I am making this the last in my series of posts looking back on the 2007 Formula 1 season. Truth be told, I’ve become a bit sick of writing them every Sunday. I skipped last week. Anyway, next Sunday is in a different year, and it’s a bit off to be looking back when everyone else is looking forward.

Anyway, I promised I would review Formula 1 websites, so here goes. Again, this is all in alphabetical order.

Autosport.com

A reliable source of Formula 1 — and other motorsport — news. It is also the most frequently updated of the F1 RSS feeds I subscribe to. So chances are that if something has happened, Autosport will have the story.

There is also a neat ‘Autosport TV’ feature, containing highlights of certain motorsport events. Bernie take note — this is how things will be done in the future, so don’t leave F1 lagging behind every other series!

Unfortunately, not all of the content on Autosport.com is free. But you can’t have it all. The website also performed badly on the day of McLaren’s WMSC hearing, when the website was down for huge parts of the afternoon, and then when it came back up it got the story wrong. Oh dear.

BBC Sport | Motorsport | Formula One

The BBC’s F1 news website is as you would expect — solid, but not really in-depth enough for obsessives like me. Only the very biggest F1 stories appear on BBC Sport Online, and they seldom contain anything revelatory.

Having said that, there are some neat features from time to time. Heikki Kovalainen wrote a regular column. I also particularly enjoyed reading an article about Kimi Räikkönen’s playboy image! There is also some good video and audio content collected from the BBC’s output.

However, the stories and features also concentrate too much on Lewis Hamilton. I guess this is to be expected from the BBC, but it’s all a bit fawning and not very balanced.

So much Lewis Hamilton!

As for the other features, again they are pretty good, although they haven’t changed much for several years. I would imagine that features such as the pitstop guide are excellent resources if you are just getting into the sport.

BlogF1

Ollie White’s BlogF1 was the first Formula 1 blog I started reading regularly. The posts strike a neat balance between news and opinion, although I personally prefer more opinion-heavy pieces.

I have to confess that nowadays my favourite feature of BlogF1 is the weekly caption contest. However, there are some other neat features hidden away from the main blog area.

There is a particularly comprehensive section on racetracks from around the world, complete with images from Google Maps. There is also a stunning complete list of championship statistics going all the way back to 1950, the inception of the Drivers World Championship.

F1 Insight

This excellent blog is, as its title suggests, very insightful. What I love about it is the fact that Clive doesn’t just churn out banal posts about the issues of the day. Instead, he finds an interesting angle and then writes about it, bringing to the reader’s attention an aspect that he may not previously have thought about.

To take some recent examples, there is a post questioning Sebastian Vettel’s reputation as a promising driver. And here is an interesting take on Fernando Alonso — is he going to be the greatest reputation-maker of all time?

In sum, F1 Insight is guaranteed to challenge the conventional wisdom, making it an essential read.

F1Fanatic

Without a doubt, the best Formula 1 blog around! What astonishes me is that you can visit the website every single day and there will be something new — even in the depths of the off-season. There was even a new post on Christmas Day, but you are just as likely to find three or four new posts per day even at this time of year.

The breadth of features is also breathtaking. Book and DVD reviews often appear. The Lapped Legends series takes a look at some of the less talented drivers and teams in F1′s history. And the ‘F1 in the Blogs’ feature is a must-read roundup of the best F1 blogging. The blog has also been known to hold competitions which I have been lucky enough to win!

Main writer Keith Collantine is clearly very dedicated to the website and infinitely knowledgeable about the sport. It could so easily fall into the trap of being a haven for stattos, but it actually strikes a perfect balance between geek heaven and accessibility.

Ah, and I have also had a guest post published on F1Fanatic. So obviously it’s a must-read! :D

Formula 1 Blog

This is the Formula 1 Blog as in Negative Camber and Grace, whose podcast I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The blog is rather different to their podcast. You would never guess that it was the same thing. The long, in-depth podcasts are accompanied by very concise, brief, pithy blog posts.

Despite the difference in style, the blog is great for all the same reasons as the podcast. Priding itself on being a “journal of opinion”, forceful opinion is certainly what you get.

One problem is that you have to be registered to comment. This is okay, and understandable in an age where upwards of 95% of blog comments are spam. But I tried to register and never got my confirmation email, so I am locked out (well, not really, but I can’t be bothered going through the rigmarole of registering again). Okay, so it’s not the end of the world, but it is a bit off-putting.

As well as the blog, there is a forum which I hear is buzzing. But forums are not quite my thing.

Formula1.com

This is the big daddy — Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula 1 website. It has come on leaps and bounds in the past year.

