When I was a kid, there was nothing - NOTHING - better than Sunday nights. As an Australian, everyone else in the house was either fast asleep, or the clock was counting down their impending unconsciousness. Channel 9's abysmal coverage of Formula 1 - which pretended that practice and qualifying don't even exist in the physical world - would start with an unmistakable 'Wide World of Sports' intro jingle. Adrenaline rising. It's finally Formula 1 time!

At the time (the 90s), the coverage nevertheless drove me absolutely NUTS. I was a Formula 1 fanatic, and yet the only way I could get any news was to wait for an expensive glossy magazine to arrive in the mail once per month. It was always, always late. I would scour the Sunday morning newspaper for a square inch of ink that might list the grid order, but it was almost never there. There was no internet, and even the races weren't live on television. So often, I would be seething at the TV as the climax to Die Hard or Ghostbusters was playing in the square box in the lounge exactly where the grid should be lining up live. Half an hour later, still seething because what I was watching was now woefully NOT live, hosts Darryl Eastlake and Alan Jones would introduce the race by mispronouncing every name on the grid and relaying all the information they knew about what had happened in Europe in the preceding couple of weeks. Which was ab-so-lutely nothing.

But here's the thing: even that crap was somehow more enjoyable than what we have now.

How on earth is that possible, you wonder, in our gloriously advanced year of 2019? Because, my friends, less is sometimes a helluva lot more.


Firstly, hour upon hour upon hour of endless F1-related TV coverage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday isn't inherently bad. But hour upon hour upon hour of endless F1-related coverage almost EVERY SINGLE Friday, Saturday and Sunday of your entire life is like eating 7 Big Macs a day.

Now, I really like Big Macs. But after 7, I never want to see another Big Mac. In fact, evacuating the contents of my stomach into the bottom of the toilet seems like a lot more fun than contemplating another.

Is the problem the number of races per year? Undoubtedly yes. Liberty Media is making a big mistake by exploring the expansion of the F1 calendar to 25 races per year. Forget tired race teams and consider two crucially important words: saturated fans.

Another issue is today's F1 coverage in general. Back in the day, it would be announced way ahead of time that an interesting TV interview with Schumacher or somebody was coming up. Great! He's been running people off the track left, right and centre for the last two months and finally he will have to answer for it to someone like the excellent and recently-retired Martin Brundle.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Today, it is announced that another Lewis Hamilton feature is coming up, and I'm sure many of you join me in thinking "Woo. Hoo."

It's not just my personal taste when it comes to Schumacher vs Hamilton - not at all. Both were and are incredible athletes at the top of their games and I want to explore what makes them so good. It's just that I see and hear so much about Lewis these days that I sometimes feel like the tattoo on his left pectoral. I mean, I love my wife a lot more than I love Hamilton, but I don't necessarily want to know that she almost bought the black handbag instead of the white one this afternoon. And yet, as I watch him plonking woefully at a piano or piling a fourth gold chain around his neck or observing one of his servants pick up the crap that his slightly-bigger-than-the-other-one bulldog just did on a fashion runway, I feel that I am being forced to know him in a way that seems inhumane.

So the problem is social media, then?

No: I'm sticking to my guns that it's the modern coverage of Formula 1 in general that sometimes really grates. Yes, there's Instagram and Twitter oversaturation, but also never-ending internet news, a barrage of YouTube, stupid television featurettes fronted by a portly and lost-for-words Johnny Herbert, etcetera etcetera and ad infinitum. Am I getting old and miserable, or are there other people who don't give a damn what Natalie Pinkham is about to say? I have taken to turning on the TV exactly 40 minutes prior to the start of a race and muting the sound, because I know I've just spared myself hours of shouting at the TV and exposing my ears to a chainsaw-like assault from the unconvincingly overexcited David Croft.

Somehow, a late-in-the-post glossy magazine and a race delayed by two hours and presented by a couple of Australian morons somehow seems like the good old days. Do I have a point?


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6 F1 Fan comments on “When it comes to F1 coverage, less is more?

  1. oldtwit

    OH your so right and also so wrong, it's the pay TV that has killed F1 to a great extent, driven up the cost and to get a payback have to overload us with it all.
    I know that they have done a lot with how many TV cameras are in use and all that but just look at football ( i dont really mean that) they paid and installed all these cameras in only a few grounds and priced the average man out of the sport (?) , lets be truthful it's just another business now and F1 is going that way if it hasn't already, only really about a rich corporate event now those who love to go for free and eat and drink and chat, sad but true.

    Reply
  2. ReallyOldRacer

    Good article and good Oldwit comment. I am writing from a US point of view. First, we don't get the HAM and family overload. Of course, we don't pay and ESPN hides most of FP and quali on their sub-channels. I would like to see FP1-3, quali and the race live with first class commentary, and that is sufficient.

    On saturation: "Is the problem the number of races per year? Undoubtedly yes. Liberty Media is making a big mistake by exploring the expansion of the F1 calendar to 25 races per year. Forget tired race teams and consider two crucially important words: saturated fans." It is not the number of races, but the quality of the races and the coverage. BASHCAR does 30 something races per year and TV viewership is more than triple F!...every friggin' race. Yeah, I know all of the hits on American taste and I mostly agree. But still, look at the numbers.

    Fans would support 24 races per year with GOOD coverage, certainly not from the likes of Croft doing travelogues, food reviews and HAM love-ins. If I hear the word brilliant once more I will choke.

    That's enough rant. Maybe Maitland is right, those of us who reference the golden era just might be getting old and miserable. Or maybe we remember F1 as the absolute pinnacle of motor racing, an like it that way.

    Reply
  3. Tony Williams

    Thanks for the article, I mostly agree with the points you make but in particular I am completely over the juvenile off the topic banter that David Croft indulges in. Would the directors please encourage him to stay on topic (F1) and could they also encourage him to understand that the audience is not just the UK.

    Reply
  4. keefy

    Maybe the problem is that you spend too much time looking for coverage of F1. Try spending less time looking for F1 coverage and more time looking for other things, or use the OFF button!

    Reply
  5. ReallyOldRacer

    Uh Keefy, the title of this site is F1 Fansite.....yeah, we kinda' like the sport. But, if you read the posts nobody is suggesting more coverage, just better coverage. Now I'm going to hit the OFF button. LOL

    Reply
  6. Paul Hodgman

    Wow -talk about picky. I love F1. I will read and listen to everyone no matter what they say. Too many races - give me a break. My frustration comes form channel Ten here in Australia sprooking their great coverage of sport (home of motor racing - b*** s***) yet i get only one free to air race per season - the Australian race - yes that is right: the only race I am actually at in person.
    Maybe if they went back to free to air coverage instead of selling off their rights to Fox tel and leaving fans with nothing but one hour highlights one day later I might actually enjoy what they do. I can't afford pay TV so I search the internet to try and get lousy stream coverage from somewhere - the last race was in Italian but I could at least see the race.
    Yes some of the commentators prattle on - its their jib. Yes someone times they get off topic - it adds flavour. Yes someone times they appear to be over enthusiastic - you havn't???
    Come on everyone lets all take a chill pill adn enjoy what they give us. Yes like most htings it can be improved but to quote Donald Sutherland in Kelly's Hero's :Stop hitting me with all thise negative vibes" 🙂

    Reply

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