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Video: Anatomy of the Grand Prix build up

Submitted by on February 9, 2012

There is still nothing like the excitement to the build up to a Grand Prix start. If it doesn’t make the hairs on your neck stand up, you are not human

As the F1 teams start testing for 2012, it is a quick reminder that there is nothing like the tension that you experience in the build up to a Grand Prix – or a Formula Ford race. Any race in fact. This video, made by Elf in 1985 captures it brilliantly.

There are rituals, superstitions, drivers who smile and chat, drivers who want to be left alone and focus. They all have routines.

Let’s face it, so do we as spectators. The 30 minutes before a race start is adrenalin fuelled, even for us. The out lap when they first pass you before settling on the grid. Some drivers get out of their cars, a few don’t, happy to be strapped in and keep the outside world away.

Times have changed, TV demands interviews on the grid today. Back then, drivers would prepare their own helmets. One thing hasn’t changed though, every detail is checked over and over before the cars set out for the grid. Maybe it is more intense today, but attention to detail has always been key to winning. The teams prepare the tyre guns for the pit stops over and over, they make sure the hoses are not tangled. They make sure the engines are up to temperature.

Once the cars are on the grid, the racers will take a ‘toilet’ break. They take on a lot of fluids pre-race, as they will lose a load during the race. For the mechanics, there is little more they can do now, apart from shield their drivers from the sun (or rain). The only adjustments may be to the mirrors – maybe that’s just a nervous thing to keep the guys occupied?

Then it’s what I call the ‘Gladiator moment’. Balaclava on, helmet on, into car (usually right foot first, seemingly a superstition that no-one can explain.) The belts are done up and tightened. Then the driver will make them tighter. The grid girls, TV crews, journalists, photographers and celebrities leave the startline, it is now driver and car all alone.

The warm-up lap, belts made even tighter so the driver is drilled tight into the cockpit. Radio check, then time to clear the mind, and focus on the first corner.

Park up in the grid spot. Visor down, and forget the millions of people watching around the world. It’s only a race car isn’t it?

And…. Go.

Thanks to Elf, and everyone who has made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in the 30 minutes before a race start. That’s why we are here, isn’t it?

By Andy Hallbery follow me on Twitter @hallbean

Follow @MotorSportRetro on Twitter

Images: TheCahierArchive©

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