Debate: When did you start watching F1?

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We all had start somewhere – so how did you first start following Formula 1?

The first race I saw – on television, not live – was the 1989 British Grand Prix. Nigel Mansell, then in a Ferrari, lost buckets of time with a puncture and then went on one of his classic charges trying to catch Alain Prost’s McLaren.

But what really fired me up about F1 was the next race I saw. I missed the German Grand Prix but saw the Hungarian race – an epic round won by Mansell from 12th on the grid. It culminated in Mansell’s magnificent pass on Ayrton Senna as they rounded a lapped Stefan Johansson.

Not surprisingly, I became a devoted Mansell fan.

So why, and when, did you first get excited about Grand Prix racing?

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Tags: f1 / formula one / formula 1 / grand prix / motor sport

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Debate: When did you start watching F1?”

  1. My first full F1 race I watched was the epic race of Brazil 2003. I was a Hakkinen fan before I fully started watching F1, so I became a Raikkonen fan.

  2. i’m of the younger generation of f1 watcher. naturally, i’ve been captivated by michael schumacher since 1999.

  3. Back in early 1996 I got a fairly old (even for the time) F1 game for my PC. SO I decided to watch the real thing to see what it was like – I think the first race I watched was one of the early European season ones. Been hooked ever since.

  4. I first watched Barcelona 1996, then Monaco 1997. (Hmmm. Maybe that’s why I became such a Schumi fan.) When we got cable in 2001, I started watching fulltime. :)

  5. I started watching regularly in 1984. Watching the great Alain Prost challenge Niki Lauda, and if life was fair, he would have been champion that year.
    Most of all I remember the 1986 season, when Mansel, Prost and Piquet fought for the championship, with Senna showing his greatness in the Lotus.
    Ahh, happy days.

  6. I first watched the entire 1994 season, that’s what I don’t became a Schumi fan :)

  7. I, along with ASF, started watching F1 in 1984. Everyone at school wanted to be Nigel Mansell.
    The first Grand Prix I watched at the circuit was the 1988 British Grand Prix. Senna winning, and Mansell second. The sound of the Honda turbos stayed with me. The support races included Damon Hill , Eddie Irvine and Mika Hakkinen.

  8. .oO(Blimey, they’re all still wet behind the ears…) ;)

    I’m glad you said “following”, Keith, because it wasn’t possible to watch the races on TV when I started following them in 1962 – I did it secondhand by reading the reports in Autocar and Autosport magazines. Occasionally, we were treated to old newsreel film of earlier races and the one that confirmed my growing passion for F1 was a brief clip of the highlights of Monaco, 1961 – when Moss outpaced and outfoxed the all-conquering Ferrari sharknoses.

    Although I did go to one South African GP in the late sixties, reports from journalists and intermittent highlights of races on TV were all I had until 1976 when I moved back to England. That was sheer luxury, every race live and in colour! So I guess you could say that I followed F1 from 1962 but watched it from 1977 onwards.

    I was a fan of Mickey the Shoe for precisely one race – his first, at Spa. When he sold out to Flavio Briatore immediately afterwards, I turned against him and subsequent events proved me correct. The least he could have done was demonstrate some gratitude to Eddie Jordan by driving for him for the remainder of the season – plenty of time to go for the big money thereafter.

  9. The first full race that I watched was the 1997 Brazilian Grand Prix, I was hooked from then on, But I did catch snippets of races in ’95 and ’96.

  10. I started 1982, that was the season when first ever Finnish driver won the drivers championship. Champion of 1982 was called Keke Rosberg, Nico’s father.

  11. 1994 on and off. Then in 1995 I started to get hooked. The Hill vs. Schumacher battles were all my friends and I would talk about at school. Then 1996 cemented my addiction with Hill’s ‘cruise’ to the title, Villeneuve snapping at the heals of the mega-stars and Schumacher putting in some of his finest drives in the woeful Ferrari.

  12. Well…….I’ve got a problem. All but Clive could be my children, some grand-children! And even he would only be my kid brother! Start in F1? …… Road & Track, Car & Driver 1956…..Tony Brooks, Mike Hawthorn, Vanwall, Cooper, B.R.M.
    do these names mean anything to anyone? 1960s Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Ferraris on wire wheels, cars WITHOUT wings……hands anyone? 1970s Jackie Stewart, Tyrrell, private entrants?
    How come so much silence?
    Bad news…….ALL you folks have missed “the good old days”.
    More bad news, I still ‘race’.
    Number 38

    1. Stuart Chapman
      17th June 2009, 19:25

      I always dread this question. 1955 the British GP at Aintree. Moss won in the Mercedes W196 followed home by Fangio. I was just ten yrear old at the time. Since then, I have been a avid F1 fan. In those days the only F1 coverage wason Pathe news at the cinema, and occassionaly on BBC ITV was not around in those days.Over all the years, I have been to so many live GP’s I have job to remember them all. My all time favourite driver is Jim Clark (RIP)

  13. Chris Jansson
    9th April 2007, 18:37

    I’d say I started watching around 98 or 99 as I remember Hakkinen and Schumacher going at eachother for some while there, but as I’m not that old it’s hard to say.. The first and only race I’ve been to was Hockenheim in 2003, not the happiest race as a Schumi fan when he caught the puncture. But in the age of the internet it’s not hard to find full race downloads to watch the goodies you missed out on.

