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Old 03-24-2018, 01:13 PM
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Default Formula 1 TV Coverage

All I can say is "Hmmmmm...."

The start of the 2018 Formula One season is upon us - a day I've been anxiously waiting for since all TV racing coverage (most all types) ceased for the Winter break. (I hate the off-season.... and can't watch "my" sport like other sports which have year round "all-the-time" networks dedicated to them.)

Let me preface this commentary with the fact that my observations are based upon personal preferences and that it's based upon my watching only today's coverage (Australian GP Qualifying) of the race season thus far. AND, this isn't about the racing itself, its about the media coverage associated with the sport.

My basic rant: I do NOT like the fact that this season's F1 coverage will be by ABC/ESPN (versus NBC-SN). (And using the UK's Sky Broadcast Team to present it.)

Reasons for my ire:

- ESPN loves to sensationalize the bad aspects of the sport with 4 spectacular crashes in the opening intro to the Australian GP. Sure, we want to see them BUT, to introduce that aspect of motorsports to all neophyte viewers only serves to spotlight the stereotype that racing is all about crashing. I hate that. Sure, it's dangerous, just like any sport has its adverse side; but to make new viewers watch that upfront - reinforcing the danger - is just folly.

- But the main reason: ESPN showed little, if any, of the human aspect of the sport or motor racing.

Let me explain that... I LOVED the broadcast team on NBC-SN (and likewise, FS1's coverage of drag racing).

Great commentary by Diffey, Hobbs, Machett and great color by Will Buxton. Sure, I knew it was all over late last year, but figured I'd give ESPN a chance.

In today's coverage by ESPN/Sky, lots of track action - a good thing - but commentary was below par. Sure, they spoke excitedly at times; but I have no idea who these people are. Not a single shot of a human commentator, nor even an intro on screen of who was talking. And they all sounded the same.

OK, so they weren't "bad commentators", it's just that there was no featuring of drivers, mechanics, and other key figures behind the scenes, not even a quick interview with the team principals, which was a staple of the NBC-SN coverage.


Will Buxton and Fernando Alonso

Maybe I just like putting a face to a name of an announcer, or being moved by the rants and emotional commentary by the drivers but this is totally missing from the ESPN coverage of a sport that, IMO, is as much about the people involved as it is about how fast the cars go.

And the technical coverage.... there's been NONE as yet. On NBC-SN, having David Hobbs discussing the driving aspect of the racing - from his vantage point as a prominent driver on his own...

David Hobbs, Team Surtees circa 1967

...and the technical, "under the engine cover" commentary by ex-F1 technician, Steve Matchett...

...providing in-depth (but simple enough) explanation of what makes the cars work and discussions of pit or tire strategies was, to me, an extremely well balanced, and informative (not just entertaining) way to present the sport.

Oh well, still going to watch every race and hope they improve. Meanwhile, looking forward to continuing-for-2018 Indycar coverage by NBC-SN INCLUDING Indy, snatched away from ABC/ESPN after half a century! Yeeeehaaaaaa!

OK, sports fans, you can now go back to discussing ball sports with the same amount of passion while I go take a nap. Zzzzzzzzzzz..... Laff......


PS - One comment directly related to the racing: Those halos! (New for 2018 front roll cage extensions that place the front support beam directly in front of the driver). Are you kidding? Those would drive me NUTS! No, I'm not an adaptable and talented F1 driver but wow.... Going to go put a piece of electrical tape on my windshield before my next hills run just to see if I can ignore it. For purely clinical reasons of course.



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Old 03-24-2018, 08:08 PM
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I have to say Mic....I disagree with you on the commentators I watched qualifying last night and was pleasantly surprised that it was just fine. I DEFINITELY do miss Will Buxton...that guy is great and from what I can tell he's going to be leading their digital distribution...not sure if that means he will be behind the scenes or in front of a camera...hopefully in front because it's where he belongs. But as far as the rest of them went....I'm fine with them being gone. To me Leigh Diffey is like Bob Costas...just goes ON and ON about stuff that I just don't care about. I guess I am just not that interested in as much of the human element of it all...I think I get that human drama aspect of it covered by reading Planet F1 and a variety of other things online. And I always felt David Hobbs was just too dated of a racer....I respect my elders and all that but he just came across as a bit tired...and after watching him for the last 11 years I felt he said the same things over and over many times. Matchett was fine but I really didn't care to hear about the tiny details about the tire compounds and all that stuff. Martin Brundle is the lead on Sky and he does just fine for me. I am sure I'll get to know the others as the year goes on but, yeah....I'm good with the new set up. As far as talking to team principals they had Christian Horner on 3 times last nite via radio to talk about things so I thought that was pretty good...he barely had time even for Will Buxton in the past. I generally always record the race and I pretty much fast forwarded through the pre show most of the time so, yeah...and hardly every watched the wrap up either.

