Lewis Hamilton won his home Grand Prix for the first time yesterday. You might have noticed.
But while the British media often get criticised (with some justification) for the hype they lavish on Hamilton, another sports story knocked him off the front page in many newspapers.
So why did the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadar tennis final at Wimbledon relegate home hero Hamilton in the sports pages?
It’s not just in the newspapers – my daily routine brought me into contact with many people who had something to say about the tennis and not much about F1. It might seem strange to foreigners that British people were discussing the fortunes of a Spaniard and a Swiss more avidly than a British sportsman triumphing at home.
So why is this?
From a journalistic point of view I think the fact the tennis finished several hours later than the British Grand Prix has a lot to do with it. News travels faster than ever in the internet age, and editors want the freshest content on the outside pages, which do the job of selling the newspaper.
Perhaps Nadal and Federer are particularly interesting personalities. I don’t know because I’m not interested in tennis.
Also I do think sports enthusiasts often have a snobbery about motor racing. Because the car plays such a large part in an individual’s performance – especially in F1 – some consider it not a sport at all.
The over-complexity of modern F1 rules have made this worse. Qualifying used to be about who could do the fastest individual lap – now it’s about the delicate balance between fuel strategy and one-lap performance. And as we don’t know a driver’s fuel load when he qualifies, no-one really knows what’s gone on until the race has finished.
Races are made more confusing by complex and uninteresting refuelling strategies. Teams going to great lengths to keep thier rivals (and consequently the fans) in the dark about what they’re doing.
These are all obstacles that prevent F1 from being accessible to ordinary sports fans. We can point at the sheer power of a Federer serve – which hit 129mph yesterday – with ease. Yet even those of us who follow F1 with a passion can’t say for sure if Lewis Hamilton’s win yesterday was down to incredible skill, or a set-up geared towards wet weather, or somewhere between the two.
Has Formula 1 become too opaque?