Wimbledon?s roof, F1 and television

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Roofs at F1 circuits would be impractical, but useful
Roofs at F1 circuits would be impractical, but useful

There?s no escaping the Wimbledon tennis tournament here in Britain. Last night F1 broadcasters BBC attracted 12.6m viewers as British hopeful Andy Murray scraped through to the next round after a four-hour match that lasted well into the evening.

But there has been criticism of the decision to keep the match going under Wimbledon?s new extensible roof – and questions about whether it was done to help keep viewing figures strong.

It would not be the first sport where compromises have been made to suit the demands of television ?ǣ Formula 1 is much the same. But this sort of thing can easily go too far.

The roof at centre court was constructed before this year?s event to allow the organisers to keep the tournament running when the British summer runs true to form ?ǣ i.e. cold and wet.

You can imagine what has happened. London is presently basking in a heat wave, with temperatures up to 32C. Then, vexing the organisers further, fat dollops of warm rain fell yesterday afternoon.

The roof was duly rolled across to keep everyone dry. The match was finished but afterwards the players complained of being roasted in the heat under the cover.

The BBC has denied it asked for the roof to be used to keep the game going ?ǣ but the desire to keep international broadcasters satisfied may well have played a role in the organiser?s decision.

It certainly would not be the first time sport has taken a back seat to commercial imperatives. It?s the same reason why the British football Premier League has been considering adding an extra round of matches to be played in cash-rich eastern countries.

F1 has been making similar concessions to economic demands in general ?ǣ and television in particular ?ǣ for some time.

Elimination qualifying

F1’s ??elimination? qualifying system was partly designed to allow advert breaks after Q1 and Q2.

I think it?s a neat solution which satisfies the demands of fans, television and the sport: fans needn?t miss any of the track action, the television companies can run their adverts and the sport has a qualifying system which works and is entertaining.

But in other areas striking this sort of balance may be very difficult. What if the sport tried to apply the same model to the race format?

Shorter races?

This is not unlikely – it was one of FOTA’s recommendations following its survey of F1 fans in March. Flavio Briatore and Felipe Massa were among those backing the idea, and Briatore has in the past suggested F1 should run to a GP2-style format with two races per weekend.

It?s not hard to see why this might appeal to television companies: two 45-minute races with a break in between could allow the races to be broadcast in full with advertising breaks confined to the ??half-time? break. This is similar to how A1 Grand Prix is broadcast on Sky Sports.

But would fans like it? As ever, please have your say below ?ǣ but I?m going to hazard a guess that the response will be largely negative.

The best solution for F1 on TV

A poll on this site in March showed 89% of readers did not want to see race distances reducing. When much has already been done to make F1 more ??TV-friendly? ?ǣ shorter circuits, maximum time limits etc… ?ǣ this could be a concession too far.

The fixed Grand Prix distance of two hours or 200 miles is part of what defines the sport. From the lower echelons through F3 and GP2, race distances get progressively longer, building drivers up for the demands of Grand Prix racing.

FOTA has made a lot of strong arguments about how F1 should be run in the future and enjoys a lot of support from fans in its dispute with the FIA. But cutting race distances, for whatever reason, will in all likelihood cost them some of that good will.

Before going down the road of cutting race distances, FOTA should look at offering a two-tier solution for F1 fans: free coverage with ad-breaks for the masses, and an ad-free subscription service, perhaps with extra features and camera angles, for hardcore fans.

117 comments on “Wimbledon?s roof, F1 and television”

  1. Mussolini's pet cat
    30th June 2009, 20:29

    We are always told by the F1 fraternity that their sport is the at ‘pinacle of technology’ or some such. So how come we aren’t seeing this technological extravaganza in HD??? If low tech tennis can have it, why cant we?

    1. Never mind tennis, you can watch darts in HD now.

      1. Double chins in their true glory!!! lol

    2. because 2 HD cameras to cover darts is much cheaper than 50+ cameras per track.

      1. Surely F1’s global audience is gigantically bigger than darts, though?

        With HD, I wonder if the reason for the hold-up in F1 is that Ecclestone can’t see how he makes more money out of it. If he can’t make the broadcasters pay more he isn’t going to bother.

        He’s already had his fingers burnt once trying to offer a higher quality television product and not seeing enough return on his investments when he set up F1 Digital +.

        This isn’t to justify Ecclestone’s decision – as Mussolini’s pet cat says it’s a bit of a joke that such a ‘high tech’ sport is lacking a technology that is increasingly de rigeur in sports broadcasting.

        1. Yes Keith Bernie will not bring in expensive HD for F1 unless he can make money from it, and there is just not enough demand for it from the broadcasters. Fans want it but when have the fans ever gotten what they want from Bernie?

        2. Oddly, many of the tracks have cameras which film in High Definition. The technology is there to broadcast it. Unfortunately, there is one person that is stopping it at the moment, and there is no need to a hazard guess as to who. Bernie Eccelstone. I’m not sure on the ins and outs of it, but there is something that Bernie isnt happy about. It could be to do with the costs of broadcasting in HD.

    3. One of the onboard cameras for each race is an HD camera, actually. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing.

      You can usually tell which one is in HD when watching the race, even if you’re watching in in SD.

