Archive for the F1 Category

F1 Rule Changes: For Better or for Worse?

Posted in F1, sport with tags , on 04/02/2010 by mfcx4tm2

There’s been a lot of debate over the Formula 1 winter break about the various rule changes that are being suggested for the sport. Many of these changes have already been confirmed for next season with others turning out to be wild speculation from all and sundry. But are all these changes good for the sport or are they going to ruin the history of a sport that goes back long before Lewis Hamilton was even a twinkle in Ron Dennis’ eye?

One of the most contentious issues has been the introduction of a new points system for 2010. A change was already confirmed back in December with more points being given to more people along the format of the Moto GP scoring system. Even this modification was further modified in January in order to give more benefit to the winner of a race. Whilst i think most agree that the winner having a bigger reward is a good thing, the fact is that we had a perfectly good system originally (10, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1) but this was changed in ‘the Schumacher era’ in order to try and spice up the championship battle. It certainly did the trick but whether it was the best long term strategy now looks a little questionable. The main argument facing the new system is that we will no longer be able to compare new records with old as, whilst the numbers were slightly tilted for the last decade, they will now bear no resemblance at all. This is a shame as it is always nice to take a retrospective view and compare the latest hotshots against the former greats. I personally believe the mistakes were made when the points system was messed with in the first place, in order to hinder Schumacher, and that the current situation is merely a way of returning to the original weightings without acknowledging those mistakes.

Another mention of rule changes that sparked quite an outrage was Mr Ecclestone’s suggestion that shortcuts should be added to tracks to mix things up a little. I’ve no doubt this was just Bernie playing with people’s heads and his (successful) attempt to keep Formula 1 in the spotlight after all the Schumacer hype had died down. It certainly ruffled a few feathers, with Eddie Irvine in particular taking quite an offence to it. This being said, it was clearly a ridiculous a idea and the day that rule is enforced will be the day F1 dies…

The shortcut idea was actually raised after calls that the new refuelling rules would result in processional races due to strategy being taken out of the equation. I personally think this change will have a beneficial effect as drivers will have to take bigger risks to gain positions, thus seperating the men from the boys. It will also be interesting to see how different cars handle the changing weight of the car as fuel runs down, i’m sure some will handle better when full up and vice versa. This rule change also bred the potential introduction of rules on tyres and the front half of the grid having to start the race on the tyres they qualify on. Will it ever end???

Formula 1 has always been the pinnacle of motorsport and will remain so no matter how many rule changes are introduced. However, the question needs to be asked, are they needed? The idea has always been to discover the best team and driver combination and no endless changing of rules will alter this. So, with this in mind, why change them at all?

F1 on the BBC 2009

Posted in F1, sport with tags , , , , , on 03/01/2010 by mfcx4tm2

Back in 2009 (it seems so long ago now!) i wrote about the coverage of F1 on the BBC and gave my opinion on the various parts of the ensemble. That was back in July so i thought that, as everyone else i come across is doing a review of the year or the decade (or both), it was worth having a look back now that the season’s ended.

I think it’s fair to say that it was a super successful year for Formula 1 and the team at the Beeb. The coverage got better and better as the year progressed and the crowning glory of Jake Humphrey getting a kiss on the neck from the new world champion seemed to sum up how the crew are viewed by the F1 paddock.

Of all the team Jake was the standout success story of the year for me, we all know how good Martin Brundle is so that came as no surprise, but who would have thought that the boy from CBBC would take such a pressurised role by the scruff of the neck and perform so well. He dealt brilliantly with everything thrown at him, whether it was DC and EJ squabbling through his links or horrendous drama like Felipe Massa’s crash at Budapest. His blogs and Twitter updates gave a level of insight that fans have yet to see in F1 and is hopefully something that others in the F1 world will be encouraged to take up. The only thing he didn’t manage to do well was hide how happy and excited he was nearly every second on screen!

What I found even more surprising was Eddie Jordan’s rise in quality. I still had my reservations early in the season but he seemed to settle into the role more and more and by season’s end had taken on the guise of Mystic Meg, predicting Michael Schumacher’s return before anyone else. Maybe that’s just because EJ’s got a bigger mouth than anyone else in the F1 paddock but even still it’s great for the onlooking Formula 1 fan who doesn’t have access to that level of information. The longer the season went on the more I was impressed, as Eddie used his stature in the pitlane to get interviews with people previous pundits (think Jardine) wouldn’t have got near at such

f1 bbc

short notice (Schumi/Bernie). He might be slightly off the wall at times but he’s managed to tame this enough to make him informative as well as entertaining. His partnership with Coulthard (who also got better and better) makes really entertaining viewing but also gives the audience fantastic insight from people who have the inside track due to their history in the sport.

