Streaming video is becoming more and more a part of auto racing.
Although some people had trouble finding it, last weekend’s 12 Hours of Sebring was available virtually everywhere via computer – whether PC or laptop – and was deemed a success. In fact, if you were at Sebring in person, the big-screen TVs were a thing of the past: wi-fi was available around the circuit – for a fee, of course.
And last evening (Thursday night), I watched the first practice session of the 2011 Formula One season from Australia on my home computer. The streaming video was available on speedtv.com and it’s my understanding that speedtv.com will have streaming video of practice sessions from just about every Grand Prix this season, which is something to make a note of for future reference. (Some practice sessions, qualifying and the race will still be available on SPEED Channel and other commercial TV outlets).
For the record, Mark Webber set fastest time at the very last second of that first session – in fact, the checkered flag was out as he was mid-way through his final circuit – to make the Aussie fans at the track in Melbourne very happy indeed.
He pipped his Red Bull Racing teammate, world champion Sebastien Vettel (pictured above last November), who finished 0.327 seconds behind Webber’s time of 1 minute, 26.831 seconds.
Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari was third – 0.918 seconds behind – and everybody else was more than a second back after that: Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes (fourth), Jenson Button in the McLaren (fifth), Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (sixth), Rubens Barrichello, Williams (seventh), Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber (eighth), Michael Schumacher, Mercedes (ninth) and Felipe Massa, Ferrari (tenth).
Of course, they were just shaking off the cobwebs after a long winter’s layoff (I know, I know – they had testing over the winter but testing is never the real deal. For proof of that, all you have to do is take a look at spring training baseball . . .)
A second practice session in advance of qualifying really saw the gauntlet thrown down. Button showed the way with a quick lap of 1:25:854 that edged Hamilton's top time of 1:25:986. Alonso, Vettel and Webber followed. After that came Michael Schumacher, Massa, Sergio Perez (Sauber), Rubens Barrichello and Nico Rosberg.
The results show it will be a cracker of a season, as predicted in my pre-season F1 column with Grand Prix racing expert Gerald Donaldson that will be published in this weekend’s Toronto Star Wheels section.
Now, here’s some really good news. Earlier this week, I mentioned that you’d either have to stay up really late or else find some way to record both qualifying and the Australian Grand Prix because they are both on live at 1:55 a.m. (qualifying Saturday, the race Sunday) and the only repeat I could find skedded was at 11 p.m. on Sunday night on TSN2.
Well, things have changed for the better. You will now be able to watch everything live on TSN as scheduled but qualifying will be shown again at 8 a.m. on Saturday on TSN2 and the race will be repeated at 8 a.m. Sunday, also on TSN2.
Former BBC F1 colour man Martin Brundle will now do the play-by-play, with colour commentary supplied by David Coulthard. I hope Brundle has been practicing. It’s one thing to pipe up with an opinion every 30 seconds or so. It’s an entirely different thing to have to carry the show.
As it seems likely that he engineered the change (ex-presenter Jonathan Legard got the boot at the conclusion of the 2010 season), let’s hope Brundle is up for the job or it will make our inability to watch SPEED with Bob Varsha and David Hobbs seem even worse.