Every corner is blind for devoted French Formula One fan

Wed Feb 8, 2012 1:19pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) - Every corner is blind for Charaf-Eddine Ait Taleb.

How a corner sounds matters more to the 29-year-old French Formula One fan, who lost his sight 10 years ago due to a genetic condition, than any controversy over the new "ugly" noses on the 2012 cars.

A familiar face at European racetracks last year, the Parisian physio felt his way around the Jerez test paddock as a guest of Lotus Wednesday while listening out for the sounds of a new season with its changed exhaust regulations.

The blown diffusers and forward-facing exhausts that provided an audible point of reference last year have gone, replaced by new systems that he hopes will make individual driver styles more evident.

"This year it will be more fun, I think," he said, although work commitments may keep him away from races.

"I love to be in the pit lane and the key corners," he told Reuters in the Williams motorhome over the roar of engines. "I go to the corner where you need to brake because I love to hear the gearbox, pum, pum, pum. When you are near it is fantastic, you feel it in your body," he said.

"When I was in Monza I loved to be at Parabolica. You can hear the different style of driver. Some drivers arrive so quick and brake, and during the braking they turn in. Some brake more early to take the apex earlier and leave more quickly.

"At Silverstone, they have changed everything so last year I stayed in the paddock. But I would like to have heard Maggots, Becketts and Copse.   Continued...