The reason we watch F1 is to see the battle at the front. The world’s best drivers and teams throwing all their weight and resources to get a Grand Prix victory, and earn those points that might lead them to a world championship at the end of the year. But the real fight in F1 happens from third through tenth. And occasionally, on a special day, sometimes we get to see a team that doesn’t normally see much time at the front of the field, contending for a podium.
Enter Force India. A small midfield team, with two successful drivers, doing whatever they can to punch above their weight with a car that is well behind the development curve of the bigger teams like Williams, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes. Yet, Sergio Perez, through a brilliant strategy and a little luck, ended up third on the podium in Russia. In the hubbub and mayhem under the podium, Checo’s dad and I ended up standing next to each other. Though my Spanish is a little rusty, I didn’t need much understanding of the Mexican’s native language to understand how proud his father was to be seeing his son on the podium, giving a hug to one of the world’s most powerful politicians, and standing arm to arm with two other F1 drivers, who have six (nearly seven) world Championships between them. That must have been special.
Not to mention the value those points have for a team that struggles financially to make it in a world where the supreme leader of F1 doesn’t see them, or the other midfield teams, as necessary to the survival of his sport.
For me, Checo’s podium is the reason why we love F1. You just never know what will happen on a GP weekend. Of course we enjoy the moments when the top teams battle it out for a win, but we watch for those moments when a lesser team can find itself ahead of the curve too. The light in Russia this year, frankly sucked. But at least the light was shining on someone. Well done, Force India. Well done, Checo.