United States Grand Prix 2005 Media Review

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The nation’s sports writers lined up to condemn the travesty of a Grand Prix that took place in the United States. The June 20th newspapers did not make welcome reading for dedicated fans of Formula One. At least ITV made a decent fist of the broadcast for once.

Ecclestone and Mosley have presided over a vertiginous decline in Formula One’s credibility, on and off the track. So much time has been spent on out-smarting and wrongfooting opponents that the sport no longer has a basis of trust on which to run its affairs, with consequences that were all too apparent in the failure to resolve yesterday’s difficulty.

Richard Williams, writing in the Guardian, and if that seems scathing, perhaps you want to stop reading at this point. Not since 1994 has Formula One suffered such a severe and stinging rebuke at the hands of the press – and you can scarcely imagine what the headlines across the Atlantic read like.

Under the circumstances, evaluating the quality of the coverage of Formula One takes a back seat to measuring the extend of the damage this sordid episode has done to the sport’s credibility.

Many newspapers suggest that this is the beginning of the end for the sport – particularly the ‘popular press’ (no surprise there then). “Six bad – F1’s dead in the States” is The Sun’s death knell.

You might think The Star’s no less hysterical reaction, “Formula One did its best to commit suicide yesterday,” is nothing but tabloid hyperbole. But even the usually austere Independent has a similar analogy:

If you want to know where Formula One went in America yesterday, take a trip west on 16th Street, past the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, until you get to the Conkle Funeral Home.

Make no mistake: yesterday’s dismal six-car race has been a public disaster for the sport.

Significantly, not one of the major papers pins the blame on tyre company Michelin in the headlines, suggesting that many of the writers, most of whom have covered the sport for many years, agree with Richard Williams’ assertion that it is the governing body who have let the sport down.

Only the success of England’s cricketers serves to spare the blushes of the sport against the full onslaught of the press. All the same, at least half of the publications ran the reaction in their most prominent place for sports stories.

An exception are mid-level tabloids the Express and the Daily Mail. Indeed the latter, which can usually be relied upon to blow matters out of proportion a little more than its rivals, are relatively muted in their response. They did, however, reproduce an excellent photograph of Bernie Ecclestone as he braved the media pack yesterday.

Under the circumstances, British broadcasters ITV did a solid job reporting a complete non-event for nearly three hours.

Martin Brundle’s grid walk verged on the tragic and his exasperated tone as he almost began to berate an impotent Bernie Ecclestone as more camera crews gathered around them provided one of the defining moments of the whole sorry event.

Rather than patronise us by becoming overly engaged with the ‘race’ that unfolded, interviews with fans, drivers and all the significant personnel that were available were provided. When they get their act together, ITV can still broadcast Formula One as well as they ever did.

A shame the sport gave them nothing worthy of comment on Sunday.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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