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GP Week : Issue 231
Jerry seinfeld made a career out of talking about, well, nothing. For the better part of a decade he spearheaded a sitcom that was famously about nothing and gave us some cracking one liners. No soup for you! For me, it was one of those shows that I could easily sit down and kill half an hour in front of. It followed the typical sitcom structure in that it created a problem in the first half and then spent the second half solving it, with an overarching storyline to tie the series together. It’s a format the television industry has shown works well, bite sized chunks which are long enough to tell a story, keep the audience entertained and squeeze in five or six minutes’ worth of commercial breaks. It’s unusual though that I’ll sit down and watch a movie. It’s amazing the list of movies I haven’t seen - you name it, I probably havne't seen it. Typically that’s because I’m just not willing to invest such a long period on something that I may not turn out to find that interesting. There are exceptions, Simon Pegg’s stuff has me in stitches (you’ve got red on you) but on the whole unless I know I’m going to watch something that will entertain me I’d rather watch reruns of Seinfeld. That’s the thought that struck me when, at a little before 2am on Saturday morning, I climbed from my warm, comfortable bed to watch a rained out opening practice from Austin. In the early hours I sat and watched and tried desperately not to fall asleep in front of a session that offered little in the way of entertainment or insight into the weekend ahead. I could have stayed in bed and learned just as much. Now we can’t really blame the teams or the sport, or even Bernie, for the weather. Rain happens. I remember the 1991 Australian Grand Prix well. But in the race and qualifying that’s one thing, there’s an overarching storyline that’s being played out regardless of the specifics on track or, more to the point, an overarching storyline because of the specifics that happen. The more unexpected, the more outlandish, the better in that regard. That makes the practice sessions a bit like dress rehearsals, which are typically held away from the prying eyes of the public so we don’t see the stars fumble over there lines or trip down the stairs. But in Formula One, and increasingly in other motorsport categories, those sessions are being broadcast, analysed and dissected. The problem is that they don’t make for the most entertaining television, and in a sport that is aligning itself ever more with the entertainment industry it needs to be doing more to make it appeal to a population that has been groomed on sitcom-style programming. As I see it, one comparatively simple change would solve that problem and package the practice sessions into a far more watchable and entertaining prospect, with the added benefit in that it all but guarantees more action on a Friday and Saturday mornings. I’d chop the 60 and 90 minute sessions into 30 minute, sitcom sized pieces. By splitting them into shorter sessions it would force teams to run to get through their programmes, meaning there would be more cars on track and more interest for everybody watching. There are always going to be times when nobody goes out. In the pouring rain there is a lot of risk involved, especially if the race is going to be dry, but on the whole shorter, punchier sessions would force that story to be told more quickly – much like sitcom. And while practice may ultimately prove to be a show about nothing, we’ve seen in the past even that can be hugely successful if done right. It’s just a case of making it appealing to an audience brought up on the half hour television viewing experience. 14 GPWEEK.com // 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: OPINION OPINION maT coch Editor ENTERTAINMENT BEST PRAcTIcE