1: Life on the Limit – review

This F1 history finds its narrative impetus in the trade-off between crowdpleasing speed and concern for driver survival

Any moto documentary that sets its down-the-nose-cone footage of the Monaco GP to Focus's 1971 instrumental Hocus Pocus can be fairly confident of shifting DVDs as Father's Day approaches, but Paul Crowder's often surprisingly critical F1 history identifies its true narrative drive in the trade-off between crowdpleasing speed and concern for driver survival. Smartly marshalled archive footage finds the sweet spot between gawping at carnage and contextualising it within the sport's painful evolution; the thrills of well-timed overtaking manoeuvres are set against the horror of men being roasted alive. Eventually, 1: Life on the Limit must arrive at Senna, San Marino, and the moment when, after decades of (crucially, untelevised) destruction, racing was forced to lift its visor and take a hard look at itself – yet Crowder's film is now equally haunted by Michael Schumacher's presence in a way that furthers its thesis: as F1 tightens up on safety, might the real speedfreaks be driven towards potentially deadlier pursuits?

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