The most boring sport, Formula 1, is using Youtube to get better
I am not going to lie—when I watched Formula 1 in the 1990s, it was mostly because my fellow countryman Jos Verstappen was enjoying a moderate amount of success in the sport.
And when I started watching it again in the 2010s, it was because Jos’ son Max was entering the same sport, heralded as a great talent.
Formula 1, the fastest sport on earth, has a reputation of excess. Fast cars, beautiful women (not as drivers, unfortunately), cosmopolitan cities, and money and champagne flowing richly. Regardless of how deserved this reputation is, the sport itself, when you have stopped looking at everything that surrounds it and sit down to watch a race, is … often a complete snooze fest.
A Formula 1 race is started by the driver who proved himself to be the fastest during the qualification session a day earlier, followed by the second fastest car and so on.
The result is that the line-up on the starting grid is a pretty good predictor of not just who is going to win, but in which order the drivers will finish. Formula 1 races are often little more than glorified processionals.
It is true that the starting grid does not always predict the results. During the race, drivers will meet with accidents and mechanical problems that may throw them back a few places or even remove them from the race; teams that are good at qualifying, which requires being very fast for just a few laps, don’t always manage to bring that same performance for an entire race (‘race pace’); cars are required to pit at least once, which allows for undercuts and overcuts; and there are a thousand other small ways a race can be won or lost–and the fans know what these are.
That makes Formula 1 a (somewhat) enjoyable sport for the initiated. If you know what you are watching, if you can recognise all the tell-tale signs that something special is going on, if you know the ramifications of details as they unfold in front of you. But that also means that in order to get to like Formula 1, you must already be heavily invested in it. And most people start the other way around; they learn about a thing because they like the thing.
Formula 1 has taken to Youtube to remedy this is as good as they can. In good essasying tradition almost, they will extensively show you before a race what is going to happen, they will show you the race as it is happening, and then afterwards they will explain to you what you have seen.
Over the course of the two weeks between races, you can expect to see the following:
- Five Shocking Moments – looking back at this race in previous years.
- Circuit Guide – one of the current crop of drivers explains how they approach the track.
- Drivers Press Conference – 5 drivers answer questions from the press.
- Highlights from the 3 practice sessions and from the qualification session, one video each.
- Paddock Pass – Will Buxton explaining the challenges for each team and interviewing a shed load of drivers.
- F1 Live: the half hour run up to the race broadcast live.
After the race, Formula 1 will publish a video of race highlights and then the recurring features return:
- Paddock Pass – another episode, this one post-race: reactions from the drivers.
- Top 10 Onboards – the 10 most interesting radio messages between drivers and their teams.
- Jolyon Palmer’s Analysis – a former Formula 1 driver dives deep on some of the things that made the race interesting, reviewing video footage.
And then there are videos that aren’t tied to any specific race, but that do work well in explaining how the sport works. In the past month or so we had:
- 2019 Drivers’ First F1 Wins – what was the first win of the current crop of drivers?
- Esteban Ocon’s Journey to F1 and Back – Ocon is a former F1 driver who will return next season.
- How do F1 Drivers Explain F1?
- Top 10 Cheeky F1 Innovations – innovations that were eventually banned.
- Grill the Grid – two drivers of the same team quizzed about F1’s past.
- 2021 F1 Car First Look – the regulations are ever changing and the car designs follow.
(I cannot embed these videos here, so I have linked to some of them above.)
All these features make it so you can get initiated in the sport in your own tempo, which makes it easier to enjoy the sport even if some of the races are, on the surface at least, boring.