Ring is the story of 1960s Formula One hopeful racer Guido Knopp. Knopp had always been on the margins of the Formula One race, playing in B leagues despite all his efforts to change his scores. When an opportunity presents itself for him to race in the local German Grand Prix Formula Two race, Knopp uses his intimate knowledge of the track to deliver his best pre-race performance to qualify at the front of the starting line. But Knopp’s wishes are overshadowed by direct competition from within his racing team? Can Knopp ever move in to the top leagues?
This story was good in that it focused on the character and skill of the driver as opposed as the variable that makes one wins races as opposed to the instrumental conditions of the car. Here, it’s not man versus technology. This story is about man versus nature as the deadly Nürburgring track is treacherous and known to kill many racers.
Ilias chooses to tell most of the story from the perspective of Guido Knopp through a series of flashback that jump around and but a few scenes set in the present. This was jarring (no pun intended). It was confusing as the story of a driven man was continually interrupted with scenes taking place in other periods where the internal monologue would start anew. I had to reread the ending several times to understand the nuanced and confusing ending where the hero battles the track.
The confusion was enhanced by the similar looking secondary characters drawn by Daoudi Youssef. Guido’s foil, young François Foitek resembles other characters in the story creating a lot more confusion with the flashbacks. Youssef is an excellent illustrator but making all the antagonists look the same is problematic in a story that hops through time. Unless this was done on purpose to create the ultimate opponent for Knopp, it was an unnecessary choice.
I like the story’s premise because it focused on the spirit of what racing means and how drivers and their entourage live through this world. But the story felt like an internal dialogue that the creators were having with one another and where readers were excluded and only looking in from the margins. It does not appear that Ring has been translated from French to English yet.