrance. Something like 23 single seater races to his name and directly from Formula Renault, Peter Sauber had to argue with the FIA just to give Kimi his superlicence to race. Scoring points on his debut for Sauber, Kimi instantly caught my eye…not sure why (*swoon*)! Even better is that he was asleep half hour before his first F1 race…Kimi is seriously cool!
I didn’t have long following the two Finns as Mika soon announced a sabbatical which turned into retirement – paving way for Kimi to go to McLaren.
Shame that making the best & prettiest cars (IMHO) didn’t result in more for Kimi & McLaren and eventually the two fell out. Kimi went to Ferrari & I had to become a fan of the cheating scumbags…who soon won me over lol. Turns out Rob Smedley, Felipe Massa & Stefano Domenicali are amazing! Not quite Ron Dennis amazing but nearly 🙂
And to make things even better Kimi won his first race for Ferrari & went on to snatch a world championship away from the fighting Hamilton & Alonso at McLaren. I will never forget that race – a large group of us were watching in a pub at uni. I had Finnish flags painted on my face but not for one minute believed Kimi could carry on hauling more points than the two McLaren drivers. From about half way through the race I began to believe & could barely watch or breath I have never been so nervous in my life! Celebrating Kimi’s win it soon became apparent I was the only person who supported him (standing on your chair cheering etc with lots of blank faces quickly makes you realise these things!) but that didn’t matter, he was world champion 😀
Fast forward a few years, Jenson is a world champion but Kimi got bored & shoved out despite showing he could still drive as well as ever, when he could be bothered. Being a Kimi fan is the most frustrating thing ever – if only he tried every day he would have won so much more. I’m hopeful for a return in 2011, I can’t get into WRC in the same way!
I still like Williams as a team, and like Barrichello & Hulkenberg so still cheer for them.
I also still have soft spots for McLaren & JB and Ferrari (Massa, Smedley & Domenicali at least). Unfortunately and going against all my principles I have discovered I love Schumacher :-O in his comeback year, and really want him to do well too!
But the main team I support is Renault, I love the retro paint scheme (girly comment I know) – far better in real life than on tv, and Kubica is a great driver although I still have reservations as I don’t like how vocal he seems to be if things aren’t going his way. Above all I know first hand how good the guys are back at the factory (although I’m sure this is true for all the teams) and want the wins for them more than anything. They deserve it, so fingers crossed for more podiums & wins in 2010 😀