Unfortunately one member of the team still hasn’t convinced me. Jonathan Legard continues to disappoint in the lead commentary role in my opinion, though i did warm slightly more to him towards the end of the season. His commentary lacks authenticity, and i struggle to believe his excitement when he’s screaming ‘Go Go Go!’  or shouting about who’s about to get pole but is actually 2 seconds off the pace. I don’t know if it’s because i’m looking too hard for a Murray Walker replacement or he’s trying too hard to be one. Whatever it is, i think he would be better off if he just found his own style, as James Allen did when he supped from the poisened chalice for that short time on ITV. It will be interesting to see how he develops if the BBC stick with him, though i think he’ll continue to sound too calculated and scripted.

Despite this i’m very excited about the 2010 season and the BBC’s coverage of it. Having done such a good job in 2009 it’ll be interesting to see if they try anything new or they stick with a proven formula. I’d certainly like to hear a bit more from Lee McKenzie and David Croft, but as long as DC and EJ keep bickering and Jake keeps blogging i’ll be happy. Bring it on!

Formula 1 and Social Media Revisited

Posted in F1, Social Media, sport with tags , , , , on 20/12/2009 by mfcx4tm2

Earlier on in the 2009 season i wrote about the increasing use of social media in Formula 1. This issue has exploded since then with more and more people in increasingly important circles discussing the way the sport interacts with its fans in the age of the internet.

One such luminary is Luca di Montezemolo, boss of Ferrari, who has been amongst the people who have called for F1 to appeal more to the internet generation and adapt to the needs of fans who are chomping at the bit to get there hands on more and more info. This is something that has been done brilliantly in other industries, with the world of music offering a fantastic example of how to engage fans on a one to one basis, whether it is speaking to them on Twitter or asking them to make remixes or videos for their songs. This sort of attention to detail is something that Formula 1 has so far failed to offer, though there are glimpses on the horizon that we may be heading towards an ever more fan-friendly F1.

As i mentioned in the previous post, the number of F1 personalities using Twitter is ever increasing (Keith Collantine at F1 Fanatic has a great list if you’re interested) and this can only be beneficial for fans trying to get a more in depth view of the f1 paddock and all its goings on. Even World Champion Jenson Button is on there posting photos of his everyday activities, which is exactly what us fans want. The next step is getting them interacting, though whether we’ll ever get Jenson to take the time out to tell us some more about the glamourous photo he’s just posted is maybe a little optimistic. However, the trend of drivers and other F1 personalities giving an insight into their world certainly needs to continue to keep the ever more demanding f1 fan happy.

Of course, we need to remember that Twitter is just one element of the internet world as well, and i leaned toward the potential that has yet to be unleashed in F1 with YouTube in my previous post. There’s also Facebook which provides a lot of options for teams to bring interesting, insightful content to the info-hungry fan.  McLaren currently lead the way in employing someone (@TheFifthDriver) with the sole job of giving the fans a pathway into the team, and i’m sure that the fanbase of McLaren has become wider and stronger than ever before since this introduction. Who would you rather support, a team that gives you photos and daily insight into the activities of the team and drivers or a team who you only get to see when they murmer some PR spiel in a post race press conference?

It’s ironic that one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world has yet to find the best way to exploit one of the most significant technological developments of recent times. However, the fact that people of Montezemolo’s stature are discussing the issue is a good sign and one that suggests that being a fan of Formula 1 is only going to get better.

Silverstone 2010 – All just a clever PR rouse?

Posted in F1 with tags , , on 09/12/2009 by mfcx4tm2

With the announcement on Monday that Silverstone will definitely be on the Formula 1 calender for 2010 we saw a rush for tickets which resulted in record sales for the race, with more than 6,500 tickets sold by Tuesday morning and bringing in a (rumoured) £1.2 million. What a turn around from 6 months ago when we thought there was going to be no more F1 at Silverstone and the F1 paddock was heading over to Donington Park.  If someone had forecast then that we would be back at Silverstone in 2010 as normal they would have been a very brave man.

But has all this drama actually helped attract interest in the race? I agree with Andrew Benson that the saga has been drawn out to almost tedious levels, but I can’t help thinking that without all this indecision, back biting and uncertainty we wouldn’t have seen ticket sales of such magnitude. Had Donington Park’s proposal been rejected originally and Silverstone confirmed for 17 years i don’t believe there would have been the rush we saw this week and the desperation of fans to see their heroes on one of F1’s most famous and history steeped circuits.

