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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. just to many adverts!the 1st half hour off the race they musts put 4or5 adverts on and doesnt get any beta as the race goes on!!! WHY does itv have to spoil it? please cut down on the adverts! as its frustrating enough trying to watch F1 at the moment with the martin and james drolling on but least i can turn the sound down!!!!

  7. Sorry F1 fans still the most boring motor sport on tv carried out by the most boring drivers just one big commercial enterprise no wonder people are switching off in droves.

  8. Its about time somebody has seen the F1 UK coverage or should i say the lack of it, I have been saying for years that it should go back to the BBC there is nothing worse than watching tv and then its full ads there are no ads in the football untill half time so there shouldn’t be ads in F1

  9. I am neutral but thanks to the ITV press coverage of F1, I really do not want English drivers to come anywhere near the podium. I am thankful that most of you guys feel the same about the biased nature of the commentary. Granted that some bias will be there and it should be there but with some limits on it.

    e.g in the last race Raikkonen started almost at P21 and came up to P5/P6 before his 4th pit stop after which he was P11 and then finished at P3, despite this Hamilton was the driver of the day…what rubbish…

    Similarly in the Spa race when Alonso was having a 0.5 sec advantage, the commentators were saying that he should share his experience with Hamilton…why? they are competing for the same title…

    Similarly in the spy scandal, rather than maintain a neutral stand commentators were saying that this happens all the time whne people copy framework…but framework is visible to all not the configuration of engine etc is not..

    I wonder how much they actually think before commenting…

  10. yes james needs to go and blundell and ted jesus that blokes less useful than a chocolate fire guard. i’m afraid i have to put up with the crap they all produce (not listen to five live) or else i’ll miss the analysis from martin which is more often than not excellent, i also enjoy martins grid walks. cant wait to see what spin itv have put on “nasty toro rosso picking on our lewis”
    i agree with all your comments alex andronov

  11. Give the contract to the BBC, then we wouldnt miss a quarter of the race because of adverts. appoligies in advance for the incontinent tea drinkers who need the toilet breaks.

    It was always better in the BBC.

  12. steve bancroft
    21st October 2007, 20:03

    Surely Mclarens’ 3 stop strategy for Lewis cost him the World Championship, despite his earlier mistake. Failing to fuel him to the end of the race at his second stop wrecked his chances of recovery

  13. Dear Ross,
    Instead of criticising the coverage ITV and other TV channels give, what about you returning to an intermideiate team that requires some seasoned technical input to bring them up to the same standard as McLaren and Ferrari and then we might have something to watch. After all, I think you have done quite well (as has some of your previous drivers and engineers) and it would be nice to see you guys putting something back into the sport.

  14. Michael Coombes
    1st November 2007, 13:11

    I see where he’s coming from on the commentator side of things especially this season. Brundle’s fine but someone might want to remind James Allen theres 22 (maybe 24 next year) drivers on the day of a grand prix not just one by the name of Lewis Hamilton, it seems that Hamilton is the only driver Allen notices over a whole weekend and I’m fed up of having biased opinions about a race fed through the speakers to me instead of cold hard facts about whats going on. To conclude Allen out or at least tell him theres more than one driver.

  15. Chris mcerlain
    7th November 2007, 22:18

    I would have James Allen any day compared to Murray walker !!!! I remember what a revelation it was when ITV took over from the BBC,it was fantastic, (apart from adverts, but a nessesary evil) Im very happy with itv`s coverige hell what do you want for nothing !!!! im sure its better in other counties as i watch when im on holiday but you would have to pay to recive it !! the commentators are very good in my view, keep up the good work ITV

  16. It could improve if a telecommunications satellite would fall down over the head of James Allen while he is on live. The rest of commentators are more balanced.

  17. Michele O'Leary
    16th November 2007, 13:42

    I must say that I quite like Martin Brundell as a commentator. I think he is quite interesting and knowledgeable. I miss Jim and Tony Jardine though. Cant really take to Steve at all!

    My main crib about the ITV coverage is the amount of ad breaks. And the total love affair with Lewis Hamilton (whom I’m allergic to). I live in Ireland and keep switching between Setanta and ITV.

    Setanta tends to melt my head a bit though – they keep asking their “expert” Gary Anderson for his opinion. God help us! I wouldn’t believe the radio in his car. Clueless!

    Michele O’Leary

  18. I think Martin and James should invite Ross to their commentary box to show them how he would do it. Am sure that it is very easy to say someone is not doing a good job but quite another to show them how it is done. If you have heard Ross in converstion would you say that his voice will be exciting to listen to? i have only watched a couple of races at trackside and its far more intense than watching it on tv. Time flies by so i can immagine how demanding it must be to make decisions about the race in time.

  19. hi…..just found this website,,,,,,would like to comment about comentators on itv…….now not interested in gp any longer because of the commentators,namely because of mark blundell, a man who cannot even speak his own mother tongue let alone talk about the races/racers, also his bias towards button and hamilton. not all the people who watch gp are die hard english driver fans, some of us actually support personalities rather than who the driver represents countrywise. i also believe that just because mark blundell did race for awhile (dont think he won a race or even got a podium finish) does not qualify him as a commentator or pundit, in actual fact, ive contacted itv and expressed my views….lol…waste of time
    terry brawn….maybe related to ross,,,,,,,lol

  20. Adrian Casling
    20th November 2007, 19:54

    Well done to Ross airing his comments.ITV should have a look at the way DSTV in South Africa screens F1. James and Martin should remember that there are more teams in F1 than Mac/Ham.

    What has happened this year to the sport has really done alot of damage. Time to forget this year recall Murray and train F1 team on the sport.

    Well done to all the teams and drivers for a good show even though there was alot of back stabbing and name slinging.

    Well done Kimi on your great season.

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