  14. I suppose I’ve been “following” F1 since August 1967 when I was carried to the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport at 2 months old. I had already been to several regional races and would spend most of my life with some involvement or another in racing.

  15. I admit I wasn’t able to watch full races until very recently, but always tried to pay attention since Jacques Villenueve and Juan Montoya made the transition from CART.

    This will show my age somewhat; I was made aware of Formula 1 by the arcade video game ‘Pole Position’ in the early 80’s. At the time, I didn’t know that Fuji Speedway and Suzuka were (poorly, but great for the time) modelled after real tracks.

  16. Nathan Jones
    10th April 2007, 9:21

    imola ’89 was my 1st race, my cuz in law’s 1st race was ricard ’89 – both had massive accidents!
    i remember seeing an add on tv bout imola ’89 and asked parents to tape it as i was 6 at the time
    didnt know other races were on as i saw no ads etc then saw canada ’89 in tv guide so tape n watch etc then adelaide that yr then from ’90 onwards i watched every race and have been hooked ever since! i have done countless of hrs research n getting old clips of races etc n triver tributes etc and have a fair bit of knowledge of it all! miss the 80’s style cars for thier looks and the racing in the season reviews (i have all including the ’70’s collection dvd’s) was supreme!

  17. The first race I remember watching was France 1993. There was a thunderstorm at my house, so I stopped playing outside (I was seven at the time) and watched the programme that happened to be on TV at the time. Since Dad had been following F1 for decades, the room was filled with the sound of Murray Walker’s near-unintelligible commentary. The two Williams drivers looked interesting, with Damon Hill’s smooth style and easily-spotted helmet particularly interesting.

    While it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the F1 season (I somehow managed to miss every race after France 1993 until San Marino 1994), from that race on I have been excited about F1 in general and Damon Hill in particular.

  18. I can’t remember when i started watching F1 but my earliest memory is of the 1994 san marino GP, don’t remember much of the race just that my cousins were visiting.
    after that the 1995 season was the first full one i watched.

  19. For me, It was highlights on TV back in 1988, I think the ’88 Monaco GP was my first race I remember watching, Piquets onboard Laps in the wet are amazing in the Lotus. From then on I watched 30-45mins highlights for the rest of the season. 1989 Was the first full season I watched from start to finish, all races, also bought my first Autocourse for 1989 aswell. On sale ;) ofcourse. 1990-1994 Huge Fan, then Senna Died and Shuey won his first championship, and my interest in the sport died down. Didnt really watch in 1995, started getting back into it in 1996, started buying F1 Racing magazines in ’96 also. 1997 watched every race again, same for 1998 and 1999, 2000 watched most of season. 2001-2004 didnt really watch for obvious reasons (shumi domination) :(. 2005 and 2006 glad to see alonso win championship, now in 2007 a new era, the Domination of young Lewis Hamilton. Cheers Gav. Senna Fan!

  20. The first thing i remember about f1, was lauda accident in 1975. I was a kid then, but it certenly capture my imagination. Then in 1981, i bought the gp international magazine, where lauda was trying the mclaren at donington to see how it felt. We were a bunch of 13 year old kids at school, reading anything we could about f1, in a country that only cared about footbal.We wanted a f1 driver from spain, but it seemed so far away. If only we had known, just 7 miles from our school,a woman had given birth to a boy called fernando alonso. Amazing. Then i went to portugal in 1984, for the season finale when lauda won the title. In 1985 i saw ayrton first win at the same track, and then a few more, but that is another story…

  21. I started to watch in about ’98/’99 in the midst of the Shumi/Haki battles…. I then lost the station that boradcasts the races until just last year, just in time o catch the last great races between Alonso and Shu. In the time in between I tried to follow the sport as best I could but its not that same when you can’t see the race!

    Still haven’t been able to find the WRC…. I miss watching the Mitsu/Subaru battles with Tommi Mäkinen and Colin McRae…. Different topic I guess.

  22. 1997,the race was spa,yes THAT ironically from that i became a mclaren fan,even though i think it was david who started the pile up wernt it?my brother got me into it.he’s a die hard ferrari fan who can keep (dont like his attitude)kimi.

  23. vanwall fan
    24th July 2007, 20:41

    It was either 1965 or 1966 that I attended my first F1 race at Brands, for more than 40 years I have followed this sport.
    Sadly the plans laid out by Mosley for the future of the sport are regressive and demoralizing for the fans.
    Perhaps it should not be totally unlimited in specification, but as close to that concept as is possible is the way to go. As for the suggestion to limit engines to 10k rpm and aiming for a “greener” car, well that is just plain daft.
    F1 should be the ultimate expression of technology with no holds barred, this current plan to turn them into nothing more than elaborate go karts is the tolling of the death knell for the sport. Mosley is an idiot and should be hoofed as soon as possible.
    If a truly unlimited series were to be inaugurated, the fans would flock to it in droves, it would kick the crap out of Bernie’s little nest egg.
    We want power, speed, noise and cutting edge design, not that which has been suggested. The promoter that catches on to this will make out like a bandit.

