Saturday, January 10, 2009

Missing the Annual

Know what I miss this time of year? Autosport used to do these fantastic year-end annual summary magazines of the past year in Formula 1.

The oldest one I have is from 1990, and it was just a forty-odd page insert in one of the weekly magazines. In 1991, however, they upped the performance. The '91 year features the race report from each race of the season as published in the magazine, sort of a best-of summary of the year, along with some of the technical drawings and some "expert opinion" fluff to wrap it all up. When combined with the photographs of the races, summaries of the starting grid and detailed results, you had wonderful reference of the year's actions.

But something happened -- by 1998, the magazine had turned into less of a detailed reference. The races were all there, with their individual photos grouped together -- but the accompanying articles were all fluff stuff. For example, the French GP "article" is about Eddie Irvine, and the actual race action is reduced to a two-paragraph box with a small table of results.

The 1998 issue is the last one I purchased. I thumbed through later issues for later years when they were published, but they didn't match what I wanted, so I didn't buy them.

I've felt that the "race reporting" of the F1 magazines I have been reading, including modern ones, had been declining into less of a sporting report, and more of a "lifestyle" type magazine. Useless, flowery prose which talks about a weekend from the quasi-fictionalized perspective of one of the drivers. It was that, as well as the fact that all the articles about the drivers tend to blend together (I mean seriously, does any driver get involved in Formula 1 if he doesn't dream of winning the championship, and maybe driving for Ferrari?) that made me stop buying the magazines.

That and the internet was starting to give me an adequate supply of news and reporting.

The real golden age of magazines for me was the early 90s. There was one in particular -- I can't put a name to it right now because they are all boxed up in the basement -- that had detailed technical drawings of the changes made to the cars, and discussions of how the individual technologies worked. Sure, Autosport had (has? I have not seen an Autosport here in Canada in years) some of that, but nothing in terms of the detail I remember. Sadly, this must have made it more of a specialist publication, and it didn't survive very long.

It is strange, though. It is these gaps between the seasons when I miss the magazines the most. I can occasionally spend time thumbing through the old ones I have, and it reminds me why I watch the sport.