|Danger: "You prepare yourself and
your car in order to drive at the absolute limit, to be on
the edge. The whole effort is to reach the point where it
becomes dangerous. The fear I have is the knowledge that I
can be killed any time in a racing car." —Niki
Drama: May 1994. Ayrton Senna, 34, is killed in a
Formula One crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola,
Italy. In his 10 years of Grand Prix competition, the
Brazilian had won 41 races and three world championships.
A million people, many weeping, lined the streets of Sao
Paulo at his funeral. Outside the gates of the local
legislature, a chant went up: "O-le, o-le, o-le,
o-la! Sen-na, Sen-na!" It was a rhythmic requiem for
the hero who lay within, one of Brazil’s greatest heroes
and among the fastest men on wheels on earth. Senna was
mourned officially for three days.
Dough: If the danger is high, so are the rewards.
Michael Schumacher vies with Tiger Woods as the world’s
best-paid athlete. Last year the F1 champ earned $75
million, just $3 million less than the ace golfer. But
while Woods’ performance has been wobbly in the past two
years, the German Formula 1 race driver has the opposite
problem: he can’t stop winning. Schumacher, 35, has been
world champion six times.
Formula One is the thoroughbred of racing cars. Nothing
on wheels is quite so sophisticated. F1 cars can cost up
to $100,000 to build, and as much again to maintain for a
single racing season. Twelve feet long and elegantly
slender, they look like bright green, blue, red, purple
dragonflies perched on fat black feet. Though the cars
weigh a mere 1,100 pounds, their three-litre engine
develops more than 375 h.p., and they can dart down a
straightaway at better than 200 m.p.h. At full bore, a
Formula One handles so neurotically that in all the world
of motor racing only 20 men are considered capable of
making the finishing line.
In that elite company is Renault’s Fernando Alonso,
who with six races left in the current Formula One season,
is poised to become the youngest champion in the sport’s
history. Alonso—who is typical of the breed of race car
drivers—has a penchant for colourful bandanas and
aviator sunglasses, which makes him look more like a rock
star than an F1 driver.
|It’s the kind of image that attracts another species
to the throbbing tracks—the pit babe. As well as earning
millions of dollars a year and getting to drive the
coolest cars in the world, the track stars are also some
of the most sought after catches for an ever growing group
of young women desperate to hook a sports star. Pit lane
groupies, nicknamed ‘screwdrivers’ stalk aces such as
Alonso, David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher at hotels,
nightclubs and race tracks.
PITSTOP: F1 tech is
so advanced cars get their wheels chnged,tanks
fuilled and windshield wiped-- all in 10 seconds
While there are plenty of stunningly beautiful women at
the racetracks, pit-lane models are one of the few glamour
girls who have official access to the drivers on race day.
They are paid to drape themselves over the drivers and
parade around the pit lane and paddock in tiny outfits to
help glam up the races.