  24. The first I watched on TV was Monaco 1997 and Michael Schumacher won, which I maybe why I started supporting him. I am now a huge Schumacher fan and really miss him not racing. The best race I went to was Monaco 2000. I love going to races, especially when Schumacher would win!!

  25. The first full race I watched was the Japanese Grand Prix in 1996, at a relatives house. As a Canadian I was really hoping that somehow Villenueve would take the championship, but it wasn’t to be. He was my F1 hero at first, and his decline over the years was painful to watch.
    We finally got cable in ’99 and I started watching the races live, which for me means waking up brutally early to watch the European races. But I did and I usually have been ever since, with the exception of the 2001/2002 period when Schumacher’s uber-dominance made for some dull racing.

  26. saw my first f1 race at the nurburgring in 1963=jim clark on pole
    incredible to watch these guys get airborn at the flugplatz in practice.
    surtees in the ferrari first, clark second in the lotus 25 don’t remember who took third-could have been ginther in a brm. anyway it was my first f1 race and my second time to see clark.(nurburgring 1000k in a lotus 23-awesome)

  27. i feel old now,started following f1 in the early 60’s after i sat in the latest BRM that Graham Hill drove, BRM (Bourne Lincs),& my dad used to take me to silverstone to watch them race,cannot remember when it was first televised but have been watching ever since & have not missed one race since(with the aid of video & now sky +)

  28. Schumacher Fan
    3rd October 2007, 11:16

    The first race i remember wtaching was the 1997 spanish grand prix, from which i became a schumacher fan because of his amazing start from 7th on the grid to 3rd at the first corner. id heard of f1 before that and i knew about a few of the drivers eg hill shcumacher alesi, but after the spanish gp in 1997 to 2004 i missed only a few races. didn watch 2005 or 06 but iv seen every race this year and looking forward to seeing hamilton become world champion on sunday.

  29. Ah. Susuka 1996 When i was only 5. Decided i liked the Blue and white cars the best, and, out of those 2 cars, i liked the guy with the pink and yellow helmets design the best.

    Of course he crashed out later in the race.

    For the next 9 years, i was a Villenurve supporter.

    But i only remember the start of Susuka, and then Villeneurve sat in the gravel with 3 wheels. The first race i properly remember was Australia 97.

  30. I had watched alot of highlights but I thin the first race I watched fully was the surprisingly good (for spain) 2000 Spanish Grand Prix. I was 6 at the time. Me and my Brother were Hakkinen fans…now I’m a Raikkonen fan

  31. I was gripped by ‘Hmailton fever’ in 2007 and watched some races on and off – since the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix, I’ve watched every race (not live because I fell asleep during Australia this year):D

  32. I remember getting up with my father at 4 am to watch the 1994 season finale at Adelaide. I was eight years old by that time and maybe I did watch an occasional race before that, but it’s the first one I can remember. Being from Germany that race was, of course, really special… many years later I realized that it was Mansell’s last victory which is a funny coincident as I today name him one of my favorite drivers having watched a lot of old race footage from the 80s, early 90s and his IndyCar year(s).

  33. My first recllection of F1 was back in 1975 with the likes of James Hunt, Fittipaldi, Scheckter and Lauda to name but a few of the billiant F1 drivers that have walked this imortal coil. At first i couldn’t quite understand why these cars were racing around a track and couldn’t quite get the point, but as i sat and watched i was messmerized and hooked from that day onwards, it was a ritual that the grand prix was on as we were sat eating out sunday roast, nothing has changed really, still watch the race every weekend without fail and still enjoy every last second, just don’t bother with the roast anymore when it’s race day, i can’t concentrate on both..

  34. I started following Formula 1 in 1970 and remember reading about Jochen Rindt’s death in practice at Monza. I have been able to attend the following races in Europe and the US.
    1971 Hockenheim non-championship race won by Jacky Ickx
    1976 Nurburgring won by James Hunt
    1984 Dallas won by Keke Rosberg
    2004 Indianapolis won by Michael Schumacher
    2005 Indianapolis won by Michael Schumacher
    2006 Indianapolis won by Michael Schumacher
    2007 Indianapolis won by Lewis Hamilton
    I have been watching every practice, qualifying, and race since it has been on television in the 1980’s.

  35. My first F1 race was the ABC Wide World of Sport coverage of an early ’60s Belgian GP with a mixture of roadster and rear-engine cars that I watched on a 9″ black and white portable TV – – a stark contrast to watching this weekend’s GP on a 55″ flat screen. (yes, I’m an old fossil who still likes F1 :-).

  36. Started watching when I was 3 with my dad. Was Michael Schumacher fan. Once Alsono was with Reaunlt I went with him for 05-07. When Hamilton was going to Mclaren team from GP2 I knew he would be great. Still following hamilton 07-.

  37. I was just a little twerp. Like 2 or 3. the first race i saw it was 2002 during the schumacher domination. it was exiting as heck. especcialy monaco. since then the tifosi was the squad for me.

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