Update: The Blu-Ray version of this DVD has also been reviewed: 2012 F1 season Blu-Ray “Victorious Vettel” reviewed
The F1 calendar continues to get longer and finish later in the year. This creates problems for the makers of the official season review video, which for the second year in a row missed the all-important Christmas market.
Then there is the challenge of condensing all the material filmed at 20 race weekends. As a result the 2012 review is spread across two discs and lasts over five-and-a-quarter hours.
In the case of last year’s review it often felt like too much context was being cut to make room for more footage of the races. That trend has continued this year and has definitely gone too far.
Pop disc one in, hit “Play rounds one to ten” and the first race begins almost immediately. There’s no introduction to the drivers and teams, no recap of the rules changes – and no footage from practice or qualifying.
This continues throughout the review. Even major incidents that shaped the season such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel being sent to the back of the grid in Spain and Abu Dhabi are not seen and referred to only in passing.
The result is a review which suffers from giving too little context to the action. Significant news stories like the Williams fire, Maria de Villota’s crash or the Bahrain controversy are given passing mentions or ignored entirely.
It also means the entire review is narrated by the same person. Ben Edwards does his usual top-notch job of the commentary but he could do with a co-commentator to provide some variety. The segments between races, voiced in previous videos by Will Buxton, are gone.
The cream of FOM’s footage
As you’d expect the race reviews themselves are excellent and feature the cream of FOM’s vast repository of footage. This is arguably the most important element of the review and it’s executed very well – you certainly get plenty of footage for your money.
I particularly enjoyed the split-screen replays of major incidents shown from multiple onboard cameras. And there’s the usual smattering of alternative camera angles which are seldom seen on the world feed – such as Bruno Senna’s first lap in Canada from a camera mounted on the nose of his car.
Had it been me on the editing desk I would have removed the pointless shots of random paddock-dwellers reacting to the on-track action and added some more footage of the often overlooked teams in the second half of the field.
And I was hoping to see more of some of the incidents that were overlooked during the race broadcasts, such as Pastor Maldonado’s Brazilian Grand Prix crash or the tangle between Timo Glock and Jean-Eric Vergne in the same race, but there aren’t many unseen incidents such as these.
In addition to the main review are the familiar onboard laps narrated by one of the drivers. Where previously these would be laps from qualifying, this year most of them look at action from the races.
Among the best are Daniel Ricciardo narrating his first lap at Melbourne shot from a helmet camera and Button’s view on Vettel’s “slightly dodgy pass” on the penultimate lap in Germany. However some of these serve only to replicate footage available elsewhere on the review, such as the first-lap pile-up in Belgium.
We also get to hear some interesting team radio snippets that weren’t broadcast previously, such as Sebastian Vettel complaining about his penalties in Italy and Spain.
The DVD extra are mostly forgettable with two exceptions. One is a feature on team radio broadcasts which include some interesting insights from Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and their race engineers.
The other is a piece on pre-season testing narrated by Buxton which should really serve as the introduction to the review as it does a good job of setting the scene for the year ahead.
All the action, none of the drama
The 2012 season was a thrilling contest which wasn’t decided until the final lap of the last race. And yet the official review video fails to capture the building excitement and tension over the course of the season.
It comes back to the problem of a lack of context. Because we aren’t shown how much the Ferrari drivers struggled in Australia, there’s no emphasis on how impressive Alonso’s win in Malaysia was.
Because the off-season technical changes are largely ignored, there’s no insight into how Vettel and Red Bull grafted to make the RB8 the dominant winner it was in Japan, Korea and India. And so on.
It may be time to rethink these official season reviews. At the very least it’s time they were made available in downloadable form.
A shorter, entertainment-focused video which captures the essential action of the season and can reliably hit the shelves in time for the Christmas market could be followed by a longer box-set review for hardcore fans with full-length coverage of every round.
The 2012 edition offers much of the essential action but suffers from some glaring omissions and fails to recapture the drama of the season.
F1 Fanatic rating
Victorious Vettel: The Official Review of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship
Format: DVD (reviewed), Blu-Ray
Published: 7th January 2013 (DVD), 14th January 2013 (Blu-Ray)
Price: £16.99 (DVD), £24.99 (Blu-Ray)
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