I do completely agree with you on the halo....it's just hideous and I don't see how the it cannot affect the drivers view....at the very least I bet it's giving them a headache from trying not to go cross eyed on the thing in the center. I am all for safety but it just seems unnecessary....cockpit and monocoque is already super strong. I feel like if Alonso survived that big *** crash last year without it it's really not needed.

I'll be watching in an hour hoping to see Lewis continue to kick *** and take names....would love to see Alonso finish top 5 but after last year I will just be glad to see him FINISH a race.

-Shawn
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Old 03-24-2018, 08:59 PM
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And we shall agree to disagree. No problem with that as I did say it was IMO and personal preferences.

But I do think that having the Hobbs and Matchett discourse helps me to better understand that which I never knew about the sport from the human perspective - that element that makes it all work and what makes Vettel a Vettel or the technical reasoning behind tire selections.

My appreciation for the people aspect is akin to why some people care more for the behind-the-play calling of the offensive coordinator on a football team (me) and others prefer to just watch the defensive rushers stomp the QB into the turf (not me).

And your love for Hamilton is probably equal and opposite of my disdain for him. Same as someone who hates the 49ers QB and loves the NE Pats guy because he's a local Bay Area kid.
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Old 03-25-2018, 02:47 PM
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So just watched the race...end up recording it last night. And broadcasters aside....it was ridiculously bad broadcast by ESPN. No transitions to commercials WHATSOEVER...just a sudden side by side with a commercial or a full on commercial break...right when restarts where about to happen. It's like they had one guy here in the U.S. reading a magazine and just pushing buttons for commercials at semi random times. Wow....so not good.
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Old 03-25-2018, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by SPM350Z View Post
So just watched the race...end up recording it last night. And broadcasters aside....it was ridiculously bad broadcast by ESPN. No transitions to commercials WHATSOEVER...just a sudden side by side with a commercial or a full on commercial break...right when restarts where about to happen. It's like they had one guy here in the U.S. reading a magazine and just pushing buttons for commercials at semi random times. Wow....so not good.
Yep, made my wife jump this morning with a "What the f.....!?!?" when the broadcast jumped into a commercial while someone was talking.

I FF'd the broadcast to the last 5 laps, it was so bad for me.

Vettel over Hamilton. Hahahahahahahahaaaaaaa, sorry Shawn. Laff.... "Why didn't you tell me Vettel was in the pits?! Did *I* do something wrong?" Snort snort.....
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Old 03-25-2018, 07:20 PM
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Yeah...Hamilton lost to no fault of his own though so I can deal.....it's amazing how something like a safety car and a pit stop can take you from third to first...in my eyes he won on a technicality but then again Vettel DID keep Hamilton behind him for 30 laps or whatever...all good. Vettel won the first race last year too and my man Hamilton still got the championship so yeaaaah. ha ha I was glad to see Alonso FINISH the race and in 5th too....happy times. I used to hate Alonso but I've come to really like him over the last few years...HELL of a driver.
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Old 03-25-2018, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by SPM350Z View Post
Yeah...Hamilton lost to no fault of his own
But he still lost.

Running away now! === ==== =====
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Old 03-25-2018, 08:36 PM
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Very true...if he'd DNF'd I'd be worried...but while second place is first place for LOSERS he's still not too far off in points. Ha ha.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:35 AM
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I must have watched 80% of the race on Univision since the broadcast on ESPN was garbage. Technical difficulties galore, and the amount of commercials was a joke!

I am a lifelong fan, have been to over 10 races, am going to Montreal in June and possibly Austin in October, and I must say, F1 has severely been disappointing me. They care more about the show than the sport itself. It is all about money. I learned that in Austin last October when I was directly able to compare it to MotoGP in Austin.

MotoGP tickets were half the price, and the prices at COTA were substantially different. MotoGP weekend they were charging $10 a day to park... F1 weekend they were charging $100 a day!

With that being said, I am sure that people are going to say that MotoGP is not the same level as F1, but it really is. The spectacle is at the same level, they are both at the top in terms of technology and speed in their categories.

