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GP Week : Issue 87
PR SKILLS: As a racing driver, you spend about five and a half hours in your car every fortnight -- provided you don't break down. The rest of the time, you're an ambassador to your team, sponsors and country. A role model for kids everywhere, and also the main reason why we should buy a particular brand of aftershave. It helps, therefore, if you're not a complete t**t. Karun Chandhok loves giving interviews so much, he runs after journalists promising them rounds of drinks. Cheers to that. IQ: F1 is a thinking man's game. To process strategy, changing characteristics like tyres, fuel and weather, plus take a every corner with metronomic perfection, for an hour and a half, while you've got a world champion on your tail... Well, you need to be pretty bright. Nico Rosberg speaks six languages and was offered a place on Imperial College London's aerodynamics course. Who needs Mensa when you're in the GPDA? LOOKS: Ladies, there's a new pin-up courtesy of the Virgin team. Brazil's Lucas di Grassi proved in the lower formulae that he absolutely deserves to race in the top flight. But he could also sell underwear if he wanted, too. It must be nice to have something to fall back on. NATURAL ABILITY: You've got to admire someone who tries hard, but it's those with natural ability that F1 really lauds. Someone who laps the field with all the effort of a trip to the shops. Sebastian Vettel is nicknamed Baby Schumi because he was taking blind corners flat even when he was in his pushchair. AGGRESSION: F1 drivers are so competitive that if you beat them at Connect 4 they will actually foam at the mouth. The trick is to control this aggression and use it to your advantage. If you see a gap, do not hesitate. Lewis Hamilton never does. CUNNING: Winners win at all costs. Sounds like something Gordon Gekko might come out with, but Michael Schumacher wrote the book on playing dirty. Pushing competitors off the track, blocking the circuit so no one can beat your quali time; it's all in a day's work for Herr Schumi. Does he care? He's too busy polishing his trophies. FITNESS: An F1 driver experiences cornering forces of around 4.5G -- that's 4.5 times your body weight pushing on the side of your neck for a few seconds at a time, 14 times a lap. It's like getting beaten up 1000 times in a single afternoon. Plus, it gets pretty hot and drivers will lose two pints of water during a race distance. Mark Webber is F1's fitness fanatic. He actually enjoys running, cycling and swimming. Oh yes, it helps if you're crazy. NATIONALITY: F1 is keen to tap new markets -- particularly ones with lots of money to spend. Vitaly Petrov became the first Russian F1 driver this year, backed by government money (exactly the kind of money Bernie Ecclestone likes). If he continues to do well at Renault, a Russian Grand Prix will become a reality. YOUTH: Despite the return of Michael Schumacher and Pedro de la Rosa raising the average driver age this year, youth is still seductive to team bosses and sponsors. These days, teenage drivers are de riguer. Jaime Alguersuari was literally in nappies when Michael won his first grand prix. EXPERIENCE: Testing is limited these days, in order to cut costs. This makes it hard for rookies to get up to speed, and makes experience all the more valuable. Rubens Barrichello graduated to F1 in 1993 and has started a record 293 grands prix. HERITAGE: F1 fans love nostalgia. Seeing a name like Villeneuve, Hill or Rosberg back on the side of a car brings back memories -- or, for those of us born in the last 30 years, feel like we haven't completely missed the golden era. This year is especially poignant though. Sixteen years since the sport's most loved driver died, Bruno Senna has taken to the grid. The pressure on the 26 year- old is huge. Uncle Ayrton once said: "If you think I'm fast, you should see my nephew." f1 Feature >> 33