Marbles ~ Laura Marieee: 11-25-09

It only seems like a couple of days ago that I last sat down to write my weekly column- and maybe that’s because it was, where I posted later than usual. But this week, like ever, I’m back to my usual Wednesday slot.


While there have been plenty of stories flying around, what stuck out to me in particular over the weekend, as being a bit different, was a Q&A feature on the Autosport website with Sebastian Vettel following his experience at a NASCAR race. It got me thinking just how little I personally know about any other motorsport series. NASCAR is American, and I am British, but that’s not the reason why I don’t watch it. It is simply the fact that it is less accessible for someone like me, on my tin can and strings island on the south coast of England to become a regular viewer. Of course if I was a fan, I would find ways and means to tune in, but what actually jumped out at me while reading this article was that while F1 is a well-known worldwide phenomenon that is accessible all over, actually, it could do with learning from series such as NASCAR.

As Vettel told Autosport, NASCAR puts on a show for the fans. As we would all agree, while F1 has its huge fan base, it is not so much about the drivers as it is in NASCAR, and we can all agree F1 is hugely based around money and politics. The fact that we are still unsure as to whether there will even be a British Grand Prix in 2010 is something to suggest that! Another thing that jumps out at me is that while NASCAR is full of excitement where overtaking is concerned, F1 just doesn’t seem to be like that anymore, and like Vettel said in his Q&A, where the Americans focus on the sport and the drivers, I have to say F1 is more about the teams finding the right strategy to come out on top.

Aside from what Vettel points out in his interview, there are also the points that an F1 fan/ NASCAR watcher would argue. While neither sport could perhaps benefit from the other from a technical point of view, F1 has a lot it could learn from NASCAR about bringing the sport closer to the fans. While F1 now offers Kangaroo TV to fans attending races, NASCAR has been doing it for years, and with all the other additions it has compared to F1, just how long will it take Bernie and FOM to bring in new features to the sport to make it even more accessible for the fans?

There are features like the rotating cameras on the cars. F1 cars have stationary on board cameras, whereas NASCAR has adopted an approach that F1 could easily adopt itself. There is also the very formal approach in F1 where drivers aren’t allowed to ‘celebrate’ their win, or indeed performing in front of their home crowd with donuts. Let’s face it, it’s exciting for the fans, so why was it that Hamilton got fined for his performance to the crowd at his home GP?

Vettel’s point is that NASCAR puts on a show for the fans, and where F1 does that too, the former offers more. Obviously I have no idea about NASCAR, mainly because to us Brits, it’s just not that accessible with just a late night highlights programme on Five, unless you’re one of those with a Sky Sports package. But like fans of both sports, if I were a NASCAR follower, I would probably find that it seems to offer exactly what you expect F1 should have been offering for the last decade at least. Why can’t we see our favourite F1 drivers do donuts when they win a race or in front of their own crowd? – Apart from the engine aspect of course.

NASCAR may go round and round in circles and seem dull to outsiders like myself, but it has its appeals, and F1 could certainly learn from that. By no means am I saying I am going to abandon F1 and jump on the NASCAR bandwagon, but it does perhaps seem like it offers more for the fans than F1 does at present- but then what do I know? But on the other side of the coin, there has always been that appeal with F1, the fact that it has a history like no other, millions of people worldwide know what it is, and it is the pinnacle of motorsport technology. F1 is almost glamourous motorsport, and while perhaps other series offer the experience for fans how it should be offering it, F1 is seen as the top dog, that perhaps just needs to offer that little bit more… Anyway this has all come from a Q&A with Vettel about NASCAR, and although I’m still none the wiser about it, it does throw up some interesting points…

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