You haven’t seen fast and furious till you have actually been to a Formula One (F1) race. It is tailor-made for the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
I had a boyfriend who was hooked on to the sport, and because it was more appealing than cricket, I allowed myself to get drawn into this world. It helped that the driver I was rooting for won the Formula One World Championship. The year was 1997 and Jacques Villeneuve became the rare Canadian to take the title. What made his win even more poignant was his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix (GP) that year. The son of legendary race car driver Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques was only 11 when his father died after a crash in the 1982 Belgian GP. When the son stood triumphant on the same podium 15 years later, I couldn’t stop the tears. These are stories, this mystique, that makes F1 more than just a car race.
When I went to São Paulo, Brazil, for its fashion week in 2009, I cut down on shows to be able to visit the monument built in honour of racing driver Ayrton Senna, who died in an accident in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Installed at the entrance of the tunnel under Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo, it is a stylised interpretation of an F1 car conceived by Brazilian artist Melinda Garcia.
I remember vividly when my love for the sport was clinched: It was after I received an invitation by Foster’s Group to be their guest at the British GP in 2004. I never questioned why a fashion magazine was included. I just landed there post haste. I knew it would be an exciting race; the track at Silverstone is one of the fastest in the circuit. Like a lot of racing tracks in the UK, Silverstone was built on a disused Royal Air Force airfield. It saw its first race in 1948, but it was the 1951 race that was historic. That was the first F1 race not won by an Alfa Romeo. Instead, the more fuel-efficient Ferrari scored its first win.
The 2004 trip was all the more special because I had access to the Paddock Club. Essentially a VIP area, you can sip champagne through the day and chat with visiting F1 drivers. At some point before the race starts, you can even walk across to the pits where the cars are raring to go. (As an aside, they look smaller in real life.)
It was also a great opportunity to see British fashion, up close and personal. No one does sporty chic better than the Brits. It sounds ridiculously old-fashioned but, somehow, from their loafers to their well-tailored trousers, they get that loose, long-limbed elegance down pat. I am a huge fan of British fashion. During my first visit to London as an impressionable tween, I was introduced to the goth and punk subcultures. Fierce mohawks, crazy body piercings and black, tattered shrouds roamed the streets. It was all so edgy and cool. Brit fashion is about street cred: It straddles technological innovation and vintage at the same time. No wonder the poster child of Brit Cool is Kate Moss, cheeky and rebellious, all the time.