The thrills, spills and chills of the first Formula 1 race took centre-stage over the past week, with the miraculous escape of Romain Grosjean from his burning car.
Two marshals and a fireman were first responders who risked their lives to rescue the French racing star and show the world Bahrain’s amazing spirit of preparedness and the perfection that always goes into organising any emergency in this great spectacle.
Another talking point was the record win of dashing Lewis Hamilton and his subsequent announcement immediately after his podium finish that he was ill with the Covid virus.
What I find awe-inspiring is the fact that Hamilton managed to win the gruelling race despite undoubtedly experiencing the niggling early signs of the virus before his virus test the next day which confirmed his fears.
Think of the fantastic level of fitness this sportsman operates at that he was able to overcome the virus and continue his winning drive. Of course, the fitness programme of these racing stars is an astounding study in discipline, strength (mental and physical) and strategy. And it’s not a matter of a daily routine either.
Every move, every morsel is meticulously programmed to deliver the desired effect – for example, an F1 driver cannot afford to over-train his upper body because that will cause the body’s centre of gravity to shift.
The physiques of these sportsmen are as finely calibrated as their motorcars!
Indeed, this F1 was all about frontliners – and I’m not just talking about the generous gesture of HRH the Crown Prince Prime Minister who dedicated the seats to brave frontliners and their families who risked their lives every day during the pandemic and helped to protect Bahrain from the kind of health system breakdown we saw in other countries.
It was the same ‘first response’ ability to plan ahead that made HRH the Crown Prince Prime Minister lead the battle against the Covid-19 virus from the front even before the world had fully grasped the enormity of the health crisis.
Bahrain was well ahead of many countries in the region in placing orders for masks before they became mandatory, tracking and testing widely for the virus well before it was adopted as a global public health policy and testing and fast-tracking vaccines well ahead of many other countries – at every stage, Bahrain moved decisively to checkmate the deadly illness and with great success.
If there is one thing that the F1 has shown us, it is that preparedness is the key to success. The other valuable lesson is that this year has completely redefined our idea of who a frontliner is.
The first cultural shift we have absorbed – or which we need to acknowledge, if we haven’t done so – is that our frontliners are all those ordinary daily jobbers who seemed like insignificant cogs in our giant wheel of life: pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, shop assistants, utility workers, small-business owners and employees, municipality cleaners of streets who turn up every day to jobs that are suddenly saddled with the increased risk of contamination and death that they never signed up for.
When the dust of 2020 has settled, we must learn to hold on to this lesson and recognise the truth of Dr Martin Luther King’s words: “No work is insignificant. All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”