For me, the first 2 F1 Annuals set such a high standard for content that I am quite frankly very disappointed with the 2003 effort. Quite what the publishers were thinking I cannot begin to fathom as had they continued with the previous years format I am sure they would have made inroads on the market Autocourse cater for. So just what does set this edition apart from the 2001 and 2002 F1 Annuals?
The main factor is the simple fact that the 2003 Annual has nearly 300 fewer pages than its predecessors (Note: the product details for this book gives the number of pages as 670; this is actually INCORRECT, this book has 384 pages). Admittedly, 90 pages in the past annuals were devoted to a complete record of past F1 races from the inception of the F1 Championship and I'm not too suprised that this has been cast to the bin for the 2003 Edition. But that still leaves over 200 pages that has been excised. The majority of those 200 pages has come from the removal of the team's race by race performance. Probably one of the stongest features of the past annuals (for me), the team's technical/commercial/drivers and race by race record has been cleaved and pared to a mere few pages, nowhere as comprehensive as previously.
Coverage of technical developments is now confined to the major developments each race weekend. Another absentee is the strong statistical breakdown of the races; no lap charts, fastest/slowest, pitstop times, speedtrap times. There is no lap by lap summary of the individual races. There is no graphical representation of qualifying results. The results are now consigned to the back of the annual, a mere 3 pages encompassing the years results, which are confined to qualifying times and race results in bland black and white tables (No fastest laps!!!). Circuit maps are black/white/grey scale, nowhere near as interesting looking as previous years. There also seem to be a few more pages of advertising than in the past.
However there are a few bright spots (although precious few); photography is excellent with Rainer Scheglemich providing many images. There are reasonable drivers quotes (summing up their feelings about the season just finished) in each of the driver summaries, which feature all drivers participating in 2003 bar Baumgarter and Gene. The team chiefs and technical directors/designers also contribute quotes in the Annual's sum up of the F1 teams. There is also 4 pages devoted to the new circuits to F1 for next year, Shanghai and Bahrain.
After stealing the ball in a big way from Hazelton/Autocourse in 2001/2002, the F1 Annual just dropped it big time with the 2003 effort. There is no way that I would consider purchasing the next edition of the F1 Annual, should it stay in it's current format.