      Besides which, didn’t Vue Cinemas broadcast last year’s British GP in HD? So it’s been done before.

  2. “free coverage with ad-breaks for the masses, and an ad-free subscription service, perhaps with extra features and camera angles, for hardcore fans.”

    What??? How about free coverage with no ad-breaks…. That’s what Brit F1 fans have been waiting for. thank you BBC!

    1. Ad-free broadcasters funded by the public purse are not found in many other countries though!

      1. Exactly. I highly doubt PBS (America’s Public broadcasting service) would have the financing and initiative to pick up F1.

        1. Maybe, if they had Big Bird and Oscar doing the play by play and The Cookie Monster doing color commentary!

          1. The Count would do race progress obviously :)

          2. “Button is number one – ah ah ah”

          3. Staler and Waldorf can do the race analysis. lol Just like Coulthard and Jordan. Couldn’t do worse than Eddie Jordan.

        2. the bbc has been supplying pbs with shows for longer than my 34 years.

          as a little guy, i didn’t know which was more perplexing: tom baker or the ultra-low budget monsters he fought. fortunately, benny hill was on right after, and i still love boobs to this day :)

      2. Ad-free broadcasters funded by the public purse are not found in many other countries though!

        I live in Belgium and I can watch quali & race without interruption of adds : )

        1. That’s good to know Yuma. Is it a BBc feed? If not, well i thought only the uk had adfree tv.

          1. I don’t really understand what you mean with “BBC feed”.
            I can watch bbc 1&2 here in Belgium but I don’t know if they broadcast F1 there, I always watch it on “één” (one) or “canvas” which are stations that are paid with the peoples taxes, so there are no commercials during programs only in between 2 programs there are commercials and they are very short.

          2. Well Yuma a bbc feed would mean you would get the bbc coverage of F1 with commentators and the presenters usually.
            I do think the channel you are watching the racing on in Belgium is very enlightened though. I have often said over the years that tv stations should broadcast a tv show without breaks and have commercials at the end. Of course it does help when the people are paying taxes to help the station.
            I doubt it would work here in USA they think they pay loads in taxes as it is. They don’t know the half of it if you look at Britain and Germany.

  3. Robert McKay
    30th June 2009, 20:36

    Actually, it’s hard to criticise the game finishing under the roof, I think.

    Firstly it’s air conditioned (it has to be to stop the grass sweating, so I’d imagine it was actually much cooler than playing without the roof and aircon. And being able to play beyond dusk means that Murray didn’t have a game over two days, using up valuable energy and having less recovery time.

    What’s possibly the bigger story in terms of sport-pandering-to-broadcaster is Wimbledon consistently putting Murray third on Centre Court, allowing him to play in the evening/dinner slot which means more people back from work in the UK and higher figures. It’s understandable but at the same time one wonders if it’s good that one persons schedule is so dominated by such a concern.

    In terms of F1, elimination qualifying works very well. Shortening races would be a bad move, though. However, what may make more sense is standardising the time, rather than the distance. The variation of Monaco’s 1 hr 50 mins and Monza’s 1 hr 10 mins with everything else in between is maybe a less “packagable” format than, say Champcar’s “every race is 1hr45 mins plus 1 lap” format.

    Although from a fans point of view maybe the variation is a plus.

    1. What’s possibly the bigger story in terms of sport-pandering-to-broadcaster is Wimbledon consistently putting Murray third on Centre Court, allowing him to play in the evening/dinner slot which means more people back from work in the UK and higher figures. It’s understandable but at the same time one wonders if it’s good that one persons schedule is so dominated by such a concern.

      I see your point and yes, this is pretty much the sort of thing I was getting at.

      1. I always thought putting Henman on 3rd on Centre ruined his chances a few years. Inevitably he would have to finish a match the following day and would then be not as fit as the likes of Federer who seem to always play first.

    2. The only reason Murray’s on centre court in the evening is that Nadal withdrew.
      Because of Nadal’s withdrawal, Federer is the highest seed and gets to play the first game of the tournament – and stays at the top end of the top half of the draw. Murray is now the second highest seed en gets the bottom spot of the bottom half of the draw, which means he’s always last to play in each round. Because no noteworthy delays have occurred, Murray played his matches on the day they were planned – in the evening.
      Had Nadal not withdrawn, he would have played in the morning each time when federer plays now, and Federer in the afternoon/evening when Murray’s played now, and Murray at the times Djokovic has been playing (top half of the draw, so early, like Federer). Also, He wouldnt have played on centre court each match necessarily, not the last game at least since Nadal would have been a higher seed playing at the same time.

      I’d be against time limit on races, since that is strictly the domain of endurance racing. It also makes the technical challenge designing a car very different since the amount of wear on a car is more related to distance than time running (the actual course that is being run and the circumstances of course bein other factors).

  4. Robert McKay
    30th June 2009, 20:37

    Of course I meant to say “Wimbledon consistently putting Murray third on Centre Court at the BBC’s asking”.

  5. FOTA have no dealings with the TV rights, though, Keith. That`s FOM territory.

    In the UK BernieVision tried the pay per view option with Sky. The numbers willing to pay just weren`t enough. In fact I ended up getting the second half of the season for £50 so desperate were they to get some money in.

