F1 In defence of the gospel.

Paul wrote: “I am put here for the defence of the gospel.” Philippians 1:16 NIV

The new formula one season has begun and I have been intrigued by a documentary series, ‘Driving – to survive’. A year-long intimate account of those involved in F1.

The documentary, among many other things, is about passion, commitment, power, people and money. But what stands out is about being at the peak, the pinnacle of human striving, the peak of engineering, the absolute top of performance, from the humblest position, (tea maker), to the most exposed position; the F1 driver.

There is enormous expense, millions spent on maintaining peak performance.

Twenty drivers enter the racing season. Each driver is scrutinised to the nth degree. Physically, mentally, psychologically, driving skills and competence; nothing is left unscrutinised.  The internal measurement is matched by the public scrutiny. F1 drivers have to be on top form all the time. Failure is not acceptable; it means demotion to a lower level.

Electronic measurement means that on every F1 track, every corner, every aspect of the F1 car and driver is monitored, their braking point, acceleration, engine management and tyres; every facet is measured. The driver is expected to know every nuance about their car, the circuits they drive on, what their competitor’s strength and weaknesses are as drivers; and they have to be highly skilled at what they do. The F1 driver is expected to be exactly at the correct points on any circuit each and every time; exact speed, exact braking points, exactness is paramount, and this means that the top drivers can do this 96% of the time. But, only the top two percent of drivers can do this 98% of the time – and they become world champions. This two percent margin sets them apart from the rest. If this level of perfection and consistency cannot be achieved then a shadow is cast over the driver’s career. Ask Pierre Gasley, demoted from Red Bull’s front line to second division Red Terra Rossa. Gasley is still a F1 driver but by tenths of a second, or a 2% margin; just doesn’t quite have what it takes. “Racing is all I live for, I have been doing it since I was 8 years old, and there isn’t anything else I want to do. Being on the podium winning an F1 race is my ambition.”

Those who manage and run the F1 racing teams are very nice people, but they are also very decisive and there is a streak of ruthlessness when the judgment call is made on a driver’s suitability. There is no room for hoping the driver will get it right next time, there is little that escapes scrutiny and the costs involved are millions of pounds. But only one person can stand at the end of the year and be crowned world champion. The rest are second and look into a future that is based on how measured and successful they have been. They also have to be to have a conversation whilst trying to overtake on a difficult series of S bends at 150mph!

This means that defending a world F1 title is a merciless business. To be able to win seven world F1 titles is remarkable. It’s remarkable for the owners of the team, the ability not only to constantly deliver at peak levels, but year on year to improve those peak level. Then to place all of this in the hands of one individual, the driver who delivers 99% of the time is equally remarkable.

Paul is writing to the church at Philippi whilst in jail. He too is defending a position.

“I am put here for the defence of the gospel.”

There is no podium, no bouquets, champagne, or trophies. Just the knowledge that he is prepared to put out there all he has got to preach Gods word of salvation. “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” 100% of the time

Image Credit: Carl Jorgensen