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F1, the sport that keeps on taking


Coming off the back of a season which saw viewer numbers drop further and further with every win for a certain German, Formula One knew it had to deliver the goods in 2014 if it was to retain its old fans never mind win over new followers.

That job hasn't been made easy with the introduction of the biggest raft of changes in the sport's history, both Technical and Sporting, changes which have even left many of those on Planet Paddock baffled.

That, hours before the first practice session, a senior representative of the FIA has had to ensure that plans are in place should no car finish a race and that allowance will be made for drivers who fail to qualify, should tell us that there is something wrong.

Nonetheless, following the three pre-season tests, which indicate a change in terms of the old (2013) guard and the resurgence of former legends who had slipped down the grid in recent years, fans looked ahead to the new season with relish.

Make no mistake, had Red Bull dominated pre-season testing, were Sebastian to climb to the top of the podium on Sunday, the sport would be in serious trouble. Instead, we have the prospect of the German struggling in the opening races whilst Mercedes attempts to fend off McLaren, Williams and maybe even Force India, not forgetting that 'fire and ice' combo at Ferrari.

The stage was set.

Imagine the global disappointment therefore when fans switched on their TVs for the opening session, subsequently firing up their laptops, tablets and phones.

Where once the official Formula One website provided data on section times, weather and fastest speeds, fans were now confronted with dots.

Let's face it, other than the live timing there is little reason to visit the official Formula One website, a site that always appears to be a day or two late in terms of news and which only ever covers the 'positive' side of F1... after all, when was the last time you read about the (many) trials of Bernie Ecclestone there?

In the most cynical of moves, the live timing service formerly provided by the official website has now been stripped to the bone, fans given the most basic of information.

The cynic will have seen this coming however, knowing that, certainly in terms of F1, nothing is free.

Earlier this week, just days ahead of the season opener, it was announced that the paid live timing service was now available... and at a lower price than in previous years. However, the app was only available for IOS, Android users told that their version would be available "soon" whilst no mention was made of a Windows version.

So, if fans want more than the very basic info now provided by the official site unless they have IOS they are out of luck.

Let's face it, F1 fans are the most anal of sports fans, they want as much info and data as they can get their hands on, it is a sport driven by data.

To let them down this way, and with no notice, is entirely unforgivable but sadly so very typical of the sport.

Those within the paddock endlessly praise the passion of the fans but the reality is they use that passion and abuse it.

At a time the head of the sport is facing trials in various countries accused of paying a bribe of $44m, when its majority owner (one of twenty) is said to be only taking 8.4% from an annual pot of over $1.5bn, such flagrant opportunism, such obvious manipulation of its customers - the fans - is outrageous.

F1 fans might be anal but that not should be confused with being stupid. In the same way that the sport is undergoing major change so too are the fans, they are getting sick and tired of their sport being destroyed in the name of money... even worse the failure of the powers that be to even attempt to disguise the fact.

Where will the sport end up unless it begins showing its customers some real respect... join the dots.

Chris Balfe


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1. Posted by yagijd, 24/03/2014 20:08

"Seeing that I paid for an android service app that did nothing but run my battery down why in hell should I throw good money after bad. F1 needs to get some real programmers who can actually write scripts that run properly. I enjoyed the details on the timing site................."

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2. Posted by Fudjones, 21/03/2014 14:20

"Have to agree with Balfe, Coch, and all the comments below. Why do the FIA need diificult to calibrate sensors, when all they had to do have to was put exactly 100 kilos of fuel into each car before the start ? Yes, stupidly sad to lose all the sectors times on F1's Live Timing. Beware fans, it will be even quieter with Electric cars !!! Racing should be RACING - first past the post, no matter what the sport: horse, athletics, yacht, bike or motor."

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3. Posted by ratchet69, 16/03/2014 10:17

"I can't see it (no Sky), I can't hear it on the radio (sounded like noisy mopeds) and I cannot follow it on the deliberately stripped out 'live timing'. Not worth getting up for. Stick it where the sun don't shine. F1 is killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Long live BTCC (bigger engines, more noise, closer racing without gimmicks, nuff said).

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4. Posted by Jumpy Bob, 14/03/2014 23:12

"I am a rabid F1 fan... Yes, I said, 'rabid'...

If the viewing audience, and the paying audience, continues to descend even further this year, I can only imagine that some changes will be made to attract the common enthusiasts. Those that are no longer paying the fees, nor paying attention.

The revolution begins right here, and right now.

FOM will realize, in this coming year, it is hard to run a racing series when only a few showing up to the events, and when those that are the viewing audience, stop paying for the privilege of all things Formula One.

Give it time... The Revolution begins now. "

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5. Posted by Chris Roper, 14/03/2014 11:16

"I used the Android version of the Official App last year and consider it to be a waist of money.

It killed a fully Charged Nexus 7 battery long before the race was over, that on a device that can run Kindle or Streaming Video for 8 hours or more.

It was difficult to use, cluttered and needed to be connected to the charger to get through a full Race so, despite having purchased it, I still preferred the Free Windows app.

I guess I am not alone, so in true F1 fashion rather than fix what is broken, just change the rules and force people to accept it.


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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/03/2014 10:23

"The decline of F1 as a Sport continues, with the FIA who are nominally the guardians of the "sport", joining in the race to screw cash out of fans.

The 2014 changes will certainly shake-up the previously established order, but I'm doubtful that they will radically change the NATURE of Formula 1. It is the Sporting Regulations which define how F1 will develop, and these are in turn controlled by FIA, so let's give credit & blame where it's due.
In order to succeed, teams need to invest heavily in highly specialised aerodynamics with no application outside F1.
The tyres are still a moot point. Will last year's fiascos be repeated with the tyres being more influential in the outcomes than the drivers?
Finally while I'm all in favour of "greenness" the fuelling restrictions could add more "processionality" (tm) to races already hamstrung by a dependence on minute aero changes and tyres so fragile they fade after a couple of laps.

I'm fed-up with the arrogance & greed of Formula 1. Instead of dumbing-down what was once the pinnacle of Motor Sport by chucking in gimmicks like DRS and tyres designed to wear-out arbitrarily quickly they need to develop Regulations which encourage technical innovation and ingenuity, rather than perpetuating a system which has stultified nearly all developments except aerodynamics.

Like many others I'll make a point of watching 100% of MotoGp races (FTA on BT), a lot of BTCC (FTA on ITV4) . I'll do so because these sports have continued to develop in ways which meet the needs of both the participants, and more importantly, the paying public. Both lack the glitz of F1, but both have demon racing in which driver skill and nerve has a huge role to play in the outcomes, alongside the technical competence of the vehicular "package". I will of course "top-up" with F1 from the BBC, but F1 no-longer generates any passion, nor even admiration; its simple a "spectacle", like a Cirque du Sol circus might be...."

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7. Posted by GoodPublicity, 14/03/2014 8:31

"FOM's antediluvian ignorance of marketing and public relations fundamentals continues to bemuse and amuse.

If it thinks it'll get rich charging for a service that used to be free, then it had better think again.

The Live Timing display is so primitive and inadequate that only a fool would part with his money for the 'privilege' of seeing the sector times."

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