    If there were a dedicated motorsport channel it might be different but then you`d have the problem of clashing races.

    I see from BARB`s figures that the Turkish GP ranked 26th in the top 30 BBC programmes for the week with a peak viewing audience of 4.27 million. It came in below Countryfile & Crimewatch & with less than half the viewers of Coronation Street.

    1. I think FOTA are approaching it from the point of view that anything and everything is on the table. If nothing else, Bernie Ecclestone is 79 years old and he can’t keep doing this forever.

      The teams are already starting to male noises about what races they want on the calendar. They could even make a cost-cutting argument about shortening races.

      1. Don`t get me wrong I think it would be a great idea but I don`t think it`s practical with the current set up.
        Yes, I`m sure FOTA want to make improvements in all the areas they can but I doubt that they have any say over all the limited companies Bernie started.
        Those companies don`t rely on Bernie`s existence to continue. In fact, as far as CVC is concerned Bernie is an employee.

        I believe Formula One Productions only owns the televised feed. The commentary etc. is owned by the regional rights holder.
        So FOTA would have to persuade not only FOP/FOM but every regional rights holder, too.
        As some of our Americal posters have been all too aware having live coverage at all can be a bit in the lap of the Gods unless the local rights holder wants to play ball.

      2. I think for fota everything is on the table!I believe they( fota) see max and bernie as the problem for f1 for the future. the whole thing at the moment is being run for the benefit of CVC. bernie doesnt seem to care where the races are, or even if there is anyone in the stands. he just wants the money. CVC brings nothing to F1. infact its a black hole that strips f1 of 50% of its total revue. bernie odviously wanted to cash in most of his chips but how did he persuade max that this was in the best interests of f1 as a whole. max had a veto on the sale of the rights to f1. come 2012 we may a completely different f1 to enjoy

  6. I would have to say i NEVER want to see reduced race distances, but i may be open to an idea of two races per race weekend, only 1 hour each not 45 minutes.
    This may be considered by some and possibly me too as DUMBING DOWN of F1.

    But waht if the same thing starts to happen in all sports for tv’s sake?

    How about a marathon run in twenty minute stints to allow for adverts, so the runners have to stop rest for 4 minutes then carry on for another twenty minutes. Would be a farce.

    How about the Le Mans 24 hrs

    The list could go on and on

    1. I don`t know how people in the UK watched Le Mans unless they have the full Sky package, scunnyman.
      It switched back & forth between the 2 Eurosport stations so I think there must have been many people who only got an hour & then missed a wadge before getting it back on the main channel.
      It did run on one side for the hours through the night but only avid fans were up watching then.

      1. I get both with the XL TV package on VirginMedia.
        The annoying part was finding the highlights. You either tape the whole race and skip back, or hope you get lucky with the coverage running a replay.

        ITV4 ran 1 hour of the race live. It wasn’t the start or end. They just used it to fill air time. Hardly worth it.

      2. Well motorpsort in general needs to be treated professionally by tv companies and FOM not just F1.
        And those who pay licence fees/subscriptions etc. should be given respect and have their beloved sports broadcast properly. Not just a bit here and a bit there.
        That’s like the bad old days of BBC Grandstand where they would only show a bit of a race or are about to show something and have to leave to go to something else a bit more important like crown green bowling lol
        In this day and age of digital channels and Hd then it has to be possible to show what people want to see when they want to.
        LIke having TIVO here in the states or SKY+ in Uk then you can pause live broadcasts and skip adverts.
        So the days of tv broadcasters relying on adverts will be long gone in the near future, so they have to come up with other ways of sponsorship etc. to pay for the channels and shows.

  7. Robert McKay
    30th June 2009, 20:57

    Anyway, we all know the easiest way to boost viewing figures would be to focus on the product, get some more overtaking and close racing back, which the regs haven’t really achieved all that well, and generally focus on the product.

    Picking the right tracks will help. Not just from a passing point of view. For instance it’s not a very good story if the BBC are more or less apologising/noting for the dreadful crowd attendance in Turkey…rather makes the viewer wonder why they’re bothering as well, no doubt.

    Much easier to feel you want to watch a race where a hundred thousand partisan fans are making a lot of noise.

    1. No, the easiest way is to introduce some Pit 3 Girls!!

      1. Is that the british style pit 3 girls Jagged, the kind found on page 3 perhaps?

        Maybe the pit stop crews should be made up of these girls tjen more guys will tune in. the better a driver/team does the less they wear lol

  8. Two shorter races in stead of one, eh? And which one would be the Grand Prix then? :-\

    1. Well said!

      1. I’m not really advocating the two tier race thing but i would say both parts would constitute the grand prix.

        Personally they should just have ONE 2 hour mimum race on a sunday afternoon.

        1. I understand that, but if 2 drivers win the 2 heats, which one will have won the Grand Prix? We can’t have 2 winners of one race, can we? (And yes, I know there have been double winners in the past, but that was silly, too.)

          1. It wouldn`t be 2 heats, Lustigon. If there were 2 races then some sort of points would be given for the ‘minor’ race & also points for the main race.

