Formula 1

The Best Part of a Grand Prix Weekend That You May Have Never Seen.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Hungarian Grand Prix - Practice Day - Budapest, Hungary

It may not have the aesthetics of a Grand Prix start but the Thursday team members press conference has just as much tension, controversy and insight into the major off-track issues concerning the sports future.

So you stay up late on a Sunday night in Australia to watch the latest round of the F1s, despite the overwhelming fear that the Mercedes’ won’t battle it out like Bahrain, and that the ensuing case of self-inflicted Mondayitis may well end your employment too. But hey, you’re a Racefan and unlike Germans, you like your F1 live.

Now don’t get me wrong, Channel Ten’s coverage is a vast improvement over that of channel Nine but it simply can’t compete with the likes of Sky Sports F1 HD in the UK. While channel Ten does extremely well with pre-race news from the paddock provided by James Allen or Tom Clarkson, there are some bits of gold that the Channel Ten schedule is unable to accommodate. Channel One could, how 5 year-old episodes of COPS can still be shown in prime time is beyond my understanding.

I will be the first to admit that while Raikkonen and Kobayashi may provide the occasional one-liner, driver interviews on the whole are a dirge. Fortunately F1 drivers don’t describe their cars according to their colours unlike their US counterparts, the words ‘natural’ and ‘candid’ are left at the door. Asked a tough or controversial question and drivers either don’t answer or stress the positive. Sauber’s Sutil and Guitierrez continue to toe the line of the naive, like the captain of a ship who assures you all is fine while waist deep in water. At Sauber all is fine despite them being neck-deep in a pool of no points.

Perhaps one of the least known, but most informative and increasingly entertaining parts of a Grand Prix weekend at the moment is the team principal press conference on every Thursday afternoon before every grand prix weekend. Just as with the driver press conferences, a member from each of the six teams is chosen to field questions posed by the media contingent present. Along with a member of each team can sometimes be Paul Hembrey, chief of Pirelli F1 operations or a representative from any one of the three current engine suppliers.

While the absurdity of some questions may be entertaining at first, the thought that these people have media accreditation to access areas Racefans could only dream of, soon brings on depression and anger. But not all the questions arouse such emotion. For the genuine Racefan, the real entertainment comes in the form of journalist Dieter Rencken who delves into the behind-the-scenes deals, agreements and disputes that often provide the greatest interest in Formula 1. It’s fascinating to watch the body language of those present when the questions are asked and that of the others when the questions are answered.

In recent episodes, questions have addressed the lack of attendance at the German Grand Prix, the decision by Formula 1 to attend Azerbaijan, whether the Russian Grand Prix will go ahead, the recent upheaval at Caterham and Renault, and the ongoing imbalance amongst those teams currently on the FIA Strategy Group and those that aren’t.

The access point for the Thursday team principal press conference can be viewed on YouTube, ideally through the channel ‘SixtyThreeBucks’. While you’re there, take the opportunity to have a look at the race intros, interviews of past and present legends, grid walks, along with the qualifying and race notebooks compiled by Ted Kravitz. SixtyThreeBucks usually uploads these segments in the days following the race.

Here’s is the link to the most recent Thursday team members press conference from Hungary. 

So even if you get fired on Monday morning rest assured, because the F1 race weekend experience doesn’t simply stop at the fall of the flag.

Until next time.

All the best.

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