Now, i’m not suggesting the Donington deal wasn’t genuine, nor that there haven’t been disagreements between Mr Ecclestone and the BRDC, but the fact that it has gone on for so long and fans were left so unsure if they’d ever get to visit such an incredible circuit again has definitely added to the excitement over next year’s event. Is there a tiny possibility that Bernie knew all along that he needed the British GP on the calender, reached a deal with the BRDC but decided to keep it quiet for a tad longer so the story continued to be splashed across all the back pages, news channels and internet? We all know Bernie’s a clever little sod and he’s not afraid of playing with people’s hearts, whether its the team owners, drivers or fans.  Maybe this is just another classic example of Bernie playing the media as only he knows how.

Or maybe not. Just a thought…

F1 2009: Highlights on and off the track

Posted in F1, sport with tags , , , , , , on 24/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

The cold, dark F1 winter is upon us and luckily we’ve had plenty of gossip and controversy to keep us amused since the flag fell in Abu Dhabi. As announcements start to die down and things fall into place, I thought this would be an opportune time to look back at the season and pick out some of my personal favourite moments. There were obvious high points, not least JB’s maiden championship, but the following list tries to delve a little deeper into particular moments that will remind me of an extremely entertaining 2009 season, both on and off the track:

  • Looking back to the start of the season Jenson has said that it was his victory at Albert Park in Melbourne that was most significant as it illustrated to him how good the car actually and was the moment of realisation that they may have a championship challenger in their hands. Obviously Brazil was also an incredible moment but my lasting Jenson Button memory from the season will be him running around the last corner at Monaco with his helmet on, waving at the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere. I think it will be an image that will continue to be used decades from now and was my highlight from his season.
  • Mark Webber’s first win was obviously a very emotional one and it sent shivers down my spine listening to him screaming down the radio in fits of happiness. He’s obviously a well liked chap within the F1 paddock and too see him finally get his first win was a special moment.
  • A few of my favourites were courtesy of Rubinho. He’s another one that is obviously a lovely guy and provides some great entertainment on and off the track. His ‘blah blah blah’ outburst at Barcelona seemed very out of character but clearly the pain felt from the Schumacher years has left a deep scar. Things brightened up towards the end of the season though and before long we saw him and Eddie Jordan strutting around in the tightest pair of trunks you’ve ever seen. Surprised OFCOM didn’t have something to say about that before the watershed…  The high point was seeing the classic Barrichello victory wobble on the podium at Monza though, he’s still clearly thought of very highly by the Tifosi and you could tell how happy he was to have turned the tables on Jenson as the season came to a close.
  • Politics has always played a strong part in Formula 1 and, whilst people moan about it taking focus away from the racing, i think it adds an extra element and only accentuates the action on the track. We all loved the drama back in the Senna/Prost days and i’m sure people will love looking back in a few years and discussing the Renault scandal, McLaren cheating or the FOTA-FIA war.
  • It always nice to see a bit of fisticuffs come into play and Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil did a great job of playing handbags after their collision in Brazil. And Jarno wasn’t happy leaving it at that, as he brought photo evidence to the pre race press conference in Abu Dhabi to prove he was in the right. I think all he got was a few muffled laughs and the mick taken by Fernando Alonso though…
  • A couple of amusing moments from the many driver replacements in the season caught my eye as well. Firstly, seeing Luca Badoer falling off his Ferrari scooter seemed to perfectly sum up his return to Formula 1, and then we had Romain Grosjean popping his Renault into exactly the same piece of wall as Nelson Piquet Jnr had done a year earlier. It was so filled with irony that even the newly appointed Renault chief Bob Bell managed to raise a wry smile.
  • Finally, my lasting memory of 2009 will not be Jenson Button kissing Jake Humphrey on the neck or Ross Brawn’s tears on the pitwall, but of Kimi Raikkonen swanning around the paddock in his shorts and t shirt  in Malaysia, magnum in hand, as the rest of the drivers stood out in the rain waiting for the race to restart. Turns out Kimi had the right idea in the end, as the race was abandoned and only half points were awarded. Looks like he’ll be able to enjoy a few more Sunday ice creams next season.

You’re only cheating yourself.

Posted in F1, Football, sport with tags , , , , on 19/09/2009 by mfcx4tm2

It seems like every single sporting event these days needs to be investigated by MI5 to ensure that the result is in fact the correct one and hasn’t be affected by foul play, match fixing or rule breaking.Whether it’s Formula 1, Athletics or Rugby it seems all sport is getting dragged into a dirty mire where enjoying the sport you love seems low on the list of priorities and political wrangling sits in pride of place.

