A1 Grand Prix’s fourth season gets started in Zandvoort today.
Although there are some questions over the future of the series its fan base is developing and there was a decent crowd at Brands Hatch when I visited for the season finale earlier this year.
Next week they release their first DVD season review, covering the 2006-07 championship.
Has this fan-orientated championship made a better job of their official season review DVD than F1 usually does?
Regular readers of F1 Fanatic will know I find the official F1 season review DVDs an underwhelming product. They are the only legitimate ways of collecting footage of past Grand Prix seasons, but they are utterly characterless affairs.
I particularly object to the cheesy music played over the top of some of the footage, rather like those irritating Youtube F1 clips where the original commentary has been replaced by Linkin Park. Just as annoyingly, the commentary added to the discs is delivered in the present tense, as if the race were happening live, which it plainly isn’t.
The A1 DVD, like the F1 disc, features Ben Edwards, who also commentates on the Series on Sky Sports. Edwards is a first-rate commentator and his name was proposed by many F1 fans as a man to front BBC’s F1 coverage in 2009 (it now looks as though that role will be performed by Jonathan Legard).
When I first the commentary on the A1 DVD was going to be Edwards I assumed they’d just re0used his original commentary for Sky, which would have been an excellent idea.
Instead it seems they’ve got him to record new commentary while pretending the races are running live. Which, predictably, sounds just as false as it does on the F1 DVDs. I can’t understand the reasoning behind recording the commentary in this fashion (ideas, anyone?) but it sounds terrible.
Perhaps A1 is trying a bit too hard to copy F1 – the black, silver and red colour scheme on the box is very similar to that found on the official F1 season reviews.
However it does do some things much better than the F1 DVDs. For example, the review is spread across two discs, with all the races on one and special features on the other. This is definitely an idea F1 should mimic in the future with its discs.
The extra features are rather better than the F1 ones as well: plenty of detail on the tracks and drivers and some technical features as well. The latter surprised me given that A1 is a spec series –
The quality of the footage is generally very good, although some of the on-boards are a bit grainy. Of course this is A1, so the races tend to be a bit more incident-packed (or, if you’re being cruel, ‘amateurish’) than F1’s.
The narrative is lacking in places and I thought there was a bit too much focus on the British car – perhaps the DVDs vary according to region? Otherwise it’s a decent product and a thorough review of the season. At least there’s no annoying music…
F1 Fanatic rating
Released 13th October 2008
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