    2. I`d guess the longer one ;)
      The races don`t have to be the same length. A1GP has 2 races. One a Sprint & the second the Feature which is over twice the length.

  9. Reducing race length would be a bad move. God knows how FOTA have got a positive response to this in their poll.
    They’d better deal with making the races more exciting and make bernie put some better tracks on the calendar.

    The qualifying format was one of the better ideas, though. Qualifying today is rather exciting and there are always cars on track. If low-fuel Q3 caomes next year, it will be perfect (at least in my opinion…)

    1. I agree Xanathos the shortening of races is the worst thing from FOTA.

  10. HounslowBusGarage
    30th June 2009, 21:29

    I happen to know that Bernie is working on pre-fabricated. quick assembly race circuits that can be contructed quickly and simply in the host country at very little cost. These would be complete with everything from grandstands and media centres to pits and paddocks, allowing host countries previously bereft of F1 standard race tracks to participate in this world wide sport.
    The concept is simple. In each season, countries interested in hosting an F1 GP would make sealed bids to CVC to host the races. If there is to be a twenty-race season, then the top twenty bids will be selected, it’s as simple as that. Naturally, Bernie will guarantee TV coverage and audiences, making it a very attractive proposition to ‘host’ countries.
    Once the host countries and the calendar are sorted out, Bernie’s new plan is to construct the tracks effectively on demand.
    As I understand it, there will be three track ‘sets’ which will ‘leapfog’ each other around the world as the season progresses. Apparently it’s the only way to deal with the fact that each track set takes about thirteen days to construct and break down.
    So if the Egypt successfully bid for a Grand prix, the track could be constructed just outside Alexandria, or near Cairo as required. Similarly, races in Europe could change locations in countries to take advantage of local business conditions and maximise revenue.
    These tracks will be able to be configured locally as well, simply by altering the configuration of the individual elements. This will allow each track to be significantly different, and over time, to be different to the track used in previous years.
    Apparently Bernie is now looking for overall track sponsors in addition to race or event sponsors like ING.
    Allegedly he’s already secured the backing for the 2012 British Grand Prix track from . . . . Scalextic.


    1. roflolol – you`ll be giving him ideas, Hounslow, be careful ;)

    2. Yes Bernie should just stick to Scalextric. He can do less harm.

      Now let’s see how many take your comment seriously Hounslow lol

  11. You Brits do what you feel best, because it doesn’t matter how many concessions are made, American broadcasters will still find a way to throw in at least one commercial break for any stint lasting longer than 8 minutes. Like everything else in America, sport has been reduced tp nothing more than a business, where profit margins mean more than tradition. I’m just sorry to see the rest of the world following suit.

    1. Why can’t the ad’s be overlapped at the side of the screen or as a banner, slightly reducing the main picture?

      Surely that would allow fans to follow the action and stay glued to the TV when the adverts are playing?

      1. They are already doing this…

      2. I’m sure it’s technically possible, but presumably those types of adverts would be worth less because the viewer isn’t really watching them.

        1. Like I’ve said many times before, that’s exactly what happens in Brazilian TV Globo coverage, with a clever sollution, to assure the ad is “perceived” by the viewer: at first, there’s no screen reduction, the ad is an animation in the top left corner, and they cut the sound off, anounce the product with its respective slogan (the famous yellow “M” and the audio message “I’m Loving It”, for example), and a couple of seconds later, the animation is gone, and the broadcast audio is back…

          I think it works pretty well in Brazil, every fifteen minutes or so (I don’t remember the exact figure) and even if something big happens, the viewer is allowed to see, and the narrator comments it a few moments later…

          1. Sounds like Brazil have a good idea there Daniel.

          2. We get a similar sort of thing with the cricket here in Australia

        2. The IRL broadcasts on the Versus network currently run continuing race coverage on about 1/3 of the screen during the advertising breaks.

    2. I’m shocked by the eight minutes thing, although I shouldn’t because I’ve been to America and I’ve seen how frequent the ad breaks are in normal programming. How can you stand to watch anything with that many interruptions?

      Sorry I don’t mean to rub your nose in it, but it must be incredibly annoying.

      1. Yes Keith quite annoying. You start to watch a show, the opening credits finish and they go for a break and then back several more during the programme and then one last break before coming back for the end credits. And then usually you are straight into the next show.

        BUt as i have said if you have TIVO/DVR?SKY + then you do away with adverts if you wish.

    3. But Philip TV Broadcasters are going to have to have a revolution in the way they broadcast shows and sport. With the advent of TIVO and such, along with TV capture technology for computers then people can bypass commercials. And this will only increase with time.
      Tv execs and commercial marketeers are going to have to come up with a better way of getting money for the production os tv shows and sporting shows, and sponsors are going to have to think of a way to get their products to a wide audience without commercial breaks.
      I am no expert and have no solution. Maybe some of you may have ideas?

      Personally i haven’t seen an advert in well over a year, mainly because i haven’t got cable or satellit here in USA. But i still know what products are out there because i have a missus who takes me shopping lol.

      There has got to be a way that advertising can be done without commercial interruptions during broadcasts.

      1. Two words, scunnyman: Product integration.

        1. explain please donwatters?

