I am a new member of this forum, having followed it regularly for a long time. Great to so much passion for Formula 1 and so many spirited debates!
I've been following F1 since 1977, when I was five years old. The first race I watched (on TV) was the Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp that year. I'm from Sweden myself, and the previous race, the Belgian Grand Prix had been a huge success from a Swedish perspective (Gunnar Nilsson won, Ronnie Peterson came 3rd, I believe this is the only time two Swedes have been on a F1 podium together), and with the Swedish Grand Prix next, there was lots of reports in the Swedish media at the time. I watched that race, and was instantly hooked. My first favourite driver was (apart from the two Swedes, of course) Jacques Laffite, who won the Swedish Grand Prix and also I thought his Ligier car looked really beautiful.
I did watch the live TV broadcast of the Italian Grand Prix 1978 with my family, and was stunned to see the terrible fatal accident for Ronnie Peterson. As Gunnar Nilsson passed away due to cancer a month later, this was a really bad time for Swedish F1 fans. The Monza accident resulted in no more F1 races being broadcast on Swedish TV until Monaco 1984, and the daily newspapers didn't report anything from the races either. My only source for F1 info in the early '80s was a car magazine which used to have race reports (and driver interviews) in each issue. But since that magazine was only published every two weeks, usually I didn't find out any race results until 10 days later, which is a bit amusing to think of today.
In the mid-80s, Sweden got a new F1 driver, Stefan Johansson, and when he joined Ferrari in '85, the media interest here picked up a bit, so we at least got to see 4 or 5 races on TV for a few years. I also discovered British magazines with F1 reports and interviews etc, namely Autosport and the now defunct Grand Prix International. I also bought any F1 book I could find (in those pre-Internet days, just getting hold of a F1 book was a bit of a special occasion).
From 1993 on, all races have been broadcast live on TV in Sweden. My next favourite driver, after Jacques Laffite, was Damon Hill. After he retired, my interest in F1 decreased for a while, not just because he retired but also because the Ferrari domination of the early 2000's was a bit of a turn off (no disrespect intended to Ferrari, just that it's more fun when more than one team is figthing for the titles). In 2003, a few races in, Fernando Alonso became my new favourite driver.
In 2004, my then-girlfriend-now-wife said "OK, I'll watch one season of Formula One with you, but no more than that". Thankfully, she also got instantly hooked and from day one Jenson Button has been her favourite driver.
In 2008, on our honeymoon in Canada, I finally experienced a Formula One race live, the Canadian Grand Prix. It was truly incredible. As it happened, we had seats in the grandstand, opposite the BMW Sauber pit and were amongst a huge group of Polish fans. When Kubica won, they were of course delighted and it was great to be in their midst as they celebrated!
As you can imagine, with me having supported Alonso for nearly 12 years and my wife having supported Button for more than 10 years, next year's McLaren line-up is very special for us. And also, after a very long draught, there is again a Swedish driver in Formula One. So we have decided to go to the British Grand Prix next year. The atmosphere at the British Grand Prix seems very special and it's a wonderful track too, so we are really excited about going there next year!
I look forward to being a member of this forum from now on!