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?

Coverage

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.

Tone

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.

Overall

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. Freeman said on 31st March 2009, 2:19

    Having watched the BBC replay (I live in Hong Kong, and sadly have to tolerate Star Sports coverage), I think Martin Brundle is the heart and soul (as always) of BBC coverage. I like Jake Humphrey, DC & EJ, who are by far better than Steve Rider and Mark Blundell.

    But weirdly, I miss James Allen (can’t believe I just said that!) I know Legard is new to the job and will only improve as the season unfolds, but he sounds a bit dull. I miss James Allen’s passion and enthusiasm when something big happens.

    I was looking forward to Lee McKenzie for the simple fact that she’s more pleasing to the eyes than Louise Goodman. But I am totally disappointed. Not really on her looks, but I’m disappointed she sounds really bland and rude. She never addressed any driver by name, and just shoot her questions. And Louise built up such good rapport with drivers over the years, so her interview style is much more intimate.

    Anyhow, you lucky Brits should not complain too much and just enjoy. We have to bear with Steve Slater, the worst commentator in sports. But I must say Karun Chandhok is actually quite good. His views on incidents are a little “Brundlesque” where he mostly gets them right.

    • You aren’t the only one ;)

      When I got home from the track I immediately watched it again on TV, and found myself shouting as the lights went out “And we are GOOOOOOOO! ” Who woulda thunk it?

      As for Louise Goodman, she was at the GP working for GPTV. Not sure if that will be at every race or not, but it was nice to see her, and hear that familiar “Hard luck Heikki” (or whoever, as obviously not everyone she spoke to was named Heikki).

      Interesting to see the comments re the Beeb’s coverage. We don’t get the panel of DC, EJ et al here, just Brundle and Legard with the odd comment from Ted or Lee thrown in. Sounds like we are missing out on some good TV. I thought Legard sounded like he should be commenting on the cricket rather than F1. I kept expecting him to say that we were two for twenty two or something. Step up the excitment a notch Legard – its high octane F1, not coma inducing cricket! But still, that may come with time.

      But don’t you people complain too much – Ch10 or Ch1 as they are now calling themselves still have ad breaks. And not quicky ones either, the whole box and dice :(

      I’d put up with a lot of **** for no ad breaks. I have TiVo that I can pause for my loo/tea/snack breaks at my convenience !

  2. Rob R. said on 31st March 2009, 6:24

    Johnathan Legard’s commentary is informed, but dull. He reminds me of the kind of guy you find employed in your local public library. Not sure if it’s an improvement over Allen or not…. obviously, Allen had his share of “non-fans”.

    After all the BBC’s PR bravado about providing a “fresh start”, they haven’t exactly blown ITV away.

  3. Gareth W said on 31st March 2009, 9:16

    The BBC Coverage was good, at last the coverage dosent have have adverts running through it ever 5 minutes. It’s great that it’s on BBC iplayer as well i watched the start of the race on there because i had missed the start. So for the BBC first F1 coverage they’ve done very well hopefully they can keep it up.

  4. Chalky said on 31st March 2009, 10:30

    I thought Legard sounded like he should be commenting on the cricket rather than F1.

    Errr, maybe I’m the only F1 fan who likes cricket too.
    2 completely different sports that I really like.

    Wouldn’t say he’s quite on the cricket commentary terms. Could you imaging Jonathan Agnew commentating on F1? :D But, then cricket commentary you have to read the play for the listener and this is exactly what Legard did. I think he’ll get better once he gets to know Brundle better, for some interaction between the two. It was a bit like they were in two separate booths rather than in the same space some times.

    But then I wasn’t that fussed about James Allen.

  5. I thought the coverage on the whole was pretty good, MB (always a LEGEND) Legard was awful had me wishing for James Allen to come back and thats not good…surely there is someone out there who can com and not sound like he should be doing the coms for Roayl Ascot…And we’ve waited 5 months for the start of the season and when the lights went out did he get excited??? Not that I noticed…so it should be jog on Legard you are not upto to the job..you sound like a politician and a bad one at that…

  6. Freeman said on 31st March 2009, 14:56

    Pink – sounds like you’re from Canada? No preshow, UK commentary, and TiVO?

    I will surely miss F1 in Montreal, it’s there that really got me addicted to this.

