Since we watch far too much television nowadays, many of us tend to forget that real life doesn’t always coalesce into the kind of neat three-act narrative we’re used to seeing on the goggle box. It has long periods where not much happens, and the few things that do occur tend not to come to any resolution, happy or otherwise.
This thought came to me in conversation with fellow scribblers at the Silverstone launch a couple of weeks ago, and it came to me again while watching the Spanish GP on Sunday afternoon – round about lap 25, when my pen fell out of my mouth and into my lap, waking me up*. For pretty much the first time since Formula 1 slipped into an internet-enabled 24-hour news cycle we’re missing the kind of long-running story that keeps readers happy when they return to the news trough every day.
Sadly, though, because those readers are so accustomed to their daily updates, if they find the trough empty** they tend to go on the AUTOSPORT message board and vent spleen about how lazy and inept the journalists are. Thus the newshounds have really had to raid the store cupboard for odds and ends this year. When the most exciting thing to talk about is whether an F1 car’s mirrors ought to be in an outboard or inboard position, it’s time to pop outside for a reality check.
I blame Jean Todt. He’s determined to keep a low profile and not annoy anybody – at least for now. When Max Mosley was in the driving seat you could be sure that conflict would eventuate, because he combines an almost insatiable appetite for mischief with the frustrated politician’s hunger to wield absolute authority – you know, without all those other troublesome idiots getting in the way with their pettifogging demands.
Perhaps F1 could take some lessons from successful TV dramas, with their meticulously planned character development and story ‘arcs’. When viewing figures decline, the producers swing into action rather than denying that the product is losing its popular appeal.
Not that I’m suggesting we should wake up and find Max Mosley in the shower, of course, but many soap operas do get a boost when a familiar rogue reappears on the scene. We’ve already had a touch of that; Michael Schumacher’s return puts me in mind of Dirty Den coming back to Eastenders, although I hope that Michael’s comeback isn’t scuppered by some unfortunate business with a webcam.
Or could this actually be that other trope of the failing drama, when a much-loved character returns but is played by a different actor? I say this only because going by Schumacher’s race pace this year, his role is actually being performed by his younger brother – or perhaps even by Jarno Trulli, he of the ‘Trulli Train’…
* Mind you, if you think Formula 1 is boring at Barcelona, you should try watching the DTM there.
** Obviously, if you are an avid consumer of GMM crap then the trough is never empty.