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GP Week : Issue 24
>>GPWEEKOPINION Learning from the Olympics Chris Lambden GPWeek Publisher Formula 1’s annual break has been well-timed this year, at a time when I have hardly noticed its absence – thanks to the Olympics. The modern Olympics has its critics – in many cases justified – who bemoan the commercialisation of so many of the sports involved (please someone tell me how the same old tennis pros who trot out their stuff every week, earning millions, get to strut their stuff on the Olympic stage) and, this time, the perceived political shortcoming of the host nation. But it still sucks me in. And it’s not only because you get to see the best athletes fighting it out in some pretty testing sports, but that you get to share the emotions of the winners, and losers, be they from my adopted nation (Australia, not doing too badly as it happens for a small country) or even my country of birth, England, starting to reap the rewards of its own investment in sporting excellence. And, er, yes, the Poms are starting from a fair way back … The sheer concentrated effort and emotion, in the pool, on the bike, on the track, is there to be absorbed, and it is something that Formula 1 lacks. It’s not helped by the fact that the competitors are, by necessity, cocooned inside their machinery. MotoGP riders have the advantage of being out in the air, visible and – thanks to Valentino Rossi’s lead – demonstrative. Comparatively, F1 is quite sterile, but does it need to be quite so? Not allowed to do burnouts on the in-lap, fenced off from their teams in a podium coral, what are F1’s podium people to do? Or is it that, as a breed, post- race emotion is no longer F1-cool? As it ponders putting the P (for passing) back into Grands Prix, Formula 1 should use the opportunity to consider the personal image it presents. F1 needs to let its hair down. I’m a motorsport-head from a long way back and really appreciate the qualities that make up world-class motosport winners. But, regardless of what happens over the balance of the F1 season, my enduring 2008 sporting image will be of Usain Bolt – not for the fact that he won the 100 metres; or that he set a world record; but for the way he did it. Look and learn, F1. 21 opinion