The official F1 season review is available in high definition for the first time. But is it good enough to persuade you to part with your hard-earned pennies?
The review itself gets off to a rather plodding start with a few dreary interviews. But with 19 races to pack in it speeds along.
So much so that the a proper introduction to the season – recapping driver moves and major technical changes – is entirely absent, which feels like a strange omission.
However there is some testing footage, including a brief glimpse of Robert Kubica in the car he sadly never got to race this year.
The real meat of the review is the race highlights and these are up to the usual high standard. Ben Edwards – BBC’s commentator for next season – does a first-rate job. Will Buxton supplies further background between the races.
There is no shortage of great material and a generous sprinkling of footage and team radio that hasn’t been shown before.
Monaco stands out as one of the best examples. It comes to life with plenty of interesting snippets from the drivers and the teams – particularly when the race is red-flagged, prompting some of them to wonder if the Grand Prix is over.
There is also a revealing interview with the McLaren drivers following the Spanish Grand Prix where they talk quite candidly about their debriefings and being stuck with insufficiently long gear ratios.
Among the other interesting moments revealed in more detail is the radio exchange between Mark Webber and the Red Bull pit wall in the closing stages at Silverstone – where the team told him not to race team mate Sebastian Vettel.
It begins with Vettel noticing the arrival of Webber on his tail and warning his race engineer to “be wise”. He is told, “we understand what you mean, we’re controlling the situation.”
Webber is warned first by his race engineer and then repeatedly by team principal Christian Horner to stay three seconds behind his team mate. “Maintain the gap, yeah,” acknowledges Webber, while clambering over Vettel’s rear wing.
Webber stays silent after the race while Adrian Newey tells him: “Sorry about that. We compromised Seb’s first stop to allow you the optimum stop from intermediates to slicks. I think it’s only fair that we held at the end.”
Among the previously unseen moments from the season is Felipe Massa’s collision with Jarno Trulli at Monza, for which the Ferrari driver can consider himself lucky not to have been given a penalty. A furious Trulli demanded he be handed one.
We also get more material from Suzuka, including Sergio Perez’s joke at his team’s expense and Vettel’s celebratory doughnuts after sealing his second title.
The qualifying incident between Webber, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton at Suzuka is revealingly played from the Red Bull driver’s point of view, along with his radio messages.
Much of the most memorable footage from the season is present and correct, from Webber’s staggering pass on Alonso in Spa to Rowan Atkinson’s facial contortions as Hamilton and Massa collide yet again in India.
I’d have liked to seen more on the teams further down the grid as they tend to get overlooked in the race broadcasts to begin with.
There is a rather high level of assumed knowledge about the 2011 rules – though that’s not likely to be a problem for F1 Fanatics!
And at times it feels there is too little context to the action. The dropping of the Bahrain round, for example, is entirely ignored.
On the other hand the exhaust-blown diffuser row is covered in great detail – almost excessively so, particularly the drawn-out press conference discussion between Martin Whitmarsh and Christian Horner.
Team radio feature
The Blu-Ray edition offers an hour of extra features. Of those, one is particularly worthy of your attention.
It shows the highlights from the Chinese Grand Prix – undoubtedly one of this year’s best races – relying entirely on team radio messages to tell the story.
This is an excellent feature and should be repeated next year for all the races as an additional audio track.
You get a lot of footage and some great new material for your money. It may lack a little in sparkle, but then the season itself was not a classic contest.
Despite that it remains an essential end-of-year purchase – it’s just a pity it won’t be out in time for Christmas.
F1 Fanatic rating
“He’s Done it Again” – official 2011 F1 season review
Released: 26th December 2011
Price: £24.99 (Blu-Ray), £19.99 (DVD)
Publisher: Universal Pictures UK
For more gift ideas see the 2011 F1 Fanatic Gift Guide.
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