Fri 31 Oct 2008
This weekend’s race sees more than the usual amount of high-profile departures from the sport - some welcome, and some not so.
The most notable for us here in the UK, is that this will be ITV’s last race covering F1. While most viewers won’t shed many tears at this news, we do have quite a bit to thank the broadcaster for.
When the races were covered by the BBC previously, they were always shoehorned into a general sport programme and therefore had to battle for airtime which ultimately ensured coverage of the race and little else. The move to a programme of it’s own on ITV meant we were treated to an hour or so pre-race and approximately half an hour post-race - although not all this coverage was worth the airtime if the truth be told!
Next season, the BBC can’t disappoint F1 viewers and give them any less and the hope is that they will actually end up giving a whole lot more - HD coverage, more interactivity, better online coverage, etc but most important there will be no ad-breaks.
What is to come from the BBC is for a later date however, this weekend is about the departure of ITV. It’s unclear who, if anyone, will make the transfer between broadcasters to continue coverage next year - the smart money is on Martin Brundle being the only person. I don’t think anyone else would be missed to be honest, although I do feel James Allen still has a place in the sport.
His writing on the ITV website is always worth reading, it’s his delivery when commentating most people take issue with, so personally I hope he continues following the sport - in written form at least!
Also leaving the sport this weekend is another often criticised recent addition - the grooved tyre. With two different manufacturers competiting against each other to make the tyres offer more and more grip, the FIA felt they had to introduce something to slow them down a bit, hence the grooves. With Bridgestone now the sole manufacturer, they have noone to compete against and so therefore the FIA can allow slick tyres to return safe in the knowledge that they can effectively inform Bridgestone what construction and level of grip they want them to have.
Most F1 fans will tell you that the cars look so much better on slicks, and the drivers all seem to agree that they prefer the feel of them as well so unlike the ITV situation, nobody will mourn the loss of grooved tyres next year.
The face of F1 is of course the drivers, and these come and go all the time. Most leave the sport after a year or two, few seem to spend their whole career in F1 these days, so I’m sure we will be seeing more than one driver leave.
Will Piquet or Bourdais be on the grid next year? At the moment it seems like it could go either way to be honest, arguments could be made for and against each driver so we will just have to wait and see.
There is going to be at least one long-time driver departing though - David Coulthard. He warrants a post of his own though so I’ll say little here on that topic, but will he be joined through the exit door by Rubens Barrichello?
I can’t really see why Honda would continue with both Rubens and Button for yet another year, but with Rubens having the better of his British teammate this year should it be the Brazilian who leaves? His age obviously makes him the most likely to make way, but it’s not like he’s pensionable just yet. With DC deciding to leave on his own terms, it would be sad to see Rubens forced out kicking and screaming so if he really does think he has more to give then I hope he gets a chance to prove it and leave on his own terms.