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“Bernie, I Broke the Broadcast”: Post-Australian GP Thoughts

Vettel brought joy to Italy, and Formula One neutrals. Photo: formula1.com

The first race of Formula One’s 2017 season is now in the rear-view mirror. It’s fair to say that many of us sat down this morning with a degree of skepticism in the back of our minds, regarding rule changes, Ferrari’s pace and much more besides.

So where do I stand after race one? Overall, I sit at my desk feeling somewhat satisfied with what transpired at Albert Park, but there are plenty of negatives to cover too. We want to know what you thought of today’s action, so please join the conversation here on the website, as well as on our social media platforms!

Without any further ado, let’s take a look at the dawn of Formula One’s new era.

Tifosi Triumphant

First and foremost, it was refreshing to see Sebastian Vettel on the top step of the podium. Ferrari pulled off a masterstroke with the timing of his stop, but you do have to wonder if their decision only looked good thanks to Lewis Hamilton’s post-pit struggles behind Max Verstappen.

Vettel brought joy to Italy, and Formula One Neutrals. Photo: Formula1.com

While the sight of Ferrari victory became rather passé in the early 2000’s, it made for a refreshing change of pace on Sunday. Certainly, it was one of the best possible outcomes for Chase Carey and Liberty Media, as a monotonous Hamilton victory would have likely added fuel to the flames of ill-will on social media.

While there is much to be said against this year’s Australian GP, it has shown that Ferrari has a great car at their disposal, and that Valtteri Bottas is more than capable of staying close to his triple World Champion teammate. 2017 could well lack true battles on track, but at least there looks to be a genuine challenger to the Silver Arrows this season.

Aerodynamic Panic

The time Hamilton spent behind Verstappen was one of many indications that overtaking is going to be a struggle this season. I went into today’s race with a sense of optimism, as I wanted to sample 2017’s racing before making any judgement. The cars looked mega and the drivers could push, so until the lights went out, I had no reason to condemn the new regulations.

I was rather surprised that everyone got through turn one without too much trouble; sadly, I was ultimately not surprised to see the field spread out within moments of the start. Albert Park has never been a track with consistently exciting action on tap, so I am still hoping we can see signs of life before the flight back to Europe. With that being said, it seems pretty ear that we are entering an era where overtaking will be at a premium.

DRS may well be another victim

    of the 2017 aero – since you need to be within a second to activate it, and much closer to have a chance at a move, you need to be able to run behind other cars. As such, we didn’t see much benefit from the ‘cat flap’ on the streets of Melbourne today. I’ve never been opposed to DRS, and if anything, I think many who would be inclined to denounce it were relying on its artificial flavour to spice up the action. Aside from circuits with massive straights like Shanghai or Monza, where slipstream will play a bigger part, I don’t expect to see many DRS opportunities this year.

    “Bernie, I Broke the Broadcast…”

    I anticipated great things from the world feed this weekend. With Liberty at the helm, I was hoping to see new camera angles, more detailed graphics and increased production values. That’s not to say Formula One has struggled on that point in recent years; they were never on par with Dorna’s sublime Moto GP efforts, but they certainly did the job well enough. Perhaps it was simple-minded of me, but I anticipated improvements in the broadcast purely because the new owners have ‘Media’ in their company name.

    Unfortunately, things weren’t looking good from the offset. The on-screen infographics were broken on Friday, and while they gradually kicked into life on Saturday and Sunday, there was certainly less information available to the viewer this weekend. When the grid line-up graphics fired into life before the warm-up lap today, it stuttered and lagged as though it was too much for the computer they were running through – if that turns out to be an accurate diagnosis, something is deeply wrong. The sport should not be taking a step backwards in its broadcasting quality under the new regime, and it certainly shouldn’t be broadcasting through unfit equipment.

    Despite All My Rage, I Still Hear A Porsche on Replay

    Of all the issues that plagued the broadcast, there was only one that truly irritated me…

    Worryingly, my searches for “#AusGP Porsche” lead me to believe I may be the only person on Earth who noticed the sound of flat-six Porsche motors in every Replay shown during the race. Since it seems highly likely that I’m the only one irritated by this, I’m probably barking up the wrong tree, but stay with me here…

    What message does it send when you feel the need to add support race audio to your broadcast of the world’s premiere category? To me at least, a spectacularly poor one.

    Crouching Sauber Hidden Porsche? Photo: grandprix.com.au

    I personally have no issue with the sound of the current Formula One engines. Do I prefer the sounds of years past? That’s an undeniable yes – there’s a reason I have an obsession with BOSS GP after all – but I don’t think the V6 Turbos are bad sounding cars. Adding a little ambiance to a replay is nothing new either, as WEC and Formula E have made a habit of it for several years. I’ve never really felt like it was necessary, but I have no objections to the concept. However, if you pipe in engine sounds that are noticeably different from those produced by the field on track, it comes across as quite a bargain basement move.

    This might well be the director’s answer to dissatisfaction with the current engines, but it may also be a sign of incredibly poor attention to detail. Part of me wonders if an intern was sent out to get “Some ambient noise from trackside”, and did so during the Porsche Carrera Cup races that were on the bill this weekend. If that is the case, several people need to be slapped into shape; perhaps they can be shipped to the warehouse in the same crate as the faulty graphics computer?

    Bonus Thoughts

    • Daniel Ricciardo is the unluckiest man is Australia.
    • Expect Red Bull to be third best until the Spanish GP.
    • Giovinazzi did a great job on short notice.
    • I’m very surprised Martin Brundle didn’t make his thoughts known when the field spread out.
    • I’m still hearing those darn Porsche’s…

    What Did You Think?

    Will Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari challenge for the titles this year? Am I going crazy, and hearing Porsche’s out of turn? Let us know in the comments below!

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