F1’s target market

Bernie Ecclestone doesn’t see the need to attract youngsters to watch F1 because they don’t have the disposable income to buy the expensive products F1’s sponsors sell. He’s only interested in the “70 year-old guy with lots of cash“. Well judging by the price of a race day ticket his plan is well on the way to fruition. 😛

When I was much younger than I am now, F1 used to be a sport (is there a motor racing equivalent of jumpers for goalposts?). Now F1 is just another multi-billion dollar international business and I’m a bit older. Funnily enough, I have yet to buy my first Rolex.

Looks like I’m not Mr. Ecclestone’s target market just yet.

 

Too many rules

Or rather, too many petty rules. I’m talking about F1. Put all 4 wheels over the white line, qualifying lap disallowed. Do that in the race and get a drive through penalty. Overshoot your grid place but don’t gain a race advantage and get a 5 second stop/go . Defend your position more than once – get reported to the Stewards. Touch wheels on a corner, is that a racing incident or do the Stewards need to investigate it? And so it goes. Whatever happened to RACING?

As you may discern from the above I am just a bit disenchanted with the current tame version of F1.

I’ve been following F1 for a long time. Long before the Union-Jack-T-shirt-wearing-Sun-readers started their Mansell fever. Graham Hill was driving for Gold Leaf Team Lotus. It was a long time ago. So, since then I’ve seen lots of changes, some of them not for the better. Back then the old hands would bemoan the loss of real racing, now I find myself doing the same. Oh bugger.

Another result

After my conversation with Apple yesterday, the postman delivered a cheque from Silverstone. So although they were

a. Slow and

b. poor communicators,

they did keep the promise they made on the British GP weekend.

Eventually.

Question is, do I book tickets for next year or look at a European GP? Anyone know what the weather will be like in Northamptonshire next July?

Silverstone Circuit and Customer Care

Some time ago I posted my feelings on the “Rain 1, Silverstone Circuit 0,” episode. Well, eventually Silverstone put a claim form up on their site so that disgruntled fans had a mechanism to claim refunds on their unused tickets. I duly completed the form and sent it “Signed for” rather than using the freepost they provided.

So, a couple of weeks went by. I decided to contact them but the telephone number they published didn’t work. Directory Enquiries to the rescue. I spoke to a pleasant lady who informed me that

  1. They were collecting all the claims forms and entering the details into a database. 
  2. After the 17th August they would start processing them in the order they were received.

Hang on.

All they are doing at the moment is recording claims? They haven’t begun to process them and they won’t start until the 17th? The pleasant lady confirmed this. I politely told her how unreasonable I found this (which predictably fell on deaf ears).

What a shower. What a rubbish system. They should have a process in place such that each claim gets processed through each stage as soon as it is received, rather like a production line. Can you imagine a car manufacturer making 10,000 car bodies and arranging them in neat rows before starting to assemble 10,000 engines? No, neither can I.

So, I can do no more than wait. Except; I did write to Derek Warwick. He’s the President of the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC). The owners of Silverstone. The body behind the organisation of the GP. The body responsible for investing in the circuit infrastructure. The body which has spend gazillions on fancy facilities for the BRDC and the monied hangers-on. The body which could have spent money over the last 20 something years on decent car parking and civilised toilet facilities but hasn’t.

Glad I’ve got that off my chest.

Silverstone, nearly.

I took my wife & daughters to Silverstone for the GP practice last Friday. We went but we didn’t get in. This was due to the utter incompetence of the organisers. You probably know about this – it was all over the news. Like many others I was extremely pissed off. Silverstone issued a press release promising refunds although they apparently expect us to email them explaining our “difficulties”.

So I wrote an email, quite a long one. Here are some extracts from it.

At no point did anyone from Silverstone Circuit inform us of the situation; e.g. why there was a hold up or when we could expect to get into the circuit. Why was there no communication? Eventually we managed to speak to one of your helpless traffic marshals who told us we would never get in, he remarked that our tickets were worthless. …

…  the second practice session had finished by the time we had crawled to the roundabout where your traffic marshals were attempting to direct spectators through the solitary gate into the parking area. Of course the gate was completely blocked with officials at a complete loss as to what to do with everyone. A single gate for everyone to get in? One entry point? What were you thinking?

