Ross Brawn slates ITV F1 coverage

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?

Related links

Tags: / / / /

Advert | Go Ad-free


74 comments on Ross Brawn slates ITV F1 coverage

  1. The problem is that there are two roles in the commentry box. They should be divided up like a newspaper between News and Comment. And Murray used to do News and Martin did Comment. But James, desperately desperately wants to show off how much he knows about F1. It means that both of them end up doing Comment and we don’t have a clue what’s going on! It means that Martin sometimes, feeling embarresed no doubt ends up describing what’s going on. All of their descriptions are far too slow because James has been taking his lead from Martin.

    It should be like this:

    James: Somethings happening on the track, somethings happening on the track. Something very exciting is happening on the track. Why is it happening on the track?
    Martin: Because of x and then y and this is because of…
    James: Sorry to cut you off Martin something is happening on the track. Something is happening on the track. Something is happening on the track.

    When it is usually like this:

    James: This week I had dinner with somebody who told me something that was relevant before this race started.
    Martin: Really? That might mean the fuel in the race is going to be x.
    James: Well I thought the complete opposite because I’m completely stupid.
    Martin: That would be a stupid thing to think.
    James: Yeah I know. I’m stupid. I’m stupid. I’m stupid.
    Martin: Well while we’ve been speaking about that this is what’s been happening on the track.
    James: Let me re-cap everything that’s been happening since the start of the race again, I haven’t done that for 2 minutes and it’s not as if you’ve been watching the whole race or anything and as far as I can tell nothing could possibly be happening now and if it is then it can probably wait a minute or two and I’ll include it in my next recap of everything that’s happened in the race.
    Martin: You are stupid.
    James: Yes I’m stupid.

    Or something like that.

  2. Roger Atkins said on 18th May 2007, 19:55

    Coverage was far better when it was on Sky with Multi Screen options or abroard where the race is still shown in a reduced window through the adverts.
    This technology seems to be beyond ITVs capability, or do they feel they dont have to bother as they dont have competition. BBC and Murray Walker were much better

  3. C Jefferies said on 19th May 2007, 20:24

    Get rid of James Allen and PLEASE bring back Murray Walker you could at the very least have a good laugh with him.

  4. Roy Newton said on 21st May 2007, 20:46

    I’m a little amused by all the praise for Murray Walker. Sure he has an excellent knowledge of F1 history and it’s always worth listening to his racing reminiscences.
    However during live commentary,he drove me to distraction and I couldn’t wait for the day he retired.

    What bugged me most about his technique was his penchant for interrupting himself during an interesting point in the race, in order to go off at a tangent about some unrelated trivial detail, never to get back to his previous commentary.

    With his gaffes and his mad desire to predict the race outcome far in advance and thereby put the ‘commentator’s curse’ on the driver concerned, it was a relief for someone new to take over. I was pleased with James Allen at first but alas though he seems to have gone off the boil; perhaps like Ross Brawn, he too needs a sojourn.

  5. Kev said on 6th June 2007, 23:49

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that has noticed that midway through the race we only get to see how many pit stops each driver has taken. Although this information is useful around the pit stop windows, it would be a lot better to have split timings instead.

    I can’t remember how long ago ITV started doing this, but it is getting beyond a joke now.

    As for the commentators, I agree with the James Allen verdict. Get him out! I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been screaming at the telly when he’s really excited about an overtaking move, when everything with two working eyes knows it’s a replay of a move made 5 mins ago, that HE commented on.

    The man has the memory of a Goldfish!

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 6th June 2007, 23:54

    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.

  7. Malcolm said on 12th June 2007, 1:28

    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.


  8. Kerry Jordan said on 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.

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

  10. Neil said on 18th June 2007, 19:37

    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. ;)

  11. ian said on 30th June 2007, 16:58

    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

  12. lewis said on 3rd July 2007, 8:59

    I think that both commentators are brilliant

  13. Andy A said on 4th July 2007, 19:32

    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!

  14. bernie's nemesis said on 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!!

  15. karl said on 8th July 2007, 8:34

    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.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.

2 trackbacks