Welcome to the first Ignorant American F1 Off-Week Special!
Here's my dilemma - I'm having so much fun ignorantly spouting off about F1 to all of you life-long fans after each Grand Prix that the off weekends in the schedule feel lonely, boring, and sad. As I'm sure they do for you.
So I came up with a plan to keep our little candle lit and our romance alive when there is no race. As I'm able, on off weeks I'm going to shoot a video and call it, quite presumptuously, the Off-Week Special. I mean, at this point more American ignorance in the world can only help things. No applause, please, just trying to do my part.
Now, here's where I need your assistance. I don't yet know enough about F1 to contribute anything worthwhile to the discussion when there's not a race. Therefore the OWSes will have to cover a wider range of topics than I have so far. That topic selection will be up to all of you, you who joined a tribe featuring the ramblings of a proudly moronic hospital patient.
So, classiest of strangers - I would very much appreciate it if you would give me a hint about what you'd like to hear my ignorant opinion on. And I also like things that challenge me, so if there's something car-related you want a bearded Texan to research or experience I'll probably give it a shot. Let me know in the comments. Go nuts with the suggestions, the next off-week is mid-July so I've got some time to put it together. I also have an evil plan to get YOUR name and the Ignorant American F1 "brand" on an actual race car in about a year from now, so make sure you stick around and I'll have more on that as it develops. Exciting times!
Anyway, instead of anything fun like all that stuff I just said, for this week's OWS here's a short, unhappy, written review of F1 TV Pro. Lesson, illustrated - that disappointment you're feeling is a great analogue to the F1 TV experience. And yes, my whole shtick is my commitment to always finding the positive in a Grand Prix weekend, but I do not extend that obligation to the coverage of the event or the apparatus of the viewing experience. As probably the very last person who got into music before the digital download era, if I like a band I still buy all of their albums and listen to them in order, in their entirety, without complaints. If I naturally enjoy Norwegian Wood, I will force myself to sit through Octopus's Garden when it's Ringo's turn to write a "song." However, if your stereo sounds like comedic flatulence passing softly through ripped paper into a tin can, I'm going to tell you. And F1 TV Pro, so far, has been the fartbox of race viewing experiences.
Ok, that's not entirely fair. I was able to watch the runnings about 2 hours after they were over. I was able to switch between onboard cameras in replay races as promised. And I was able to watch footage of selected old GP's, which was cool. In that sense, F1 TV Pro lives up to its billing.
But F1 spent months hyping their "over the top" viewing experience, and then didn't deliver on most of the most exciting promises. The live stream is laggy, especially when the race gets good. That cool spinning Pirelli wait-a-minute wheel is pretty much burned into my computer's screen, and my mind, forever. The races aren't truly "on demand" since you can't go back to an earlier point while the event is live, and even playback is somehow glitchiest in the best moments of the race. Like it knows.
Probably the biggest letdown of F1 TV Pro was due to the expectations I developed because of their early advertising of the service. In the ads they showed viewers selecting multiple cameras in a split screen, while in reality you can only see one thing at a time, and it's either Sky Sports coverage OR an (1) onboard camera.
I had imagined myself as an eccentric television producer making race-viewing magic: "Give me onboards with both Alonso and Leclerc, an overhead shot of Turn 1, and a closeup of Martin Brundle's face while he sneezes. Go go go! Quick cut to the woodchuck, now to Verstappen sitting sadly on the steps thinking about his wreck. Show me where Vandoorne went! I knew it, he's at Starbucks! Have him order me an americano while he's there. Now cut to..." And so on.
Instead, it's more like this: "Oh great Pirelli lag wheel of agonizing time, I have made the required sacrifices and closed every other browser tab. Please in your favor let me select an onboard camera. Anyone is fine, and whenever you get to it I will receive your gift at that time with gratitude, I know you're busy." Is that confidently an "over the top experience"? No.
Now, F1 TV knew they had issues after the first race, and (totally unsolicited, mind you) they refunded me half of that month's subscription fee. That was a classy, classy move. But at this point, they're not giving me anything I don't already get with ESPN 3's on demand service, which is free. The archive races are all on YouTube if my infant son needs a nap, and if anything exciting happens some other F1 TV Pro subscriber will upload the onboard camera footage within about 30 seconds, as we saw with the woodchuck incident. YouTube is also free. So this is a case of high expectations, poor delivery, and a pointless expense. Well, they do say that how you do one thing is how you do everything, so...
So I canceled my subscription for now. I'll be back someday when F1 TV Pro is out of beta testing. No hard feelings of course. But something kind of charming did happen when I canceled. The service asked for my reason, and take a look at the top 3 options on the menu:
Where is it, where is it... aha, there it is! I must tell my Formula One Streaming service that I have DIED.
According to this menu, F1 TV Pro sees itself as such a quality product that the most probable reasons I would decide I don't need it anymore are, in order: 1. I'm poor. 2. Someone on your staff offended my honor and I will not do business with you until we have settled it at dawn, with pistols, like gentlemen. 3. I died. Is this one of those subtle European jokes that are over my American head? Or is there just that much hubris oozing through the F1 organization?
Well, F1 TV Pro, instead of your options, this article is my real reason for canceling the service. I will definitely see you after a few updates, and probably at a higher price point. Just make it worth it and I will happily pay.
Before I go, huge shoutout to Toyota and Alo for taking LeMans! I can't wait to see him racing IndyCar next year on that triple crown hunt. Also viva Mexico for besting Germany in that one sport with the ball.
See y'all in the comments with your suggestions for my continued adventures, and may your upcoming gentleman's duel with an F1 TV Customer Service representative be blessed.