The cost of buying and broadcasting Formula 1 footage is so extortionately expensive that even major television news channels will only show the briefest glimpses of race action.
The end-of-season video reviews remain the only official way to watch the highlights of a previous year.
So how good a job have they done of re-telling the high drama of the 2007 season, and the battle to the end between Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton?
The official F1 season review runs to three hours and 20 minutes, and has half a dozen extra features including pieces on Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
Previously the reviews have been distribute by Duke Video but this year FOM has switched to Lionsgate. It’s not obvious why – whenever I’ve bought videos from Duke in the past I’ve found their service to be excellent.
What they should have changed is who actually edits the material together, because once again they’ve done a sub-par job.
As ever, this is especially galling because FOM have a monopoly on the right to produce F1 video. They have access to all the extra footage that doesn’t get shown on the conventional television broadcast (such as the onboard shot of Fernando Alonso’s crash at Fuji Speedway which you can watch here).
There’s nothing wrong with the footage itself – in fact it’s excellent. The problem is how it is put together.
The loud and intrusive music is very distracting. It seems to have no relevance to the action and starts and stops for no obvious reason. It’s as if they’ve let a toddler play with the sound deck. It drowns out the cars and as there’s only one audio track you can’t turn it off.
The commentary is delivered by Ben Edwards (who is a fine commentator) but as usual they have him pretending he’s commenting on the action live. This leads to various awkward grammatical contortions and some painfully embarrassing moments – especially when he’s pretending the drama of Robert Kubica’s crash is unfolding for the first time right in front of him.
These silly mistakes are repeated every year and are so off-putting I invariably watch the new season reviews once before chucking them on the pile and never bother to watch them again. Whereas I’ve played the better videos from the 1980s and 1990s so many times some of them have worn out.
It’s a shame because as a review of the season the footage is balanced, thorough and entertaining. The action gets replayed from every conceivable angle and the developments at the rear of the field are covered as well as the race at the front.
Of course 2007 was all about controversy and the programme makers have done a good job of handling the various incidents as even-handedly as possible. Although I felt the tension between Alonso and McLaren was downplayed a bit.
There were a couple of other disappointing omissions, like Anthony Davidson’s qualifying lap at Istanbul, and Heikki Kovalainen’s exceptional drive at Montreal, which largely get ignored. Much of the exciting Nico Rosberg-Jenson Button battle at Monza is also cut and the off-season is largely ignored.
Otherwise it’s the same old story. The season review is only going to be as good as the season was, in which case we’re talking about a handful of good races and a few really wretched ones (which, happily, get far less coverage).
The vast potential for this kind of product remains completely untapped. Where’s the multi-disc box set collectors’ edition for the hardcore fan? Why is there absolutely no supporting material in the box?
And above all, where’s the off button for that wretched music?
Released 10th December 2007
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