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F1: We Have A Winner

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There are few sports as glitzy and glamorous as Formula 1. It's like rock'n'roll without the drugs but with everything else. A multi-billion dollar industry with fast cars (er, obviously), dashing men in shades, 'pit babes' (apologies to the feminists out there, but I didn't come up with the name), and the quite real possibility that someone might very well die. At Monaco last week, Karun Chandhok was literally inches away from having his head taken off by Jarno Trulli's Lotus gliding over his helmet. All that adds to the excitement and lure of one of the richest and highest-paid sports in the world.

For me, an armchair punter who doesn't want to stump up the dosh to go to Silverstone or anywhere else to have my ear drums shattered, the action starts at home with 'Dmmm....der-der dmm der-der der-der-dm dmmmm...' If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm referring to Fleetwood Mac's classic 70s song, The Chain. From 1978 to 1996, the BBC used The Chain for the opening sequence and it always, always excited me. Indeed, legendary commentator Murray Walker used to say that it gave him butterflies every single time because he knew that 'when it stops, I start'.

When the BBC lost the F1 contract to ITV in 1996, the theme tune took a massive nose-dive when funkmeisters Jamiroquai (who I'm a fan of, incidentally) had a go...and made a right pig's ear of it. From 1997 onwards, the intros changed a number of times, and the music and the opening sequences were all vaguely-ok-but-nothing-to-write-home-about for about 10 years.

And then 2007 happened. Oh, dear. I can just imagine the phone call now. 'Tarquin, hi! It's Zack. Look, we want to make the F1 opening sequence more sexy. Kinda Timothy Dalton meets The Professionals  in China. Look, just think of glitz and glamour and I think you'll nail it. Gotta go  running late for my snowboarding lesson. Let's really push the envelope on this one and touch base next week, ok? Ciao!'

And so the mess that was the ITV F1 intro between 2007 and 2009 came to be. A sort of homage to James Bond but without the budget. Snakes on the shoulders of a random naked woman? Falcons giving us the evil eye? Some Chinese dancer glaring at us as if we've left the iron on...again? Coulthard dressed in a tux, standing beside a roulette wheel? All right, so he owns a casino; I'm guessing he'd rather have had a snap of him holding one of his many trophies, with hindsight. No, no, no. ITV's F1 opening sequence was an unmitigated disaster in my book. And if you don't believe me, click here and judge for yourself.

But now that F1 is safely back in the BBC fold, we can all breathe a sigh or relief. Not only is Fleetwood Mac's faultless, sensational, spine-tingling classic theme back too, but the design of the sequence itself is absolutely fabulous. This is thanks to the design team over at Liquid TV, who seem to like their sport, with credits for the opening sequences for the FA Cup, Ski Sunday, The Grand Slam of Darts and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race to their name. Their new take on the F1 opening is a a triumph of CGI and HDRI (high dynamic range imaging) techniques, it tells a story and it's all about the car, the driver and the race. And because there are no Bond-like images of specific drivers, it can (and I hope will) be used for years to come.


by Ashley Morrison

Ashley is a freelance blogger, copywriter and editor
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