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
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.
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.