    • Australia. Melbourne to be exact.

      I was at the race, and like any true petrolhead went straight home and watched the telecast to see what I missed !

  7. Mystic Pizza said on 31st March 2009, 15:39

    Having been so impressed with David Croft and Anthony Davidson’s commentary on the Red Button Practice Sessions, I listened to them rather than Brundle/Legard for the race too. Only disadvantage with this were the interuptions caused by the 7.30am and 8.30am headlines as effectively this was the Radio 5 Live feed. Don’t know if anyone else found it but there was another audio alternative lurking on the Red Button that I switched to accidently that was a CBBC version? I didn’t survive the patronising long enough to know whether this was purely intended for a younger audience? The main bit that I heard was alleged “hidden microphone” inside the Safety Car consisting of a man and woman’s voice arguing about which direction they should be going. Having realised my mistake, I was careful not to repeat it although I am left wondering what else they might have lampooned!

    All in all I thought it was a good first effort (apart from not covering the press conferences) and have subsequently enjoyed Jake’s Blogs on the BBC F1 site. I do think that it is possible that EJ may become a tad tiresome though. It’s all well and good (and vast improvement on ITV) to have commentators/pundits that are willing and able to have an informed opinion and not just about Lewis Hamilton but EJ banging the Barrichello drum so hard got tedious whether you like the guy or not.

    Jury’s still out over the long-term but no adverts and interactive coverage are excellent bonuses – roll on Malaysia!

  8. Nefer said on 31st March 2009, 16:42

    I thought that overall it was good coverage and good presentation… but… Eddie Jordan… don’t know… I don’t think he’s capable of being objective, and therefore (in my opinion) not so great for the job.

    Also, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about David Coulthard. He’s just too boring! Great insite and knowledge of course, but boring boring boring. Perhaps he’ll grow into the role over time.

    I thought Jake Humphrey did a great job though.

  9. Ted K said on 31st March 2009, 16:52

    I think they should use Ted Kravits more – he is really excellent in his analysis.

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 31st March 2009, 21:45

    There’s an excellent and very detailed look at the BBC’s coverage on Doctorvee’s site: F1 on the BBC: A new era of F1 coverage

  11. a few points…

    1. Eddie Jordan has every right to be opinionated and refer to his (race winning) team’s efforts over the years. Running an F1 team, employing some of the most talented and experienced drivers in the world (Damon, Giancarlo, Heinz-Harald, both Schumachers), developing their own cars and dealing with the commercial aspects of the sport gives him a far more balanced viewpoint on the wider world of F1 than the likes of Mark Blundell or dare I say it, David Coulthard or Anthony Davidson. He’s opinionated, yes, but his opinions in my view are valid.

    2. TV pundits that don’t have a discernible point of view are bland. REF. Mark Blundell.

    3. Has anyone had a look at the 3D track guides? Really cool!

  12. Driver said on 3rd April 2009, 3:41

    Think the Beeb did a grand job, a couple of things needed to be improve a little less speed from Mr Legard and less pit/track background sounds. But at least the use of English improved 100% no more Mark “WHAT” Brundle a word he frequently used in the wrong place with no meaning!! This team seem to hit it off from the start and not 6 months later like ITV did.
    Just need to sort the Stewards and organisers out and we may get some results that stand and fareness. Let them Race & stop the FARCE 1 its not F1

  13. Matt S said on 4th April 2009, 11:21

    I think the BBC’s F1 coverage is very good – very happy with all of the graphics and explanations of the complexities. However, what I am not happy about is the Jonathan Legerd who is going to be very annoying if all he wants to do is talk over Martin.
    I also am not happy about Eddie Jordan who just seems to be a bitter man that he is no longer a team boss – all I hear is negativity. I think David Coulthard is brilliant however and Jake is doing a really good job. Keep it all up – I’m enjoying it a lot.

  14. chris f said on 5th April 2009, 14:20

    please get murrey back quick the rest of the team are like a forest, so wooden, get rid of blundel

  15. Alan Bathurst said on 12th April 2009, 8:57

    pretty good effort after a long time away would like to see the odd appearance of Murry Walker, and Eddie Jordan told not to but in and hog the mike.
    love the red button thing
    well done Beeb.

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