The Ben Evans column: Better DVDs, please

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I missed Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix because I like to sleep in the tiny hours of the morning.

Unfortunately my girlfriend then dragged me out of the house for a country walk and so I missed the repeat as well…

As a result my motor sport viewing on Sunday was reduced to a quick spin of Duke’s newly released 1980ss Bike GP reviews, which have been newly produced to provide a comprehensive review of the season, most discs running to the four hour mark.

Sadly the footage has not really been re-edited and instead is just the 500cc footage from the single round highlights videos spliced together with the original commentary and graphics. The approach means the seasons of over 20 years ago are not placed in historical context which is frustrating.

On the other hand it is fantastic to see this wealth of footage out in the daylight, digitally tided up and in such quantity that it is too much to go through in one sitting, even for an anorak such as myself. Oh, and the racing is fantastic.

I’ve also seen the 1985 and 1986 WRC DVDs which give the same treatment to rallying and they are by and large fantastic, especially as they feature a contemporary commentary from David Addison, updated graphics and are placed within historical context.

The Bike GP and WRC discs are a real treat and have got me thinking – why are there not similar DVDs for the FOCA-era F1 seasons. As it is only a smattering of the season reviews from 1981 to 2002 remain commercially available on VHS (with the odd exception).

While other reviews will always have something of a niche following, a comprehensive DVD of some great F1 seasons – 1982, 1986 and 1989 spring to mind – would surely find a large market.

The ideal disc would be something like 4hrs long, decently re-edited with a contemporary commentary (ideally not by Simon Taylor) that is able to put the season into some sort of context, while providing a wealth of race footage.

FOCA’s current approach to releasing current and past race footage is akin to biting one’s nose to spite the face. There is a large market for F1 footage out there that goes beyond 90-minute season review VHS tapes.

Instead of clamping down on those who post races and clips on Youtube etc, how about releasing comprehensive season DVDs for every season from 1981 to date? This way fans will not be driven underground to get race highlights and FOCA should get a nice little revenue stream – after all it is not as if they have to pay to acquire the rights.

For a sport that is so commercially driven and tightly controlled, I am always astonished at how poor the F1 product – books, DVDs, computer games, clothing – available in the shops is.

It is usually overpriced (?ܣ30 for a t-shirt, ?ܣ25 for a baseball cap) but often a bit rubbish too (has anyone watched the 50 Years of F1 On-Board DVD more than once?).

In an era when F1 seems determined to abandon its core fan base in favour of Asian governments a series of well produced DVD’s that hit the spot for the dedicated fan would surely be enough to wet the taste buds of anticipation over the long winter months.

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Ben Evans
Motorsport commentator Ben is RaceFans' resident bookworm. Look out for his verdict on the latest motor racing publications on Sundays....

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9 comments on “The Ben Evans column: Better DVDs, please”

  1. I completely agree! If they were really smart cookies they would make full past-seasons races available online to avoid cost issues (i.e. nobody ever buying the Hungarian round!)

    In addition they could release some of the legendary races as collectors DVDs – So we can watch some of the classic races with some nice extras to put it all into context.

    i’ve never understood why I can buy a collection matches from some third rate football team, but I can’t buy a copy of Senna racing at Donnington, or Schumi’s first win for Ferrari.

    Bernie (I’m sure you’re listening): Please fire whoever is in charge of marketing and get someone who actually loves F1 to do it instead.

  2. As a little caveat to the article. Last night I went online to try and find clips of the crashes from Sunday’s GP, only to find that they had all been removed from various sites by FOM.

    What purpose does this serve? I want to see the footage, there is no way I will buy the end of season DVD and by then it will be a bit irrelevant anyway. Anyway its not as if I pay to watch the races on ITV.

    The crazy thing is the record companies had the same approach to the download of music about 5 years ago and it nearly brought down the music industry, who have far greater commercial clout. There is now a far more pragmatic approach to downloading music with most releases available for commercial download, videos on YouTube and full concerts available from many band sites.

  3. Surely it is only a matter of time before a proper F1 race download service. Maybe it’ll take longer to extend that to older races, but I expect at some point you’ll be able to download the full race, of any GP of the season.

    Moto GP already does this. Hell, IRL lets you watch live streaming video of their races. F1’s marketing men need to take a lesson.

  4. Not all footage of the Hamilton incident has been removed – you can still see it here.

  5. Bit torrent is painless…

    google “itv japan f1” and choose from multiple sites…

    sorry, google “itv japan f1 torrent”

  6. “how about releasing comprehensive season DVDs for every season from 1981 to date?”

    Excellent idea. But I would suggest starting at 1978, which was Gilles Villeneuve’s first full season. :)

    Or does the FOCA not have rights to footage prior to 1981?

  7. a good tip … check out the 2001 and 2002 season review dvd’s (if i’m not mistaken).
    They came free with the Playstation Formula One games. Really great dvd’s.
    You could switch views during the review and see crashes for ex. onboard (and with great sound, you could hear the car crack)

    Or a nice example, the spa pass from Hakkinen on Schumi, you can see it outside or inside the car (and other angles)… great stuff, nice dvd’s!

  8. I think FOCA only offically oversaw the footage from 1981 onwards, but I know that the BBC covered every race from 1978 onwards so the footage is there, it would just take some tidying

  9. I can’t remember who it was, maybe it was the BBC director general a few years ago, but I remember him saying something like there being just shelves and shelves of F1 race coverage the BBC had that he’d love to show again but probably wasn’t allowed to.

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