The German Grand Prix was not a high point for F1 in 2005. The championship battle more or less fizzled out and yet another McLaren failure gifted Alonso an unchallenging victory. It’s little surprise to see the quality and size of newspapers coverage has fallen this week.
You can’t really blame newspapers like The Independent for chopping their coverage back to less than a third of a page when the racing was as poor as it was last Sunday. The Moto GP action from Donington Park, blessed with wet weather for extra thrills, gets a bigger share of the page.
Elsewhere the tabloids have whipped themself up into yet another tedious Jenson Button frenzy. “The BAR-ttle for Button” declares the Daily Mirror (ha bloody ha). “Jenson Button roared to his best result of the season – and straight into another amazing contract scrap.”
But maybe F1 has only itself to blame when the off-track politics rather than the on-track action gets described as “amazing.”
More cringeworthy patriotism at The Sun, too: “Button Up and Down” (erm, what?) But at lest they were generous enough to give the turgid Hockenheim race a full-page report and, unlike The Mirror, included the real story of significance, that Raikkonen’s title challenge is effectively dead.
Staying in tablois territory, the Daily Star uniquely give prominence to the latest twist in the title saga: “for 36 laps there looked like being only one winner, until a wisp of smoke suddenly billowed from Raikkonen’s car.” Can a wisp billow? Anyway, back to the point…
The Times also lead with the “what happens to Button” semi-story, but, more interestingly, also give space over to Bernie Ecclestone’s dismissal of the Hutchinson Whampoa conglomerate’s Â£570m bid for Formula One. Never one to pass up the opportunity to issue a withering quote, Ecclestone delivered this gem: “I have spoken to Hutchinson, but they sent a boy to do a man’s job.” Me-ow!
The big sport story edging F1 off the back pages this week (apart from the usual exaggerated tabloid drivel about what may or may not happen in the football season that hasn’t even started yet) is England’s latest cricket defeat in the Ashes. On the Daily Telegraph this duly swamps the front of the sports supplement, but Button’s podium triumph nets a silver of a column alongisde it. Inside, Kevin Garside’s write-up more than does justice to a completely indifferent race.
At least ITV didn’t drop any major clangers with the coverage. But at times it seemed that the director was part of some heinous conspiracy to keep us from seeing the few interesting points there were. The replays of the opening lap chaos were poor, Montoya’s early passes were missed entirely and we only saw Fisichella’s move on Schumacher in replay.
Another vital question missing from the FIA survey of F1 fans was, of course, to invite our comments on the dismal state of television coverage of the sport.