Daily Archives: July 29, 2011

Will Sky bring about the death of the casual F1 fan?

Today’s announcement that F1 coverage will be moved to Sky is nothing short of a disaster. While the BBC retains partial broadcasting control, this deal is a mess and will alienate the casual Formula 1 fan.

First of all, the obvious – a casual fan won’t be paying £610 a year to continue watching the sport. Even the average fans won’t be making that move. This obscene amount of money to be paid to Murdoch’s empire will turn away all but the most die-hard of fans.

Sky is touting “no ads during races” as a feature for their coverage – but it is rumoured that this is simply a ploy to pull viewers in, and ads would return from 2013 onwards.

The only good news is that the BBC will still show 10 races live per year – the others being deferred until the evening time.

However, the actual broadcasting quality of the BBC will still be hurt. Even BBC editor Ben Gallop has stated that “our coverage will not be as comprehensive as it has been in recent years”.

After searching for cuts in all departments, the BBC are probably happy with this decision. Sky will of course be delighted, having added another sport to their profit-driven portfolio. However, everyone involved in this deal seems to have forgotten the fans in this move, mistakenly beliving they will settle for a compromise.

FOTA were touted as the orginisation who could protect the fans’ interests, but it appears that they have no intention of doing so, with  Martin Whitmarsh in favour of the move. Bernie Ecclestone, of course, supports this deal, claiming that the overall number of viewers will increase.

With this, it appears as if the fans have no way of opposing this move. In my view, a huge amount of the audience are going to lose out, and may well drift away from F1.

Despite the fact that I consider myself quite the die-hard F1 fan, I will be the first to say that I have no intention of switching to Sky. Even if it means losing out on 50% of live races, the excellent BBC coverage will always be better than whatever ad-ridden garbage is thrown at us by Sky.

Of course, not all fans will share this view. Many will not accept missing out on live races, and similarly will not be able to pay for Sky coverage. This is what many fear of, if this news is to cause people to lose interest in Formula 1.

This will be an important time for the sport. If FOTA are really going to protect the fans, they would want to get a move on.

Edit: If the fans want their voice heard, their opinions should be aimed at one location to maximise attention. The comment section on the BBC’s sport editor’s official statement is a good place to start.


Sky to take control of F1 coverage from 2012

It has been announced that Sky Sports will take broadcasting control of Formula from the start of 2012 until at leats 2018.

However, the BBC will still be broadcasting races, albeit only 50% of races a year. The races that are not shown live on the BBC will be deferred and shown later that night, but onlt as highlights.

It is understood that the races being shown live by the BBC will include the British and Monaco Grands Prix, as well as the season finale.

Sky will show every practice and qualifying session, as well as the races, but there has been outrage from the fans in the last few hours.

Since there are no plans for pay-per-view F1 broadcasts, British and Irish viewers will be forced to pay up to £610 a year (depending on Sky package) to watch the sport.

The BBC has been under pressure in the last few weeks to make cuts. However, since this move will only save the company £16m a year, there is confusion as to why this decision was made.

A few weeks ago, FOTA team principal Martin Whitmarsh stated that F1 must remain free-to-air:

"It’s crucial to the commercial model of Formula 1 that TV coverage should remain
free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed
and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers – and the BBC delivers that in the UK."

However, it appears he has made a U-turn on this statement, saying today that he sees this deal as “positive”, and that it will be a “good deal for everyone”.

Despite this, he still believes that his FOTA orginisation should “try and reach out to fans [and] listen to them” – quite the hypocritical statement considering the outrage shown online by fans this afternoon.

Personally, this deal will do no good for the casual fan of F1. While the die-hard fans may make the switch to Murdoch’s TV empire, many will become disillusioned with the sport if this issue is not fixed.

Update: Interesting new details have emerged. Both Sky and the BBC will share on-site facilities, as well as commentary teams, although the presentation teams will be different.

