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. 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

  2. boyce said on 30th March 2009, 21:22

    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.

  3. beneboy said on 30th March 2009, 21:30

    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.

  4. GQsm said on 30th March 2009, 21:37

    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.

  5. Hounslow said on 30th March 2009, 21:38

    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.

  6. Kayleigh said on 30th March 2009, 22:16

    I thought it was loads better than ITV! Although BBC clearly had taken note from ITV – I thought the clips to music was great (although not quite as good as ITVs farewell lol)

    Jake Humphries was far better than I was expecting, Brundle was on top form as ever and I was interested to see his extra bits at the beginning.

    I was surprised not to see Lee McKenzie doing more of the pieces to camera, I think I expected her to do everything Louise Goodman did previously. Ted Kravitz was same as always, I’m not particularly keen on him but does a good job.

    DC was great but I think EJ is going to annoy me – I didn’t like the way he kept taking over the conversation and it looked like he was annoying DC and Brundle at the end of the race.

    Legard – I much prefer his whole tone of voice to James Allen (so glad the bbc didn’t keep him – great journalist not so good on the commentating) but I think it will take time for the rapport with Brundle. I was a bit confused as to who was supposed to be the main commentator and I think these two did too. He was also too much of a cross between a radio commentator and a horse racing/auctioneer for my liking!

    I really enjoyed the pairing on 5 live during free practise (mainly cos they read out my text!!) but Davidson was brilliant – I wish he could be with Brundle on the main broadcast.

    I love the BBC showing practice, qualy, race and highlights so often – one thing I was surprised at was the lack of build up on the qualy re-run (not sure about the race I think I was napping at the time)..I think it should be shown twice. At least the build up was different between Sat and Sun and was so much more balanced than ITV – thank you Beeb!!

  7. Dane said on 30th March 2009, 22:25

    I really enjoyed the BBC commentary. It was a pleasant change not to hear Lewis Hamiltons name every 10sec. CH10 here had the race in High Def 5.1, was it the same in the UK?

  8. Tyrone said on 30th March 2009, 22:49

    One thing i don’t think anybody has mentioned is the third commentary option. Once you press the redboutton and selected commentary options you heard the R5Live coverage but you could use the arrow buttons to select a a commentary labeled “CBBC”. One would think that it was only useful for children being labeled but it wasn’t too dumbed down and i think if it was someones first time watching it would be a great tool to understand some of the terms used etc.

    Overall i agreee with the general view here that Legard could come out of radio mode but i think after a few races that will happen.

  9. steve said on 30th March 2009, 22:53

    No adverts = brilliant
    No James Allen = brilliant

    Eddie Jordan = amusing but likely to become tiresome
    DC = just what you expect from Crazy Dave

    Legyard = Calm authority
    Lee Mackenzie = didn’t notice her

    Friday session = beyond superb, real anorak, clip board and stopwatch stuff, loved it beyond all measure, made me feel like I was at Paddock Hill again watching De Angelis power-sliding it.

    God help us all Bransons got his grinning face on the BBC

  10. steve said on 30th March 2009, 22:55

    For God’s sake don’t knock Legyard we will get the cock Allen back – ” and we are……..wait for it…..wait…….wait……..wait a bit more…………gaooooooooooo! “

  11. David Keane said on 30th March 2009, 23:18

    All we could talk about in the pub last night was how abysmal the coverage was, they’ve not moved it on an inch from ITV, just changed a couple of faces. I reckon we chatted for ten mins about the race and an hour about how disappointed we were in the BBC. I know they’re still hopelessly limited by the feed they get from Bernie, but when Tennis and Cricket coverage is significantly more hi-tec than F1, surely alarm bells should be ringing. Utterly devoid of ideas, 1/10

  12. Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 30th March 2009, 23:29

    WOOOHOOO NO ADVERTS!!! However, there is one draw back to no commercials, for me anyway. The race now lasts alot longer for me as i kept having to pause the live tv (thank god for PVR’s) to sort out the kids, make a cup of tea for the good lady, lav breaks, breakfast etc etc… The blasted race lasted 3 hours! At least with ITV i could save a bit of time… lol. ;)

  13. scunnyman said on 31st March 2009, 1:18

    Well I managed to get to see the bbc coverage of qualifying and the race this weekend, even though i thought i wouldn’t have a chance in hell.

    I must say i was very impressed with bbc’s coverage. They must have taken a guide from itv’s previous coverage because it was much better than any of bbc’s f1 coverage in the past. Maybe the post race analysis could have been a little longer, but i’m quite satisfied.

    I’m quite impressed with Jonathan Legard, though he did make a few James allen style mistakes, and he did monopolise the commentary a bit. That could be down to a lone commentary when he was on radio 5 live (but i never listened to that so don’t know if he had a partner or not). It could also be the way Martin Brundle prefers it.

    I will say i was notimpressed with the opening titles. The music was good, but “the chain” was under utilised in my opinion, and i saw what an amateur can do on youtube much better.

    So i’ll give bbc 9 out of 10.

    looking foward to Malaysia.

    The race was amazing and better than i was expecting and Jensen deserved the win totally. Also I think most people will have to say that Lewis Hamilton has shown his greatness by bringing his bad Mclaren to 3rd place from last. And i know he was helped by the first safety car.

    And speaking of the safety car, i felt it was a joke with it taking ages to come out after the accident. It makes me think of conspiracy cos it came out just after button pitted. It stayed out way too long, and the cars were travelling too fast.

    enough said for now

  14. scunnyman said on 31st March 2009, 1:27

    One other question regarding BrawnGp.

    I wonder if they would have done so well if they had still been using Honda engines???

    Or maybe Honda had made leaps and bounds witheir engine too.

  15. Patresestoenail said on 31st March 2009, 1:34

    Thought Jake was good – but I hadn’t expected much, based on his “What sport is this then?” Olympics coverage.

    Great to hear Maurice Hamilton and Ian Phillips again on the second practice session – sorry to lose Maurice as the 5 Live co-commentator, but Anthony Davidson is great too.

    One grumble – not enough of the coverage is on iPlayer. I don’t have digital but I do have the internet so I wanted to see the post-race forum but couldn’t! The practice session video coverage is still on the BBC Sport website but completely hidden (I only found it via the link to the Inside F1 programme) and not accessible via the iPlayer site.

    Am I right in thinking that Ted Kravitz has a background in production? He’s probably beavering away behind the scenes then. Shame not to hear more of him on screen though.

    Very happy with the rest – Legard will settle in and Jordan will continue to be entertaining!

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