Thursday, July 01, 2010

The F1 Fans' Forum

I thought I'd touch the hem of F1 today by attending the inaugural F1 Fans' Forum at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London's Piccadilly.

The idea of this was to provide a Question Time format in which fans could pose questions to a selection of key participants from the sport, comprising McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh, Lotus Racing Team Principal Tony Fernandes, Mercedes race engineer Jock Clear, Ferrari Press Officer Luca Colajanni, and Force India test and reserve driver Paul di Resta.

The overall concept here is a good one, for F1 fans are genuine financial stakeholders in the sport: the income streams upon which both the teams and Bernie Ecclestone's business are dependent, are ultimately predicated upon the existence of a huge global television audience. Alienate these people, then, at your peril.

Today's event was chaired in a polished fashion by ex-ITV F1 commentator, James Allen, and it was noticeable that every member of the panel was able to organise their thoughts and speak in an impressively coherent and intelligent manner. F1 folk clearly become very well trained in answering any and all questions popped at them.

There were no big surprises in any of the answers, although Martin Whitmarsh took the opportunity to endorse the plan for driver-adjustable rear wings next year, and there was wide general support for the return of F1 test days at Silverstone. One member of the audience made an interesting suggestion that each team could be given a finite fuel allocation for the season, to use as they see fit; teams with more fuel-efficient engines might therefore be able to gain testing miles as a reward for their environmental-friendliness.

PR-impresario Nav Sidhu was much in evidence, looking much like a finalist in The Apprentice, and I also spotted ex-F1 racing editor, Matt Bishop, looking rather well fed in his role as head of McLaren communications. Jonathan Legard and Ted Kravitz were also in attendance, Ted looking rather jolly, Jonathan looking quite animated. And, rather surprisingly, long-time F1 engineer Frank Dernie turned up, Frank suggesting from the back of the hall, in typically contrarian style, that there's no evidence whatsoever that increased mechanical grip makes for better racing.

All in all, it was a perfectly fine event. One suggestion for next time, to spice things up a little, would be to remove the pre-vetting of questions...


Sean said...

Yep no premod questions, and you can only ask a question if you have had two glasses of wine first.

Like the fuel idea!

I am going to Monza this year, a spate of weddings have crashed my Silverstone plans for another summer. Looking forward to seeing how the changes work out.

Yas Marina is also on my radar, I am a big fan of Wipeout on the Playstation.

Gordon McCabe said...

I abandoned Silverstone some years ago. There's too much sky there, and too much biting cold wind.

Monza would be fun. Where are you going to watch the race from?

Sean said...

Alta Velocita.
Silverstone looked good, get yourself a bolly and a tent :0)