Arriving in Mokpo, Seoul felt a long way away in the far north of the country. This town was very different; a hard working port town, a low rise – sprawling – town. Yet quaint and welcoming.
It is a town I would never had put on a map and said, ‘we should go there’! We were here for just one reason. Formula 1. To watch stupidly fast cars go round and round (and round… 55 times in fact) before one crossed the line before all the others and was declared the winner.
Ah, the wonderful world of racing. It’s underlying simplicity – overlaid by mind-boggling technology, incredibly clever people, amazing mechanics and death-defyingly-good drivers – I love it!
Our experience was made all the more special as we were able to meet up with a very old school friend who works for the Caterham team. And as we had chosen the most poorly attended race on the calendar we were able to smooze the weekend away with one or two recognisable faces…
The Korean Grand Prix – whilst the racing is good – is a million miles away from the glitz and glamour associated with the sport. Grand stands stand empty around the track, and even on race day the main grand stand struggles to find enough fans to fill its vacuous space. So we (well, just Joyce actually) tried to bring some glamour.
We had no seats. But prime viewing.
Formula one is a sensorial experience. And the first sense to be struck is not what you see but what you hear. The sound of the engines. It’s like 22 rockets taking off in front of you.
On the track, you hear the cars approaching. The crunch as gears are down shifted. The rattle as the car pierces the air in front of you. And as it fires away along the straight, the whin of the engine finding incomprehensible speed. The precision of up shifting gears. Each one of 22 cars. The same noise created in exactly the same place on the track. Time and time again. It is a wonder of precision.
And in the garage? As mechanics care for their ‘beast of auditory burden’ and fire up the engine? The walls close the sound in all around you? There is no escape for your ear drums – protected as they are by last-minute-shuffing-in of ear plugs.
It is bone shaking. It is glorious.
After your ears have calmed down – or just stopped functioning altogether – you are able to appreciate the beauty of movement. From the cars on the track. To the mechanics working seamlessly next to one another – each performing a completely different role – with the clear goal of putting this one car onto the track, to fight for points.
And finally, the 4-second dance of the pit stop…
… I never realised beer-bellies could move so beautifully! 😉
And after an hour and a half the performance is over and there is a winner… Sebastian Vettel… Again… Grr.