When the first noteable incident of the weekend occured, everybody was waiting for some good footage of the strange contact between Pastor Maldonado and Lewis Hamilton at the end of Q2. For a long time all we got to see was a far away shot of what seemed to be Pastor slicing across Lewis in a retaliatory move which has no place in motor racing.
I took two and a half hours for the stewards to pronounce their verdict and true to form, the information given was minimal. The official FIA report as per usual made no effort at all to motivate the decision, merely mentioning a 5 place grid drop penalty and that a reprimand was handed out for ‘causing an avoidable accident’. Now I don’t get the reasoning when you give a grid penalty to one car, it’s pretty clear he’s the one to have caused the incident. Why then a reprimand is warranted is beyond me. Perhaps the FIA stewards had valid reasons for this, but as they always refuse to give any detail on the decision making process the fans at large are left to guess and bicker on forums. Check here to see the only information coming out of the FIA regarding penalties and decisions during the weekend. It’s lack of detail is pitiful.
Finally I turned to trusted youtube to find an -illegally- posted video of Lewis’ onboard, taken from the BBC website which ofcourse is blocked for non UK viewers (that don’t know how to use a proxy 😉 ) FOM bloodhounds are always quick to delete said videos and even have the youtube channels taken off air with striking regularity, and yet again this is a huge missed opportunity for Formula one. Why is this footage not available on the official website? Within 30 mins the video of Lewis’ onboard had thousands of views on youtbe, traffic I’m sure the official F1 website would be glad to have.
However, even Lewis’ onboard that got released was inadequate, as it omitted a crucial 5 seconds before the incident, to show the twitch Lewis did to the right. Pastor’s onboard was nowhere to be seen, even though it is the most crucial piece of footage to determine whether there was malicious intent on his part or not. Adam Cooper broke the story on his blog that Pastor’s footage was simply not available, because FOM cannot record more than 9 onboard cams at once. I find this quite shocking that in a sports that prides itself on its high tech credentials has such inadequate recording software. From the footage we did get, it all seemed pretty damning for Pastor, and to me it seems quite clear he deliberately took a swipe at Lewis. In light of the harsh stewarding this year, I believe he can thank his lucky stars to have gotten away with a minor 5 place grid drop penalty (the same penalty he’d have gotten had he replaced a gearbox). However we can never be sure because a: the stewards give out zero information on why they came to that decision and b: crucial footage is not made available for fans to judge for themselves.
Even Lewis Hamilton himself went back to see the stewards on his own initiative so he could get an explanation from them as to why he had gotten the reprimand. You’d expect that at least the stewards would give a detailed report to the teams and drivers involved on why they thought such a decision was necessary but apparently the drivers get the same non-information given to the public.
There are countless examples from this year alone of how inadequate FOM coverage providing the world feed really is. The Di Resta Heidfeld incident at the Nurburgring wasn’t caught by any camera of the dozens covering the track. We can now guess that no onboard was available because they simply weren’t able to record them. The best footage I saw from that incident was a fan made amateur video from way off in the grandstand.
The Kamui-Lewis incident which saw Lewis’ race ended early was again an example of inadequate coverage. Where is the onboard from Kamui?! Where are the shots from the Team Lotus cars coming together in Turn one after Glock hit Di Resta, an incident also only caught on the edge of the screen. At the end of q1, why did the cameras pan out to look at cars coming into the pits when Kovalainen was finishing his do or die lap to scrape into q2 with a massively impressive performance? Where is the coverage of Petrov’s brakes failing on the final lap and his spin at the bus stop chicane which let Massa take 8th place at the very last corner on the final lap? Where is the footage of the Buemi-Perez incident which badly damaged Buemi’s rear wing and forced him to retire, resulting in a drive through for Perez? Why did we only see the lucky escape by Jenson having his front wing and mirror torn off by debri from Senna’s front wing long after the race had finished?
FOM coverage is a disgrace, wholly embarrassing for a sport that claims to be at the pinnacle of technology.
Stewards need to be open in discussing their decision making process. This will allow fans and drivers alike to know what is accepted on a race track and what is not. This is also crucial for future generations of drivers. The world feed during the race needs better directors, important footage needs to be made widely available to the public on the official website. Interactivity when viewers can pick and choose which driver they want to watch, which part of the track they want to keep an eye on is the logical next step but still way off in the future in fairy tale land. The technology exists, but FOM has its head stuck in the sand.
BBC, Sky,…doesn’t really matter who gets broadcasting rights as long as FIA and FOM keep up this embarrassing performance.
stay tuned for the 3rd backmarkersF1 podcast for a proper race review together with Matt coming up soon. Just had to get this off my chest already as it’s driving me insane 😉