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Year 2000, month of March, weather somewhere around 3 o'clock in the morning. It wakes me up with a sound I had never heard before. It comes from the living room. It’s dark all over the house, the only light is dopier from an old Philips TV, and the sound is unusually loud. I find my father sweating, commenting to myself how fast they are this year, how they are beating us without much trouble and how long and difficult this season will be. I dare not even ask him what it is about. I sit in the armchair still interested in that strange sound, now even more confused - who are they?
What I saw on TV that morning awakened in me a passion that I didn't even know existed, but which from that moment on made it clear to me that it would not just leave me and that many years later it would still be the main person in charge. a trigger of excitement, happiness, hope, anxiety, sadness, crying and nervousness, all in one day, in one 2 hour interval.
It's been a month, the race is being held in San Marino, Italy. This is the third pole position for Mika Hakkinen.
Why do I mention him? Because he is the first driver of the team that my father supports. It is impossible to ignore so much passion for something. It’s impossible to ignore the fact that the previous two weeks our Philips TV has been turned upside down twice because of that Mike Hakkinen.
As a seven-year-old, I don't even care who it is anymore, it's just important to be a part of that passion together with my father. By the way, he just told me that this was the team he had ever ridden the greatest ever - Ayrton Senna, that the combination of him and McLaren was something magical.
It's even more important to me now that Mika wins, but for the third time in a row? That is not happening. Michael Schumacher wins. I was angry then, but it never crossed my mind that this was just the beginning.
The beginning of something that will last a very long time. The dominance of Ferrari led by Schumacher. I just couldn’t help but hate that man. From race to race he ruined everything magical I had heard about McLaren’s invincibility in Senna’s hands, about the genius of the Woking team. He broke all records in a row, now not only shadows but all the others as well. Even worse, there was no fact to challenge Schumacher's greatness. I thought, man, because of this guy, I'll never feel that magic my father told me about again.
Growing up, the main villains were no longer cartoon characters, now it was a black-haired unstoppable horse running better than anyone else on a red endless meadow. The horse he was riding, it seemed to me even then, was the best I had ever seen. Stopping watching sports was never an option, but it was hard to be a part of the sport as a loser. Winner yes, but champion never.
The year is 2005, the propped horse finally got tired, and what I could only fantasize about has finally happened. Admittedly, in the worst possible way. The myth of Schumacher’s invincibility shattered, no more and no less, than one Renault. Back then, as a 12-year-old, I thought it was impossible for a Ferrari to finally crash without being knocked down by some Renault there, the slowest car even in my neighborhood. How can they even compare to Ferrari and McLaren? Who is this Alonso ?! Well we overtook him for the whole lap as he drove for Minardi. To make matters worse, the same thing happened the following year.
The year is 2007, Alonso moves to McLaren. Expectations from this season are at their peak. This time we will beat Ferrari, this time we have the driver who was the only one who managed to do it, and Renault is no more, so we will beat them as well. It doesn’t matter at all who the other driver is - we have Alonso!
In the first race Alonso wins, and the second one was not bad either. In the second race Alonso starts first, but this guy crosses both Ferraris! Then I just hope he can keep them some lap to get Alonso a little escape. But then, when I least hoped, the long-forgotten magic my father told me about begins.
Lewis Hamilton keeps both Ferraris and sends them in all directions around Sepang. Everywhere except in front of you. Alonso won that race, but that day Lewis beat the mighty Ferrari on the track, chest to chest. Hand on heart - then without the main villain - Michael Schumacher.
That all this is no accident, Lewis Hamilton shows in the continuation of the season, where with his runs he sets himself as one of the main candidates for the title of that year. It couldn't have been better. McLaren was unstoppably grabbing for the title, and he took Alonso or Hamilton - it doesn't matter.
That year, F1 showed its full glory. How she just had different plans than mine. After 7 years of waiting, after practically winning the title - in the last race we lost everything. Or maybe not? We lost a lot, but we gained Lewis Hamilton.
The year is 2008, Lewis Hamilton is already my idol. He is the closest to the magic of the Senna / McLaren combination. He is a joy and a relief that after 8 years I will feel the passion that my father told me about. He drove that McLaren just the way I thought he should, just the way I drove in my dreams. Bravely, attractively, always looking for the "gap that exists" that Senna was talking about. I finally understood everything and had the privilege of watching it. In 2000, it all started as a dream, imagination and some magic that my father tells me about. The more I grew up the less I believed it was even possible, as with Santa Claus.
My idol, the representative of what I have blindly believed in since I was a child, the representative of me in Formula 1, beat all the competitors that year. He defeated the "evil" Ferrari, Alonso and Renault. McLaren is the champion again, and he is responsible for everything.
From that moment on, anything was possible again. Dreams still exist and come true. Lewis Hamilton then became bigger for me than McLaren himself.
McLaren-Mercedes or separately, it didn't matter anymore because since then F1 has outgrown everything from the beginning of my story - passion, hope, happiness, sadness.
F1 has become a dream. A dream I still dream.
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