I purchased the MotoGP package this year, and I feel that it is money well spent. I am actually disappointed in myself for still buying tickets to go to the Montreal Grand Prix this year.

I already told my new gf, who actually agrees that MotoGP is wayyyyyyy more exciting than F1 (she watched for the first time the last 2 weeks) I am not going to miss a single MotoGP race this year, where F1... I am not going to stay up all night to watch it live.

End rant lol.
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Old 03-26-2018, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by SPM350Z View Post
So just watched the race...end up recording it last night. And broadcasters aside....it was ridiculously bad broadcast by ESPN. No transitions to commercials WHATSOEVER...just a sudden side by side with a commercial or a full on commercial break...right when restarts where about to happen. It's like they had one guy here in the U.S. reading a magazine and just pushing buttons for commercials at semi random times. Wow....so not good.
Agree - HORRIBLE coverage, especially compared to NBC-SN excellent crew. The only decent part was the updated graphics package. Since SkySports (from the UK) has no commercials ESPN inserts them totally at random, there is no update when they come back from a commercial to review what happened. Despite the side-by-side where they keep the video up, you have no idea why someone was pitting or why they focused on a certain car.

I knew I would miss Hobbs random quips and Machett's technical insight but it was downright painful to listen to these other guys, especially during qualifying which (as most F1 fans know) is usually more entertaining then the race itself.

Add to that the ugly halo and over complicated front wings, plus barge boards randomly sticking out and F1 is getting difficult to stomach. I was just at the St Pete Gran Prix with the wife 2 weeks ago (great value with pit passes and the World Challenge cars racing too) and even she remarked how sleek and sexy the Indy Cars look in comparison - the F1 cars look like an mutated insect built with various Lego bits. The halo blocks the front view where you could see the driver, the suspension and wheels all working together. At the end of the race you could clearly see the drivers trying to get themselves up and over the halo to wave and thank the crowd.

The lack of grid girls seems to go along with this new F1 look. From the logo to the cars the whole thing has an over stylized, too well planned, video game feel to it. F1 appears to be one step away from cars with neon under them telling you what their battery status is. Gone is glamor and passion with the beautiful people and cars.

As for the racing itself: the DRS needs to be increased to 2 seconds. By the time a car is 1 second behind its stuck in dirty air already. DRS needs an Indy Car like "push to pass" concept where they can leverage some kind of boost. I heard them say there was more passing this year, but it sure didn't seem that way. Every time a car caught up and things got tight they started backing off to avoid overheating the car or the tires. They need to consider bringing back refueling. To help control the fire risk set it up so once the fuel probe goes in have the engine shut off automatically. When the probe is removed the car can start back up. This would add some more strategy to the mix. Finally make the difference in the tires to be actually noticeable. They have like 8 compounds now: with super soft, soft-ish, mildly soft, sort of soft, kind of soft... nonsense! I want to see big jumps in speed between compounds. Once again Indy Car does this right with just two compounds and a larger gap in performance. Honestly even Indy Car would stand to increase the performance delta to promote passing and mix things up.
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Old 03-26-2018, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by JMII View Post
Agree - HORRIBLE coverage, especially compared to NBC-SN excellent crew. The only decent part was the updated graphics package. Since SkySports (from the UK) has no commercials ESPN inserts them totally at random, there is no update when they come back from a commercial to review what happened. Despite the side-by-side where they keep the video up, you have no idea why someone was pitting or why they focused on a certain car.

I knew I would miss Hobbs random quips and Machett's technical insight but it was downright painful to listen to these other guys, especially during qualifying which (as most F1 fans know) is usually more entertaining then the race itself.

Add to that the ugly halo and over complicated front wings, plus barge boards randomly sticking out and F1 is getting difficult to stomach. I was just at the St Pete Gran Prix with the wife 2 weeks ago (great value with pit passes and the World Challenge cars racing too) and even she remarked how sleek and sexy the Indy Cars look in comparison - the F1 cars look like an mutated insect built with various Lego bits. The halo blocks the front view where you could see the driver, the suspension and wheels all working together. At the end of the race you could clearly see the drivers trying to get themselves up and over the halo to wave and thank the crowd.

The lack of grid girls seems to go along with this new F1 look. From the logo to the cars the whole thing has an over stylized, too well planned, video game feel to it. F1 appears to be one step away from cars with neon under them telling you what their battery status is. Gone is glamor and passion with the beautiful people and cars.

