Formula 1 came out of its winter hibernation this week, as all 10 teams – one less than last year due to the demise of Manor – participated in the first pre-season test of 2017 at Barcelona, Spain. The four-day session was always going to be of significant interest to journalists and fans alike due to the regulation changes, but it is also another chapter in the book of how F1 is now reported.
I presume by the sheer fact you are reading this that you are moderately tech-savvy and likely use social media, like Twitter. Even though it is over 10 years old, the problem with explaining Twitter to a non-user is that they probably don’t get it. Much like it would be difficult to see the point of a telephone if the only person you could call was Stephen Fry, who doesn’t listen to you and only waxes lyrical about the latest Apple product.
Those of you who do get it and are avid F1 fans, however, probably gained a sense of satisfaction this week as numerous hacks in Barcelona tweeted almost every single minute of proceedings from Spain. Nice as all that was, it seems a little over the top for what is something almost completely irrelevant to the likes of you and I.
F1 testing has never and will never appeal to me. Nobody really knows just who is quick until it comes to the first qualifying session of the season and for anyone to form any conclusions this early is just silly. Countless online forums will speculate wildly and over analyse everything to the nth degree: Who was on a low-fuel run? Who was doing reliability work? Who… It’s just a pointless exercise as there are very few of us who can properly decode what is going on.
So, let’s be honest. Do we really need largely irrelevant bit of information to come filtering through the 140-character wonderment of Twitter, or through ‘live’ updates on various websites, some of which come from freelancers sat in the bedrooms thousands of miles away from the circuits? No, no I don’t think we do.
Nearly everything that came from Barcelona this week has just been sheer guesswork or random observations with little or no informational value at all. OK, so I would pop along to Motorsport.com or whatever at the end of the day and catch the occasional headline, but no way was I going to frantically refresh my stream to read quotes from some random bods suggesting a team maybe showboating in an effort to gain much-needed sponsorship for the upcoming season.
The thing that grinds my gears most, however, is the analysing of lap times. Does anyone truly give a damn about how Driver X has managed to knock 0.0002 seconds off what someone else did last year in a different car and different conditions? I don’t think many of us do, but if you do, could I suggest doing something more interesting, like cutting the lawn with toenail scissors instead?
I concede most of this information is wasted on me, but I believe we have reached a point where there is too much detail filtering out. There is absolutely nothing left to the imagination, no real surprises as everything is covered in incredible – not to mention inane – amount of detail.
This is nothing new, of course. Most of the F1 journalists now frantically tweet and share every little morsel, as punters lap up the immediacy and largely irrelevant titbits of information. If some of these hacks haven’t already, I think they will one day regret succumbing to the instantaneous reporting.
In the ‘good old days’ reporters could spend time after a test session or event and speak to the relevant people, piecing together exactly what happened and why. Now writers have to conjure up reports, then try and fill their daily quota of online articles – of varying quality – all the while objectivity takes a back seat.
What would I do with F1 testing? I would go in the opposite direction of what the majority of fans want. I would make all tests closed events to all but a few journalists and photographers, with the latter releasing pictures in a similar fashion to television broadcasts.
F1 testing is not a spectacle. It is about the teams getting down to business and try to extract as much performance out of their new challengers as they can.
So, all eyes on Barcelona again next week? All except mine, that is. Can someone please wake me up when the seasons begins proper at the end of March in Australia?