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Drivers Online

Some time ago I compared the F1 team websites, ranking them for ease of use, information, news, design, etc. Keith Collantine, of F1-Fanatic, reckons Felipe Massa’s blog is the most tedious in existence, so I thought I’d have a look at the what the other drivers offer online.

Scott

Scott Speed – the winner online!

I went through each one and was quite surprised at the variety of styles and presentations out there. Massa’s may be boring but Raikkonen’s is still under development. Does it mean anything that one of the fastest drivers is also the slowest to have an online presence? If so, Nico Rosberg can feel pleased – his site has yet to go live too. Fernando Alonso’s is very lacking in information but Lewis Hamilton just has a page that redirects you to the McLaren site. Maybe he really is the quickest of them all…

Generally, the drivers’ sites are pretty ordinary, with little imagination and sparse information and news. There are a few that excel, however, with good graphics, videos, personal messages and interactivity. BMW won my previous tour of the team websites and Robert Kubica uses the same web designer, so his site looks good, although it is a bit sparse on actual information and has no news. Nick Heidfeld’s is also clear and efficient but could do with a little more information.

You’re going to think that I have a Scott Speed fixation but it just happens to be true that his website is by far the best in terms of looks, information and real interactivity with the viewer. Thanks to the provision of several videos, it is possible to get to know Scott to a greater extent than other drivers and he comes across as a very likable guy. How you react to his informality is up to you, of course, but I like it.

Another driver from the wrong end of the grid, Christijan Albers has a good-looking site that has the interesting innovation of scrolling news updates from f1.gpupdate.com but, unfortunately, his own news is out of date and there is no photo gallery. Adrian Sutil’s is by the same designer but has even less information, perhaps because he is so new to the sport.

Jarno Trulli has a good site with plenty of info, lots of of photos and some quotes, but the news is sparse. Perhaps the strangest is Alex Wurz’s, with a very flashy intro but news that is hopelessly out of date. He gets bonus marks from me, however, thanks to his use of classical music.

The others are average, although there are one or two that deserve special mention as examples of how not to build a website. David Coulthard’s looks as if it was designed when he first entered F1 and the lack of news is a definite loser. Mark Webber’s is marginally better but his news has not caught up with testing in Paul Ricard yet.

Wooden spoon goes to Jenson Button, however. The site looks reasonably good at first but requires registration before you can get to anything really interesting. Try to join up and you will find that the Country of Origin scrollbar doesn’t work – making it impossible to register! Maybe the dreaded Honda disease is spreading…

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Renault Show How It’s Done

When it comes to giving the fans what they want, some teams are better than others. Renault have long led the way in reaching F1 fanatics, with an active team club, excellent information on the website and an openness that puts other teams to shame.

Podcast

Now they have re-instated their podcast in a new format and it is well worth a listen. You can hear it by clicking on this link. This time round Pat Symonds, Steve Nielsen, the Sporting Manager, and Jeff Fullerton, Machine Shop Manager, are interviewed on such subjects as the car’s performance, the rise of young drivers in F1 and the quality of TV coverage. They pull no punches, giving their views frankly and without avoiding sensitive issues.

Full marks to Renault for such an excellent innovation.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

When I started this site, I knew that I could not compete with the news sites. They have access to information much earlier than I do, some info sources only release news to “the accredited press”, and there are lots of writers working on most sites whereas I am just lil ol’ me.

Nelson

Nelson Piquet – one of the greats

So I had to offer something different and, cheekily enough, that had to be the only other thing I have to offer – my opinion. F1 fans love to debate the finer points of the sport, however, and so my approach has been to say what I think but allow plenty of room for others to disagree. At times we have had lively debates in the comments system as a result (and yes, I do drop everything else and hurry over to F1 Latest when I see a comment arrive).

The fact remains that I am still only one person, however, and Dan M has asked that I post more often. At times I do come across more than one item of interest in a day but time constraints usually prevent me writing more than one post daily. So I am going to continue with the regular posts but add snippets with perhaps a brief comment as they occur.

There are other sites that offer news and comment on F1, food for the ever-hungry fan, and I have my own list that I visit daily. Since I believe that we all offer something slightly different and are not in competition therefore, here’s a sneak peek at the ones I consider the best:

F1 Fanatic dot co dot uk. In my opinion, easily the best F1 blog on the net (with the possible exception of F1 Latest of course!), Keith Collantine does most of the articles but Ben Evans contributes his own occasional insights as well. More newsy than my own blog, it still offers plenty of scope for comment and discussion and the writers are extremely knowledgeable and fair. Lots of extra goodies available too.

Pitpass dot com. A really quirky but entertaining site, not really a blog since it has no comments system but has a forum (which I have never visited – I don’t usually “do” forums but more on that in a moment) where views can be expressed. The mix of news and humor is unique and highly effective, the writers well informed and authoritative. Again, there are plenty of extras provided.

Autosport. The best of the news magazine sites. If it’s not in Autosport, it’s usually not worth reading. Their format is the best, too – straightforward design, not too many graphics to slow down loading yet plenty to interest.

F1-Live dot com. Pretty much the same news as Autosport but occasionally they get something that’s been missed. Very comprehensive site but they come second in the news stakes because the heavy loading with graphics, animated advertising and inducements to other parts of the site make it slower to get where you want to be.

Grand Prix dot com. A news site with a difference. They pick and choose as to which stories they’ll run and often have stuff that the other sites don’t reach. Mike Doodson does occasional articles for them and he’s very good. And then there’s the Mole – very wry British humor but not updated often enough.

The Pitlane Club Forums. My first foray into forums. I picked this one because (a) they invited me, (b) it was new and looked to have potential and (c) the owner is doing everything he can to keep out the trolls. So far it has been very good with interesting topics and not too much silly invective thrown around. If you want to chat about F1, it’s worth a try.

Finally, there’s Patrick. His site is a straightforward blog, Motorsports Ramblings, and he doesn’t update nearly often enough. But when he does, he’s worth reading – writes well and very knowledgeable. I recommend taking a look and then going back occasionally to see if there’s anything new…

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VisionF1 – A Priceless Resource

Yesterday I stumbled upon a really interesting website: Vision F1. It gives replays of GPs in graphic form, little labeled dots representing the drivers going around the circuit.

VisionF1

That sounds a bit primitive and, the site having been in existence a while, it does have a retro look and feel, but in practice it is nothing short of brilliant. By looking down on the track one can get a much better understanding of what is happening throughout the field. Say a battle develops between two midfield runners – you’re not bound by some TV director’s need to slavishly follow the leader; you can watch the fight exclusively until resolved.

It is also an excellent way of examining a driver’s performance throughout the race. I watched Speed’s drive at Istanbul 2006 and was surprised at how fast he was going; did you realize he spent the entire race passing Kubica and then having to pass him again after pit stops?

A very important factor is that you can increase the speed of the replay, thereby avoiding having to watch for over an hour and a half. I took it as high as 20x, searching for the maximum, but things are happening so fast at that speed that it’s useless for practical purposes. Six times actual speed is a good compromise, cutting the time element quite drastically but still allowing you to see what is happening.

There are several other options available and various statistical information on other pages. But the preservation of races going back as far as the German GP of 2005 is the most important factor. It is such a useful facility for the history of F1 and I hope it continues for as long as GP racing does. YouTube is great but video can only record what the camera happens to be looking at; Vision F1 is a full account of the whole race.

Have a look at the site and play a bit. If you love F1, I’m sure you’ll agree that this is an excellent resource.

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