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F1 Racing Magazine is, you guessed it, a magazine devoted to Formula 1. Itís a monthly magazine priced at £3.50 an issue, which is a little expensive compared to some of the more general motor sport magazines, but to me isnít too bad. That said, other than this magazine, the only other mags I buy are computer related ones, which often come in at around £5 each.
For your £3.50 you get a reasonable read - Jenson Button and James Allen are both columnists, Murray Walker does the odd interview and preview style feature, and thereís plenty of Ďshowdowní things - comparing team mates / rival teams against each other. They try to predict who will win these Ďshowdownsí and itís interesting reading, although they do clutch at straws a bit - one race isnít really enough to go on, but they insist on disecting each session to see who comes out ahead. Considering they are a monthly magazine and need content, they canít do much else, but still, Iíd take what they write with a pinch of salt until the season is more developed.
As well as driver / team stuff, they do take the odd look at the technical side, although not in too much detail. They will interview designers, aerodynamicists, etc, but mostly they ask about team politics, and wether or not the car will win races - not really any nitty gritty about the new designs, although I suspect that very few people actually care about that kind of thing, so it can be forgiven!
The news section is obviously a bit out of date as itís a monthly magazine and things happen quickly in racing, but they try their best to work around the monthly barrier. They preview two races and review two races each issue, and this works quite well. If you want up to the minute news, youíre going to have to either look on the web or buy a weekly magazine, though.
One thing I really, really like about the magazine is that on top of the news / opinions / gossip stuff, they take the time and pages to remember the past. They look back on various innovations that either caught on (eg. wings) or failed (eg. 6 wheeled cars). They also look back on old cars, teams and drivers, and arenít afraid to mention some of these things in passing. Senna seems to get almost as many mentions now as he did when he was alive but not yet a champion! This is in my opinion a good thing as Iím too young to have seen the ĎTurbo Eraí and came to F1 in the early 90s. I saw the death of many smaller teams, but never got to see them in their prime. I want to learn more about the times I missed, and to read about it in a magazine feels more real than reading a íhistory of F1í book.
Back in to the current day, we have race previews, race reports, and circuit overviews. The tourist information in the circuit overview may be of some use if you plan to go to see the race, but otherwise itís not really that interesting.
Like pretty much every magazine it has a letters page, albeit a very small one. This gets the usual rants and raves from fans, but isnít much fun to read as it usually just parrots whatís in the headlines.
There was one complaint made in the letters page that I would like to mention here though, and add to. Last month, a reader complained that the magazine was turning into a Schumacher fan club magazine. They said this because the month before had a feature on Schumacher. When this magazine features something, it really does feature it - other than their columns, their articles are very long, and with lots of pictures. When they Ďfeaturedí Schumacher, they had articles about him, interviews with him, and added bits about Ferrari. The whole magazine turned red for an issue.
Considering heís the Champion right now, he had obviously been in the magazine a lot before now, and will continue to be in it while heís winning, so they can be forgiven for appearing to have too much about him, but sometimes they go over the top. The next issue featured McLaren heavily, presumably to placate this person, but this issue again went on and on about Schumacher, highlighting the records heíd broken and those that were in his grasp, and calling him the greatest driver of our time. Granted they had an interview with Barrichello, but guess what that was doing? Going on about how he can beat Schumacher. You canít get away from the guy.
Well, yes you can actually! Their number two favourite driver is Jenson Button. Heís a columnist with them now, and he regularly manages to get a fair few pages devoted to him each issue, along with having his name dropped in articles that are otherwise totally unrelated to him. He may be the best of British talent, but that isnít an excuse, as this isnít an exclusively British magazine - itís published in a number of other countries. Surely readers in other countries would like to read more about their drivers?
They do mention other drivers in one off articles, but I feel that they should try to widen their regular coverage a bit.
While Iím complaining about them I guess I should mention a minor gripe I have with the magazine. Itís nothing major, but highly irritating! They have a habit of saying ĎF1 Racing Exclusiveí when whatever they are referring to is NOT an exclusive. As an example (ok, an old one but it bugged me at the time), they had photographs of Jacques Villeneuves tragic crash in Australia, where Graham Beveridge, a marshal, was killed. They called the photographs exclusive, but I saw exactly the same photographs in a newspaper the day after the crash. They are on several web sites, and no doubt in other magazines. They do the same with interviews that they call exclusive when they arenít, and insider info that every self respecting fan already knew. I accept that theyíre just using advertising tricks to get you interested, but for some reason it really bugs me.
Other than those two gripes - the driver bias and the not-so-exclusive exclusives, I like this magazine a lot. Unlike most magazines, itís fairly low on advertisements, and you get around 150 pages per issue of very readable F1 features. Thereís plenty of information, itís a fairly light hearted magazine, and even with the bias towards certain drivers there is still enough variety in it to keep you interested. The history sections are put in just the right places to give you a break. If youíre reading the magazine from cover to cover, you should find that you get transported back to, say, the mid eighties, at exactly the point youíre getting sick of reading about Schumacher.
Iíve kept all my issues of F1 Racing Magazine - and made sure to put them away safely. The reason for this is the quality of the photographs inside. The magazine is full of photographs, some slightly arty, some just great pictures of cars and drivers. Itís a shame some of them are double page photos as theyíre ruined by the split, but thatís just the problem of it being a magazine. All the photographs are great to look at, and I take great care not to bend the pages as I want to keep the pictures to look at later. Itís not often I say that about a magazine. Usually I just tear out the pages Iím interested in and chuck the rest.
They usually have good subscription offers - about 10% off the cover price and a free t-shirt, jacket, or other piece of merchandise. I havenít taken this offer up as I prefer to buy magazines in the shop when Iím in the mood for them (WHSmiths get a lot of my money this way, but who cares, I get lots of club card points!)
So, all in all, I like this magazine and recommend it to any Formula 1 fan.