Steve Jones, David Coulthard, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016

F1 will “suffer” without free-to-air TV – Walker

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In the round-up: Murray Walker, the ‘voice of Formula One’ in the UK for decades, warns the sport’s popularity will suffer when free-to-air television coverage in Britain ends in 2019.

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Yesterday’s qualifying session left many frustrated at the unclear distinction between when drivers are and aren’t allowed to exceed track limits.

I do not blame the drivers for going out there and trying to get the fastest lap possible. It’s what they’re paid (or what they pay) to do after all.

I agree that running wide and gaining an advantage should result in a time deleted (or a penalty in a race situation), but I do not agree that it should only apply to select corners and only as and when the stewards choose to apply it. What we saw with Magnussen and Button was simply silly, and nobody knew what was going on.

We had a worrying amount of suspension failures last weekend thanks to oversized kerbs in an attempt to put drivers off going beyond the white line. Clearly that didn’t work. What we have at the moment at a lot of tracks where it is really easy to gain an advantage at certain corners clearly does not work either.

It’s a tricky debate to find some sort of reasonable solution to, especially when it is taken into account that it is not just F1 which goes to the likes of Silverstone, but pretty much every major British, European and world series. So whatever is on the exit of a corner must cater for everybody, but finding such a compromise clearly isn’t all that clear-cut.

I just want to see consistent, clear-cut rules which apply to every circuit and are enforced properly. It has been much better in the races in recent years but it is still questionable in qualifying, and today just highlighted that. It’s not just an F1-wide problem, but due to the car park nature of many of the modern circuits, it’s an issue in so many categories now.
Craig Woollard (@Craig-o)

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  • 47 comments on “F1 will “suffer” without free-to-air TV – Walker”

    1. We all know that it will suffer because of no Live FTA coverage, however sadly that’s just the way the world works now, every sport is going towards Pay TV, it’s just the way it (Sadly) works now

      1. Even this 50/50 fta/pay situation is going to kill F1, for the 2nd time this year I intended to watch the highlights program (Austria) but come 9:30 Monday night I had forgotten it was on and I continued to watch another program. Missing so many of the races makes watching the ones I can watch less important not moreso, afterall I still find something enjoyable to watch and the sky doesn’t fall, the result is I am becoming less and less invested in F1.

        1. Torrents my friend, or Acestream for watching live (same p2p technology applied to live-streaming) F1 can try all they like to DMCA the individual stream hosts but there’s little they can do to stop hundreds (or thousands) of people all sharing the stream between each other.

          I mean they’re kind of shooting themselves in the foot, I have watched F1 on Free to Air TV in the past, and just put up with the ads. Without even the option to do that, the alternative is piracy. I literally couldn’t afford a pay-TV subscription even if I wanted to (although I did pick up the F1 app as I hope sub numbers there give the pro-online camp in FOM something to point to, and it is handy when out and about.)

          Now if Bernie were to say “If you can’t afford Pay TV, you can’t afford to watch F1” well quite frankly I hope he does throw that line around a bit more, as it’s that continued brand of arrogance and detachment from the fans that will see him out of his seat sooner rather than later.

          1. Obviously I don’t know what part of the world you’re in but here in the UK there is an option to buy access to F1 coverage online on a per-race race basis via Now TV which is considerably cheaper than buying a Sky Sports subscription on a minimum one-year contract which runs to something like £700. Is there no equivalent where you are?

            1. Giving money to Sky only ensures that F1 stays behind a paywall and the cost of watching increases. The best action to freeze Sky out. That way when they cannot make money from weak willed people they will drop F1. Then it will go FTA again, until people’s memories fade and the cycle begins again.

      2. The only silver lining is that at least Murray got to commentate during the FTA years before Murdoch came along.

      3. No, it isn’t “Formula One is going to suffer”, it is “Formula One will suffer more”. F1 isn’t a good place for brand recognition, and it will get worse. Teams will rely on their annual F1 payout even more than they do now.