As for the racing itself: the DRS needs to be increased to 2 seconds. By the time a car is 1 second behind its stuck in dirty air already. DRS needs an Indy Car like "push to pass" concept where they can leverage some kind of boost. I heard them say there was more passing this year, but it sure didn't seem that way. Every time a car caught up and things got tight they started backing off to avoid overheating the car or the tires. They need to consider bringing back refueling. To help control the fire risk set it up so once the fuel probe goes in have the engine shut off automatically. When the probe is removed the car can start back up. This would add some more strategy to the mix. Finally make the difference in the tires to be actually noticeable. They have like 8 compounds now: with super soft, soft-ish, mildly soft, sort of soft, kind of soft... nonsense! I want to see big jumps in speed between compounds. Once again Indy Car does this right with just two compounds and a larger gap in performance. Honestly even Indy Car would stand to increase the performance delta to promote passing and mix things up.
Totally agree on all points, especially the comment on the "over stylized appearance" and the DRS v. Indy P2P comment.

One entertaining but GRATING thing to me is the theatrical and obviously rehearsed "raising of the tire warmers". I laugh every time they show the ceremonious looking removal on cue. I get that F1 is the top echelon of road racing but the amount of money spent by F1 teams just kills me.

Literally, 20 guys per F1 pit stop to change tires?? Oy.... so much prefer the FEW guys doing air jack hose, tire changes, adjustment of wing angles, and re-fueling in Indycar so much better. Don't recall the number of technicians allowed over the wall, but to me, so much more talent involved.

I can see the one guy's resume from the F1 team...

"Jack man - responsible for lever jack raising of the front of the vehicle during tire changes. And hustling my a$$ to get it out of the way for vehicle exit without smashing someone's kneecaps with the jack while performing effective removal."

Don't get me started on telemetric control of F1 cars from the Mercedes AMG HQ in Germany....

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Old 03-26-2018, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by MicVelo View Post
Totally agree on all points, especially the comment on the "over stylized appearance" and the DRS v. Indy P2P comment.

One entertaining but GRATING thing to me is the theatrical and obviously rehearsed "raising of the tire warmers". I laugh every time they show the ceremonious looking removal on cue. I get that F1 is the top echelon of road racing but the amount of money spent by F1 teams just kills me.

Literally, 20 guys per F1 pit stop to change tires?? Oy.... so much prefer the FEW guys doing air jack hose, tire changes, adjustment of wing angles, and re-fueling in Indycar so much better. Don't recall the number of technicians allowed over the wall, but to me, so much more talent involved.

I can see the one guy's resume from the F1 team...

"Jack man - responsible for lever jack raising of the front of the vehicle during tire changes. And hustling my a$$ to get it out of the way for vehicle exit without smashing someone's kneecaps with the jack while performing effective removal."

Don't get me started on telemetric control of F1 cars from the Mercedes AMG HQ in Germany....
I disagree with you on the pit stop part... I think that is the most exciting part of the race. From a technical standpoint, these guys lift a car, remove 4 wheels, put 4 wheels on, and drop the car in roughly 2 seconds. That is just simply insane.
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Old 03-26-2018, 11:48 AM
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Bad coverage. They never mentioned when something significant happened during the commercial break, which for this race was a lot. It also seemed like an excessive amount of commercials.
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Old 03-26-2018, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by eye-5 View Post
Bad coverage. They never mentioned when something significant happened during the commercial break, which for this race was a lot. It also seemed like an excessive amount of commercials.
Of course, that's what happens when the broadcast network is owned by "The Money Above All" company. Most people know them as Disney. Don't get me wrong, Disneyland, the Little Mermaid, and all that is cool but they are the greediest company on the planet! (And yeah, I know that first hand... I worked for them when they bought us out 22 years ago. Scary company....) BRRRR....
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Old 03-27-2018, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by MicVelo View Post
One entertaining but GRATING thing to me is the theatrical and obviously rehearsed "raising of the tire warmers". I laugh every time they show the ceremonious looking removal on cue. I get that F1 is the top echelon of road racing but the amount of money spent by F1 teams just kills me.
The ironic part is when the cars sit on the grid loosing tire temperature. If I was in charge of one of those back marker teams I'd purposely tell my drivers to go as slow as possible during the formation lap just to mess with all those NASA-like launch calculations that the front runners must go thru just to reach turn 1.

