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The genuine article // Can F1's worst news abuser clean up its act?

Published by Mr. C

The golden age of motorsport

Arguably one of the biggest shocks during the past few months of Formula One downtime was unrelated to anything a driver or a team has said or done. Back in February the F1 editor of one of motosport's biggest online brands dropped a media bombshell and announced he would be leaving Autosport in May. Jonathan Noble decided to follow several of his colleagues to rival website Motorsport.com.

Noble is a tour de force in racing circles having worked for Autosport's parent company Haymarket since 1999, back when Mika Häkkinen was set on winning his second title. Jonathan is the third journalist Autosport have lost since the end of last season. Magazine Editor Charles Bradley was first to leave in November, with Pablo Elizalde joining him in January. The three combined account for some 40+ years worth of reporting talent and experience that has simply walked out of Autosport's door in the space of six months.

There are likely many contributing factors for such a united upheaval, but what is clear is that Motorsport.com are getting serious about Grand Prix coverage.

Get your act together

Motorsport.com have something of a chequered past when it comes to the quality of their material. For as long as I can remember the site has presented itself as one of the largest echo chambers in the sport. Endless repetition of press releases coupled with cheaply sourced news aggregation, marked them out as a site to avoid rather than frequent.

In 2011 the situation almost looked a little brighter. With management seemingly realising that their strategy was on a misguided path, they joined forces with Grand Prix+ magazine in an attempt to move into credible coverage. Sadly the deal fell through when doing the right thing proved a lot harder than anticipated. Like a hopeless addict, Motorsport.com collapsed into the familiar pattern of paying bottom dollar for cheap hits.

Few, if any articles carry an author byline

At various points between 2011 and now, the Motorsport.com site was acquired and then sold on. Apparently in more stable surroundings, 2015 could be the opportunity to clean up its act.

Since the end of January, references to previously sourced cheap news articles were scrubbed from the site. Disappointingly though, new articles still come from those same questionable sources, only this time they are lazily rewritten (perhaps an ill-advised attempt cover their origin). Few, if any articles carry an author byline.

Compare if you will the following stories - The first from Grandprix.com which openly states a GMM connection, the second from Motorsport.com which names no author and duplicates numerous paragraphs almost word-for-word. There are clearly many steps remaining before Motorsport.com could be considered clean again.

On Twitter both Noble and Elizalde have separately indicated that they have taken on their respective roles in order to redress the balance in favour of quality over quantity. In truth it would be absurd to employ such massive talents and not make the most of them. Whether it is possible to reverse such a destructive internal culture remains to be seen.

F1 journalism finds itself in a curious place at the start of this season. Autosport are lacking talent and Motorsport.com are lacking credibility. There aren't many dedicated alternatives for fans to turn to, let us hope that one or both come out of this stronger.