The 10 highlight races that the BBC will show are approx. 75 minutes in length, and will be placed at around 5 or 6 pm at night. There will be a brief introduction and after-race analysis, and the race footage is expected to last 45 or so minutes.

Hamilton retains lead in Hungary second practice

Hamilton stayed on top in second practice

Hamilton stayed on top in second practice

Lewis Hamilton continued to lead proceedings in second practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The early parts of the session were spent on the soft (prime) tyre, before drivers moved onto the super-soft compound. It has been estimated that the option tyre is up to one second faster than the prime.

Hamilton’s time of 1:21.018 was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Alonso, who managed 40 laps in FP2.

Jenson Button was consistently on the pace, finishing 3rd. The Red Bulls of Webber and Vettel were half a second off the pace in 4th and 5th. Felipe Massa led the Mercedes and Force India cars to finish the top 10.

Jarno Trulli found huge benefits from his new steering system, lapping only a tenth off Sebastien Buemi. Daniel Ricciardo was 0.5 seconds quicker than Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Times from FP2:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:21.018           29
 2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:21.259  + 0.241  40
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:21.322  + 0.304  34
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:21.508  + 0.490  35
 5.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:21.549  + 0.531  31
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:22.099  + 1.081  40
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:22.121  + 1.103  36
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:22.440  + 1.422  36
 9.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:22.835  + 1.817  40
10.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  1:22.981  + 1.963  37
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:23.030  + 2.012  34
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:23.399  + 2.381  37
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:23.679  + 2.661  34
14.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               1:23.861  + 2.843  28
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:24.181  + 3.163  39
16.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.182  + 3.164  26
17.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:24.546  + 3.528  21
18.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:24.878  + 3.860  35
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:24.994  + 3.976  38
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:25.447  + 4.429  39
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:26.823  + 5.805  33
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:27.261  + 6.243  28
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:27.730  + 6.712  31
24.  Vitantonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth          1:28.255  + 7.237  25

Webber crashes out of Hungary FP1 while Hamilton leads

Onboard with Webber as he crashes into the barriers

Onboard with Webber as he crashes into the barriers

Lewis Hamilton topped the first practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The highlight of the session was Mark Webber crashing out, ending his session prematurely. He lost control of his Red Bull at Turn 9, and hit the barrier, taking the front end off the car.

The session began as damp and lacking grip, but dried out throughout the day. This led to several lock-ups and drivers running wide in the session.

Hamilton’s time of 1:23.350 was enough to take the top spot. He could have gone faster at the end, but was held up by Jaime Alguersuari. Sebastian Vettel was 2 tenths behind in 2nd. Fernando Alonso suffered a small fire on the car during the day, but still participated in the session to go 3rd.

Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov made it into the top 10. Bruno Senna drove Nick Heidfeld’s car for the session, and was 0.8 seconds slower than Petrov.

Daniel Ricciardo was in last place, 8 tenths off his teammate Liuzzi.

Times from Hungarian FP1:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.350   	      19
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:23.564  + 0.214   24
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:23.642  + 0.292   29
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:23.666  + 0.316   12
 5.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:23.772  + 0.422   20
 6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:24.115  + 0.765   25
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:24.250  + 0.900   22
 8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:24.369  + 1.019   20
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:24.620  + 1.270   24
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault               1:25.093  + 1.743   22
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:25.113  + 1.763   21
12.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:25.336  + 1.986   22
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:25.357  + 2.007   17
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:25.836  + 2.486   24
15.  Bruno Senna           Renault               1:25.855  + 2.505   25
16.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:25.890  + 2.540   28
17.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:26.099  + 2.749   36
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth     1:26.124  + 2.774   25
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault         1:26.878  + 3.528   26
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault         1:27.352  + 4.002   21
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth       1:28.533  + 5.183   30
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth       1:28.903  + 5.553   22
23.  Vitantonio Liuzzi     HRT-Cosworth          1:29.059  + 5.709   24
24.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth          1:29.904  + 6.554   26