As someone who became a [significant] fan of F1 in 2020—thank you quarantine and Netflix (watch "Drive to Survive")—I took to the interwebs in the hopes of discovering the best way to consume more F1 goodness for the season.
However, what I found were very dated posts with most pushing YouTube, some ESPN, and a bunch of people saying that F1TV suffered from connectivity issues. In fact, I’m sharing here because I hope it helps someone else who might be looking for more updated intel.
Because I’m a fan of buying as close to the source as possible, and that I wasn’t interested in anything else besides F1, I decided to ignore the dated complaints about F1TV and take a chance. I figured that if anyone was going to be committed to giving fans a 360-experience, this was the platform.
And I am so happy I did.
First off, whatever complaints were going on with server issues, I didn’t have one. I live in rural New York, USA and had great connectivity to both live races and archived races—all watched through my iPhone on unlimited cellular data (yes, “rural” means no internet at the house, sadly. Hurry up, Elon!).
Secondly, the on-demand replay feature was great for watching practice, qualifying, and races after the fact. I also like the condensed recaps if you don’t have time for the full enchilada.
Next is probably one of the coolest features of all: the ability to switch between the curated and narrated main race view, pit view, circuit tracker, data display, and every in-car camera in the field. This blew my mind. I went from being a 41 year-old bald male to a giddy 16 year-old kid with hair. And then you can double up and select any two cams (complete with radio traffic). I spent the whole first race glued to my iPhone freaking out.
Then there’s all the bonus coverage that really makes this a true-fan experience [wife says: addict. Potato, patato]. Who better to get you behind the scenes in all-access locales before, during, and after races than F1 itself?
On the technical side, yes, the app allows you to plug your phone into a smart TV and play content (it’s a shame this even has to be mentioned—I’m looking at you Amazon). You can have your account on three devices, but only one can stream at a time, if I’m not mistaken. You can also take screen shots of content, which I love as a fan (yes, I’m looking at you Disney, Netflix, et al).
Lastly, I love the ability to easily dip into the archives and watch races from the past. This has been so much fun, especially now as the off season begins. Those classic races are awesome. And, yes, many of the archived races do have multi-camera POVs available! Bless you, F1 tech gods. I offer you my classic denim jacket as tribute.
For those curious, I went for the full year at $79, and now the F1 and F1TV apps sit side by side on my Home Screen and have replaced news and social media as my go-to opens. (Let’s face it, that’s for the best too).
I recognize I have not done due diligence with YouTube or ESPN. If people wish to comment with rebuttals or compelling features on those other platforms, I look forward to reading them. But with limited time and cash, and given how happy I am with F1TV, I don’t envision paying for things I don’t need (ie, all the other distractions that come with YouTube’s version of cable TV) and not getting the features I want.
At the end of the day, to each their own. But I thought it was worth sharing my experience in the hope that it might help someone searching dated posts like I was find true F1 happiness.
Now it’s time to put on my new team jacket (Christmas present from my wife—she’s coming around), open that new bottle of Old Forrester, and watch some rubber fly.