          1. donwatters
            2nd July 2009, 9:54

            It’s a concept where an advertisers product is worked into the programing. Coke and American Idol is an example. I would think there would be a variety of ways companies that wanted to create awarness of their products or services could weasel their way into the broadcast.

          2. in other words Donwatters you are talking about PRODUCT PLACEMENT yes?
            A good idea, but maybe a little subtle for some people though.
            It’s a system used many years ago in movies and tv.
            Broadcast rules in ENGLAND certainly prohibit such a thing at the moment. The American Idol example you gave, in england they fuzz out the coke logo on the glasses on the desk.
            I believe that even in america back in 50’s i think they even went as far as advertising products during a show. I could be wrong on that one.

            BUt with the advent of such things as DVR tivo etc advertisers need to look at ways of getting products to the public. I think the idea of picture in picture and the commercials at the side of the screen are both good ideas.

            Personally even when i do see a commercial i tend to block it out. Yes maybe subconciously i am taking the product in.
            But, for instance the days when formula one had tobacco advertising on the cars, it did not make me want to go out and buy any fags, sorry cigarettes lol

            I guess living in america now i have gotten to see some annoying adverts which stick with me such as GEICO and ALLSTATE. And while i’m on that subject why does Geico have to have an annoyingly sounding Londoner talking on the ads?

    4. Lots of commercial ad ideas here, tho sorry for all the uk and continental europe folks, thats not on the menu for you.

      Scientists have figured a long time ago that integrating their ads into the broadcast is a much stronger concept that the commercial breaks. product integration – indeed. In the states its quite usual for programmes to be full of banner ads and the host to say something nicec about some product or, in sports, to have a NASCAR crash slow-motion or a baseball home-run slowmotion “presented by” – and this actually works so well because it ties the product unconsciously to the memory of the context: the home-run or the big crash. Thats why these should not be long and annoying interruptions but part of the flow. Daniels example works the same.

      In Europe, broadcasters have been eager to adopt this, but sadly, they can’t. European Law pprohibits these and other more dubious practices from all European tv stations. There is, however the possibility of having a minor, quiet view of the programme continuing in the corner (only for live events) but the size of the live view picture can be no more than roughly 5% of the screen signal area.

      btw, americans indeed get lots of commerical breaks thrown at them, but bear in mind that american commerical breaks are much, much shorter than european ones, for live events, the latter being up to 5 minutes. For non-live events this can get even worse: in some european countries, ‘breaks’ in films can be as long as 15(!) minutes.

      In the end, F1 is not, and will never be, a truly commerce-friendly sport like (american) football, baseball, cricket, or tennis; with short, closed plays and little pauses in between, just enough for one logo every minute or so.

  12. Max should resign now!!!
    30th June 2009, 21:32

    I don’t want to see short gp2 style races if I would i’d go and watch GP2. the 2 hour limit is already crap by itself…

  13. Nitin Patel
    30th June 2009, 21:36

    Here in the US, the Indycar series has done something interesting they call “Side by Side”, where the advertisements are shown along with race coverage (a picture in picture, if you will). Every fourth or fifth break is taken in full, like conventional advertisements, but I find myself watching through the advertisements during the side-by-side because I can still see the race. This may be the solution the advertisers are looking for with the growth of DVRs and such…

    1. Should have read your post first before commenting above. :)

      1. Lol, me too…

    2. Unfortunately the ads have been more interesting than the IRL races lately, especially Danica’s latest “Wrong” series. :)

        1. Aarghhhh still having trouble with links!

          Danica 1

          Danica 2

        2. Reducing the race length reduces the test of both man and machine. Races and championships have been lost because of driver error or the failure of a small part or a tire blowing up towards the end of a race.

      1. Aarghhh still having trouble with links!!

        Danica 1

        Danica 2

    3. Hey Nitin do the normal commercials still have the race running (picture in picture style)? And if not that might be an idea.
      I’m sure most of us are intelligent enough to be able to watch something while taking in a commercial.

  14. It’s a difficult one when talking about the commercialisation of sport; without it (by it I am referring to sponsorship on everything, ad-breaks, loss of tradition and juggling formats) we would not be able to watch it on television live or go to see it for so little money. However, I do believe that there needs to be a balance. For instance it’s fine having the ‘knockout’ qualifying system in F1 because it is entertaining and genuinley adds something to the action on a saturday. However doing anything that detracts from the spectacle or bedrock tradition of the sport simply for commercial reasons should not be allowed. In my opinion in the case of Formula One this refers to shortening races and circuits (especially circuits, a longer circuit is much more chalenging, and therefore entertaining), MOVING EVENTS AWAY FROM THEIR TRADITIONAL VENUES (the FA can listen up too), and to a lesser extent imposing time limits on races.
    This is also true in the case of Cricket (another passion of mine), England are playing random inconsequential matches and series because of a broadcasting contract, there is confusion over boundary rules because the line is now marked by advertising boards, and the traditional jumper has died out on the innternational stage in favour of polo shirts which more sponsor logos can be fitted on.
    In my view this is all unneccesary and detracts from the sport, it’s just my view. :D
    P.S. I apologise for mentioning issues from another sport on this site, it feels like blasphemy. :D

    1. Don’t worry Zazeems, about the Different sport on Keith’s site. Look at the article you are posting on. He’s doing Tennis for heaven’s sake. Thoush in Keith’s defence it is just an example for the wider commercial aspect of tv and sports.

