Marie has been an Formula 1 fan for 30 years – ever since she fell in love with the sport watching the 1983 Monaco Grand Prix (won by Keke Rosberg). Her favorite race commentators have to be Murray Walker and Sir Jackie Stewart. She has been known to do her own color commentary from the comfort of her sofa, as her husband and kids can attest. (And I’ll confess to not knowing there was a network called Speed. -ed.)
And just like that, two networks broke my heart…. I heard the news on twitter (where else, these days). Formula 1 is moving from Speed to NBC. Apparently, FOX is doing a way with Speed, making it another all-sport channel.
So here is my open letter to NBC from a F1 fan who’s been tuning in for 30 years.
I’m going to say this in very small words. You better not mess this up!!
Let me give you some tips on how to cover a Formula 1 race because I know it is tempting to squeeze it into your Wide World of Sports jelly mold (or was that ABC? I can’t keep you guys straight.…)
First, do not, under any circumstances, tape-delay. We Formula 1 fans like our races live no matter where they are in the world. It’s a badge of honor. We want to see it in its entirety. We want to sit through the delays when a race is red flagged. We want to sit through the boring bits in the middle. We want to see the drivers sing their national anthems and spray champagne from the podium. It’s all good in our eyes!
I’m not saying I get up at 5:30 am to watch the races these days; I DVR like any sane person. But I want to know that what I’m watching was live with no edits, cuts or filler. (Truth be told, I used to be a diehard, brewing coffee in the wee hours to watch the race on a Sunday morning before the sun came up. But with age and children comes a strong desire for sleep.)
Now I have no problem with you running it again in the middle of the afternoon for the audience you would like to capture, but for the love of F1 fans throughout the US, please also show it live. Besides what other programming are you going to put on at 5:30 am?
Second, do not try to teach me about the sport. We F1 fans know what we are watching and have little patience with the color commentator who wants to walk us through how it is going to be different from IndyCars, blah, blah, blah. If a newcomer is watching the race and has a question they can bloody well look it up on Wikipedia like the rest of us. I guess what I’m saying is let David (Hobbs), Steve (Matchett) and Leigh (Diffey) do their jobs as they’ve been doing it over on Speed. I’m not sure why Bob Varsha isn’t coming along for the ride. I’ll miss him.
Third, please do not cut away from the race to show us a sad but revealing story about one of the drivers. I want to see expensive cars going really fast on an exotic track. I can follow my favorite drivers on twitter if I want their backstories.
And finally, make sure you hire Sam Posey for the opening interlude. He sets the tone for the whole event. And I’d miss his gravelly voice.
In summary, I’ll give you a chance. But just don’t mess it up!
Yours in speed,