Holidays, Blogging and F1 Coverage

So, it’s been a little quiet around here lately, I know. I’m still around and enjoying the F1 season. The trouble is that there’s not that much to blog about really. Yes, the new formula is super exciting and action-packed, but to be honest, there haven’t been a lot of big strategy calls made this season. I will look into the conclusion of the German GP and take a look at Fantasy Racers after Hungary though.

One thing I do want to comment on is the news that the BBC will be sharing the F1 coverage with Sky from 2012. Now, there are many great posts out there that have much better arguments about why this is bad news for F1 fans – chief among those reasons are those of costs, and the fact that F1 has to be on free to air to get the best exposure for new fans and sponsors.

But what a lot of people are doing is that they are getting angry at the BBC for this decision, which I totally disagree with. I’m not the biggest fan on the way that they operate, but the fact is that they run on public money supplied from the licence fee, which the current government decided to freeze in order to save the average household a few bob. Then they told the BBC to cut costs, and to be honest, if the choice was between axing channels and radio stations or the multimillion pound deal to host the F1, well that’s an easy choice really. Times are tough these days and something has to give. F1 fans have to face the fact that while their sport has quite a lot of viewers and exposure, it’s always going to be a second tier sport and will never take precedence over a sport like football, for example.

What interests me is the reaction on twitter. Obviously there is a lot of anger and disappointment at the decision and rightly so – F1 needs to be free to air in order to have the greatest exposure to fans and sponsors alike, along with the ‘man on the street’ who appreciates what F1 is and knows about it yet doesn’t really follow it.

But a lot of anger has been directed at the BBC for supposedly selling out. The simple fact is that the BBC have had to do this because they cannot afford it, for the reasons mentioned earlier.

Bernie Ecclestone must be rubbing his hands together in glee, because yet again he’s managed to pull off another PR coup and come out of this looking good again. He made a lot of noises about how F1 should remain free to air and that F1 going to Sky was ‘not going to happen’. Yet did he offer to reduce the already exorbitant fees he charges? I’m willing to bet it never crossed his mind…

We now all support a sport where the simple facts are that it’s too expensive for the average punter to attend a race without a lot of sacrifice, it’s too expensive for an internationally successful race circuit to afford to hold a race without making a loss, too expensive for most teams to compete in F1, and now we have got to the point where it’s too expensive for major TV stations to afford to show the coverage. The sport as we know it has lost all of it’s values and only cares about money.

F1 is now purely about greed and has completely forgotten about the fans who support it. Yet they haven’t realised that without the fans, the sport is worth nothing. It could well be that if things continue as they are, the Sky/BBC decision could well be the first nail in the coffin of F1 – as there are plenty of other forms of motorsport to enjoy out there that are just as watchable as F1, yet a lot cheaper and more accessible.

I think that F1 needs to wake up and have a good long think about itself over the summer break. I mean, we have an organisation called FOTA who says that it’s for the fans and holds a lot of waffle sessions about what needs to change in the sport, yet have they actually acted on the suggestions the fans have given them? If FOTA are really serious about themselves, now more than ever is the time to act. Because F1 has always been free to air and that’s always been it’s USP – to take that away seems like a foolish and greedy decision that will do more harm than good.

The sad part about this rant is that I know it changes nothing. I will continue to follow the sport as best that I can, but if it becomes too hard or too expensive I’ll just move on to something else. I’ve done that before and I sure can do it again. I reckon a lot more F1 fans may just do the same too.