Is Formula One Becoming Formula "What" Across the Pond?
It is an international sport with a lot of glitz and glamour, but there isn't a whole lot of talk about it across the pond anymore.
One of the obvious reasons behind this is simply the fact that there is no Grand Prix in North America anymore, with Montreal being the last city in North America to get the boot.
Even in Toronto, there would have been a quick word on the Sunday evening news about the results of the latest Grand Prix, but even now it has become just a show of results with very few, if any, highlights used.
We could add that the dominance of Brawn this season is a factor, but that is just one of many.
If anyone remembers the 2004 season, we pretty much had a frontrunner whom nobody could catch and the sport became boring as ever because the end result was all too predictable. With the Red Bull upsurge in the last two races though, there might be a chance for reprieve, but only time will tell.
But there is another issue here that has made this writer wonder why Formula One is losing its luster here in North America: the reputation of this sport coupled with the current financial crisis.
The newest trend here is to be frugal. Formula One has paid lip-service to this crisis by attempting to cut costs and other things but it seems like they shot themselves in the foot here.
By cutting costs, they have banned in-season testing—a prime opportunity for the not so well-off fan to catch a glimpse of their heroes—and have gone against their mantra of being the most expensive as well as the pinnacle of motorsport. Basically, they were damned if they did, or damned if they didn't.
In-season testing was also a good way to see what improvements were being made to the cars since they were out there in plain sight and fans could speculate that the season will go one way or the other with improvement x on team y.
Any improvements these days tend to be seen in a newswire thus severing the last connection that fans would have had to the sport.
As well, Formula One's absence in North America has paved the way for other extreme sports to establish a name for themselves here.
Until last year, the Red Bull Air Race, a sport likened to the Formula One of the skies, was an unknown sport in Canada as well as many parts of the United States and was oftentimes confused with the Red Bull Flugtag—a competition of building a man-powered aircraft and seeing how far it goes off a pier.
With a strong and fan-inclusive base, the sport is making inroads. Even for the fans not making it to the race, there is an official presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—the three main suspects of Web 2.0.
Unfortunately, Formula One does not have this level of interaction with fans and will lose out in the long run by not utilizing this cheap and very important method. Now, many of the teams do have official channels on YouTube or pages on Facebook, but you rarely get to see race footage since that is controlled by FOM.
From what is gathered by just logging onto American-based websites, the users like the interactivity and that is what keeps them coming back.
To close off, the absence of Formula One in North America is felt primarily because of the other options we have been shown which result in the loss of interest in this sport. The culture that North Americans have of being frugal during tough times just does not seem to reflect in this sport and has turned them off from it.
A race in North America would be nice, but if that cannot be done, then work on reaching out to the fans since according to myself and many other fans, it's no longer Formula One, it's Formula "what?"
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