Not actual F1 photo but a generic shot from ClipArt. F1 does not allow reproduction without permission
With India making its Formula One or F1 debut, the country’s superrich have found a whole new way of telling the rest “Fuck you.” It is “F1uck you.”
All sports are distractions but few as uselessly profligate as racing in general and the Formula 1 in particular. It is such an assertively worthless sport because drivers get into their cars and drive around at maniacal speeds until either someone crashes and burns or hits the finish line. The argument that being a Formula 1 driver requires great skills is neither here nor there because everything in life requires great skills.
One does not object to people extracting tremendous joy and thrill out of racing as long as they do not spin it as anything other than what it really is—gratuitous burning of fossil fuels for the entertainment of those who do not need any. It would be so much more refreshing if one of the F1 acolytes stood up and said, “We burn it because we can. So f1uck you.” I would have no problem with that.
Like every endeavor in India, the F1 racetrack too has been mired in controversy over how the land was acquired to construct the $400 million circuit on the fringes of the national capital. The farmers of Greater NOIDA whose land was acquired by Jaypee Sports International have complained that they were shortchanged, while the company has dismissed it saying their claim is baseless. The land, it seems, was acquired from the government which had acquired it from the farmers. So we do not quite know who is telling the truth and how much. Truths, half-truths and lies get indistinguishably fused in India when it comes to land acquisition.
One can go all bleeding heart on the issue and say, as I have already said here, how unnecessary F1 racing is for a country where there are so many variations of poverty and none necessarily less debasing and dehumanizing than the other. When well-meaning people say that while millions of children die of chronic hunger and easily preventable diseases India should not spend on sports such as F1, they forget that corporations would go where the money is. There is no money in poverty or hunger. It is not like if Jaypee Sports did not spend $400 million on the racetrack, it would have spent it on building nationwide food banks for the hungry. It is a false argument because it tries to assert a correlation where none exists.
After the Indian Premier League (IPL), the pimped-out F1 is the new playground of the Indian superrich who seem to have an insatiable need for thrill and excitement. Can they be stopped? Of course not. Should they be stopped? I am not sure. Can they be sent on a guilt trip for not feeling guilty enough? Probably not. So what are we left with really? Perhaps express self-righteous anger and move on.
On a side note, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel of Germany won the 2011 Formula 1 Airtel Grand Prix of India. In this sentence there are two corporations, one actual human and one country. Red Bull is an energy drink and Airtel is India’s leading mobile phone carrier. Grand Prix is grand prix. What this means is that when you are not racing to nowhere, you open a Red Bull can and chat on your Airtel mobile phone.
P.S.: India’s much heralded racecar driver Narain Karthikeyan is the Sania Mirza of F1. He finished 16.