The best bit is still the Live Timing facility. If you have access to a computer during a grand prix, having Live Timing open will keep you up to date, with access to pretty much all of the information you would want, updated in real time.

The news section is so-so, but this is more than made up for by the site’s other features. A particular joy is the technical section, which looks in detail at the developments each team makes throughout the season. There is also great information on each circuit, a fine image gallery, profiles on all the teams and drivers and — for the bravest among us — a good section on F1′s Byzantine rules.

Perhaps the strongest part of the website, though, is the database of past races results, stretching right back to 1950. An excellent, in-depth resource if you want to look up old race and Championship results.

However, this section suffers from a frustrating navigational quirk. Say I want to look up the past results of a driver. I can select the driver, say Kimi Räikkönen. Now I want to look at his results from 2002, so naturally I select 2002 from the drop-down menu. But this takes me straight to the Championship Table of 2002, not the results of Kimi Räikkönen. What a pain!

Little annoyances aside though, Formula1.com is better than you might expect. It is finally catching up with other motorsport series. Now FOM needs to move into offering video on the website urgently. An insipid, 30 second long ‘highlights’ clip (which inevitably focuses on the crashes rather than the racing) will not do. Bernie needs to offer more video content online in future. If he is going to take all the interesting videos off YouTube, he had better offer them on Formula1.com.

Fun F1

A fair attempt at an F1 humour website, although not the best.

GrandPrix.com

One of the best F1 news sites going. This website might not have the budget or the big-name status of, say, Autosport, but it undoubtedly has the contacts.

Often the stories are as much about rumours as they are about hard facts. But this is often to its advantage. I seem to remember that GrandPrix.com was the first website to announce that Kimi Räikkönen had signed for Ferrari. Some other websites laughed at the suggestion at the time, but GrandPrix.com was proved right.

It was also consistently ahead of the curve in the reporting of the Stepneygate scandal. You simply had to read GrandPrix.com to keep on top of the facts surrounding the issue. Remarkable reporting.

ING Renault F1 Team – Weblog

A fine companion to the Renault podcast. Once again it demonstrates that Renault are serious about reaching fans in ways that other teams don’t consider. The blog is properly done as well, not half-hearted and with a buzzing comments section.

The design is rather busy for my liking, but to be fair I am not the biggest fan of the content either (unlike the podcast, which is excellent). Nevertheless, this is a lesson to the other teams: this is how it should be done.

ITV Sport – F1

This season saw the ITV-F1 website turn from a reasonable, accessible guide to Formula 1 into a central cog of the Lewis Hamilton hype machine. No doubt it is good for raking in the advertising money, but it is awful for genuine F1 fans.

Nevertheless, there are some top features on the ITV-F1 website. For instance, there are regular columns from Peter Windsor and David Coulthard. And Ted Kravitz’s notebook is often worth a read.

Next year I expect nothing less than a Lewis stalking feature which will plot on a Google Map where Lewis Hamilton is at this precise moment in time.

Linksheaven

A reasonably good Formula 1 group blog.

Pitpass

A fine independent Formula 1 website. Like GrandPrix.com — a reliable news resource, although Pitpass has a much slicker design! I have to say though, it is rather annoying that you can’t copy any of the text if you want to quote it. I can’t think of any other websites that persist on using this user-unfriendly technique that treats normal users — even people like me who want to approvingly link back — as criminals.

I would also rather that the news feed did not contain stories about that awful tripe known as A1 Grand Prix. Yeah, that toytown motor racing series where drivers don’t win, nor do teams — but countries do. What a load of nationalistic gash!

Apart from that, the news reports are good. The opinion pieces are fine, but often come across as a bit curmudgeonly. And the endless predictions of the imminent death of Formula 1 do get tiresome after a while.

Sidepodcast

A great blog to accompany a great podcast! They have recently had a new lick of paint. That’s all I can say. A cracking read, just as much as the podcast is a cracking listen.

Sniff Petrol

The best attempt at a Formula 1 humour site. This site provides some much-needed light relief amid the turmoil and politics of an F1 season.

Highlights include Crazy Dave Coulthard (complete with entertaining descriptions of what Red Bull tastes like), D.I. Blundell’s latest report and the latest advice Michael Schumacher has given to his brother.

Times Online Formula One blog

Ed Gorman’s Formula 1 blog is easily the best of the MSM F1 blogs. I do hope it returns for the 2008 season. I imagine it will because apparently it has been very popular indeed.

