Over the white line: ITV F1 refuses to go quietly

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarFriday, February 6th, 2009

 
 

Right, let’s start with the really important stuff. This week we were pleased to find ourselves being followed on Twitter by ITV F1.

This is not to claim that this was a rare experience, or that we are special little flowers as a result – we’re one of 178 at the moment. But it does make us glad to see how the team that successfully brought us F1 coverage for 11 years is refusing to go quietly.

Use of the hottest social networking tool in the business is a particularly strong sign that the site is moving on rather than sticking stubbornly in the past.

It looks to have had a bit of a redesign and still has familiar names like James Allen and Mark Hughes writing for it despite the TV coverage going elsewhere.

While we’re looking forward to seeing what the BBC can produce, F1 is a mighty popular subject and it’s good to see a number of authoritative websites covering it – especially since we really didn’t take to Top Gear’s Sunday Afternoon Club blog.

This was mainly thanks to its wildly erratic moderation policy and the number of abusive idiots who felt prompted to make comments, although to be fair things may have improved in our absence.

So, long may ITV F1 last. Although any time they want to get rid of the neanderthal Pit Babes feature will be just fine by us. Just how outdated and not-web 2.0 is that?

<Joke>You can be just as cool as those crazy cats from ITV F1 and follow us on Twitter too – just click here</joke>. Meanwhile, here’s the rest of the racing and automotive news we’ve been reading this week:

  • Nearly everyone with an interest in F1 was reporting this week that fans are being offered a golden opportunity to spend a European grand prix as guests of a team of their choice in a campaign to raise funds for a memorial to the late 1970s F1 driver Tom Pryce. Weekly auctions are being held for a pair of exclusive paddock passes for each of the nine European races. The F1 teams will be taking it in turns to look after the winners – including exclusive invites into their motorhomes. And all in a good cause! Learn more here.
  • We learned that new best chums Ferrari’s and McLaren’s spirit of goodwill towards all men was not sufficiently pervasive to take in those black-hearted outcasts Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan without prompting from Max Mosley. Evidently deciding they’d had enough punishment, he told journalists: “The other day we got a letter from the lawyers of one of them saying he has got this restriction and this restriction, and it does seem a little bit mad to make them serve out even longer when the two teams concerned are all making love to each other. So, we have said we will let them forget it. In the end they were just very minor players.” You’d have thought motorsport’s number one sex machine would have re-stocked his metaphor drawer after his experiences last year, wouldn’t you?
  • Chris Balfe of Pitpass, whose word counts for rather more in F1 than your average bloke down the pub, has been having a think about the Donington Park financial situation as well as a look at the company’s latest accounts. And he is asking some hard questions as a result: “Even when the economy was in rude health it would have been tough to secure [the requisite] level of corporate interest in a product that costs twice as much as a three-day ticket to the F1 Paddock Club for the British Grand Prix. In the current economic climate [Donington's] plan seems fanciful to say the least.” There are also some interesting discussions of the company’s cashflow and liquidity. Read the full article here…
  • James Allen fed us a few scraps on the latest on Honda – a subject on which information has been in rather short supply of late: “The picture seems to be that there are some players out there interested in F1 if the budgets can be brought down to a realistic level. There are people willing to play for £50 million a year, but none willing to play for £150 million. A team like Honda, which finished ninth in the world championship last season, will receive around £40 million from Bernie Ecclestone’s FOM company, its share of the TV and other commercial revenues. This is a pretty good start, if your total budget is only £50 million per year, but a drop in the ocean if you need £150 million to compete. The hope for Honda is that over the next months the FIA is looking to slash the costs of competing to such an extent that it is realistic to go racing on a budget of around £50 million for an independent team.” Read his full post here.
  • And finally – our weekly dose of car porn came from Top Gear, as is so often the case. The V12 Vantage from Aston Martin has finally gone into production and the team over there are very excited: “Looks great, doesn’t it? All beefy and pumped up, with the 6-litre V12 almost bursting through its heavily louvered bonnet.” (You can join in here.) God honestly – they should follow Max Mosley into the nearest cold shower… Or maybe not.

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