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Formula One - 'anything else is a step down' 19 Sep 2003

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, 28 June 2003

Every other weekend throughout the racing season, millions of people tune in to watch a Formula One Grand Prix on television. Thousands more visit the actual circuit for each race.

But what is the allure of Formula One racing that draws so many fans either to the track or their TV sets, more worldwide fans than any other racing series? Why is it the most popular form of motorsport in the world?

Ahead of next weekend's United States Grand Prix, the Indianapolis race organisers posed these very questions to a selection of the current Formula One drivers. This is what they had to say:

Jacques Villeneuve, BAR:
"There is nothing that can compete with an F1 car. F1 is at the top of the ladder, and anything else is a step down."

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari:
"It starts with the fact that most human beings love cars, and F1 is the ultimate speed for car racing, the highest competition you have in car racing, and I guess it is the main reason why it is loved so much. It gives very entertaining races over many years, as I remember, and it has grown in popularity."

Cristiano da Matta, Toyota:
"The speed is the number-one thing. For technology, you don't have anything more than we have here. It attracts the best drivers in the world, the best teams and many big car manufacturers. People like to see the competition between all of these."

Mark Webber, Jaguar:
"It's the pinnacle of motor racing. It's the attention to detail that goes into it, the pressure that's involved, the speed. You watch an F1 car go through Becketts (corner at Silverstone), and it's different (from any other car.) The F1 car is awesome to watch: We have great TV, which makes it look nice, as well. It's a different type of action in F1; you've got the pit stops, and you can never bet on (the outcome of) motor racing in general because nothing's ever going to be certain. We here don't know who's going to win this weekend. We've got an idea, but we don't know who's going to win. That's why the fans are going to watch it."

David Coulthard, McLaren:
"Most people like to drive and the freedom that driving gives them. The knowledge that F1 is the fastest cars with the best technology and the most gizmos and the high speed, all make these things make it exciting and interesting. We all know that there are other formulas of racing that give closer and better racing. But people don't aspire to race a sedan in a touring car race at some remote track. Some people dream of doing that, but you aim for the top in your wildest dreams. And F1 is the top of motorsport."

Nick Heidfeld, Sauber:
"It's the speed of the cars. The competition. The fights between the drivers. To see cars on the limit on such a high level. I would recommend everyone who likes F1 and watches it on TV to go to watch it live on a circuit because it looks like a different thing again. If you see it live, you think it is even more incredible."

Jarno Trulli, Renault:
"F1 is the top of four-wheel motorsport. There is nothing better than F1. F1 is technology, money, nice girls ... We have to show the people that this is something really special. At the end of the day, the people watching on TV see all of us, that we are living in a fantastic atmosphere and in a fantastic world. It is not really like this, but they see F1 as the most beautiful world."

Fernando Alonso, Renault:
"It is the top category in motorsports. The people like to see the maximum, the biggest event. When I watch swimming on TV, I prefer to watch the world championships than to watch the Spanish championships. Because F1 is so big in
motorsports, people like that. We have the big budgets, maximum technology, big companies here, and that attracts the people. The biggest events are always the most exciting for the people."

Olivier Panis, Toyota:
"First of all, because everybody likes the speed of the F1 cars. They like the life of the F1 drivers. They like the ambience. But I think most of all, they really like the cars. A lot of people want to feel the risk. It makes it exciting for the people because the risk is a key point of F1."