      4. The discusione in the UK concerning free to air coverage is a bit funny to see from the rest of the world. In most countries broadcast has switched to pay tv years ago. You just have to look at the viewing numbers there and you know what the effect will be in the UK. Especially in the long term, the effect will be devastating. In The Netherlands only 20% of the viewers were left after 5 years of pay tv. Maybe the UK viewer base is hit less due to the higher acceptance of pay tv in general, but I would not be too sure about that.

        1. We were watching the austria race over Wifi on the town square in a small mountain village in Italy, while on vacation. Nobody else in town seemed to watch F1, while saturday evening the whole village watched soccer outside etc. This is the effect that F1 on pay TV has had in Italy, which is Ferrari homeground. Before pay TV the Italians were absolutely crazy with F1.
          The worst about shifting it to pay TV is that after that only maybe 1 in 20 have seen the race come monday morning. At work and school people stops talking about F1, and the fan base dries out eventually. Economically the value of commercials on TV also dries up, and the only income left is rich countries, who wants an F1 race, no matter the cost, and the pay tv channels, which is also dying big time, because people shift to streaming, netflix and other means of watching video.
          In Denmark where I live, it has become very difficult to find people, who are interested in F1, after the shift to pay tv. Only the occasional danish driver participation (K-Mag) has been able to revive the interest some.

        2. Sky gets about 20-25% of the figures (helped because most football moved to Sky already, so a lot of homes have it for the football) that the BBC got last year. The figures look better this year because Channel 4 isn’t delivering such a good product (which ironically I still find an improvement, in terms of commentator quality, over Sky). So I’d say Netherlands’ figures are broadly in line with what will happen for the UK.

          It’s further complicated because of those who accept pay TV, some accept it on different platforms to others, they’re not fully inter-operable, and Sky F1 isn’t available on some rival pay TV platforms.

        3. Nobody was interested in f1 anymore in the netherlands because it was very boring. The network just couldn’t get enough money from adverts so they dropped it. Pay tv dropped it even before that. I was very glad pay tv picked it up again and now i can watch all free practice and on board and pit lane channels.

    2. Yeh putting a slippery surface outside the kerbs is really safe as proven by Marcus Ericsson today. Learn to drive instead Kvyat.

      1. Don’t be so poisonous!

    3. The big problem with track limits is that they need to be self-policing. The Button/Magnussen situation showed that it can often take ages to make a determination if it’s a close call. How on earth is this supposed to be policed and/or penalised in the race?

      Normally the best approach to a situation like this would be if you can’t police it, don’t police it – similar to what happened in the 90s when traction control was allowed back in, until they eventually settled on introducing a standard ECU so it could be policed. Unfortunately, the situation with track limits at many tracks with huge tarmac run-offs means that not policing is not an option… So self policing it has to be.

      We’ve seen already, large kerbs don’t work. Drivers will still running wide in Austria – even without actually getting to the big kerbs – and they could also still go faster by hitting the big kerbs, but sometimes this would cause a dangerous suspension failure. So, if reintroducing grass fringes (maybe with tarmac beyond) isn’t an option, then someone really needs to get researching on a suitable alternative that actually penalises drivers for leaving the track.

      1. They just need some sort of Hawk eye camera at the corners @vmaxmuffin. The same equipment could be taken to each circuit. For F1, it would be a relatively small expense and would resolve this kind of thing as it has done in cricket, tennis and football.

      2. During Baku race nobody hit the wall which proves they can keep inside the track limits if they want. They wouldn’t run wide on any corner unless it gained an advantage.

        I’m a big fan of vettel but he doesn’t seem to be living up to the job this year. Disappointing.

        1. Exactly. The drivers push harder than they would if there was a wall there meaning they absolutely gain an advantage.

      3. SaturnVF1 (@doublestuffpenguin)
        10th July 2016, 3:50

        I’ve been thinking of something like a line of flexible bollards or vertical rubbery flaps along the edge of the acceptable track limit at certain places, that would appear similar to a solid barrier from a driver’s prospective but wouldn’t cause catastrophic damage to the car if run over. They’d have to be strong enough to not break easily or get pulled up by a car hitting them. Just a thought.

      4. I wonder how DTM sorted it out…

    4. What happened to genuine grass beyond the kerbs? Simple, better than paint, better than artificial grass, just a strip of grass, job done.

