French Grand Prix 2005 Media Review

The French Grand Prix was as dull as ditchwater – there’s no avoiding that fact. Did the British press tell it as straight? And how did ITV-F1 cope with the Magny-Cours snoozeathon? The post-race media review reveals all.

At long, long last Wimbledon is over. It feels as if we’ve had months of the tedious back-and-forth bat and ball affair, and the French race coincided with the finals (you’ll remember that, originally, this was the slot slated for Silverstone before the bi-annual British Grand Prix controversy last kicked off in late 2004.)

So perhaps it’s not a bad thing that, if dull races are going to be a rarity in Formula One, this one should happen when the media gazed is focused elsewhere, even if the F1 world were desperate for a good show after the Indianapolis farce.

The Daily Express play up the post-Indianapolis importance of France, declaring “Alonso is first out of tyre mire,” and using a picture of Alonso post-race, pointing to the Michelin logo on his blue cap. That must have been their press officer’s dream result.

Harder to explain is the Express writer Bob McKenzie’s slating of the Michelin teams’ offer to stage a free non-championship race in Indianapolis as “mad,” with no explanation why he feels this way.

More easy to understand is the lower tabloid’s preoccupation with Jenson Button which, with no real story behind the French Grand Prix and Silverstone fast approaching, gives them just cause to decorate their coverage with Button pictures.

It’s also good to see that, as Formula One drivers so rarely get due credit for the gruelling tests of physical endurance they are put through, both The Mirror and The Sun report Mark Webber’s brave drive to a lowly 12th while being burnt by air escaping from the engine.

The Mirror are not afraid to hold the French circuit culpable for the dismal race: “Seventy monotonus laps…Grands Prix are rarely interesting at Magny-Cours – maybe the track should be renamed Magny-Bores.”

Maybe. But most newspapers were in agreement that the ten-place grid penalty given to Kimi Raikkonen scuppered any hopes of a battle for the win. A point not lost on David Coulthard, who has recently been scathing of such trivial rules as these for ruining racing.

The introduction to the Daily Mail’s write-up is a real eye-roller. Leaden with reference to the French Olympic city bid (as if we care) and riddled with xenophobia, it’s typical Mail journalism at its worst.

“Formula One,” we are told, “likes to masquerade as the fastest, most glamorous and demanding television show,” suggesting that writer Ray Matts could not tell from the media lounge at Magny Cours that he was watching a live sporting event, rather than a television programme. If this subtle distinction is lost on him at such close proximity to the cars, I am sure there are hundreds of people who would happily trade places with him.

The more credible press devote less space to reportage on the tedious race and more to coverage of the inescapable political strife engulfing the sport.

The Guardian run with Max Mosley’s decision to meet the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, after most of the drivers’ expressed their agreement to drive at Indianapolis providing a chicane had been built. Recent events have overtaken this news – the meeting will now not happen and Mosley has fired a verbal broadside at Coulthard…

The Daily Telegraph return to that curious stoy of Indianapolis circuit owner Tony George rejecting the offer of the seven Michelin-shod teams to run a non-championship race after the last round of the year. Cryptically, George said there was, “no energy,” for such a move – strange, given that the race was being offered free.

Returning to the crux of the matter, Kevin Garside offers uncritical praise for McLaren boss Ron Dennis – “at his forensic best in pointing out the impossibility of racing having been advised that their tyres were not fit.”

It used to be that, whenever F1 served up a less than spectacular race, you could rely on the boundless enthusiasm of Murray Walker to keep you going. Now, we have the technically exceptional Martin Brundle, and the less accomplished James Allen. The weak link in the ITV broadcasting line-up becaomes painfully apparent at times like this.

It also seems that, instead of putting up with too many adverts late in the race, we now get too many too soon. If this sounds like there’s no pleasing F1 fans, there is a simple solution: stop showing the damn adverts. The truly committed among us won’t buy products from companies who spoil the races with their tedious adverts anyway.

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