BBC F1 coverage: your verdict

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. Not impressed really. Sounded like the commentator would be better off dong football or snooker! – he basically killed it stone dead for me. The show intro was very long-winded so I hope we don’t get that every week. I really prefer the ITV show and really didn’t mind the commercials – especially in the pre-show when it gave me plenty of time to grab another beer or a snack without missing anything.

  2. I hope the commentators gell soon…… I thought I was listening to a horse race at times

  3. Unfortunately I slept through the race and missed the bulk of the coverage which wasn’t shown on the re-run. I did think Jonathan Legard was a bit wobbly on Saturday, but enjoyed his coverage for the race. He seemed to have the genuine enthusiasm that was missing up until now.

    1. With your level of interest suggest you sleep through all the rest as well.

  4. I think the BBC’s coverage was head and shoulders above ITV’s – thank God Jame’s Allen’s gone….. however my only regret is that the BBC has missed trick in not recruiting Ben Edwards (Ex-Europsport F1 comentator) to stand along side Brundle in the Box. The guy is a legend and it you don’t believe me watch this on Youtube I though the guys head was going to explode during this commentary :-)

  5. I think the BBC`s coverage was head and shoulders above ITV`s – thank God Jame`s Allen`s gone….. how ever my only regret is that the BBC missed a trick in not recruiting Ben Edwards (Ex-Europsport F1 commentator) to stand along side Brundle in theb Box. The guy is a legend and if you don`t believe me watch this on Youtube I though the guys head was going to explode during this commentary :-)

  6. i was pleasantly suprsed with Jake Humphrey, i thought the coveraewas billant especaly with all of the extra coverage on the red button. not too keen on eddie jordan and i did miss James Allens commentary.

  7. Overall I thought the BBC coverage was really good, no advert breaks, NO ADVERT BREAKS! Dear god I’d forgotten how good it felt. And how nice is it to have a proper commentator again, I mean really it was like poetry, I feel like my ears have been abused for years, I can never have those years back but at least I can look forward to the future. I don’t hate James Allen, he was a really really good pit lane reporter unlike Ted “Friends in high places” Kravitz. Eddie Jordan runs a fine line, I’d be willing to bet that a) At some point he will get in a fight with Couthard, and b) He won’t last the season.

  8. I wanted to punch Eddie Jordan in the face!!! He would not stop talking about Barrichello, it was soo annoying. But overall, I thought the coverage was really good!

  9. So to sum up general opinion:

    1. BBC better than ITV on their first attempt even without factoring in ad breaks
    2. Amazingly Humphries pulled it out of the bag
    3. EJ didn’t…
    4. Legard needs to understand that we can see the feed also, but should learn
    5. Brundle, despite the lack of a grey beard, is in fact god

    Pretty much agree with everything above – with the exception of JL – After James Allen his voice was like gold sweet nectar….

    Oh i forgot…
    6. Who is Lee Mckenzie?

  10. In the case of “Lee McKenzie, who?” – at least a couple of times when the commentators were introducing her to say she found someone they only had the driver (or whoever) speaking, not her posing the question or anything. The only time we saw her (I think) was at the end when she’s walking and talking with Lewis and I think she was a bit of robot in doing so (maybe nervous, who knows).

    I like Jordan, but then again, always have – don’t necessarily agree with him all the time, but then again he does make a fair point most of the time. I think we need to see more from him and Coulthard, because they’re pretty funny guys (historically) and a couple of characters, but at the moment it’s like white collar talk and either forced banter or just not natural. I wasn’t disappointed by any means, but I would definately want to see more.

    Legard – I see him as transitional, I think Brundle should take the lead more as he offers much more insight into the race, but I think any commentator would’ve made people go “oh, not used to this”. I know I certainly recognised the familiarity when they said “Ted Kravitz has some news”, and then Teds voiceover comes on. Sooner or later, we’ll be used to them – it’s like liking the look of the 2009 cars, it’s all transitional.

    I think the BBC red button service is great – I watched the classic GP thing on loop for ages – a shame they don’t keep it running throughout the weekend, though (that’s about as bad my complaining will get!). And I wish they would play the full re-run (with pre-race commentary) when playing the re-run which goes almost immediately to the race. But hey, other programs need time too.

    Overall, I think we’ve got a lot more to come from the BBC as this is just the beginning. If I were to nitpick, I’d say I don’t know when I should go for a wee anymore because there’s no more ads!

    1. Real fans never pee!

  11. I’m in New Zealand, and Sky TV (Paid TV Network) shows the BBC’s F1 feed. Personally, I thought it was excellent. My only complaint is I missed James Allen’s commentary, but I think I’ll get used to the new crew given time.

    Not having any ad breaks was excellent, and worth the switch alone. I also felt the picture and sound quality were better than in previous years. A standard signal can look pretty rubbish through a full 1080p TV, but BBC’s coverage held up really well.

    I would have loved to have seen the Forum after the race… that would have made it near perfect.

    A solid 8.5/10 from me. Very very good

    1. In the last couple of seasons I’ve felt we’ve been given the bare minimum coverage on Sky in NZ but no so this year. It was great having all the practices shown here live too with radio 5 live commentary. So 10 hours of live F1 over the course of the weekend! Fantastic!

