With the F1 season now stretching almost into December, Formula One Management elected not to rush the 2012 season review DVD out before Christmas. However, it still feels as if it’s the same old format with little improvements, especially after such a fantastic season of racing.
The main feature launches straight into the Australian Grand Prix, without any footage from practice or qualifying. This is a theme that continues throughout the DVD, as the action focuses on the twenty races, despite some action-packed qualifying sessions. The biggest build up comes in Monaco, where we get a few shots of celebrities who turned up. Frankly, as a fan, I’d rather have watched Maldonado’s practice misdemeanours than Will Smith posing for a photo with Bernie. There is an extra feature that discusses winter testing, so why not add that to the start of the main feature? The result is a DVD that launches uneasily straight into the action, with no information given on driver changes or rule changes. This lack of context means that Alonso’s sensational Malaysian victory feels a little underwhelming. A lack of context is a prevalent theme throughout the DVD and makes the season feel clinical, rather different to how it actually was.
The race footage is pleasant to watch as it covers the majority of the action with enjoyable narration from Ben Edwards. But the editing of the DVD makes it feel like there were twenty races and nothing else; there needed to be more explanation of the story behind each race and improve the transition between. This was a feature used in the previous couple of years as Edwards focused on the race while Will Buxton added some background between events. This isn’t a part of the 2012 DVD as Buxton’s contribution remains limited to the extra features. It was an improved formula, so it’s strange to see it removed.
A bit more detail would have been good: why were Red Bull and Lotus so quick in Bahrain and McLaren poor, a complete turnaround from the previous race? There’s no explanation. In a season where tyres were crucial, there’s no explanation about the changes from 2011 and what the different compounds mean. There’s some attempt to explain the different strategies early in the season – for example, Vettel’s different gamble in Monaco, but it feels few and far between. We’re simply told of Hamilton’s qualifying infringement in Spain, with a brief pre-race interview from the man himself, rather than get to see how the incident unfolded. Remember how great the explanation of Liegate was in the 2009 review? The sporadic use of on-screen graphics is also peculiar.
There are some great features to the 2012 DVD. A large part of it comes down to improved use of team radios, for example, Schumacher’s collision with Senna in Spain, as well as the Alonso/Vettel scrap in Monza. An extra feature regarding team radio is also an intriguing watch, as Andrea Stella, Dave Robson and Simon Rennie discuss their jobs and relationships with Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen respectively. The extra team radios shown on the DVD – such as Vettel’s anger in Spain and Guillaume Rocquelin’s attempts to calm him – make you realise how much better live race coverage could be. Bruno Senna also talks fondly about Ayrton’s association with Monaco, while there’s a montage of Michael Schumacher’s career. There's a large amount of differing camera angles, which is well received, although there could be a little more attention paid to further down the grid.
Onboard extras make a welcome return as the 2012 DVD continues with the recent theme of having a driver talk through a certain incident. Gone are the days when a pole lap would be lazily added; Alonso takes us through his starting lap in Valencia, while Hamilton looks back at his race winning move from Austin. There’s also a plethora of onboard cameras from the start chaos in Monaco, Belgium and Japan with which to analyse the action.
Conclusion: The DVD fails to capture the magnificence of the 2012 season, something that season reviews of the past have done with less exciting years. There are some good features, but overall it feels as if it was edited brashly to provide 20 highlights packages rather than the story of a stunning season. No footage from Friday or Saturday is completely baffling - that's not even being pedantic; there is absolutely no footage from practice or qualifying. At all. It’s one to have for the collection, but it falls between markets; the casual fan might not be interested enough for the full length feature, while the hardcore fan won’t be captured by what’s on offer. Part of the problem may be that the increased coverage of the sport means that the DVD feels less exclusive than it did a decade ago.
Verdict: Good. It’s a lot better than some other sporting review DVDs, but equally there’s room for improvement.
Format: DVD (reviewed), Blu-Ray
Released: 7th January 2013 (DVD), 14th January 2013 (Blu-Ray)
RRP: £16.99 (DVD), £24.99 (Blu-Ray)