  15. In a way two short races could be lots of fun!
    But the dna of F1 is one long race..I agree there… So I don’t know :s

    Bringing back low fuel qualy (wich should happen) and maybe a half hour warm up :)

    1. Not sure about the warm up again there SoLiD.
      Ever since the parc ferme rules were introduced so cars could not be touched from qualifying to the race there has been much much less attrition during the race. So i think the less the mechanics tinker with the cars the better.

  16. F1 Outsider
    30th June 2009, 22:00

    Well at least here in the US as long as the viership is there, stations have no problem broadcasting for extended periods. Nascar races last 3-4 hours, American Football is about 4 hours, Baseball is at least 3 hours and so on and so forth.

    I have no problem with advertising breaks. I just wish they would pause the action in between breaks. The indycar side-by-side is also interesting as Nidin Patel mentioned. I’d like to see that for F1 too.

  17. ishaggedcarlabruni
    30th June 2009, 22:10

    Instead of roofed F1, more interesting might be an overhead sprinkler system that could be turned on at will.

    Some of the best races have been wet ones, so imagine if you will, you’re stifling yawns at another tedious Silverstone procession, and we switch to a wet race…

  18. I don’t understand why when consumers at home can have time-delayed viewing, the broadcasters wouldn’t be able to deliver time-delayed programming. Ie. show the start of the race live, put in commercials if so desired, but afterwards, rejoin the race where the action was left instead of having the viewers miss a few minutes. Why would people have to miss any of the action, just because of commercial interests? This way commercial parties with interests in F1 can have their cake and eat it without making the viewers “paying” the price.

    What I would like to see more of, is live timing, referably a choice of driver(s), maybe even choice of selection of laps. That is the sort of thing I thought the BBC would have in their red-button “interactive” service. At the moment it’s hardly interactive. I guess that would quite drastically increase the bandwith required for the base signal, but one can dream, right? :)

    1. Ral Time delay wouldn’t work, You get live timing of the net, so the pictures wouldn’t match the info you have on your screen. You would know who crashed/won before it was shown on TV. I’d just stick to radio if they did that.

    2. When we’ve been doing the live blogs we’ve had situations where viewers in some countries have had their broadcasts a couple of minutes behind the rest. They haven’t been very complimentary about that arrangement!

    3. yeh, i hate it when they come back from an ad break and say ‘during the break this incident occured’. it’s so damn frustrating. i agree, just pause the broadcast during the break and resume on a time dely. much more sensible.

  19. I’m totally against the idea of splitting F1 in two (during the race that is!)

    Of course the advertisers play a strong role. The more attractive a TV slot, the more it is worth. The more profit the TV company makes. It’s the simple business model of commercial TV. Add to that an audience ripe for certain products (the F1 demographic, whatever that is) and it’s the system that pays for F1 getting a return on its investment. Again, a pretty standard capitalist business model.

    The BBC is the worlds best funded (and greatest) public broadcaster and has the luxury of being the exception.

    But at the end of the day the broadcasters in either public or commercial spheres have the one most important thing to consider: serving the interests of the spectator/fan.

    As discussed further above (a very credible analysis of) Murray being played 3rd during a days Tennis to gather the largest viewing figures makes absolute sense. It’s not nice to be stuck at work knowing you are missing an event you would love to see.
    I see the positioning of Murray’s matches in the schedule as SERVING the British viewer as best possible. Nothing wrong with that, surely? They aren’t changing the rules of Tennis itself (take note FIA/FOTA) just matching the play with the needs of the spectator/fan/viewer.

  20. About the qualifying, I think there should just be an hour session and the teams can do whatever they want (as long as they follow race rules) and whoever is the fastest wins.

    As for the “half time” break. I honestly think this is a great idea. Half way in the race you have the cars line back up on the grid and you could interview the drivers. This means fans (such as me) could connect to the drivers, and you would close the massive gaps that occur between drivers half way in the race, thus more overtaking.

    As for the television thingy, I would LOVE to pay 20 bucks or so a month to view the races online with the ability to change the camera angle to whatever I like (preferably with a split screen with the main feed), listen to any teams radio’s who let us, and listen to commentary.

    1. Back when Sky had the contract in the UK (around 2000 from memory) it was £14 per race weekend, I think.
      So I guess that would have been around $45 dollars a month, Andrew.

  21. Instead of wet races, just minimize the wing angle… low downforce would make overtaking possible almost anywhere.

  22. Robert McKay
    30th June 2009, 22:38

    I think Bernie was once a big fan of two races for F1, seeing as the start is the most dramatic moment..

    As discussed further above (a very credible analysis of) Murray being played 3rd during a days Tennis to gather the largest viewing figures makes absolute sense. It’s not nice to be stuck at work knowing you are missing an event you would love to see.
    I see the positioning of Murray’s matches in the schedule as SERVING the British viewer as best possible. Nothing wrong with that, surely? They aren’t changing the rules of Tennis itself (take note FIA/FOTA) just matching the play with the needs of the spectator/fan/viewer.

