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

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  1. Jason M said on 14th April 2009, 10:22

    Eddie Jordan – knowledgeable and experienced he may be, but irritating and negative he is also. The body language of Coulthard was hilarious during the Malaysian GP – it looked like he was going to smack Eddie. Would have been great viewing.

    Agree otherwise though, pretty reasonable first few races – they can only get better at it…

  2. C Nelson said on 18th April 2009, 22:11

    Absolute RUBBISH bring back ITV the bbc are killing the sport give it back to ITV. Martin Brundle / James Allen are the only ones who know what they are talking about, it is painful to listen and watch the coverage.

  3. Andrew said on 18th April 2009, 23:21

    A major improvement in every way. Not only is the technical coverage great, the pre-race build up is better especially now there is a competent ex-driver to ask some useful questions, the availability of commentated practices, multiple audio streams, no adverts.

    The BBC are doing a great job.

  4. karl said on 19th April 2009, 4:04

    Eddie Jordon has got to go.

    He is too annoying with his constant interruptions before other pundits finish and his over used questions and rambling jibberishness, otherwise the BBc coverage is great – not commercial interuptions.

    Did anyone see the Bernie interview – were they trying to read off que-cards? I’ve never seen anyone as wooden. The questions were kind of strange too with EJ asking and answering at once.

  5. Larry said on 19th April 2009, 7:54

    Would the bbc not employ a decent motor mouth somthing like Yankee style we really don’t want to hear what blunderer did years ago thats all he seems he wants to talkabout aside from his boring voice David Coultard is great & the other guy the main comentator & the guy in the box who ever he is with the boring one is OK, but bbc get with it a bit more, go for it after all it is all about excitement!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. keith johnston said on 19th April 2009, 13:34

    i would like to say the coverage of the f1 on bbc is rubbish they are showing the highlights the now and they have missed out the start and also the first 8 laps you never had this with itv,
    what is this about do they know what they are doing or as usual do they think we are paying a licence to watch what they want to show,
    they got the f1 but so far the cant deliver ?????????????
    even when the sesson started they didnt go through all the changes in the cars at the moment i would say bring back itv …………………………

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 19th April 2009, 23:34

      You are joking, right?

      If I’m watching a repeat of a race I’m not interested in watching eight laps behind the safety car where nothing happens. It wasn’t that interesting live, never mind hours later.

      ITV, on the other hand, cut ages out of every live broadcast to show us adverts, missing hours of footage every year.

      No way in hell do I ever want it going back to them. BBC is incomparably better.

  7. Well the start of the China re-run was a joke. Lets just cut the start out completly?? Whats that about?

  8. Mark JOnes said on 19th April 2009, 22:06

    BBC show no pre or post race interviews.
    Looking like a return to to the poor coverage last time it was on BBC. Eastenders and indoor bowls more important that the press conference.

  9. Where have all the press conferences gone.

    As someone who doesn’t have the luxury of the magic “red button” (I live in Ireland), I am very disappointed by the fact that the BBC keep cutting the press conferences completely. Such a shame as I always thought that we got a lot of good information from them.

  10. Larry Stein said on 25th April 2009, 11:35

    I love the coverage on BBC. However, I think the previous channel coverage was more lively and interesting. Also the bloke who presents it cannot say Vettel correctly. He keeps saying Fettel instead of Vettel. Somebody have a word with him please.

  11. Richard Greenane said on 25th April 2009, 11:56

    I don’t have the opportunity to pay the license fee. That honour is left to UK residents. I do, however pay a handsome fee to NTL for the same content, which presumably the BBC get some share of.

  12. Johhnyjo said on 12th October 2009, 20:56

    Self and better half agree with much on the site – great to lose adverts, EJ a bit of a nuisance, miss Louise.
    Why not only have DC and Jake?
    Are we the only ones to record the races? Then you can have breaks when you want them and go back and check any queries that arise. Digital recorders are great.
    Our two gripes are 1) Why stand in front of the pits when talking with an almighty row going on and 2) the position listings, both on the left of the picture and shown running along the bottom. They seem to be grey on grey – why not do black on white?

  13. Tez said on 19th May 2010, 13:01

    As requested by the media, BE and the BBC F1 team, Ive given the new format for the race time to settle in. Sor far I still believe the races lack something. Lets face it one tyre change and thats it… more chance for cock ups by the team. The driver has onlt to keep it on the black stuff and stay awake…unlike me ..I fell asleep on the last race. Perhaps they (F1) should now introduce a second mandatory tyre change which cant be taken until perhaps after half distance where they have to use a different tyre to the one they have just had on. Might make it a bit more interesting!

  14. Pat said on 10th July 2011, 13:23

    Why are we watching the back of the field in the British GP the coverage is pointless as these drivers are outside the points. This is not what I want to see. Poor coverage of the top teb drivers racing.

  15. Michael C. said on 10th July 2011, 16:57

    I’ve been an F1 fan for many years, setting the alarm clock so as not to miss the start of a race but just lately it’s become little more than a parade of cars with the occasional overtaking move, with weather contributing the most exciting element. Nowadays I say thank goodness I can record the event and watch the weekends “action” at treble speed.

    Full marks to the commentary team though, they talk a good race, I would imagine they practice their technique by commentating on a kiddies merry go round whilst the other three wander around the rest of the fairground making the “helter-skelter” sound like a death defying white knuckle ride and “catch a duck” with a “prize every time” more desirable than winning the lottery.

    Make the drivers “drive” the cars once again, let them choose fuel strategies, tyres etc that they think suits the them and the track instead of stereotyping and restricting car/driver performance in an effort to make them all equal. Let them RACE.

    Michael C.

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