BBC F1 coverage: your verdict

Mark Webber talks to the BBC in Melbourne

Mark Webber talks to the BBC in Melbourne

A big talking point on the live blogs during the Australian Grand Prix weekend was how BBC did with their F1 coverage.

I thought they did a great job – but reading around some other sites I’ve noticed a few complaints. What did you think of the BBC’s return as an F1 broadcaster?


For the first time ever, all the F1 practice sessions as well as qualifying and the race were broadcast live in Britain. ITV made a big step forwards with this last year, offering all the sessions bar free practice three, but BBC are now bringing us the full complement – on television as well as online. This is a great step forwards.

I didn’t get much of a chance to play around with their onboard coverage, but the rolling highlights feed online was very useful.

We got a decent amount of post-session footage too. I was unimpressed with their decision to cut the post-qualifying press conference to go to an interview with Richard Branson, but on race day we got much more of the interviews. The post-race discussion which continued after the broadcast had finished on BBC1 was very good, and demonstrated BBC’s willingness to use modern television technologies to extend the coverage in a way ITV never bothered with.

Commentators and presenters

I’ve seen a few people on the forum here and on some other sites criticising Jonathan Legard’s performance as lead commentator. I’m at a loss to understand why. He had a few wobbles on Saturday but I thought he did a fine job on Sunday.

Inevitably, the rapport between him and Martin Brundle (who was in fine form) will need a little time to develop. I would, however, like them to be struck with a cricket bat every they use the phrase “KERS system”.

Jake Humphrey did all I expect from an anchorman – he kept things moving and didn’t get on my nerves. David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan brought plenty of useful first-hand knowledge of the sport and offered the kind of constructive disagreement that was lacking on ITV’s team last year.

Ted Kravitz did his usual solid job in the pit lane – but I don’t remember hearing much from Lee McKenzie.


One of the things I appreciated most about BBC’s coverage is how much less patronising it felt than ITV’s effort. Too often ITV seemed preoccupied with chasing celebrities and ignoring the enthusiast audience in favour of the patriotic element.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the home drivers, but it often felt like ITV did it to the exclusion of all else – particularly when Lewis Hamilton arrived on the scene. BBC struck a much better balance.


On the whole I thought the BBC did a very good job of their first F1 broadcast in 13 years. There was the odd hiccup – one broadcast abruptly disappeared for half a minute or so – and the presenters are obviously still getting used to each other, but that will surely develop with time.

Of course not having adverts instantly made the coverage incomparably better. FOM should take note and ensure that viewers abroad are offered the same luxury, even if on pay-per-0view.

The biggest things missing from the coverage at the moment are all things Formula One Management need to provide – a HD feed and better on-screen information.

Although I had my misgivings about ITV, it was clear from talking to fans from abroad that their coverage was among the best F1 got. But the BBC have raised the bar even higher.

What did you think of the BBC’s F1 coverage? Do you have a new local broadcaster in 2009? Do leave a comment – we know they’re paying attention to what F1 Fanatic readers have to say.

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155 comments on BBC F1 coverage: your verdict

  1. Clare msj said on 30th March 2009, 14:04

    I was really quite impressed with the BBCs coverage – especially given it was only their first race back in the reins – i thought Legard definitely improved from the Saturday to the Sunday – although you can still tell he is used to the radio – that will improve with time though, I dont think we could hold that against him too much – commentary between the two mediums is very different, its only expected that it would take time to adapt. Likewise with the relationship with Brundle – that will take time too, I’m sure it would have when Allen started – i cant quite remember though.

    I thought the red button stuff was brilliant, all the practices, the re-runs of races, the forum at the end of the race. plus qualifying and the race were re-run immediately following the live broadcast – there was the potential to watch the race at least four times on the Sunday across the BBC channels. The forum in particular was good – interesting debate with real opinions rather than a cautious answer – the extra interviews were a bonus, and although I find EJ a little irritating at times, he does at least bring a debate (usually contradicted the others, on pretty much every topic). I also liked the fact that all drivers/teams got covered in the post race analysis, not just Hamilton, or indeed Button. (and thats by no means a dig at either driver, more of ITV who were awful for doing that!)

    I also thought that Jake Humphrey did a really good job – he was the one I was a little unsure about when they announced the team originally, I thought it was a bit of a random choice – but I’m glad they picked him – he was well informed, sounded genuinely interested in everything and worked really well with DC and EJ – he kept everything flowing nicely, as well as asking questions that casual viewers might want to know about, without making it sound patronising to the more ardent fan.

    Overall – very impressed, and its likely to improve as well, it is after all only their first race!

  2. Stewart said on 30th March 2009, 14:10

    Great job by BBC. Red button for practice and after race forum superb. Only negatives: more time should be scheduled after qualifying, there’s always plenty to discuss. And Eddie Jordan?!

  3. Arnie said on 30th March 2009, 14:12

    Pls get rid of Eddie Jordan.

  4. GuyC said on 30th March 2009, 14:14

    Overall enjoyed BBC’s coverage!
    One pet hate though was their insistence to want to talk over the ‘team radio’ broadcasts. I love the fact teams have been forced to leave their transmissions unencrypted but for the commentators to continually speak over them was very frustrating!
    That and would like to see HD broadcast. But I suspect thats more up to the circuit management to provide that so we’ll see…

  5. Paul Snoop said on 30th March 2009, 14:16

    ‘KERS system’ is a fine example of RAS Syndrome:

    EJ would be better suited to Jeremy Kyle, he seemed to be there to just argue against even the most straight forward of concepts. I’m sure he said ‘Confuser’ rather than ‘Diffuser’ at one point. Luckily he is kept away from the actual racing coverage so it wasn’t to painful.

