Sunday, March 19, 2006

Unimaginative F1 Coverage

I think that ITV's Formula One coverage in the UK is extremely professional, high in quality and rammed with pundits who know their thing. However, it strikes me that their use of in-race graphics has moved on very little in the last few decades. An opportunity is being missed, by someone, to make the sport more entertaining. By someone, and I'm not terribly well informed about this, I probably mean Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management organisation which controls the broadcast rights and, so I'm told, retains a tight grip over the production feed itself.

Just watch the World Rally Championship and you start to realise how much more understandable and exciting the appropriate use of production technology can be to a sport. Formula 1 has increasingly become a sport of tyre and fuelling strategy and this often means that the competition for a position at the end of the race is between two cars who are not racing head to head for the other 50 laps. With a little imagination it would be fantastic to play out this race.

Last weekend Raikkonen came from being nowhere in the coverage before I stepped into the shower, to 3rd place on my exit from the shower. Why could his progress not be tracked as a sub plot to the big story nearer the beginning? Today in Malaysia, even the commentators were unsure as to where Button was as Alonso exited the pit to take 2nd place. In the event there was no buzz around a few critical seconds of the weekend. If the experts haven't a clue, how are punters expected to know?

Come to think of it, Murray Walker used to bring these tussles alive supplemented by a graphic to indicate the growing or decreasing gap between two cars- I've seen little of that of late. In a time of interactive TV, open standards and the web, the boffins should be a hotbed of ideas. There is no reason why an ounce of the technology effort going into the teams can't be directed into bringing these visualisations to the audience.

Well, actually I guess there are reasons. Politics. It would seem that the revs, gear, throttle, brake and speed indicator has been the full extent of their imagination to date. Come on F1. Think laterally.

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