Newest Review: ... TV review) and the guide to upcoming events. Also at the back is what was once known as Club Autosport, but which has now been upgraded ... more
Unless I'm very much mistaken...
Member Name: davidbuttery
Date: 17/04/10, updated on 17/04/10 (71 review reads)
Advantages: Not just interested in F1, excellent columnists, not afraid to criticise Bernie
Disadvantages: Lack of competition makes it a little complacent at times
Autosport is one of those publications which tends to divide people quite sharply, in that if you have any sort of interest at all in motorsport you probably either read it already or at least are fairly familiar with its name and what it is; but if the sport is of no interest to you then it is more than likely that you will never even have glanced at it, beyond perhaps noting its slightly odd name as you browse through the serried ranks of magazines in what is known by many as the WH Smith library service.
I fall into the former camp, and read Autosport every week. While it has its flaws, I certainly miss it if I go a week without it, and for the most part I think it justifies its status as the most influential motorsport publication in the UK and (partly because a lot of the sport's industry is based here) one of the most widely read and talked about magazines among the participants as well as the ordinary fans like me. Yes, Bernie Ecclestone, we do exist, and hard as it may be for you to understand we do play our part in the sport's success!
When I started reading Autosport in the 1980s it was quite a wordy magazine, and in all honesty at times it could be rather dull. These days it has gone, if anything, a little too far the other way with its bite-size chunks of info and race reports sometimes lacking as much in depth analysis as I would like. This isn't a problem with the "main events" such as Formula 1, which is given acres of coverage (and rightly so) with plenty of juicy titbits of news and gossip to go with it, but some of the articles on national and club events are very short, and something like a hillclimb may be given barely 100 words. For these grassroots championships it is probably best either to get the more club-orientated Motorsport News or to seek out a dedicated website.
The layout of the magazine has undergone a slight change in recent times, with the letters page moved to the back (it feels like a marginalisation, whatever the publishers might say) along with the reviews section (which includes the usually very entertaining TV review) and the guide to upcoming events. Also at the back is what was once known as Club Autosport, but which has now been upgraded to "National", whether simply to make clubbies feel better or for any more sensible reason I really have no idea! Here also you will find the classified section, which can be fun as you sometimes find people selling off old F1 cars, or sportscar teams advertising desperately for drivers.
The magazine's columns have long been one of the most interesting parts of Autosport, and this tradition remains intact. I still miss Nigel Roebuck's brilliant (and often brilliantly funny) columns, even if he did become a bit of a "New Labour - it's political correctness gone mad!" obsessive towards the end, but the likes of Mark Hughes' MPH column and - in particular - Marcus Pye's take on club-level racing in "Humble Pye" ensure that there is still plenty to interest you when you're starting to get a bit tired of page after page of straight race reports and statistical analysis. (Not that the latter bothers me too much. I like cricket, remember!)
Autosport has a reasonably good reputation for independence and willingness to rock the boat when it is needed, and it's probably broken enough stories the rich and powerful didn't want people to know over the years to deserve that, although I have to say that I don't think it's really done as much on that score in recent times. Perhaps it's the lack of any real rivals in the marketplace that has made it seem slightly complacent of late - there's Motor Sport magazine, but that is focused on historic racing, while the various glossy publications dedicated to particular formulae tend to be not much more than promotional material for the championships in question.
If you're any more than the most casual of motorsport followers and can spare three pounds or so a week, then there is no reason not to buy Autosport. Despite a few irritations it is easily the best general magazine on the sport available, and I'd feel rather lost without it. If you subscribe, you also get full access to the autosport.com website, which is of great use if you're looking for more up to date news than can be found in a weekly dead-tree publication. However, many people even in this age of the internet do still prefer to read their news on paper, and I find myself choosing the magazine over its electronic counterpart when being up-to-the-second isn't vital. All in all, Autosport generally does its job pretty well, and you're missing out somewhat if you don't even look at it.
[Note: for those interested, this review was written entirely on the Psion Series 5 I wrote about a little while ago.]
Summary: The best magazine of its type - but there isn't anyone else!