    It’s a good point.

    Kind of begs the question then why not extend the idea for other players. OK, tough to floodlight/indoor the whole tournament, but other slams (admittedly less favourably placed timezone-wise) have night sessions for one or two courts. They could play a lot of games 6-10pm, not just Murray/the Brit du jour.

    And they refuse to play on middle Sunday, when people could and would be watching.

    And they have all the women’s quarter finals on during the afternoon, so when you get home on the second Tuesday there’s only mixed doubles on, which noone cares much for. And the matches are simultaneous on Centre and 1, so you can only watch half of them live (I think).

    Wimbledon is a wierd tournament stuck halfway between Victorian rigid tradition and 21st Century megabucks TV land.

    1. I’m enjoying these comments Robert I don’t really know much about Wimbledon at all (although I’ve been going to work at an office in the town for three-and-a-half years!)

  23. I have to admit to being a little suprised by the number of people against shorter races. I`m completely neutral about it.
    Most races finish well within the suggested time as it is. Seldom does a race reach 2 hours.
    If 20 minutes were to be cut off the races this year, so far, only China would have overrun the slot.
    Silverstone was over in less than 1 hour 23 minutes.
    So I really don`t get what the big fuss is but I`m open for people to explain.

    1. Just reread that & I hadn`t made myself very clear. I`m not advocating a cut wich would bring the race down to an hour.
      I was wondering why so many people are against it when we don`t yet know what the quid pro quo we may get is.
      Hope that`s cleared, sorry

      1. Sorry about the double post, replied to the wrong comment.

        Reducing the race length reduces the test of both man and machine. Races and championships have been lost because of driver error or the failure of a small part or a tire blowing up towards the end of a race.

        1. True as far as man is concerned.
          The tests to the machine have been drastically reduced since the regulations extended their life, though, Jagged.
          Gone are the days when the parts were designed to just make it round the race.
          Nowadays if it`s gonna go, it will go without length of running being the necessary reason.

          1. You’re right about the machine persempre, although it’s probably more due to being able to stress test every part on supercomputers than to regulations. Back in the day, Colin Chapman’s vision of a perfectly designed Grand Prix car was one that fell apart just after taking the checkered flag first, but he didn’t have the means to achieve it.

          2. lol – Yes, I remember those days, too & that was exactly what I had in mind, Jagged :)

          3. Yes, the Good Ol’ Days persempre; I sometimes get a bit nostalgic for them!

            The first Grand Prix I attended

            Clark and Hill bang together while dueling for the lead

  24. My suggestions for the weekend format.
    Two practices. Best time from final practice sets seeding for Sunday.

    Two events on Sunday.
    1. “Qualifying”
    –Based on seeding, cars run in order of slow to fast, in pairs, in reverse seeding
    –Cars launch from a standing start, 3-4 seconds apart.
    –Cumulative time over two laps sets the grid for positions 3 to the end. An on-track pass advances you 3 spots over place earned by time.
    –Fastest two cars repeat process for 3 laps in a duel, simultaneous standing start from grid positions 1 and 2. That’s your one and two.
    –all sessions will have low fuel, whatever modifications to wings, mapping, blanked out radiator inlets, whatever you want. You just have to use that chassis and engine in the race.

    Plenty of gaps for ads. Constant anticipation. Standing starts. Head to head competition, more or less.

    2. The race, as before.

    1. Talk about dumbing down F1 DMW. You’re qualifying format is more like dumbing up F1. Quite complicated to follow.

      And qualifying was tried on sunday befoe in 2005 without much success. Not good for tv.

    2. Erm…


      I’ve reread that 3 times and can’t get my head round what you’re suggesting. Might be a great idea…but I don’t get it!!

  25. Another point with having a roof coverin all circuits. Yes impractical and as Top Gear showed, an indoor arena does not allow for the aerodynamics to get the downforce to work properly. Hence the Toyota only got to 80 mph.

    And anyway a lot of people want wet races because they seem to make for a better spectacle.

  26. Bernie should stipulate in his contract somewhere that TV companies that bid for the rights, aren’t allowed to show advertisements during the race.

    I’ve had enough of ad breaks every 5 to 6 laps. The sad thing about the Asian coverage is, the breaks are to advertise their own program catalogue!! Which is ablsolute rubbish!

  27. Commercial free sporting events??? Other than Soccer I had never heard of it. Why would anyone want to televise something when they couldn’t make a ton of money doing so? NASCAR has cautions so less of the race is missed, however green flag racing is still missed. Indycar has side by side so commercials can be placed in a second window while the race is still going on the other. But no commercials? How can you all be so naive?

    1. Steve k

      So you’ve never had anythig to do with the BBC then?

      Yes there is a licence fee but no commercials at all

  28. London heatwave, 32c? lol

  29. Multiple races is what ruined BTCC, I would hate to see similar in F1. I also dont really have much time for the Qualy in its current format. I loved the 60 minute lets see who’s fastest way. I would love to see 1 point for Qualifying and 1 point for fastest lap.

