A memo to all Formula 1 journalists
Next week, the 2014 Formula 1 season begins with the first of three tests from Jerez. For the journalists with paddock passes, it will be the beginning of another long Formula 1 season. It is those people that this piece is aimed at. First, let me say that the paddock journalists do some fantastic work each year keeping fans up to date with what is happening. However, with that also comes power. A paddock pass is like, a prized possession, and with that, journalists should do things that teams may not necessarily like. Why am I saying this? Double points. Unanimously, over 85 percent of Formula 1 fans want it dropped. It is a needless gimmick, the equivalent of say, making the final day of the Premier League season worth double. It penalises consistency. It rewards a ‘fluke’ result. Double points does nothing for me.
Formula 1 likes to pretend its fans matter. But the fact of the matter is, they don’t. We (and journalists) were never consulted, we are simply outsiders to the inner circus and bickerings that occur. Don’t get me wrong, I love Formula 1, I’ve watched it for fifteen years. But it is frustrating, year in, year out, to see how out of touch those that run this sport are with the audience that tune in and watch. Double points feels like the tip of the iceberg. It is a needless change in response to one driver dominating the latter half of the 2013 season. Fans have never wanted a gimmick such as double points, so why has it been implemented? FOTA, better known as Formula One Teams Association, hold forums, every so often. Are view points ever taken on board, or does what the paying audience say go in one ear and then straight out the other? Because that is what double points feels like. As soon as the reaction came out, someone in power should have thought “oh, you know what, maybe we did make a big mistake after all” and removed the regulation.
Could I e-mail the teams? Of course. But the e-mail addresses on the teams’ website are generic. The Christian Horner’s and Stefano Domenicalli’s of this world (i.e. those in a position of power) are never going to read said e-mails, are they? It is the same in any corporate business, the secretary reads it, throws back a standard response and nothing else happens. Eric Boullier’s response to double points on AUTOSPORT was spineless. A response like that cannot end there, it needs to be challenged, until a breaking point is hit. If double points is still in place come Melbourne, it cannot be allowed to just go away. Pressure needs to be maintained by those journalists in the paddock. I feel sometimes like journalists and TV personalities are the only things that connect fans with the teams, because the teams appear to be in some kind of parallel, distant universe. Fans feel alienated.
To Formula 1 journalists attending the three tests and races: please exercise your power and put pressure on all in power to drop double points. Because the frank truth is, fans are powerless. High up members of the Formula 1 paddock like to think that they care about fans, but again, they don’t. And the past few weeks proves that. I’d like to think journalists have the power to do this, but hey what do I know. No round the edge questions, simple and direct. “Why are you not dropping double points?”. No off the record writing, all on the record and in person. Hold those who made a disastrous decision accountable. It is about time F1 bosses listen to those who matter most. Not the bank managers with big wallets. Those who matter most are the fans. Me and you. Journalists, you have power as a member of the F1 paddock. Exercise it.
And if you don’t have the power to influence. Ask yourself why.