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F1 Racing to recovery // Improvements in the glossy Formula One magazine

Published by Christine Blachford

A collection of F1 Racing magazines

F1 Racing magazine has come in for a lot of stick in recent months, exacerbated by the personal attack on Ralf Schumacher by The Bish. It was branded outdated and unnecessary, and generally written off by a lot of previously dedicated readers.

Personally, I’m a fan of the magazine. There are few periodicals I get these days that can hold my attention, and considering how much F1 already consumes my world, I’m impressed that F1 Racing can get me to read it from cover to cover. (Back to front, incidentally, always.)

It’s glossy and beautiful and focuses on the people rather than the action. Whilst we spend ages analysing results and reading up on the intricacies of the Dumbo-Flugel, F1 Racing does the opposite. For every two pages of race coverage, there is a six page interview with Frank Dernie. A couple of pages on tyre technology is evened out with a ten page special on the three championship contenders. There’s something insightful about it that I love.

Clearly I'm sold, but what can be done to turn it around so that everyone else loves them too?

Everyday people

Firstly, the Bish left. He now works for McLaren, doing a sterling job in the marketing and media department. There haven’t been many visible changes since he left, although the mood of the magazine does seem to be slightly more uplifting than it had been under his watchful rule. According to the back page, the July issue is going to be all-change, so new editor Hans Seeburg will finally be able to stamp his mark.

Elsewhere in the team, F1 Racing has some stunning names. They acquired Bradley Lord from the Renault press office, they have all the experience of Peter Windsor, and the technical expertise of Steve Matchett. Plus, the photographers they have out in the field are all incredible.

With these top bods on board, I don’t see how F1 Racing can do anything other than go from strength to strength.

So retro

The one thing the mag is missing is an online presence. Of course they have a site, and it’s got the details about the latest issue and the obligatory F1 calendar and championship stats. But there’s not much scope for interacting with the fans, the people that are going to buy the magazine.

Recently, we have been able to get involved with the Reader Panel, where questions are submitted to be posed to people like Frank Williams and Ross Brawn. That’s good. And F1 Racing have awards and surveys where they print the ACTUAL results and take on board the publics opinions.

It’s still not enough though. We’ve already seen that Steve Matchett is capable of presenting great video content and F1 Racing once made a solitary video podcast back in 2006.

Bradley Lord did a stunning job at Renault, as the driving force behind their official blog. Comments and questions were, get this, answered by someone within the team. Of course he was constrained on some of the things he could and couldn’t say, but it was definitely something special. I can’t tell you the heartbreak in Sidepodcast Towers when he left for this mag. Where’s the Renault blog now, eh?

F1 Racing could capitalise on these skills and knowledge. They’ve got the talent on board and they’ve got the scope to expand on their existing material. It’s a difficult world for print media at the moment, but I see the way forward as embracing the online experience, rather than just clinging on to the edge of it.