Ross Brawn slates ITV F1 coverage

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ross Brawn, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2006The poor quality of current F1 TV coverage has finally been given regard by an important figure in the F1 community. Ross Brawn, on sabbatical from Ferrari, has watched the first three races of the F1 season on TV from the UK and reckoned:

It’s a very frustrating business to watch F1 on British TV. It’s definitely a new experience for me to watch it with a different perspective and also the quality of commentators on English TV.

We’re used to having all the data and all the split times and we can see the race developing. What’s clear when you watch it on the TV is that you don’t get that information. Our commentators don’t seem very good at conveying what is going on.

It’s very frustrating to watch a race and not have that information which is available to everyone at the track. So condolences for that.

Live split time information is available from the official F1 site but the data relayed on screen to TV viewers typically only shows how many pit stops each driver has had.

What is particularly interesting is that Brawn almost certainly watched F1 on ITV (unless he re-tuned a satellite dish to pick up Setanta) and chose to criticise the commentators. ITV’s Martin Brundle is well-regarded by many fans.

But James Allen is widely unpopular and there are even petitions to have him replaced – a fact that many ‘in the business’ choose to ignore.

Brawn’s specific remark, “Our commentators don’t seem very good at conveying what is going on.,” really struck a chord with me. Time and again when watching motor sport the commentators seem to spend too little time talking about what’s going on on-track up and down the field, and too much time talking generally about the drivers. This does not just apply to F1 – GP2 on Eurosport is the worst.

But now that someone important has spoken out, will someone even more important – i.e. Bernie Ecclestone – take notice?

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76 comments on “Ross Brawn slates ITV F1 coverage”

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  1. I don’t think ITV have control over what the on-screen displays (such as the lists of gaps or numbers of pit stops) say – they’re provided by the director which increasingly these days is controlled by FOA.

    Broadcasters are often also not allowed to add their own graphics.

    I agree that, more often than not, I’m more interested in the gaps between the drivers than the number of pit stops they’ve made. If you’re following the race you’re going to know pretty much how many times each driver has stopped.

  2. Personally I can’t stand James Allen and have no idea why ITV stick with him, he is absolutely useless and is more interested in having his voice on the telly than in actually commenting on what is going on.

    My solution is to listen to the radio commentary on BBC with the sound off on the telly. If you have not tried this – do so, the commentary and analysis is great and you don’t miss all the good stuff which always seems to happen when ITV are having a money break (sorry, commercial).

    Unfortunately there is no such help with the WRC which is now squeezed into one programme. ITV these days are totally useless at sport full stop.


  3. Kerry Jordan
    16th June 2007, 15:21

    I think Brundle’s knowledge and analysis is profound. I don’t see the point of Louise Goodman and her shrill tones, usually interviewing some back marker who’s fallen off the track.

  4. will i think that james and martin seems to only focusing on one team?

  5. Could it be so difficult to flash each drivers lap time as they cross the line? Or are they worried that if they put up even more informations, they’ll make the commentators even more obselete?

    I love Martin, he doesn’t get too excited. Different strokes of course.

    I watch the ITV show from start to finish, and although I love the fact that there’s lots of coverage, it’s slightly annoying that JA and co. go on and on about BRITAINS LEWIS HAMILTON.

    last year it was just funny though, giving the same treatment to button, through all of his mistakes and equipment failures. That’s comedic, if slightly annoying when there is usually something more interesting happening on-track.

    “perhaps it might be a little premature, but it might be time to declare BRITAINS LEWIS HAMILTON the best F1 driver to ever have lived. Ever.”

    Go Allen, you cabbage. ;)

  6. re rodger atkins remarkes on ad breaks i have watched rtl2 split screen for ads but itv say it would upset the companies typycly they think more of there income rather than the viewers from who if didnt buy the things on adverts they wouldnt be broadcasting they just dont want to show any interest in the public

  7. I think that both commentators are brilliant

  8. All of the above comments are interesting.

    I think James Allen must be on a long term contract as although he is still commentating, his contribution to the pre-race build up is negligible, which to me shows that ITV are at least concerned about his popularity. As for the on screen graphics, they are provided by Bernie and as such ITV has no control over them (unfortunately) so log on to and watch that in tandem with ITV.

    Martin Brundle is excellent and I am sure I can on occasion hear the frustration in his voice with JA. Am I the only person who finds his ‘and (insert driver name here)……..WIIIIIIIINS’ Muzza impression at the end of every race extremely annoying! he can’t even time it right FFS!

    Ah well, I could go on but I will try and show the restraint that JA should use!

  9. bernie's nemesis
    5th July 2007, 13:03

    I think it’s quite a rich comment from Brawn, now he’s finally having to endure what the rest of us have been cringing about ever since ITV got the gig and Murray retired.
    Does anybody out there think that James Allen is any good?
    I am quite sure anyone with google at their disposal and half a brain could provide as much insider/specialist knowledge and expert analysis as the current pairing.(Martin Brundle- not shaken, not stirred into life).
    Louise Goodman sounds like a school dinner lady- “So Ruebens, Jenson stole your dinner money again”

    The real point is that the bidder willing to add most to Bernies’s funds takes all. This goes for everything. Forget the real enthusiast, forget exciting cicuits with decades of history. Forget safety.(complaints about Canada? WTF Monaco?)Forget taking action against questionable driver conduct, as long as the country they come from provides plentiful advertising revenue( no 2 german gps,2 spanish gps now).