      I don’t think the FIA are being inconsistent. They have all the telemetry available, and so can compare the times, car by car, lap by lap, and corner by corner, to see if the driver actually gained an advantage.

      For example, there was one at the end of Q2 where Raikonnen went over the edge of the line, and kept his lap time, but it was clear from the onboard that it caused a momentary lift and twitch, which would have automatically negated any advantage. I’d imagine the FIA will be using the data to look at these and only delete the lap time if an advantage was actually gained.

      1. This.

        Track, white line, kerb, a meter or two of grass, asphalt, tyre wall or TecPro or SAFER barrier, wall.


      2. @strontium What is considered gaining an advantage though? Gaining time? I’d argue that if you go off the track and don’t lose time, you’ve gained an advantage over those who chose to remain on the track.

    5. At the beginning of qualifying, the commentators was quite clearly said that track limits would be policed at turns 9, 15 and 18. Why did no one tell that to the TV director? He was repeatedly showing slow-mos of people running wide with all four wheels over the line in other corners. It was just confusing, and I guess there are many viewers that would not immediately recognise that the slow-mo is from a corner where running wide is actually not a problem.

      1. @mike-dee yeah xD and then, after Lewis laptime was deleted, the TV director followed his car at all corners during his fast lap EXCEPT at Copse, where he’d gone wide before. Proper troll there!

      2. They told the TV director, but he was drunk at the time, as he has been for a so many years now.

      3. People making mistakes in qualifying is important, no matter what corner it is and what policy of enforcement is prevailing, as this usually results in slower laptimes and more tension. So the TV director has a valid point in covering such errors. The problem is when commentators think penalties are likely to be (as opposed to should) be issued for such behaviour.

    6. Ah! So today 5 years ago the 2011 British GP took place, the first race I’ve ever watched on streaming, with full commentary by Brundle and Company… So that means it’s 5 years since the day I’ve stopped suffering those noobs at Fox Sports LA! Hurray!

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        10th July 2016, 9:52

        I hate people who buy pirated CD’s and DVD’s. They are withholding a fair day’s pay form the artists behind those albums and movies.

        But good on you (and me on occasion) to stream an F1 race. The biggest sufferer is Bernie (if there are less Sky viewers than Sky bids less next time), and I don’t feel any of us owe an extra cent to Bernie.
        Yes, he was material in giving us F1 as we know it, but he has taken more after that and is now killing ‘our sport’!

    7. One rule to rule them all… Something like “If cars are observed with no part of any tyre inside the line denoting the actual racing surface in qualifying that lap time shall be deleted. In a race after the third such observation a five second time penalty shall be applied for every subsequent breach. Stewards may take into account extenuating circumstances if they deem a driver was taking avoiding action or, in the case of car #44, is avoiding a block pass.”

      Simple. Apply it everywhere. Next problem!

      1. Or we could go to the International Sporting Code rule, where all 4 tyres outside the white line automatically involves an effect. The WEC table works well for this:

        1st offence – verbal warning (race control can speak directly to drivers on a one-way system)
        2nd offence – black-and-white driving standards flag
        3rd offence – drive-through penalty
        4th and subsequent offences – stop/go penalty with increasing amounts of time stopped.

        I believe from the 5th offence onwards, there is discretion to black-flag the offender, though I’ve never seen that option deployed. There is an exception if no alternative was offered to the driver apart from crashing or unusual amounts of braking.

      2. “Simple. Apply it everywhere. Next problem!”

        Absolutely correct – no if’s or but’s. I posted a somewhat tongue in cheek reply suggesting Alligator pits yesterday, bu the simple solution has to be making it all of the track, all of the time – there is no confusion then.

    8. If the stewards will apply “zero tolerance” over exceeding track limits, then I hope that the same level of intolerance will be applied in all situations, in all corners, in every lap of the race. But what I see happening is that the stewards only take a look at incidents during the race when a fight for position is ocurring. They always seem to measure if an advantage has been gained comparing the offending driver to another who has been racing him. If a driver is in clean air and has ~2 seconds over the pursuers, then he is simply not being watched. So, when you are battling for position, trying to overtake or defending, you have to have an extra level of carefulness. That, IMO, just further discourage racing, since you would be losing time compared to someone who is waiting for the strategy to resolve or waiting for the safe DRS zone. How many times we have seen someone being punished in a race for exceeding track limits, without the stewards applying the added criteria of “gaining an advantage” as described above? If “gaining an advantage” should be the criteria, then it should be measured in absolute terms, not in relation to a direct rival.

