A memo to all Formula 1 journalists

Next week, the 2014 Formula 1 season begins with the first of three tests from Jerez. For the journalists with paddock passes, it will be the beginning of another long Formula 1 season. It is those people that this piece is aimed at. First, let me say that the paddock journalists do some fantastic work each year keeping fans up to date with what is happening. However, with that also comes power. A paddock pass is like, a prized possession, and with that, journalists should do things that teams may not necessarily like. Why am I saying this? Double points. Unanimously, over 85 percent of Formula 1 fans want it dropped. It is a needless gimmick, the equivalent of say, making the final day of the Premier League season worth double. It penalises consistency. It rewards a ‘fluke’ result. Double points does nothing for me.

Formula 1 likes to pretend its fans matter. But the fact of the matter is, they don’t. We (and journalists) were never consulted, we are simply outsiders to the inner circus and bickerings that occur. Don’t get me wrong, I love Formula 1, I’ve watched it for fifteen years. But it is frustrating, year in, year out, to see how out of touch those that run this sport are with the audience that tune in and watch. Double points feels like the tip of the iceberg. It is a needless change in response to one driver dominating the latter half of the 2013 season. Fans have never wanted a gimmick such as double points, so why has it been implemented? FOTA, better known as Formula One Teams Association, hold forums, every so often. Are view points ever taken on board, or does what the paying audience say go in one ear and then straight out the other? Because that is what double points feels like. As soon as the reaction came out, someone in power should have thought “oh, you know what, maybe we did make a big mistake after all” and removed the regulation.

Could I e-mail the teams? Of course. But the e-mail addresses on the teams’ website are generic. The Christian Horner’s and Stefano Domenicalli’s of this world (i.e. those in a position of power) are never going to read said e-mails, are they? It is the same in any corporate business, the secretary reads it, throws back a standard response and nothing else happens. Eric Boullier’s response to double points on AUTOSPORT was spineless. A response like that cannot end there, it needs to be challenged, until a breaking point is hit. If double points is still in place come Melbourne, it cannot be allowed to just go away. Pressure needs to be maintained by those journalists in the paddock. I feel sometimes like journalists and TV personalities are the only things that connect fans with the teams, because the teams appear to be in some kind of parallel, distant universe. Fans feel alienated.

To Formula 1 journalists attending the three tests and races: please exercise your power and put pressure on all in power to drop double points. Because the frank truth is, fans are powerless. High up members of the Formula 1 paddock like to think that they care about fans, but again, they don’t. And the past few weeks proves that. I’d like to think journalists have the power to do this, but hey what do I know. No round the edge questions, simple and direct. “Why are you not dropping double points?”. No off the record writing, all on the record and in person. Hold those who made a disastrous decision accountable. It is about time F1 bosses listen to those who matter most. Not the bank managers with big wallets. Those who matter most are the fans. Me and you. Journalists, you have power as a member of the F1 paddock. Exercise it.

And if you don’t have the power to influence. Ask yourself why.

6 thoughts on “A memo to all Formula 1 journalists

  1. I totally agree with you because what’s the point if you try to listen to your fans that love F1 and then the corporates doing the dirty on us by putting “double points” in the final race of the season? I’ve also been watching Formula One for 15yrs and still to this day have a love-hate relationship with the sport but it’s the relationship that drives me to watch F1. Yes, journalists should have the duty to put more pressure on the powers that be to scrap rules that we don’t want but how far do you have to go to satisfy your corporate mates?

    What really should happen is the money from the teams participating every season should get a fair share and Bernie shouldn’t keep all the money to himself. It’s bad economics, which is why teams are struggling to find the best drivers and rely heavily on drivers with big sponsorship packages. Otherwise we may see other series such as the BTCC, WEC leapfrog F1 in terms of popularity. F1 will still be popular but for how long?

  2. If you don’t know why they aren’t asking tough questions, examine the system of paddock pass authorisation and what happened to Gary Hartstein when he merely voiced an opinion.

  3. “I’d like to think journalists have the power to do this, but hey what do I know.”

    Not a great deal, by the sound of things. Journalists are there to report on events, not to intervene. Plus they have zero clout or say-so anyway.

  4. “Unanimously, over 85 percent of Formula 1 fans want it dropped.”

    That’s the majority, just like the majority of the teams (including Ferrari) want it to stay, that’s why they voted it through.

  5. “Unanimously, over 85 percent of Formula 1 fans want it dropped.”

    No it’s just the vocal minority on the forums and blogs who scream and shout about this new rule. The large minority of F1 fans, the casual fans, voted with their remote last year and didn’t watch the last (few) races.
    That’s why the rule is now a fact, the opinion of vocal hardcore fans who’ll watch the races regardless is not of great importance.

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