In the glamorous, high-hat world of Formula One, there is no such thing as ringside or front-row seats during race day. That’s because the sheer speed of the F1 super cars and the thunderous, ear-ripping roar of the engines make it extremely hazardous and risky for the audience to get very near the lightning-fast cars. As they say, speed kills, sometimes. Not a few race drivers and spectators have died as a result of hig-speed crashes.
There is however a special viewing room where VIPs, team officials and guests can enjoy the action within the comfort and safety of this exclusive enclave. It is called the F1 Paddock which has among other modern things a set of four CCTVs in all four corners, each set tracking strategic bends and curves and showing where the action is. A dedicated set of CCTVs provides watchers with F1 racing statistics . In the Paddock, food abounds: Atlantic lobsters for breakfast; lamb chops for lunch, not to mention the aperitif . Wine, champagne and beer flowing freely as if coming from a wellspring. It’s the best seat in the house.
In March, 2000, Manila Standard was accorded with the privilege of joining the then BMW-Williams F1 Team on the second round of the F1 season at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. The perks included a stay in the Paddock where the team had Manila Standard savoring the life of luxury in the fast lane even if only in three fleeting days.
Below the BMW-Williams Paddock was a work station leading to the pit stop, where F1 cars did their racing routines such as tire change, fuel refill and quick repairs. It was in this area that the Standard chanced upon the Williams founder, Sir Frank Williams on a Saturday around 7 a.m . just before the F1 teams’ practice run. The knighted one was singularly focused on his computer. After the usual greetings, he set about what he was doing.
These memories of F1 came to the fore in light of the news that the famous marquee, beset by budget limitations, had ended its association with Formula One in favor of a white knight, the US-based investor Dorilton Capital.
For the last race, William’s daughter waved off the 2 team drivers from the garage in a ceremonial farewell.
On the change of ownership, Agence France Press had this take from Formula One managing director Ross Brawn, who started his career with Williams. “In Williams, we are losing a family who has been part of Formula One for so long, but on the other hand it shows the trust and support for F1 that there is new investment coming in,” Brawn was quoted by AFP as saying on Sunday during the Italian Grand Prix.
One of the team’s drivers vowed “to keep driving like hell” to honor the Williams ‘ marquee, the last in F1 under British ownership.
Described in F1 circles as a serial winner, Williams notched up 114 victories,128 pole positions and 16 championhip titles in 740 races during his 43-year participation in the pinnacle of motorsport.
With a spectacular feat like that, Williams no doubt has immortalized himself in the annals of F1 history.