Paul Crowder's Formula 1 doc, '1: Life on the Limit', could have been just another hopeful release riding on the success of a major biopic – in this instance, Ron Howard’s recently acclaimed actioner, 'Rush'. But thankfully it's so much more than that. Every Formula 1 fan is aware of how dangerously gladiatorial the sport was during the '50s, '60s and '70s, but it takes a comprehensive and intense historical documentary like this to drum home the reality of just how many lives were lost in the pursuit of speed. Most F1 aficionados will have heard of Jim Clark, Ronnie Peterson, Peter Revson, Jochen Rindt and Ayrton Senna, but these names are just the tip of a very dark iceberg of mangled wreckage and broken lives.
As a result, Crowder's film heavily focuses on the safety improvements the F1 authorities made during the late '70s and '80s, and he illustrates the reasons for these changes with an eye-watering assemblage of spectacular but often horrific crash footage. As former multiple F1 champion Jackie Stewart so aptly puts it: 'That was when racing was really dangerous and sex was safe.' Quite. Michael Fassbinder lends a hand on the voiceover, but mostly it's vox-pops aplenty, accompanied by more metal mayhem than a destruction derby. However, unlike Asif Kapadia's widely appealing 'Senna' doc, this one's for fans, and fans alone.