Pointless Technology – F1

I think it was part the way through the last F1 season that I started to get a strange attitude towards it, and by the end I was seriously wondering if I would watch it next year. I thought about blogging about it at the time, but I let that opportunity pass, and alas, the 2016 season is here.

I’ve watched the F1 on TV for some fifteen years, perhaps off and on with varying interest. I have a vague memory of the changing era’s, the different drivers and teams, the different cars as they adapted to meet new rules, regulations and adopt (and develop) new technologies, and even different TV channels and different commentators.

Here in the UK the races (and qualifying sessions) used to be aired on ITV and interrupted with adverts, then it moved to the BBC (without commercial breaks), then Sky gained some rights and what the BBC aired was reduced (although I didn’t really notice while I still watched on the BBC) and now it has been sold over to Channel 4. When I moved house and had no TV and limited internet access I tried following some races on BBC Radio 5 Live, and while the commentary did well to paint a picture of what was going on, it wasn’t the same; not being able to see the action as I was used to. When my internet improved I changed to watching online via BBC iPlayer (since I still lived without TV), and I found that it could take me a week or two to gradually watch both the qualifying and race for each stage – there was no hurry or need to watch it all in one go, and I guess I either lacked the enthusiasm and keenness to find out who would win (sometimes having the result annoyingly revealed to me before I’d seen it happen) or I liked to keep some entertainment for another day.

Aside from all this, I started to question how F1 fitted in with my life – I know it’s not like I’m a participator in such a sport but when we watch something, we buy into it to a certain degree. I used to play racing games on the PC and enjoyed driving fast and improving my driving skills in them, but other than this, I wasn’t really a racer or a petrol head – I dabbled in modifying cars but perhaps through saving my money for other important things I lost interest in that; I guess I grew out of that stuff. I’ve largely grown out of driving my car, as regular readers will know I cycle most days instead. I also don’t buy into most of the things the sport seems to promote – and these are the things I became conscious of and began to question during the last season:

– All of the sponsors; I could do a quick Google of the cars and list the sponsors whose products I buy into, but I shan’t. Intel, AMD and Microsoft are the first few to come to mind, but beyond that I don’t drink Red Bull (I’m convinced the drivers have water* in their branded drinks bottles), I have little desire to own or drive a Mercedes or Ferrari (I do actually own a 15 year old Renault, if that means anything), and I haven’t worn my wrist watch (which isn’t a Rolex) for a long time since the battery died.

*the winners drink bottled water at the end of every race, sometimes only taking a couple of swigs – but what’s a plastic bottle to the environment when you’re a millionaire?!

– The lifestyles; somehow, by even just watching the sport without parting with any money, viewers are endorsing and supporting the lifestyles of the drivers, which lets be honest, can be pretty lavish, I’m sure; which perhaps isn’t, or shouldn’t be an issue – perhaps it could be said it’s well deserved.

– I’ve even over-analysed the whole winning ceremony from the pomp of the national anthems, to the grown men shaking champagne bottles and spraying it over each other.

The thing is, motorsport is fun and exciting, it’s thrilling for the drivers and it’s exciting for the spectators. It’s also big-business and the vast expenses involved in F1 from building the cars, shipping them and the teams around the world, filling them with fuel and fitting them with tyres only to burn the fuel away and wear away the rubber, perhaps crash and damage the car in the process… all this can be justified because the process creates enough money to support it.

The final stage of my consideration regarding watching this season came about when I visited the 4OD (Channel 4 On Demand) website for the first time to look and see how similar it would be to the BBC’s iPlayer website. I was presented with a request to sign in with either a Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. While I technically have these things I feel like I don’t use them and they seem to be things in this modern world that I have decided to opt out of, either way, I feel awkward about linking such accounts with other services so I guess the decision has been made for me through my previous decisions and I’ve set myself on a path of not conforming.



  1. More and more web resources these days seem to want you to sign in with a facebook, google or twitter account, which could give them access to far more of your personal details and preferences than you would really like to share with them. My solution has been to set up an empty facebook account just for this purpose using a disposable email address (an empty google or twitter account would also work). Not something facebook et. al. like you to do, but fair enough seeing that they do things I don’t like them to do.

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