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Usain Bolt: the conception of speed in the eternal challenge between man and machine

In Mexico City, the fastest man in the world tested a Formula E single-seater: “It’s the first time I’ve ever felt claustrophobic, driving a car is more exciting than running: in the 100m final you are there with your legs which can betray you"

News: Usain Bolt: the conception of speed in the eternal challenge between man and machine

In some ways it even becomes complicated to find the right words to describe it, because maybe all you need to rely on is a stopwatch: 9.58 seconds. Three numbers that identify him as the fastest man in the world, so much so that the record set in Berlin in 2009 in the 100 meters final still stands today.

A slow, cadenced step that supports his muscular and well-defined build, contained within 1.95 meters of height. Seeing him up close, someone whispers: "I can't imagine how tense he was in Berlin." Usain Bolt recently got out of the GENBETA car, the latest evolution of Formula E capable of delivering 400 kW of power. It was the first time he has ever driven a single-seater and he did it in Mexico City, on the eve of the opening round of the 2024 Formula E World Championship.

Smiling, surprised and even a little thrilled, the Jamaican athlete was fresh from an experience he had never had before. On the other hand, he is used to speed, but this is a completely new context, especially at the wheel of the most powerful racing car.

The Jamaican legend did not hesitate to tell the media present what he experienced.

“My first impression was that I was excited – he said - it was something completely new for me. There’s no space, it was really close. It was the first time I’ve ever been claustrophobic because it was so close, for me, the moment I got going, it was gone. I was just enjoying myself. The longer I was in there, the better I felt, because the mechanics explained to me what was happening."

What was your first impression?

“The GENBETA race car is like a rocket ship on wheels. Getting the chance to drive it was a mind-blowing experience. The power from the start was such a surprise and the adrenaline you got is on a different level, easily. Driving the GENBETA was like nothing I've experienced before. I was told that as soon as you drive, you don’t want to stop or get out and they were right. I would do it every day if I could. If I get more time, I will definitely go faster.”

The common thread that unites the world of motorsport with that of athletics is certainly speed. How is speed inside a single-seater conceived in relation to an athletics competition?

“Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's more exciting to drive a racing car than when you run. If I think about the 100 meter final there is me and my legs to support me, but these can betray you, ruining all your work. At this point it becomes essential to make sure you don't make any mistakes. With a car, however, it's different, because you rely on the vehicle and drive, which we do every day. We just have to drive and maybe this thing becomes easier for me. After a few meters driving a single-seater the car responds to your commands, because it is programmed to do so and you can achieve high performance. You can train your legs, but they are not programmed."

And is the tension the same?

“As soon as I got into the cockpit I felt a strong sense of claustrophobia, which in some ways can be translated as the tension that accompanies you before a race. In athletics you have a limited time to deal with it, but the moments before are interminable in some ways. You need to relax your thoughts, focus on yourself and the challenge that awaits you. The mental component makes the difference and I really admire all these drivers who challenge speed at the wheel of their cars."

Can we say that Formula E has beaten Bolt?

“This is the first time in my life I’m comfortable saying something is faster than me, the first time I ever said that out of my mouth. It will never happen again. But there is one thing that struck me in particular, it is the acceleration of the car. I've never felt such a sensation in my life, it's something strange, unique, but all of this reinforces the consideration I have for the drivers."

What are your thoughts on Motorsport?

“You see on TV, on Twitter, on Instagram, when people play basketball, motorsport, every other sport, and you might mess up, they go, ‘Oh, I could’ve done that.’ You don’t know what they have to go through in that moment to get to that level, or the work they have to put in behind the scenes. I understand that because I’ve been there, but every time I experience a different sport, I still gain so much more respect because I know the work you have to put in. When you actually go in and feel the difference and feel what they have to go through and how tight the car is and how hard they have to brake, the speed they have to hold. The late braking is very impressive because you see the corner coming up and you think, ‘If I brake just a second earlier, the guy there is going to pass me.’ So for me, the respect and the love that I have for these motorsport people goes up high, trust me.”





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