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?

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74 comments on Ross Brawn slates ITV F1 coverage

  1. G Rendle said on 9th July 2007, 0:07

    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.

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th July 2007, 8:06

    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…

  3. Tony stocks said on 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.

  4. colin said on 19th July 2007, 19:46

    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.

  5. delboy said on 20th July 2007, 10:05

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. lucy said on 22nd July 2007, 17:04

    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!

  8. Lilly Patricia said on 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.

  9. TocaPro said on 23rd July 2007, 18:49

    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…

  10. Luke Duffield said on 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!

  11. Riitta said on 24th July 2007, 10:25

    There is nothing wrong with Allen and others. My complaint is that lately it has been all about Lewis Hamilton. The chap has been in cars all of his life and right now he has the very best car in F1. Not much can go wrong. Can we Please have a more balanced programme. The other drivers Kimi, Heikki, Fernando etc deserves better covering. Keep up the good work.

  12. Parsnips said on 28th July 2007, 11:14

    I agree Martin is a superb man for the Job. As for that James how about daytime TV for airheads? There are many articulate and knowledgeable ex-F1 drivers available why don’t ITV give them a trial. Remember how good and informative Jenson was?

    Oh and let’s have live qualifying for every race………or go back to the BBC.

  13. Zig said on 29th July 2007, 8:13

    I think in Mr. Brawn’s case it is obviously a situation of being used to having access to an abundance of information, more than TV could ever provide in its current format. Adding to the fact that anyone with his former job title would be irritated watching a race relayed by ITV, unless Lewis Hamilton/Jenson Button/DC/Ant Davidson was driving for Ferrari in his case.
    It would be nice if ITV could speak to Mr. Brawn, and maybe get some tips from him on how to improve the viewers’ experience.

    Martin Brundle is a commentating genius, and I’m impressed by his original ways of describing a situation. His views are quite balanced even though one can expect and tolerate a certain amount of favoritism towards British drivers, especially knowing he is DC’s manager. He seems to noticeably keep himself in check. One can certainly appreciate and respect his efforts, even though on the whole it is unfortunately heavily distorted by James Allen and the others total and utter prejudiced preferences.

    Someone should tell James Allen that the fact that you are English speaking, does not mean you are British, or that you support British drivers. Take your cues from Martin, talk less nonsense, don’t speculate (Nick Heidfeld waving to the flag marshal?) and try to be objective. You are making us dislike Lewis Hamilton or any British driver who is the flavor of the day; even though I’m sure all of them are great guys. Being a DC fan myself I get highly irritated with James’s well-known, never ending praise or overly exaggerated enthusiasm around DC.

    I found myself recently wishing Lewis would have a problem (and felt terrible when he had his accident) so that James could stop going on about him, then again when he has a problem he never stops going on about that either.
    James, you should stop telling us and raving about him, we can see for ourselves how good his achievements are. Repeating it all the time does not make us believe it more.

    ITV should also steer clear from trying to sensationalise everything, like the recent “Michael Schumacher has left the building comment” during the Nurburgring race by Ted Kravitz, when Michael left early to get ready for the podium ceremony. Ted that was laughable, and made you look like a tosser! F1 is sensationalised enough as it is. We don’t need tabloid-esque TV.

    If ITV ever lose Martin (Bundle), they will be in trouble. Murray Walker was great, and seen by many as a commentating institution, and a comedy to listen to. It certainly taught me to make my own decisions based on the information available, while looking forward to his next classic blunder.

    As a last comment I would like to challenge all the couch commentating experts, to see what it is like to commentate live during a race, what with instructions from the producers, and all other involved parties in your ears, while all the while keeping an eye on the on-screen action, interacting with your commentating partner, and talking sense non-stop for 90 minutes. I know it’s their jobs, but not easy by any means. See for yourself one day, and try to commentate at home as you see things happen on TV. Then imagine someone talking in your ear while doing so. It’s a mad house, which is why ex-drivers sometimes make better commentators. They can handle the pressure.

    James is a gifted writer and provides a lot of insight in most of his articles and books.
    I don’t think he should be commentating, unless some habits change.

  14. ChrisP said on 2nd August 2007, 22:24

    Ross has had a dozen screens in front of him (and god knows what else) and we have ONE! He should be grateful he got to see more in his career than we will ever see!

    Saying that, I agree James Allen is no Murray Walker (damn I miss that guy) but British TV coverage isn’t THAT bad, apart from when they don’t show the interviews half the time… I really wanted to the see the last race interviews because Moaning Massa must’ve been on a right bender!

  15. Kajik said on 3rd August 2007, 23:11

    Finally an insider relegated to watching “public” TV F1 coverage voices an opinion on the weakest link in all of F1. The general low quality of the comentation offered. This is an enigmatic problem found in all the countries who’s language I speak. Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Wherby the UK is from all the countries blessed with the competent inside info Martin Brundle offers. He is the only one truely plugged into the F1 circuit and speaks the language. Otherwise the educted F1 fan is confronted with verbal diarrhea, merely commentating the same images which we can all see on screen, there and then.
    What Brawn has not yet had the priveleg of is the be relegated to the second and related issue: The the editing/image montage. Some countries obviously employ directors for scene editing and camera direction who have never done a motor race let alone a complex F1 event. We the global F1 spectators are subjected to frequent and frantic attempts to capture the course of events at times culminating in random selected cameras as well as out of sequence timings. It is the one aspect Bernie has overlooked. Yes, he’s made it big, but the subject of international F1 event coverage as well as the national event commentary is where F1 has not kept pace with the F1 circus. Bernie ought to have one global F1 TV director/crew. This will immensely improve the spectacle due to the focus applied and the general spirit to hone and engineer for the better, which after all is the spirit of F1. My guess is that Bernie never saw a need for such an expenditure since it would have to come out of his pocket and the general TV ratings have not given him adequate inducement to do so.

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