The quality of the footage is usually excellent on theses DVDs – have FOM kept that up while fixing the niggling faults that have afflicted recent F1 season DVDs?
A whopping four hours and 15 minutes of footage spread across two discs makes the 2008 review, by my reckoning, the longest official F1 DVD yet. It boasts much ‘never before seen’ material including another new angle on the Sebastien Bourdais-Felipe Massa incident at Fuji.
But a lack of material has never been a weakness of official F1 DVDs: the biggest bugbear for me has been the style of commentary and presentation.
Fixing the flaws
Happily the producers have retained what was good about the commentary (the excellent Ben Edwards) and discarded the bad: he no-longer has to narrate the review as if everything is happening for the first time right in front of him. He’s finally allowed to use the past tense.
This may not sound like much, but watching a DVD of events that happened months ago gets rather boring when the commentator has to pretend that everything is unfolding before his eyes. To see what I mean, watch Robert Kubica’s crash at Montreal on the 2007 DVD.
They have also almost entirely weaned themselves off the habit of intruding on the race footage with painfully unsubtle music. Apart from the odd montage the whimsy is kept to a minimum. Another plus point.
With these irritations out of the way I found the 2008 F1 review much easier to enjoy than its predecessors.
The 18 races are split between the two discs. That means you have to changes discs halfway through watching the full review – but how often do you watch a four-hour DVD from end-to-end anyway? It’s split up into one chapter per race with sub-chapters for ease of navigation.
Race highlights benefit from the full gamut of Formula One Management’s official video and audio, much of which does not get broadcast during live race coverage. Among the interesting material I don’t recall having seen or heard before were problems on the start gantry at Istanbul, Adrian Sutil’s pit-to-car radio at Monaco, Steadicam footage of the aftermath of Hamilton’s crash at Montreal, Hamilton talking to his brother after winning the British Grand Prix and onboard from Timo Glock’s final lap at Interlagos. There’s probably much more besides.
Of course, it helps that 2008 was largely a very entertaining season. Even if the 2002 season review was up to the same standard as this it still wouldn’t be any fun to watch.
The second DVD also contains a series of features on Ross Brawn, Force India, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastien Bourdais and Fernando Alonso. These were good, though I suppose I’ll only every watch them once, and for that I’m grateful they’re no longer part of the main season review as they have been before.
The narrative tends to steer away from the political issues of the year, and the fall-out from the Max Mosley sadomasochism affair is largely avoided. I suppose if they’d included it the DVD might need an adult certificate rating.
There is plenty of footage of the year’s most controversial moments including a shot of the infamous Sebastien Bourdais-Felipe Massa crash which I’m sure was neither broadcast at the time nor included in the package of clips released by FOM afterwards in reaction to criticism of the stewards’ decision. The rearward video angle from Bourdais’ car clearly shows him hugging the kerb on the inside of the track, doing his utmost to keep clear of Massa’s car.
Technically, the video and audio quality seem quite satisfactory – however I’m no an expert on that. The onboard camera footage is discernibly poorer quality to the external shots, but that’s the same during live broadcasts.
There are clear challenges ahead in this area: F1 is dragging its feet on sorting out high-definition coverage and as soon as it is widely available they will need to ensure the season reviews are also available in a popular HD format.
That aside I don’t think there is anything more you could reasonably expect from this product. Many of the complaints I had about past DVDs do not apply to this year’s review and I think they’re moving in the right direction. Above all, it captures the confusion and emotion of those intense final laps at Interlagos perfectly, and that is the single memory most people will hold over from the remarkable 2008 F1 season.
F1 Fanatic rating
“Luck does not come into it” – The official 2008 F1 season review DVD
Published by 2 Entertain