Is This The End Of Formula One?

June 19, 2009

F1 looks set to split into two separate series, the biggest change in the sports 60 year history. But would a split actually work or is this the end of Formula One?

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It all started a few months ago with a dispute between The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) and the FIA. FOTA represent eight of the ten teams currently in Formula One (everyone except Williams and Force India). They’ve been locked in a battle for months with the FIA (the governing body of Formula One) over wheter a budget cap should be introduced to the sport. The FIA would like to bring in a £40 million cap to help reduce the cost of the sport. But current teams, most notably Ferrari believe that this is not enough.

And this has all led to FOTA’s shock announcement today that they plan to make a breakaway series from the sport.

As far as I’m concerned, this spells very bad news for motorsport as a whole and especially Formula One. As it stands, the actual teams signed up for F1 next year are Williams, Force India and a handful of new teams attracted by the budget cap. That’s not really a great basis for ‘the pinnacle of motorsport’. It will be like a new series with new teams who will all be experiementing, rather than perfecting the racing that we already know.

It’ll also be a great shame for ‘the pinnacle’ to not include any of the big names that have made it great over the years, Ferrari, McLaren, BMW. Yes, they’ll have Williams, but that doesn’t really count for much at the moment!

So I suppose this means the sport by the name F1 may be a bit of a ket down, but the breakaway series will surely be a success. Wrong.

This breakaway series may have a lot of support behind it, but they are all relatively unexperienced in running a sport. The teams are there, but to organise a series on the level f F1 is very time consuming and I seriously doubt that a credible effort will be ready by March next year.

On another note, in America this has already happened. The IndyCar series split into two different series – Champ Car and IRL. This lasted for a few years, but in the end ChampCar died out and re-merged with IRL to re-form IndyCar. This in turn is now less popular than it was before the split with most of the audience going to Nascar. I feel there’s a real danger of this happening to F1 if they do choose to split.

Having said all this, there’s still a very strong possibility that the split will never happen. Speaking in a statement, max Mosely has given the teams more time to debate out their point-of-view and come to a decision. He’s also said he believes all will eventually come around to joining F1 for 2010.

Bernie Ecclestone has also been asked about the situation. He categorically denies that there’s anything wrong at all!

So will F1 stay string united or fall divided, time will tell. Let’s just sit back and enjoy this weeks British Grand Prix at Silverstone which incidentally, have offered to join FOTA’s new series!

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Working With Heart

June 8, 2009

Over the past week I’ve been able to pick up some valuable Work Experience at the radio station Heart.

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For those who don’t know, Heart is the brand name for a collection of commercial stations in the UK. They have local programming in the mornings and afternoons with national programming from London throughout the rest of the schedule.

I was working at my local station in Ipswich on their news department.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience which allowed me to go out and about and chase stories much more than my previous WE at the BBC. I’ll be going back to Heart again in September for some more WE.

I’d highly recommend work experience  to anyone going into any industry, it helps you to learn so much more than simply studying facts in a lecture hall.

Also, do tune into Heart, it’s a great station with a lot of effort put in to generate the output!

If your interested in how well I did in presenting at Heart, you can hear one of my practice bulletins and see a video I edited together in the Media section!


Nintendo E3 Conference: Better than last year, but was it good enough?

June 4, 2009

Last year Nintendo left us all a bit disappointed with their E3 conference with the most exciting development being Wii Motion Plus. They seemed to ignore their hardcore audience, instead opting to show titles such as Wii Music.

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I’m pleased to say that this year was different. Nintendo came out in full force with new titles in their ever popular franchises.

Mario in particular had an excellent outing with 2 new titles on Wii. Firstly Nintendo will be bringing New Super Mario Bros. to the console. It had a successful debut on DS and now the big N hope to improve on this by adding 4 player support on Wii.

Mario’s other outing was the shock announcement of Super Mario Galaxy 2. It’s a sequel to the fantastic platformer released in 2007. It’s also the first time that a console has received two 3D Mario adventures. The game does look good, including new features such as Yoshi’s return to platforming. It also boasts much bigger worlds than the original. Anyone who played the original will realise that this will be a fantastic addition to the Wii library.

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Other games announced included an all new Metroid which looked interesting, Zelda for DS and a new Wii Zelda (though sadly we didn’t see any of that).

My only real gripe with all this is that we’ve seen it all before. I have absolutely no doubt at Mario, Zelda and Metroid will deliver, as they always do, some fantastic gameplay, but it seems a bit hollow that Nintendo, the great innovators, are simply recycling franchises. It’s always these three, where was the F-Zero, where was the StarFox, where was PIKMIN 3???!

As with all Nintendo conferences, Mr. Iwata had to reveal a new peripheral of some kind. The Wii vitality sensor measures your pulse by having your finger in some kind of box… riiiiiight. Not your best idea Iwata!

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All in all it was a good show for Nintendo this year, there’s solid releases on the horizon and it’s clear the Wii is here to stay. But for the second year in a row, Sony and Microsoft stole the show.


Sony and Microsoft Jump On The Bandwagon!

June 3, 2009

I remember not long ago that both Sony and Microsoft were having a right jolly laugh at Nintendo and their ridiculous gimmick of motion sensing. Now a few years later, the electronic giants have U-turned and introduced their own motion sensing devices.

Over the last couple of days the two companies have revealed their controllers at their E3 conferences. Sony have a yet untitled motion sensing device using their ‘eye’ camera and Microsoft have an all new method called project Natal.

Sony’s is the most traditional device. They’ve learnt their lesson from the rather poor ‘sixaxis’ controller and have opted for a wii remote style device in a form of a baton. In their E3 tech demo, Sony showed how well this works with the ‘eye’ allowing the user to see themselves onscreen at the same time as playing the game, very similar to the eyetoy. They also demonstrated how well this feature can work in 3D space.

The demo did look very impressive (and if you didn’t see it, you can have a look below), but it does seem to be nothing more than a slightly more accurate wii remote.

Microsoft however have come up with the true innovation, for the first time in gaming history. Project Natal combines a camera and a sensor bar which you place at the front of your TV set. And that’s it, there is no controller because YOU are the controller.

Now obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this as Sony created the eyetoy several years ago. However, Natal is far more advanced, it can actually recognise you, recognise your body parts, recognise all of your actions and replicate all of this on screen. It can react to your every movement. It’s also been demoed with a variety of games from skating to driving, even to a socialising tech demo.

The only problem I have with Natal is the lack of force-feedback, no rumble etc. I can’t help feeling that this would feel extremely alien to all gamers and even people who haven’t played before.

So where does this leave Nintendo and Wii? Well it certainly isn’t game over for the big N yet. Wii Motion plus is just around the corner and will put the Wii’s motion not far off the quality of Sony’s new device. However it does look like the motion sensitive console may loose its crown to it’s more traditional rivals. But don’t forget, these devices aren’t available yet and could take over a year to release.

There’s also the small matter of developing for them. Developers know and like the Wii, they can make games for it quickly, whereas with Sony and Microsoft’s new toys they will have to learn how they work, which will take time.

But hats off to both companies for these shock revelations, they both look very entertaining, although for me, project Natal looks far more groundbreaking!

I’ll be watching E3 over the coming days and expect me to properly review Nintendo’s offering very soon!