      I thought it might have been just for the Aussie GP but it’s the same for the Malaysian next weekend too.

      No adverts was great and I thought the commentary team were good. When Legard becomes more comfortable with the role and they get a rapport going it could be very interesting as with ITV it felt like Brundle spent most of his time correcting Allen or pointing out something he’d missed. Less so with Legard.

      Big thumbs up from me!

  12. The coverage was very good but the commentry by jonathan leggard was awful, he made F1 sound like a horse race they should of let martin brundle take the lead, he knows what hes talking about and hes more exciting to listen to. Get Anthony Davidson or Caulthard commentating they could do a better job. If the BBC want to attract a younger audience then you need exciting commentaters.

  13. BowtNetterToDo
    30th March 2009, 20:26

    Great coverage, i watched every session, i recorded the onboard broadcast while i watched the race and watched the onboard after watching the forum.

    Great to see Hamilton from onboard working his way up from the back, a great argument for reverse grids based on season standings made by him and the Toyotas.

    I miss L Goodman, dont miss J Allen. I didnt spend any periods wondering what i was missing while adverts interupted the action, that always annoyed me. Imagine adverts just before a penalty kick and you get close to how adverts during F1 made me feel.

    I didnt have a problem with any of the presenters/pundits.

    I dont mind support for our home grown drivers (we Brits pay the licience fee after all), even though most of our drivers rush off to pay taxes to some other nation, but i’m glad the BBC didnt take the patriotism to ITV’s levels.

    Overall, glad to see F1 back on the BBC where it belongs.

  14. Great coverage, needs some work between Jonathan and Martin to get them seemless rather than interrupting each other, better on the Sunday, a ittle bit tenuous between DC and Eddie on the post race talk, looked like they like they were afraid of butting in on each other, especially liked the touch at the end when the majority of the presenters were brought together to demonstrate team work.
    Lee Mcenzie, please use her more, she seemed knowledgable and nice to see a member of the fairer sex, but please ask her to clearly thank the drivers after talking to them at a difficult time for them when their day has just collapsed around them.
    One annoying thing, can we get DC to take his “hair band” off does he not know that the purpose of shades is to protect the eyes from the sun, not his hair or is he losing it?

  15. I almost heard the chant “It’s Coming Home, It’s Coming Home”, but then I realised I wasn’t watching the footy.

    What I really liked about the practice sessions was that they used the radio 5-live commentary feed, not Legard and Brundle. You got David Croft and Anthony Davidson for session 1 then Maurice Hamilton and Ian Phillips for session 2 with Holly “hotlips” Samos in the pit lane. Refreshing to get lots of different opinions. Don’t know what happened in practice 3, too tired!

    Best comment I heard from the radio team was David Croft comparing the 2008 and 2009 car designs:
    “You have to look at the new car designs like this – you have a beautiful girlfriend, but after a while you realise that she’s just a little bit dull and her uglier best friend is actually a hell of a lot more fun and therefore much better date material.”

  16. It was so weird watching with no adverts, such a relief, and the “Forum” program afterwards was a very interesting watch. It was annoying that the press conference was short on saturday.

    I loved how i could watch the repeat all day long on channel 301(Freeview) I though that was awesome, I was also impressed how at the end of the highlights, the bbc had stuck around till midnight to give extra news to the viewers!

    The onboard footage was a bit strange, as it seemed to appear on my screen as 1 small box and then 1 bigger box which made sense, but what was odd was that the larger “onboard” box view didnt exactly fill my screen, (my tv is 42″) so that was annoying.

    It was entertaining seing Jordan, Coulthard and Brundle debating over things during the “forum” program, and then having guest’s in to chat with them was good too. I really did enjoy the weekend coverage, I can only imagine it will improve!!!x

  17. EJ needs to calm down and shut up a bit more. Lee McKenzie needs more air time but presumably when the relationships develop between the new TV crew and the teams/drivers they’ll get more mid-race interviews (hopefully not becoming a cliche in the “and Louise has found Coulthard” vein)

    With all the features and red button stuff they did I thought the BBC did a great job overall.

  18. I thought they did a good job.
    This was their first GP so I expected a few problems with the commentators learning how best to compliment each other.

    Brundle always gets 10/10 and all of the others where on a 7 or 8.

    Jordan & Coulthard are a good mix.

    The lack of adverts was a joy to behold, I’d forgotten how good it used to be before it went on to ITV but I hope we never go back !

    The pre-race build up was good, enough basic details for the casual fan but enough fine detail to keep me interested.

  19. On the whole liked it a lot. Was very very impressed with Anthony Davidson and pleasantly surprised with Jake Humphrey, had low expectations of him.

    Can’t say the same about Legard. Agree with most of the criticism others have mentioned.

    Legard’s first race so I might warm to him but I’m not expecting to.

  20. Very impressed, particulalry with the web coverage and the classic races build up.
    My only criticism would be the sheer quantity of Jonathan Leggard. Other people have described him as still thinking in radio terms and thereby needing to fill every second. True.
    Less motormouth from Leggard and more of Brundle’s incredible insight and judgement, please.

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