Formula 1 is the most recent to fall at the feet of controversy with race fixing allegations all but confirmed by the departure of Renault decision makers Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds this week. When Nelson Piquet Jnr made the allegations that he had been told to crash his F1 car on purpose many found it hard to believe, so the fact it has turned out to be true has shocked people in F1 and the sporting world in general. This takes the biscuit in terms of sporting cheats in my opinion and has certainly further spiced up a Formula 1 paddock already rabid with political intrigue.

The season of sporting scandals was properly kicked off by the Harlequins ‘Bloodgate’ saga. I’m sure the use of underhand tomfoolery is rife in many sports and goes undetected, so Harlequins were really only guilty of being found out. However, as serious as their actions were, they never put anyone’s life in danger (as with Piquet’s 170mph smash) and i don’t think these can be compared to Renault’s wrongdoings. The only person who may have been slightly hurt was Tom Williams when the club ‘doctor’ sliced his mouth open to provide him with his first genuine injury of the day.

Then there’s athletics and Caster Semenya, where i don’t think anyone can suggest that there has been any overt cheating, just a horribly handled enquiry into which category she/he should be competing in. I can’t imagine a situation where not only your sporting integrity is questioned, but so is your biological identity. How Semenya went on to win that race after all the fuss is beyond me. Let’s hope that inquiry is finished soon and she can get back to doing what she does best, winning races. If she’s allowed to run with the women of course, her time was 10 seconds off the winning men’s time…

The lengths people go to in order to succeed in sport are incredible and i’m sure that these examples are just a few amongst a much larger amount of misgivings that take place undiscovered. The only real mistake these particular ones made was getting caught. In hindsight they might as well have taken a leaf out of Emmanuel Adebayor’s book and just kicked their opponents in the face.

F1 on the BBC

Posted in F1, sport with tags , on 12/07/2009 by mfcx4tm2

BBC Team

The news that Formula 1 was coming back to the BBC was greeted with happiness all round. Whilst ITV had done a good job and certainlyimproved the coverage hugely over its time as broadcaster, there is something special about the sport returning to the beeb, its rightful home in my opinion.

In the lead up to the start of the season there was widespread speculation around what the coverage would entail, who the presenting line up would be and whether the beloved Chain would return. When we finally got to Australia and all these details were unveiled we weren’t disappointed. The coverage across all platforms has been excellent from the BBC, with great TV coverage supported by excellent interactive options and various online content. We even saw the return of The Chain as we’d dreamed.

The BBC managed to get nearly every detail right, bringing the key faces over from ITV and adding high quality new blood  to the mix. Jake Humphrey has been a sensation as anchorman and the material he provides for the website is top class as well. Supporting him David Coulthard has also proved a revelation, providing humour to go with the excellent insight we all expected. Even Eddie Jordan has found his feet over time and now adds something to the party, even if it is just being the butt of DC’s jokes. I wasn’t even a big fan of Ted Kravitz on ITV but he’s grown me over the season. Then there’s Martin Brundle who continues to prove why he’s won awards for his broadcasting.

So who haven’t we mentioned? Unfortunately there’s one key ingredient missing and it’s a pretty major one. Jonathan Legard has floundered since his promotion from radio to tv commentary. There’s something intensely annoying about his voice, an immediate drawback for a commentator, but he somehow manages to make this worse with the complete drivel that falls out of his mouth.   He gives the impression that this is the first time he’s watched Formula 1 and isn’t interested in learning anything about it, he just says what he sees on the screen. But he even manages to get this wrong as he comments on things he’s looking at out the window instead of what we can see at home.

Filling Murray Walker’s boots was always going to be a very difficult job. James Allen had a lot of critics in his time, but you can’t argue that he didn’t know and love the sport, even if he couldn’t convey that passion as well as we might have liked. But put him next to Legard and he looks like the commentating messiah. You can even tell from Brundle’s comments that he can’t stand him, though he does his best to stay calm while JL talks over his insightful and interesting points.  

Having watched a lot of the practice session coverage online i’ve heard David Croft prove himself time and time again to be a talented speaker with a great knowledge of the sport. Why he hasn’t been drafted in yet to replace Legard is beyond me, though i assume the BBC don’t want to lose face by acknowledging that they’ve made a mistake so soon. However, from a fans point of view i would respect the BBC a lot more if they saw the error of their ways quickly and promoted Croft. We need to rescue him from radio commentary soon before he gets ruined in the way Legard clearly has been. There have been numerous times this season when i’ve contemplated changing commentaries to Croft and Davidson but i can’t bring myself to sacrifice Brundle. I’d much prefer it if i could have the best of both worlds and see the back of this bumbling buffoon. You’ve done a great job BBC, don’t ruin it by persevering with one bad egg.