    No use of ‘danger high voltage’ yet, but it’s only a matter of time ;)

  6. Jonathan said on 30th March 2009, 14:16

    Trouble is, I needed to pee in the middle of the race – with no ad breaks I didn’t want to miss anything!

    Is the F1 Forum from the red button available to watch on the web anywhere? It’s not on iPlayer I don’t think? I missed most of this!

    Generally I quite liked the coverage – I suppose it’s quite hard to get it perfect as it’s live!

  7. Excellent coverage. Just needs tweeking and balancing so that EJ stops interupting everybody! I value his opinions but he wasn’t letting anybody else speak!

  8. Hugo Bourgeois said on 30th March 2009, 14:36

    Honestly, I must say that the BBC coverage is a big step forward for me. Being Belgians, we have the choice between French comments (from Wallony), which I would rate 8/10 easily and Dutch (Flanders) comments that I would rate anywhere between 2 and 4/10.

    At last, we get to see a coverage that the network (in this case BBC) has really made a positive choice for, rather than just not wanting another network to have it. In Belgium, first they choose, and then they choose to ignore it.

    So Belgium puts its hands together for the BBC and its coverage!

  9. Im loving the BBC footage. The red button is brilliant, I think ive watched the highlights about 10 times and the after race chit chat is great, not like ITV who would simply cut press conference as they need to get the adverts in. The only problem I had during the race was when to make a cup of tea as no 2 minute breaks anymore, lol. I thinkm the presenters simply need a few more races before they are fully compfortable with each other. And i found Coultard and Eddie’s diagreements quite ammuzing.All in all the Beeb have done much better job, the only complaint is DO NOT CUT PRESS CONFERENCE!

    • Great coverage from BBC. I watched online and i think it was superior to iTV’s coverage. Still not too sure about, Eddie and David as pundits, i like both but maybe not together, but perhaps too early to judge :| Would have liked to see Mark Blundell carry on though. All in all i think it was a success..

  10. Dazzauk said on 30th March 2009, 14:44

    compared to ITV i think they did a great job, i liked Jonathan Leggard in place of James Allen (James Allen’s website is an excellent read by the way i have nothing against him at all just didnt like his commentary style) and the whole program for me was more focused on the race including the technical side which is what i like.

    The red button was excellent too especially the highlights, forum and the previous years ‘classic races’ leading up to race weekend, i hope they do that for every race as i enjoyed watching them at 4am when my little girl decides she doesnt want to sleep!!

    Well done and welcome back BBC.

  11. Chalky said on 30th March 2009, 14:45

    I liked it. If this was the first race it should gel together well over the next couple of races.

    Jake Humphreys did a sound job and took a dig at DC only watching himself on the F1 season review DVDs that made me laugh.
    Eddie Jordan – Not sure yet, but Jake and DC were eager to rub it in when Barrichello didn’t get pole.

    Brundle – Excellent. Ted Kravits – Excellent.
    Legard – Well he’s from radio and I find he has the same style as Murray Walker. Not that he makes gaffs like Murray, but he’s more of a natural commentator. He will tell you exactly what he sees. This is all he needs to do. I find that this style suits F1. Yes, you may think it sounds like a horse race, but then listen to some old Murray commentary and it’s the same. Maybe his tone of voice needs adjusting too.
    Either way, I had no complaints.

    One point from the wife. Martin Brundle looks like a gym instructor in his all black polo shirt. He should wear a different colour shirt to Legard. Strange but maybe true. Also, maybe it was jet lag, but I thought in some places they all sounded a bit drunk. Could be Live commentary nerves. Eddie Jordan called it a confuser rather than diffuser and some others occasionally struggled to get out what they wanted to say.

    • That ‘confuser’ remark was a wee play on words by EJ that evidently some people didn’t get… :)

  12. I absolutely loved the BBC coverage, and the choices they provided.
    I loved the run up to the GP, which showed highlights from previous Australian GP’s, and hope that there are a few Malaysian GP’s to watch this week, I think they have 10 to choose form.
    I loved the wee news show they did last Thurs/Fri night, which explained alot about the changes.
    Regarding Jonathan Legard, I dont like him, he sounds like he is unexciteable..I think his and Brundles reading of the race was not great.
    I love that you can turn over and watch the same coverage with 5Live commentators, which are by far the best, and in my humble opinion should be used on the main feed.

  13. .oO(Oh, to be in England now that spring is here… And the Beeb has F1 back!) :|

  14. gilgen said on 30th March 2009, 14:58

    There really was not much difference in the coverage. Both companies took whatever ABC was giving them. The worst part was trying to put up with Eddie Jordan, who seemed to be on a personal ego trip, and his fawning over Branson was cringeworthy. He is superfluous, remove him.

  15. Bahnstormer said on 30th March 2009, 15:01

    > Cracking opening sequence , and ‘The Chain’ is just classic !
    > Eddie Jordan interview with Branson was good, especially as he has first hand knowledge of running a team.
    > Jake – Great anchorman
    > Brundle – the usual good stuff on the grid :)
    > KERS Telemetry/Onboard footage – Good Stuff – keep it coming …(More !)
    > Pit Radio – Lots of very clear radio, really made it interesting, especially the “Yaaaahaaa” from > Button after Qualifying and winning !
    > Excellent after race coverage, with some great footage of Rubens , Jarno and Jenson swapping experiences before going to the podium.
    >One thing that would be interesting would be a bit more in-depth stuff on the technology (KERS. Wings, Engines etc)

    Oh….and more Lee Mckenzie please !

    Glad to have the BBC back doing F1..Well done to Jake and the team.

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