Archive for the ‘ F1 Media ’ Category

All In A Good Cause

New book features pictures taken by F1 personalities

New book features pictures taken by F1 personalities

Apologies for being slightly late getting on to this one, but the publishers had run short of review copies and it finally thudded onto the doormat shortly before Christmas.

The concept of Zoom: Through the Eyes of Formula 1 will make the eyes of anyone involved in the media side of the sport water. The authors, Christian Sylt and Caroline Reid (yes, they really do exist and I’ve seen them both in the same room at the same time), persuaded drivers and team principals from every F1 team to take a photo of their chosen subject and the results are published here. Having had to push through many give-a-driver-a-camera feature through over the years I can testify that it’s easier to herd cats. Well done the authors for making it happen.

As you might expect the drivers’ pictures vary in subject and effort, but the less imaginative ones (grid shot? Slap on the wrist for Mr Di Resta) are far outnumbered by the interesting and often bizarre images submitted by other F1 personalities including Bernie Ecclestone himself. In fact, ‘the Bolt’ supplies two shots, one of which is of a pair of statues from his house in Switzerland (“I can’t remember where they came from but I like them a lot”). Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey’s is of an Indian tractor.

The original images were auctioned by Coy’s in September and the proceeds went to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Childrens Charity. Michael Schumacher’s photograph alone raised £2500. The book retails at £20.

The technology has changed but the culture hasn’t (yet)

Bernie: still not quite there with the internet. Photo by Darren Heath

Bernie: still not quite there with the internet. Photo by Darren Heath

M’learned colleague James Allen is calling it “The deal that changes F1 forever” and he may just be right. Up to a point, Lord Copper…

Formula 1’s deal with Tata Communications means the sport will be able to transmit (and, in theory, receive, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here) from every grand prix via Tata’s global fixed line network, rather than renting a one-way satellite link.

Advantage Bernie. For some time now the Formula One Teams Association has been pointing out that increasing numbers of people consume sport via the internet. Unfortunately, until recently whenever the word “internet” sailed into the F1 ringmaster’s ears, his cerebellum translated it thus: “freeloading gits trying to get somefink for free.” Readers of moderate age may remember the protracted trademark battle Bernie fought with the Chiswick-based proprietors of… before he eventually capitulated (in a manner of speaking) by simply buying them off. And indeed, there is still a team of people at FOM HQ whose sole purpose is to issue YouTube with cease and desist orders whenever anyone has the temerity to upload a post-1980 F1 video to it.

Bernie: don't cross the streams? Photo by Darren Heath

Bernie: don't cross the streams? Photo by Darren Heath

But FOTA had a point, which is that revenues from the sale of TV rights will inevitably decline. Yes, Sky is about to engage in the mother of all who-can-piss-higher-up-the-wall contests with the BBC, but elsewhere in the TV ecosphere broadcasters are withdrawing resource from the sport or getting out altogether. The Tata deal will enable FOM to tie up pay-per-view streaming deals with Apple, Netflix, etc, while still milking the likes of Sky until the teats run dry.

This will open up more choice for viewers, with the caveat that the inevitable consequence of more choice is the gradual withering of free-to-air platforms. The question then is what kind of choice do you get? In eschewing Sky, say, for a web stream, are you simply swapping one set of presenters and packages for another, or will you be able to access a variant of the basic feed? Will the web streaming service be packaged as such, with its own presenters, pundits and ambulant cameramen? (just what F1 needs – another bunch of goons barging around the paddock as if they own the place. See here for what happens when camera jockeys forget that getting a shot of Bernie walking into a motorhome is less important in the grand scheme of things than avoiding clonking a driver on the bonce)

Much is being made of the Tata infrastructure being bidirectional, which will open up “interactivity”. I doubt much will come of this unless FOM can squeeze revenue from it, perhaps in the manner of those TV quizzes where you enter by ringing a premium rate number. There’s a reason doesn’t have a forum: Bernie may not know much about the internet, but he knows he won’t earn a bean from providing a free platform for sociopaths to hee-haw at one another. After all, FOM’s digital people have got better things to do, such as composing stiff emails to YouTube…

A legend passes…

The Formula 1 world has lost one of its more colourful lunch partners. Christopher Hilton, the prolific book writer and former Fleet Street journalist, passed away unexpectedly at the weekend.

Chris was an established sports writer, albeit specialising in tennis, for the Daily Express when he was pitched into F1 at the beginning of the eventful 1982 season. He later turned those experiences into a book, one of many on F1 and other sporting subjects.

As a book writer his work rate put the rest of us to shame. He put this down to a regular routine in which he would rise early, write until lunchtime or thereabouts in his dressing gown, and then go out (properly dressed by now) for the papers, which he would digest over a pint in his local. Following this convivial repast he would return home to carry on writing until early evening, whereupon he would call time on the day’s work and take a long, hot bath.

Occasionally he would interrupt this routine to visit the LAT Archive for picture research, and this would usually involve lunch, during which he would provide delightful company. Thankfully he would give at least 48hrs notice of his impending arrival so that you could make alternative transport arrangements and mollify loved ones. Lunches with Chris almost inevitably occupied rather longer than the statutory hour, and would often involve you stumbling from the establishment rather later than expected and somewhat the worse for wear.

Most F1 fans will have at least one of his books. His prodigious output led to the inevitable accusations of hackery, and certainly many of his biographies relied heavily on secondary sources, but he always took the matter of accuracy and fairness very seriously, and he would never abuse the legal tenet that the dead can’t sue for libel. The majority of the previous sentence contains nothing that can be said about the author of a recent high-profile biography of a major F1 figure…

Sad news about a great snapper

It saddens me to report that the supremely talented portrait photographer Hugo Dixon passed away last week at the age of 46, after a short battle with cancer.

Hugo was not a full time Formula 1 photographer – his usual subjects were rock stars, of whom he could recount many a scurrilous tale. But he loved motor racing and would happily discount his usual fee so as to fit into the budget of our publishing niche.

Photographers can be a precious and temperamental breed. Hugo was very easy going, perhaps because he had been inconvenienced by people far more famous than those we were asking him to photograph. After all, when you’ve had to delay a shoot for 24 hours while Kurt Cobain has his blood changed after an overdose, having Jarno Trulli flounce off mid-shoot because it’s “a bit cold” pales in comparison.

He was an ebullient soul – always great company – and an adventurous one, too: he and a similarly intrepid journo once slept in a communal dorm in Sao Paulo while completing a fan story about the Brazilian GP. No armed raiders arrived to part them with his photographic equipment…

Hugo and his marvellous work will be greatly missed.