For most new-to-F1 fans, the Netflix series “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” offers a conduit into the personalities of Grand Prix Racing. Whether following Carlos Sainz Jr. at home in Madrid hanging with his dad (2X World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz Sr.), or spending time in a Finnish sauna with a scantily clad Valtteri Bottas (okay he was naked), the series shows the extremes the filmmakers went to in their quest to offer the best insights into the sport of Grand Prix Racing. Many say this Netflix production has been a strong contributor to the growth of Formula 1 enthusiasm in America.
Not to be outdone, Amazon Prime also gave us a brief look into the life of former F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso and his attempt at achieving the Triple Crown by winning the Indianapolis 500, to go with his 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco GP wins.
Both of these are great for your winter binge, but what about the day-to-day information during the season - where is the best place to find your F1 fix?
Information can be broken down into 2 distinct and complementary categories: audio (podcasts) and video (YouTube).
Unfortunately, today’s trend is for everyone to have a voice, especially if the professed expert has little or no idea of the subject matter. Here are some tips to help steer you away from these frustrating F1 misinformation junkies and time-wasters.
If a podcast introduction goes on for too long and is beginning to sound like a bad AM morning radio show, chances are it’s time to click off. If the on-air personalities begin arguing amongst themselves and can’t come to any consensus, don’t waste your time, move on.
So … what constitutes good Formula 1 content?
Let’s start with quality journalists who have attended some or all of the F1 races to date, and have a relationship with the Team Principals and Drivers. This is gold.
As for so-called “F1” YouTube channels, if the presenter is sitting in his or her bedroom (sometimes Mom will be seen in the background bringing some lunch), a quality product is unlikely to be delivered. Be careful of grandiose claims in the description: “Insane news”, “Banned”, “Caught Cheating”, “Dropped a Bomb Shell” are to be avoided. For example, during the summer break, Alpine junior driver Oscar Piastri was under the spotlight, having signed with McLaren while seemingly being under contract with Alpine for 2023. The issue was sent to the F1 “Contract Recognition Board”. Well before the Board’s findings were disclosed, reports surfaced that Piastri had to repay millions back to Alpine for the support he received in the junior formulas. Total rubbish. Red Bull exceeding the F1 cost cap is another of the tabloid style coverages we’ve all come across recently, with so-called F1 channels reporting that the Milton Keynes-based team has been disqualified and banned from F1. Once again: total BS.
Oscar Piastri made his point of view very clear, unlike what some podcasters and YouTubers had to say about the McLaren/Alpine situation:
Is there any good Formula 1 information out there? Where can I go to find it? To get you started, here are some quality picks.
“Beyond the Grid” with Tom Clarkson is part of the official family of Formula One broadcast materials. Clarkson, a seasoned F1 Journalist, delivers insights into both Driver and Team Personnel every week during the F1 season.
The “Race F1 Podcast” is equally as good as “Beyond the Grid”, but deals with more current issues and race reports. Started in 2022 by Scott Mitchell, Mark Hughes and Edd Straw, this is a quality group of journalists who also provide YouTube F1 content. Staying within the “The Race” family, this group also hosts the “F1 Tech Show”. With the addition of former Jordan GP designer Gary Anderson, this podcast delves into the technical nuances of Formula 1, as well as rules and regulations of the sport, and is a must for any F1 Super Fan. Although not as active as in years past, the “Motorsport Magazine Podcast” has some quality interviews with current and past drivers, as well as team personnel. As with all quality podcasts, be sure to have a look into their archives, as there are lots of hidden treasures to be found.
Once again, “The Race” has perhaps the best F1 news and updates, presented in a timely manner that is not a rehash of their audio podcast. Offering a bit of variety, the Official “Formula 1” channel provides highlights of everything from FP1 to the Grand Prix itself. Some nuggets within the Formula 1 site include former Renault F1 Driver Jolyon Palmer’s race analyses; he sometimes delves into controversial incidents and gives a Driver’s perspective, which may differ somewhat from what you might hear from a Journalist.
Some other sources you may find interesting are “Driver 61”, hosted by Scott Mansell (no, he is not related to Nigel), covering a variety of subjects from current day F1 to some bits of history. Like Palmer, Mansell is a current race Driver (although not F1). Even with extremely technical issues, Scott delivers explanations that can absorbed by the fledgling Formula 1 fan.
Although not exclusively an F1 content channel, this may be my favorite YouTuber: “Josh Revell”. Extremely cutting and sometimes sarcastic (okay always), Kiwi Revell covers most forms of motorsport, including F1 past and present, and if you ever wondered where Verstappen or Leclerc came from or who was the greatest female race driver, Josh has that covered.
There is more quality content out there than I’ve listed today and personal preferences do play a part, but beware … there is also lots and lots of sneaky but lucrative spam and click-bait vying for your attention. Choose your sources carefully and support those who provide true quality F1 content so they can continue to do so for the betterment of all Formula 1 enthusiasts.
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