    9. “The new part doesn’t feel like it has any history, but as soon as you get onto the older stuff, such as Brooklands and Copse, it is just perfect.

      I mean, I know Hamilton is a mere babe, but Brookland and Copse have had many iterations over the years, in fact Copse is probably a pale shade of itself pretty 1990. And Brooklands didn’t exist before 1990.

      Clearly the new section will gain history in its time…

      1. *pre 1990!

      2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
        10th July 2016, 3:11

        He’s not one for history as proven by his ‘fandom of Senna’.

    10. Thank you Pirelli for making F1 an Official Spec series with the Tire Lap restrictions / Recommendations
      Softs – 15 Laps
      Hards – 26 Laps
      Mediums – 28 Laps
      Says all about how Pirelli design the tires and those who defend them it doesn’t matter what the track is Hardest Compound must last longer than other compounds and Pirelli thinks the Hardest compound can’t last longer.
      I hope you build a tire that works well with 16PSI as min limit and 19 /20PSI as max limit which works for any track and conditions but after the past 5-6 years of your work ethic and ability you just can’t do it.

      1. To be fair, they stated a minimum pressure and the FIA have allowed the teams to cheat past this by heating the rims.

    11. Put the astro-turf back and spray it with WD-40. Solved.

    12. I dunno why is it so complicated with track limits? It’s been made more complicated in the name of freakin safety which is completely irrational. Was track limits ever a problem on a track like Silverstone in the mid 2000s? Or any other track for that matter? It’s just when you broaden the flat kerbs almost to the width of a Formula 1 car, throw in some unnecessary run offs in the name of safety is when the term track limit is born.

      Think about it guys, how many time did we discussed about track limits in mid or even 2000s for that matter?

    13. A lot of tracks employ cameras with pressure sensors in the kerb. So when the car find over it, a series of still photos are taken.

      At Spa this weekend Abbie Eaton was annoyed because a time was deleted in quali despite in car footage proving otherwise. This went to the stewards and was eventually thrown out, presumably because changing the classification hours later made them look daft.

      The penalty should be instant and transparent. Big kerbs work, but they have to be used consistently too, so designers can build stronger cars and avoiding them becomes the norm. At Silverstone, certain sausage kerbs are set into recesses and bolted in, so they can be removed for bikes.

      The only other idea I can think of is a GPS based speed limiter that slows acceleration slightly, but that would be be met with equal outcry. At least the kerbs have precedent.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        10th July 2016, 9:32

        a series of still photos are taken.

        Bernie thought of that, but did not want to wait a week for the photos being developed and printed!

    14. ColdFly F1 (@)
      10th July 2016, 9:29

      I notice that when there is grass behind the track limits all cars stay between the white lines!

    15. Track limits should be zero tolerance in all cases in quali and 3 strikes then a penalty in the race. F1 has timing beams so could they not have a series of beams that cover the perimeter of the track 2m outside the white lines, a car trips the beam tough luck, bit like Gran Turismo 6 when your time turns red for corner cutting. This would be in real time and everyone would be clear. Would this work?

      This is a bit of brain storming so I am sure there are some downsides to my idea or surely they would already have done this?

    16. When I was a child, I got into f1 because family would visit on a Sunday afternoon and the men would sit watching the f1. With it being behind a paywall, there will be a whole generation of future Motorsport fans oblivious to its existence. It’s 10-15-20 years time that the paywall decision will hurt the most.

      1. 10-15-20 years and F1 will be a marginal sport…

        In Slovenia already we do not have TV coverage anymore. Pay or free to air.

        In Italy “nobody” in public even mentions F1 anymore on monday after the race.

        I bet my coworkers will mention Euro2016 match or Wimbeldon..

        But British GP? It only gets discussed on forums like this fine one. Almost in secret.

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