Also if F1 is so technically advanced then why have tire warmers at all? The rest of the racing world seems to function just fine without them. Their drivers just... you know... actually DRIVE the car! F1 drivers are slowly becoming nothing but button pushers. They should just make heated rims/wheels! Duct the exhaust from the engine to the rear tires = problem solved

And why does F1 use front and rear jacks manual jacks anyway? Indy Car and LeMans cars use an air hose - that seems like a better solution especially when pitting with a broken front wing. The guy with strangest job in the pits? Not the jack man, but how about the ones who simply stabilize the car? They hold onto the air intake box from both sides just to make sure the car stays perfectly still while the wheels are fitted. Seems like a cushy job to me. Honestly I like NASCAR's solution the best - the good ole floor jack, low tech: just a guy pumping on a handle. Like the rest of us normal people at home in the garage.
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Old 03-27-2018, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by SQuaLZ View Post
I disagree with you on the pit stop part... I think that is the most exciting part of the race. From a technical standpoint, these guys lift a car, remove 4 wheels, put 4 wheels on, and drop the car in roughly 2 seconds. That is just simply insane.
Totally get that, it is exciting, sure. (See last comment below, too.) Every man a specialist. But I think part of my disdain for it is how much MONEY is spent on F1 and 20 pit people to me is ridiculous. Maybe its the amateur racer (read: "Mind that budget!" ) in me talking but I just tend to frown on excess. (And I'll clarify that that mindset has nothing to do with political leanings... I'm NOT suggesting they spend the money on social issues. Hahahahaha....)

And, it's not a point that - outside of these "discourses" - I ever even think or care about. Laff....

Was watching the endurance racing pitstop strategies (Sebring, Daytona, LeMans) the other day and they have a very procedural way of doing them too with one guy doing 2-3 sequential, disparate jobs. AFTER doing the first job of removing a tire/wheel, he then moves to the next one that's already off and removes the assembly from the pit lane, sort of like a volleyball position rotation.

Interesting to me because one of the things I do for companies is observe operational efficiencies and make recommendations on how to streamline and speed up processes. So, from that perspective, you can see that I DO think F1 pit stops ARE a work of maximized and almost artistic efficiency... just at what cost.

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Old 03-27-2018, 12:02 PM
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For me it was good coverage- not because ESPN did a good job, but because I donít have cable TV, all I have is this app called Sling and they DO have ESPN2 on there. So before I couldnít watch the race (I live on Kauai and we donít receive digital tv from Oahu...too far). But now I can..and did! It was first F1 race live on TV since 2011 when I cut the cable...and years ago Iíd watch every race live on Speedchannel. Definitely miss David Hobbs though...
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Old 03-27-2018, 01:05 PM
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They did apologize for the coverage at least. Let's hope Bahrain is better.
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Old 03-27-2018, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by LexD View Post
They did apologize for the coverage at least. Let's hope Bahrain is better.
Oh, all right. Hmmmph. One. More. Chance.

Hahahahaha..... who am I kidding? I'll record each race and FF through anything I don't like anyhow. Those are called commercials. Even those side x side views.
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Old 03-28-2018, 04:32 AM
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Originally Posted by LexD View Post
They did apologize for the coverage at least. Let's hope Bahrain is better.
Saw that this AM, but how is it going to get better? ESPN is just rebroadcasting Sky's coverage. Since Sky has no commercials in the UK there is pretty much NO way for ESPN to "fix things" unless they add a crew to commentate... just like NBCSN did.

The main problem was the breaks in the action when the broadcast suddenly went to commercial. Then when the commercial was over the rejoin occurs with no review. Its like trying to watch any live sporting event with multiple bathrooms breaks (normally beer related) - you come back to the action and immediately need someone to catch you up. NBCSN would often run their own replays, radio messages and have discussions to fill in the gaps of information lost during an ad break. If ESPN continues without a crew and without some kind of reply functionality I fear nothing much will change.

I just skipped the pre-race show when I realized they had some technical glitch, clearly someone just pushed the wrong button. Similar things have happened, even on Monday Night Football, which is clearly ESPN's premier event... we get it - stuff happens. But in the case of F1 EPSN isn't doing anything they are just a pipeline for the stream.

What's really crazy is Liberty Media is a US company that owns the F1 rights and is trying to build the brand. If anything a move like this is going backwards if they are trying to win over fans. The NBCSN crew was passionate and engaging, they used references that US fans understood and always put a US tilt on things - like talking up Haas, or highlight Alonso's running the Indy 500. They would highlight NASCAR driver tweets or have Mario Andretti call in with comments on some races. All of that is gone now, the results are a major disconnect between F1 (the organization) and the fans.
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