Interview: Jeremy Washington from MarkWebberBlog

Interview: Jeremy Washington from MarkWebberBlog

MicrophoneTaking this weeks hot-seat is Jeremy Washington, aka LoudHoward, who is regular visitor and commenter here at BlogF1. Based in Adelaide, Australia, Jeremy has followed Formula One since about the time I started to get hooked myself, and blogs regularly over at MarkWebberBlog. While the bias should be fairly obvious by now, Jeremy managed to give some thoughtful insights into Formula One, including the mooted ‘demotion’ system, the charity and goodwill work some drivers do, and his hopes to see F1 become more accessible in terms of online multimedia. And yes, Mark Webber gets a mention as well.

1. MarkWebberBlog has been around for only three or so months, but what I have read I have really enjoyed. How long have you been a Formula One fan, and what sparked you to start MarkWebberBlog?

I’ve been well interested in F1 since around 1994, and I then became a real fan of Michael Schumacher in 1995 when it seemed the Williams’ were faster, but Michael kept winning. By 1998 I was thoroughly addicted and beyond watching the races I started reading books and magazines relating to F1 at every opportunity; this way I’ve stayed up to this day.

The blog was born out a small community of Mark Webber fans over at the Mark Webber Forum where I felt it would be good to have a central point for us to be able to see all Mark and RBR related news. Mark’s official site fell short on this front in my opinion.

2. Do you think Mark has what it takes to become a Formula One World Champion?

Yes, I think he does. That said I think if you put half the field in a ’96 Williams they would’ve won so it’s a fairly open point. I still believe Mark is one of the top drivers on the grid and despite getting on a bit in years I believe I can see a clear improvement on his part, especially from mid-2005.

Obviously some bad decisions both on and off the track, as well as his fair share of bad luck have lead him away from a top team this year but if RBR can get their ducks in a row for 2008 then I think he can have a good crack at it.

3. A recurring theme (and superb feature) at MarkWebberBlog are the fantastic downloadable races. Was this done because it is nigh on impossible to see Grands Prix online, or was it just purely for fun?

I know how hard it is to start a collection of old races through personal experience and I just wanted to help people along with their own, I’d never actually planned to have them on the site but I had the space and the videos so I thought it would be a good way to pass the off season. It’s definitely been the most popular addition to blog so the demand is out there and I can’t think of a reason why Bernie and F1 Management haven’t cashed in on it.

For such a technical sport with a massive fanbase it’s not something F1 should be proud of that the access to multimedia content is virtually non-existant and I hope my site can change that a little.

4. The FIA recently mooted a suggestion of running a demotion system in Formula One, much like what we see with football leagues. Do you think this system would work and be beneficial to Formula One viewers and fans?

It’s an interesting theory but I’d say against it more for practical reasons. I can’t see a GP2 team stepping up and being competitive straight away nor can I see an F1 team dropping down and not cleaning up in a lower formula, in which case we’d just have the same teams switching back and forth. I guess it could be possible to allow the promoted team to run the championship winning car from the previous year as a customer which would make them somewhat competitive but it could get complicated. Either way I hope the FIA doesn’t jump straight into it without some hard thought from everyone in the business, and that goes for every rule change.

5. Mark Webber is often in the press for his charity work – in particular his Tasmania Challenge. Do you feel that Formula One drivers in general do enough charity work and promote safe driving, or is this something you feel they could do more of?

Overall I think the drivers could do more, but that’s probably a product of me being a fan of two drivers who have done a great amount of charity work (Schumacher and Webber). Very recently a member of our forums whose family is having a very tough time at the moment received a letter wishing them well from Mark and it’s these acts that are unquantifiable and make some drivers standout above others. I wouldn’t want to force any drivers to do anything but some do appear to go more out of their way to give to others, and I’d love to see this happening by their own choice all the way up and down the grid.

6. To tie in with a [semi] recent post here at BlogF1, do you think Michael Schumacher’s retirement has been good or bad for Formula One?

I think Michael was a great ambassador for our sport, the average man on the street who knew nothing about F1 had probably heard of Michael Schumacher and increased exposure is always a positive. Within the sport itself, I don’t think anyone will miss some of his on-track antics but I believe Michael added an extra variable into races; you could never discount him or his driving regardless of where he was in the field. So yes I think the sport will miss him initially, but as with all things life will roll on and new drivers will hold our attention.

7. Where would you like to see Formula One in ten years time? Greener cars, more or less political in-fighting, better aero rules to improve overtaking etc…?

I’d like to see F1 back here in Adelaide!

Joking aside, I’d like to see the teams come up with a solution for the aero problem. I don’t want to see more overtaking directly (comments like these could lead the FIA to ban blocking, have reverse grids and add red tyres) but I’d like more overtaking opportunities to arise, and that comes down to the dirty air situation. The cars can overtake fine, they just can’t get close enough to do so. I’d also like some more tweaking done to the qualifying session, the first two are great but I’m all for having single lap qualifying for the final 10 runners, and they should be able to run low fuel so we can see the cars at their fastest.

Other than that I think the sport isn’t doing as bad as it may have been a few years back, steps in the right direction appear to be happening. I’d like slightly larger grids and while I don’t mind the political aspect of the sport, it should remain off the track; F1 in 2006 was stepping a bit close to the edge there on a couple of occasions.

8. With the 2007 season fast approaching, and with many drivers changing teams, who do see doing well this year and who do you see doing less well?

I expect Ferrari and McLaren to be strong. Renault will probably slip back a bit, but they’ll still be fighting for podiums. I think Honda will take a step forward but 2007 wont be their year, BMW will struggle as most teams tend to do in their second seasons and I think RBR will take a big step towards the front and be fighting Honda for 4th in the constructors.

9. MarkWebberBlog seems to be growing at quite a rate at the moment. You’ve recently added the photo gallery and ‘F1 Tube’. What can we expect from MarkWebberBlog in the coming weeks – is there anything in the pipeline you would like to share?

Most of the sections are as I envisioned them, and while I plan to continue adding races and hi-res images to the site I don’t have anything else on the horizon in that regard. However, I am planning to try and increase the quality of the articles posted on the site to hopefully get in a position where visitors will come for more than the novelties that are on offer, hopefully readers have noticed that recently.

10. And finally, who do you (honestly) think will win the Drivers Title this year?

If I had to put money on it, I’d go for Kimi Raikkonen. Well done for going with Mark! Maybe next year…

Some great answers, Jeremy, and I thank you very much for agreeing to share your thoughts on all things Formula One. I urge everyone to head over to MarkWebberBlog and check out the site for yourself – it is clear that a lot of time and energy has gone into Jeremy’s blog, and the writing is informative and well-structured. Oh, and it helps if you’re a Webbo fan as well!

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