|It Was Fair – The Official Review of the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship|
|2-disc Blu Ray or DVD, 319 minutes (Blu Ray) or 300 minutes (DVD)|
|© 2014, Distributed by DUKE|
While the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship season itself was dominated by Mercedes, it was a thrilling battle up and down the field in a year that also featured incredible technical innovations, as well as plenty of controversy, politics and sensation. Does its official season review adequately capture the year that was?
Yes and no.
Let’s start with the appalling ‘It was fair’ name given to the title. It’s unimaginative, and it really does a gross disservice to what was – in the eyes of many true F1 fans – one of the best seasons in Formula 1 history.
Moving off that soapbox, there are some improvements as well. Unlike last year’s single-disc edition on DVD and Blu Ray, the 2014 review is spread across two discs in both formats. A four-and-a-half hour review is squeezed onto Disc 1, while Disc 2 contains about 40 minutes worth of extra features (the Blu Ray release gets an extra 20 minutes and a slightly higher price tag).
We’ll get onto the review component in a moment. Unfortunately there’s not much to praise about the bonus content on Disc 2. There’s chapters of onboard snippets from each race – some are introduced, some have telemetry, some are just a bit dull – along with a handful of short-length featurettes. A lot more could have been done with this given the wealth of footage that FOM had in its possession.
The season review itself has undergone a major improvement. The 2013 edition was just a smattering of race highlights and no much else, but the 2014 release has improved with a more comprehensive approach.
The year’s major technical changes are introduced before we jump into pre-season testing – both are well-covered. The remaining chapters cover each of the following 19 races, following a trusted format of major news items, limited practice and qualifying highlights before more race footage.
The structure of the review does slow down the narrative, however, and there are several stories which are dragged out over multiple races when it might have been better to cover it in a single piece – the Red Bull Racing appeal over Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification was a case in point, and even that was covered very poorly. At well over four hours, the length and structure of the review does make it feel a little long-winded; we had to watch our Blu Ray over four sittings.
There are a number of technical pieces headlined by former F1 designer Gary Anderson and BBC Radio 5 Live commentator James Allen – his colleague Jennie Gow is given one hit-out as well, but a very superficial ‘glam’ featurette from Monaco – and these generally hit the mark, although some might have been better as bona fide Extra Features on Disc 2 as they can disrupt the flow of the review itself.
BBC lead commentator Ben Edwards does a solid job narrating the review itself – although the irksome habit of calling the drivers by their first names only still persists – and the production is solid enough to give fans plenty of highlights from their favourite races. Given how much the standard of F1 broadcasting has improved in recent years, there’s little in the way of new footage or radio transmissions, however.
The review’s coverage is, understandably, very heavily focused on the championship battle between the Mercedes drivers, while comparatively little attention is given to the non-Silver Arrows teams. That’s understandable given the year we had, but not fully excusable.
The coverage of Jules Bianchi’s accident and its aftermath is handled discreetly and tastefully. While FOM would have been in possession of plenty of footage, none was used, no doubt out of respect to the Bianchi family.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award It Was Fair – The Official Review of the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE FIVE.
It Was Fair – The Official Review of the 2014 FIA Formula 1 World Championship is available at specialty DVD retailers in the United Kingdom. Australian readers can expect this title to hit the shelves in roughly February 2015, and only in DVD form.