    1. I agree AA BTCC was dumbed down so much i stopped watching, though the way it was broadcast was part of it too. I understand it is broadcast better now, but then i don’t live in England anymore.
      i also don’t want the same sort of things being brought to F1. I have a dvd of BTCC about 3 hrs long of stuff from 1988 to 2002 the heyday of brit touring car, after 2002 they just seemed to keep messing with the rules just like they are with F1. Just leave our sports alone.

      I also agree about 1 point for pole and 1 point for fastest lap. It might make the drivers push more. I know some people think that would also be dumbing down F1, but i don’t.

  30. I defiantly don’t want shorter races, however I am open to suggestions about a second sprint race either for the regular drivers or for third drivers as long as this is a completely separate championship.

    What gets me about BBC coverage is that if Tennis is scheduled on BBC2 but a Brit is playing they switch it to BBC1, from what I heard this happened on Saturday so BBC1 programs were on BBC2, so anyone was out and had set their video were stuffed.

    Can some people in the UK genuinely not get BBC2 due to where they live, like some can’t get Five or digital, or do the BBC think that some people refuse to watch BBC2? They do this with regular shows as well when they become successful on BBC2 they get moved to BBC1, for example QI, but obviously this is scheduled and not done at the last minute as with live sport.

  31. Well the TV fans can be given what they want by the simple fact of keeping the F1 feed running in a reduced window during the commercial break. i would be annoying, but it’s better than missing a moment, like a crash, an overtake, stuff of that sort. that i think is a good compromise.

    as it comes to HD, I’m surprise it’s not available for F1, but i don’t really care. I’ve been watching F1 like this for 16 years with no complaints on quality. I’d just wish the speed of the cars is a little more perceptible. is that what HD does?

  32. I hate the idea of 2 short races. If it was spread across the weekend I’d find it very annoying having to watch 2 seperate races, taking up more time in a more awkward way as a result. And surely the distance is part of the challenge. I have enormous respect for drivers at the end of a hot race, especially if their water bottle failed or something. The race distance is just one of the things that makes it f1.

    1. I agree Matt F1 is supposed to different to minor categories by being longer and more demanding. That is why people thought that lewis hamilton may not have been able to handle the length of F1 races when he moved from GP2 to F1.

  33. F1 races should be made longer, not shorter. Fill them out to approximately 2hrs in length. In fact I’d like to see race lengths vary from the avg 90min they are now to 2hrs on the circuits that are not so hard on the machinery.

    It would be difficult to reconcile that with the current 3-race engine rule, but maybe throwing in a second “free engine change” during the season would make up for some longer races.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      1st July 2009, 16:57

      Wouldn’t it be a bit difficult to extend races from next year when re-fuelling is not allowed? Two hours worth of fuel on board an F1 car would make it desperately heavy at the start.

      1. Why would it be difficult Houslow? Just make the rules cover a fuel tank big enough to take enough fuel to last the long race. All cars would be as heavy as each other. And then they just race, yes lap times would be slower but not by as much as you might think. It does not make the racing bad.
        How do yoy think the racing was like before refuelling? Slow was it?

  34. F1 needs a roof. One that has sprinklers underneath so every race can be wet

  35. Interestingly, very few talk in the race length debate has turned to lengthening races further. Nowadays, races are 200 statute miles or 2 hours, the latter being a limit set for considerations of driver wear and rarely reached. But at the same time, endurance drivers can drive stints of up to 3 hours, even at night, even in physically wearing races like 12h Sebring and 24h Le Mans. Drivers of the Coke 600 spend even more time in the car (on an oval, that is) and so do RallyRaid drivers regularly. Highlighting that drivers ought to be capable of driving more extended periods safely.
    But they cannot do so at the very peak of their attention. There is a maximum extent of time for which a human being can maintain attention with changing external factors, and current F1 drivers are coming close to that boundary at the moment. We have in the past seen drivers critisized for ‘falling asleep’ during races: Trulli and Frentzen most prominently. Fastest laps of a race have traditionally come from the first half of the race. Also, we have many times seen drivers slow down a little bit towards the end of races if there is no pressure. And longer races, often under rainy circumstances, make it difficult to see how consistently drivers are running at the best of the abilities. All these things together can be interpreted as possible driver fatigue towards the end of races.
    If we make races longer, we will see more (probably all) drivers dropping off a bit in concecntration and hence running slower laptimes for some duration of the race (not necessarily the end). That means that the driver who can best handle a drop in focus has a competitive edge over the others for some duration of the race. Drivers who drive with physical exhaustion by G-forces in mind and might therefore brake a bit earlier than others early on might have the energy to brake later than others towards the end of the race. As some drivers drop off more than others, you will see the field’s laptimes reshuffle somewhat, rather than settle towards the end of the race as is currently often the case. A winning driver will have to balance his effort over a full race.

    Therefore, I would suggest races to be run over 300 statute miles (which was actually the standard race length back in the early days of F1) or 3 hours, with average races lasting 105 to 135 minutes (1h45′ to 2h15′).
    Sorry this is largely off topic, but I felt like sharing it here.

    1. I really agree with you Bas, and if you look at the British grand prix where Mansell chased down Piquet in the last 20 odd laps breaking lap record almost every lap, he obviously didn’t lose much concentration. Drivers of F1 calibre should be able to last at least 2 hrs racing time.

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