In case they didn’t comprehend the length of time we spent in one short stretch of road, at this point I attached some screen shots from my iPhone Maps App showing my progress along the Dadford Road.

You and I both know that Silverstone has received severe criticism over many years regarding the appalling facilities for the fans. What you have spent on peripheral infrastructure, parking, “decent” toilets and proper (as opposed to scaffolding) grandstands is small beer compared to the enormous sums you have spent doing Bernie’s bidding and making everything nice and comfy for your shareholders and the BRDC. You cannot blame the weather for this debacle, this is England. It rains in England. When it rains, the ground in this part of the country gets very wet and muddy. This is not rocket science, you have known about this for years. Despite this you have chosen not to invest in proper tarmac car parking. That said, you had the option to provide a decent Park & Ride service on Friday. You could have planned this well in advance, so you can’t use the “there were no buses available because the schools were using them” excuse. Come on Silverstone, sort it out. And when you have, please let me know. In the meanwhile I shall spend my valuable cash (and less of it too!) on trips to european circuits where they do know how to organise a GP weekend.

I wonder when I’ll hear about my refund?

My faith has been restored…

I have to say: F1 has left me feeling somewhat jaded of late.

The script goes something like this, Seb Vettel starts from pole, leads into the first corner, runs away and hides. Not to denigrate his wins but it has been a bit boring. Add to that the (in my opinion) fake overtaking opportunities which DRS has produced and my interest in the racing part of a GP weekend has waned.

This weekend I watched as much as I could of Eurosport’s coverage of the LeMans 24 hours. Even at 3am it had me riveted to the screen. If only our local lad Anthony Davidson had finished first… Ah, well there’s always next year. I figured that the Canadian GP would be a bit rubbish after that (based on my view of the season so far) and it certainly started out that way. I mean, starting under Safety Car rules. WTF?

And then things got interesting. Hamilton was up to his usual tricks, nerfing people off left right and centre. F1 experts far better qualified than I have already put their thoughts in print on this subject sooo, ’nuff said. Then Jenson had a spot of bother with Alonso which dropped him to 21st and dead last. Add to that the stoppage due to the rain. I nearly gave up watching at that point.

I am so glad I watched the restart! Button clawing his way up the field and my old favourite Michael Schumacher doing fastest lap after fastest lap, faster than Vettel! For a while there I thought Schuey was on for 2nd or maybe a podium, but thanks to that ridiculous DRS Webber was able to pass him easily. Still, 4th was a brilliant position for Michael. On top of that, Jenson had caught up with and passed everyone up to Vettel. Then Seb made a mistake and Button was through. [adopts Murray Walker voice] Fan. Tas. Tic!

So, even with umpteen safety car periods and all that rain – a brilliant race.

Roll on Valencia.

Testing, testing!

Had a gleaming day at Silverstone – day 3 of F1 testing. Awesome!

Kimi and Ferrari were fantastic!

Some interesting machinery in the car park as well: e.g. Ferrari 430, a beautiful 328GTS, Aston Martin Zagato (pity about the green metallic, dude) and a Porsche GT3.

Minor flies in ointment: too many restrictions on where we could spectate from, the price of entry (!) and that bloody catch fencing. Even if I had a decent camera the fencing has made getting decent pictures a thing of the past. Still, an excellent day all round.

Not a good start to the season!

Dunno what happened to Ferrari.  2 retirements due to engine problems and they were off the McLaren pace anyway. And the Hamilton media-robot won. Not a good day. However, McLaren didn’t have it all their own way – Heidfeld: P2.

Also a disappointing day for our local boy, Ant, after the uncertainty of whether the team would make it to Australia at all. Better luck at Malaysia next weekend!

Microsoft slow down F1?

This year all F1 cars will use the same FIA designated Electronic Control Unit, manufactured by… Microsoft! Now what could be wrong with that?

Well according to Renault engineers, who previously used their own Magneti-Marelli system, the Microsoft-MES SECU is about half as powerful as the outgoing system with a quarter of the memory and it weighs 35% more than the previous system.

Good old Microsoft Bloatware!