F1.com should offer more to F1 fans

F1.com has live timing but no live video

F1.com has live timing but no live video

F1.com, Formula 1′s official site, has a lot going for it. The live timing during F1 sessions is invaluable and it has some insightful news and features particularly on technical developments.

But it falls far short of what it could provide in terms of interaction with fans, providing F1 video or other useful material.

Here’s four things I’d add to Formula1.com if I were in charge. What would you change about the site?

Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t get the internet. He calls it ‘the ether’, and his Formula One Group has been painfully slow in waking up to its potential because Ecclestone doesn’t see how he can make money out of it. It hardly helps that he doesn’t run advertising on F1.com.

As a result, F1.com lacks many of the interest features found on other official motor racing sites like indycar.com, nascar.com, motogp.com, wrc.com and even a1gp.com. Here’s what I’d do to improve Formula1.com:

Live F1 video

Those of us in Britain are fortunate enough to be able to see F1 races, qualifying and practice sessions (except Saturday practice) online via itv-f1.com. (There are ways for people outside Britain to hack into the feed as well).

But the feed is interrupted with advertising and has no better footage than the standard coverage. There must be huge numbers of fans out there who’d pay a reasonable fee to be able to watch F1 over the internet on the high-quality Premiere feed instead of the standard footage ITV gets.

Presumably Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t want to offer this because he thinks it will devalue his television contracts. I think it’s a missed opportunity to attract F1 fans whose local coverage of the sport is poor or non-existent.

F1 video archive

Watch F1 video on F1.com? It\'d be quicker to wait for the season review DVD.

Watch F1 video on F1.com? It'd be quicker to wait for the season review DVD.

Ecclestone attempts to place stringest restrictions on the re-use of Formula 1 footage. Again, this is intended to keep the value of his TV contracts high.

Formula One Group uses the NetResult company to pull F1 videos off sharing sites such as YouTube, but with little success. There is so much interest in F1 that most deleted videos are quickly uploaded again.

Official F1 video on F1.com is limited to a short highlights clip of each round and the execution of it is decidedly third-rate. There’s no individual clips of particular drivers or incidents, the video has to buffer in full before you watch it and you have to agree to a disclaimer every time you go to the video player.

Ecclestone needs to stop seeing this as a weakness and harness it as a strength. Start putting proper F1 video clips on F1.com and either charge people to see them or run advertising on the site.

Fans’ photos and videos

F1.com’s interest in the wider F1 fan base goes little further than a perfunctory poll on the front page. No forum, no commenting, no social interaction at all.

Other motor sports’ official sites like indycar.com encourage fans to share photographs of races they’ve been to. Instead Formula One Group have even ordered the removal of fans’ videos of races from YouTube.

Preventing F1 fans from sharing videos they’ve shot themselves not only needlessly hampers the promotion of the sport, it also robs us of some excellent footage. Last year I posted five excellent amateur videos from the 2007 F1 season including the famous film from the Japanese Grand Prix that almost changed the course of the championship.

To share your F1 images or videos with F1 Fanatic contact me via the contact form, Flickr or Youtube.

Get into F1 blogging

I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet here, but I think Formula 1 has one of the most diverse and interesting blogging scenes of any sport.

F1.com should harness it and bring in guest bloggers to write posts and engage with the wider community.

And of course we’d all love to read the Bernie Blog…

How would you improve F1.com? Leave your ideas below.

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40 comments on F1.com should offer more to F1 fans

  1. Noel – thanks for the link.

    I had no idea about this. I think £12 per race weekend is far to much and I’m not surprised it withered away. I would not have paid. Many of the other digital sport packages on sky are slowly falling into the basic sport package start-up.

    I think people are increasingly disillusioned with F1 (and other high profile sports in general for that matter) because of what seems excessive greed. They generate and earn so much money and yet they still seem to want more at the expense of fans. Fans don’t really get value for money anymore.

    I still believe F1 TV is viable and linking it with their website would seal the gap of content control that Bernie is so obsessed about. They will have to change eventually as this is called “progress”, or they will be left embarrassingly behind and continue loosing their loyal viewer audience. They should just look at the other high profile motor sports websites for an indication of whats expected. As said above, F1 is the pinnacle of motor sport and its such a shame their website does not continue this ethos.

    Come on Bernie… you can do it…

  2. Racer X said on 19th August 2008, 11:41

    Very commercial… trying to make petty money out their website…. no wonder the world’s RICHEST sport is loosing fanship…

  3. It should be added that the GP2 site is not very good either especially considering this is supposed or regarded as the feeder group to F1. I often wonder why live timing wont show the GP2 times???

    (P.S – for those in the UK and with sky they are showing daily a F1 retro through the 70′s on ESPN Classic)

  4. francois said on 20th August 2008, 12:06

    Says it all when most of their merchandise is either generic branded posters or £225 carbon mouse mats wrapped in quality F1 tissue paper.To be fair they are offering teamwear though now.

    Again , if it weren’t for live timing there’s very little there at all asides from historical race results.If Bernie’s so paranoid of devaluing his TV contracts why can’t he at least upload classic races to the F1 website or sell them on DVD? Monaco 96′ has been up on Youtube for a year and averages around 9000 views for all the parts.There are more people than ever uploading full races from 10-15 years ago.

  5. AmericanTifosi said on 20th August 2008, 15:03

    How do you hack into itv’s coverage of Qualifying and Practice? I was crushed when I found out it was only for UK residents.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th August 2008, 16:43

    AmericanTifosi – have a look at the links in the FAQ: F1 FAQ. If they don’t work then join us during the Live Blog while one of the sessions is going on, and ask what feeds everyone else is using. There’s usually one available somewhere.

  7. Robert McKay said on 20th August 2008, 20:41

    “If Bernie’s so paranoid of devaluing his TV contracts why can’t he at least upload classic races to the F1 website or sell them on DVD?”

    Because Bernie/FOM sells old F1 footage for several thousand quid for about a quarter of an hour.

  8. I’m in the States, but every week I’m able to keep up with Reading FC by watching or listening through the pay per view service available through World. Yet I have to pay my local cable provider almost $100/month so I can see F1 races.

    I can’t believe Bernie has completely ignored selling a pay-per-view broadband option to view practice, qualifying, races and even test sessions. It’s an inconvenience to me, and for FOM, it’s money left on the table.

  9. I think that its a sham that F1.com asks us what we think after showing us the different camera angles of the Fuji race and then provides us with no ‘official’ way to actually tell them. I mean, what gives? I used to go to their site for all the news, but really dont even care now. The ‘stewards’ involvement in the last number of races to keep the champioship ‘exciting’ is a sham. i am getting really sick of F1.

  10. I just tuned into A1GP today to wath the Malaysia race and am highly impressed with what the A1GP website has to offer its fans for free. They have definately upped their game from last year.

    For example, from my computer I can
    1) watch the GPS car track positions,
    2) choose a driver whose telemetry I want to see and follow,
    3) watch the race by live video stream and this is uninterupted by irritating adverts or commercials,
    4) watch live timing of all the cars similar to that on F1.com

    F1.com really needs to pull its finger out. I’ve been screaming about this for ages. F1.com should be embarressed and ashamed. This is how you get and keep fans in a sport. I’m glad to see that A1GP have been smart enough to build these costs in and provide these services free to fans as it should be.

    WELL DONE A1GP.

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