    And forget quality tv coverage.

    So sorry Ross if its not quite the overwhelming experience you expected, but welcome to the new win at all costs era of motor sport you helped introduce. Win at all costs. And the one with the most money wins.
    And its GO!!

  10. It’s so simple…….give F1 back to the BBC. No more annoying adverts !!!!!!!!!!
    Martin Brundle is intelligent,interesting and a good commentator, unlike Mark Blundell who’s grammar is terrible.

  11. I’m surprised at the criticism of Martin Blundle because, for me, he adds so much to an otherwise – generally – boring middle section of every race. Also, he can gather up so much from a fleeting glance and seems to be able to explain the correct cause of every incident long before a member of the team exposes it. I’m happy with James as a partner to Martin.

    The only time I turned the sound off while watching a GP was while I was on holiday in Spain. I don’t speak the language.

    It was pretty bad, and so was the TV coverage.

    Please KEEP Martin.

  12. I think you have Martin Brundle (co-commentator with James Allen) and Mark Blundell (co-pundit with Steve Rider) confused there!

    Funnily enough the two were team mates at Brabham and Ligier in the ’90s…

  13. Tony stocks
    10th July 2007, 13:38

    I think the ITV team do a great job. Remember how boring Murray Walker used to be.

    Ross Braun was very fortunate to have had all this technical Information to hand, If that’s what he needs to watch Motor Racing. Now he’s not there,— Just sit back and enjoy watching it.

    Everyone has to improve along the way. Sure the ITV F1 Team makes the odd mistake. We all do! Its still a whole lot better than it was a few years ago.

    I dont notice Ferrari going backwards since Ross Braun left,so perhaps he’s not the God he thinks he is.
    Does he want us to have a computer and a stop watch by our sides when we are watching the Grand Prix.

    Come on its supposed to be Motor Racing we are watching here, not some not some Hi Tech University challenge.

  14. i thik the answer is a mix of radio 5 live and the by in spain they have a window for the race so that you dont miss anything in the adverts if they can why not us.

  15. Yes. Allen should go and something needs to be done to improve production
    where the camera work is often poor.During one race I recall watching two middle order cars for over 10 laps.Also too much camera time is spent on crowds or other uninteresting views.Avertising breaks at critical moments are also are also a pain.

  16. Camera time is mostly an FOM problem – they manage the camera work and direction at all but four races this year. Adverts and commentators, on the other hand, are squarely ITV’s problem. I can only echo your comments about the ads. James Allen just needs to learn not to obsess so much on one or two favourites, then he might make a good commentator.

  17. i agree that james should go.he has a bad habit of latching on to a driver for example montoya,jenson now lewis.he never seemed to put as much focus on michael in a positive light.always his the tech talk should be left to martin.james presumes too much like with 10 laps to go he names out who’s on the podium etc.i like martin i know he may have favorites too but he not as biased a james comes across and has the experience to back up what he says.james is forever cutting him off and being so cheesy.he gets too carried away with lewis and forgets that alonso has won championships,beaten michael within such a short time.just like newspapers seem to be doing at the a mclaren fan and see the drivers as equals and we are lucky to have them.also iv huge respect for ferrari for what they’v achieved but i wonder would the FIA hastliy upset the rules like they did if mclaren where winning title after title.why did everyone seem to go against michael and ferrari when they revolutionised aspects of car design and development??was it because they made ppl get off their backsides to catch up.

    that my rant over:)just wish it was solely about racing instead of money,biasness and manipulation!

  18. Lilly Patricia
    23rd July 2007, 14:42

    I think until F1 sorts it coverage out there is little point changing presenters. Moto GP coveage is excellent complete with presenters and graphics that actually mean something unlike the F1 graphics.
    what F1 needs is i overall director for TV coverage rather than the partisan local directors, in the USA we spent an equal time on each car irrespective of what was happening on track, it italy italian drivers and so on.
    Slso they should give us graphics with the splits and colours like Moto GP rather than the 1980s graphics that we are currently stuck with.

  19. On the end of my Boot

    The Ad’s: for obvious reasons.

    Louise Goodman: She would be the last person i’d want to see if i were a driver.

    James Allen: Mmm…not quite, an aqquired taste maybe.

    Steve Ryder: mr nice as pie cheesey smiling vomit inducing puppet.

    Mark Blundell: Send him off to the Grass growing championships with the above.

    Not on the end of my Boot.

    Martin Brundle: Can’t think of anyone better.

    Suggestion: Train up Gordon Ramsey…

  20. Luke Duffield
    24th July 2007, 9:18

    Brundle does a great job – he’s the best commentator F1 has ever had. Allen on the other hand isn’t! What annoys me more is that after the race Mark Blundell and that other dude state the bleeding obvious! I’m not sure who should have Allen’s job, but please dont bring back Tony Jardine!

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