I can vouch for that. I think I can thank the comments section of Ed Gorman’s blog for a few of this blog’s readers nowadays. It is still to this day one of my top referrers. Infact, it is the top referrer to this blog all year apart from Google Images UK. And this is all from the comments sections of two posts from October. Blimey.

One problem was that it came to be defined in terms of its (oddly) mostly Spanish readership clashing with Ed Gorman’s British perspective on events. Thankfully in the end the relationship appears to have become the more respectful, ‘agree to disagree’ type, rather than the antagonistic relationship it could have been.

I think that’s about it, mostly because I am losing the will to live. As are you, most likely. Er, any other suggestions, blah blah, etc.?

14 comments

  1. Thank you very much for your very kind comments Duncan (and particularly thanks for putting me above the official F1 site!)

    In return I should say I’ve gotten an awful lot out of your blog and even bought a couple of CDs based on your recommendations (Justice and Simian) which I have thoroughly enjoyed! Oh and nice redesign by the way.

    Have a very happy new year.

  2. Pink Peril

    I have already become a devoted regular on some of the sites you mentioned, through following links you posted.

    There are a few I am yet to check out – I can see my productivity at work slipping even further………

  3. Thank you both, and happy new year to you too!

  4. Thanks for the feedback Duncan, muchly appreciated. And once again, a nice round-up of one area of the season/F1 that so few people tend to do. Best wishes for 2008.

  5. Thanks Ollie, and to you too. And I hope your wrist gets better soon! :)

  6. futwick

    Nice round-up. A lot of sites I’d never heard of and will now subscribe to – thanks.

    BTW in Firefox I disable javascript (using the web developer toolbar) to copy & paste text from Pitpass. Though to be honest in the end I got so fed up of having to do this that I stopped reading their site altogether.

  7. v.good roundup. i’d add that autosport and pitpass both lack the ability to comment, and their forums in no way make up for the lack of direct feedback.

    one news site i’ve subscribed to recently is formula1sport.net. clive (he of f1 insight) writes a large number of the posts and always manages to dig out one story that none of the big news sites have covered.

  8. Brian Morrell

    I havent read you before and unlikely to read you again. You seem to come across as a boorish old fart, so dug in your ways and beliefs that you cannot accept anything that doesnt have big names in it. I suggest you should retire and get yourself a new outlook on life. A1GP is already establishing itself as a breeding ground for future F1 drivers so dont knock it.

  9. Not sure about A1GP being a breeding ground for new talent. It seems to me that for every future F1 driver, A1GP contains three past-it, failed F1 drivers. Verstappen, Karthikeyan, Yoong… I could go on. Even then, any of the future F1 drivers A1GP has run can more likely thank GP2 or F3 for their rise to F1. Nelsinho Piquet, Scott Speed and Adrian Sutil all raced in A1GP prior to F1, but only as a rather meaningless footnote.

    I also think the notion that drivers don’t win races but countries do is just the biggest load of bilge imaginable.

  10. I object to Brian Morrell’s comment – I’m the boorish old fart of F1, I’ll have him know! The good Doctor Vee is a young ‘un, hardly able to qualify even as a young fogey. :D

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words, Doctor (and to Sidey as well!), they are much appreciated. In a spirit of reciprocal generosity, I must admit to reading your blog regularly, even to the extent of becoming interested in Scottish politics. And that’s more of a compliment than you know, since I gave up on English politics about twenty years ago and never have had the energy to attempt an understanding of the American version…

  11. [...] F1 season review: websites – A review of Formula 1 websites including blogs. [...]

  12. 4u1e

    Nice post – useful list with some sites I’ve not come across.

    Just a mild warning to those using http://www.formula1.com: the live timing is fantastic, but be wary of the full championship results. There are a lot of (minor) errors hidden in it – generally speaking the last 10 years or so are OK, but before that it’s probably best to check against another source if you want to be absolutely sure of the minor placings.

    Yes, I have pointed some of them out. No, no response as yet ;-)

  13. Ah, thanks for the warning 4u1e! I hadn’t realised that. It’s just as well I have an encyclopaedic book of Formula 1 results from 1950 to 1996 lying around somewhere!

  14. There are a lot of (minor) errors hidden in it [F1's championship results]

    When I compliled my list of championship results, I too found a whole variety of differing opinions, and not just among the minor placings, but also the amount of points each driver had earned.

    It got so bad that when I published my list, I added a disclaimer at the top!

    I think with Formula One there are so many things happening that often it can be hard to work it out – penalties etc…

    I would agree with 4u1e and say that if you want a better idea of who scored what, look a whole load of results and then decide for yourself, particularly if the championship in question is pre-1980.