BBC considering dropping F1 coverage

F1 Fanatic round-up

Cuts imposed on the BBC by the government may lead it to drop its F1 coverage.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Wimbledon and Formula One at risk as BBC seeks sports cuts (The Guardian)

“Formula One, although helped by the popularity of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, is not peak-time programming, and as a result is viewed as a relatively expensive part of the sports schedule. Having been on ITV as recently as 2008, the sport is not seen as a mainstay of the BBC calendar.”

Gregory Haines on Twitter

“So yes, apparently photographers were threatened to stay back ‘for their own safety’ by Mercedes GP when taking snaps of new front wing.”

Mercedes W02 ?ǣ New front wing analysis (Scarbs)

“The wing (main plain and flap) itself is largely similar to the launch spec wing, while the endplate and cascades have been changed. Mercedes front wing design harks back to the Brawn BGP001 of 2009. The Brawn pioneered the idea of the endplate-less wing.”

Car upgrades boost Mercedes hopes for Formula 1 season (BBC)

Ross Brawn: “I think it does mean a step forward. I don’t believe one or two of the other teams have shown their full hand yet, but it’s certainly a lot more respectable.”

Vettel sure of early-season reliability (Autosport)

“I think we are reasonably prepared. I think the last couple of years in the first races we didn’t do very well, and that’s the target because the championship starts straight away and every point in the end can be important. We need to have a competitive car from the first race onwards – and finish the races.”

Pirelli intermediate tyre

Pirelli intermediate tyre

Pirelli on Twitter

“Intermediate. These tyres have light grooves to disperse water, but this reduces the contact patch.”

Via the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app

McLaren boss is banned from driving (Get Surrey)

“Executive chairman Ron Dennis, 63, formerly of Thorley Close, West Byfleet, was ordered to surrender his licence at Woking Magistrates? Court on Monday (March 7) after pleading guilty to driving through a red light in Bagshot.”

Jonathan Legard on Twitter

“Told that McLaren engineers are braced for another year of technical catch-up, like 2009, which took at least half a season for progress.”

Via the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app

F1 Fanatic on Twitter

“Williams have extended and increased their deal with Oris, their logos will now be more prominent on the FW33.”

Via the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app

The secrets of Laurel Hill revealed (Racecar Engineering)

“Rumours of an abandoned highway tunnel being used by a racing team were the talk of the industry, but details were sketchy at best. Eventually Racecar Engineering managed to get hold of images of the tunnel in use which showed some intriguing modifications, including a large metal structure that has been added to the eastern end of the tunnel.”

Thanks to bosyber for the tip!

McLaren MP4-12C GT3 racing car first run (YouTube)

McLaren’s other racing car:

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

Comment of the day

Think F1’s smallest team has no fans? Think again:

I don?t care thinking how many haters are there, I just love this team. It must be really difficult period for their engineers to build this car with few resources and money. Geoff Willis did great job. Car is really looking good and I would love to see it doing better than Virgin and Lotus.

Again good work from engineers and best of luck to HRT.

From the forum

Thoughts go out to the victims of yesterday’s tsunami in Japan.

Site updates

Further updates to F1 Fanatic Live in time for today’s final day of testing.

Happy birthday!

It’s a birthday extravaganza with five F1 Fanatics celebrating today. All the best to Monkzie, Daniel, Garf, Michael Griffin and nitin24!

On this day in F1

The F1 season began in Bahrain for the first time ever on this day in 2006. Fernando Alonso beat Michael Schumacher to victory.

Kimi R??ikk??nen mounted an impressive recovery to finish third after starting 22nd.

But Felipe Massa’s first race for Ferrari did not go well:

On lap seven Massa?s debut for Ferrari took a dismal turn as he lost control of his car and hurtled off the track at turn one, very nearly taking Alonso with him.

He limped to the pits where a 45-second stop destroyed his hopes of a points finish.

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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108 comments on BBC considering dropping F1 coverage

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  1. Rob Wilson said on 12th March 2011, 0:27

    I really hope BBC don’t drop F1 coverage, it’s been brilliant.

    • SeattleChris said on 12th March 2011, 1:28

      I thought Britainia was the home of F1 racing? It would be shameful for the coverage to be dropped due to budget when there are so many bad shows on the tele that could easily be dropped.

      As representative for America, I will trade you Jersey Shore for your BBC F1 coverage!

    • Crispin said on 12th March 2011, 9:07

      I hope they don’t as well. Then, the new F1 coverage will have adverts in them.
      1 area where ITV was rubbish

    • They won’t. Seriously, that article suggests they’ll drop Wimbledon – the crown jewel of the BBC’s annual sporting calendar.

      I take this article with a pinch of salt in the same way as when I read that they’re going to cancel Doctor Who – another one of the BBC’s crown jewels.

      And really, if they dropped F1 and Wimbledon, what sports would they have left??? Darts? Snooker? Hardly the makings of a world class broadcaster!!

      • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 12th March 2011, 11:39

        Im not sure they’l drop F1. Everyone i know who watches F1 knows its heads & sholders better then ITV’s coverage, which was good in itself but ruined by adverts. BBC’s coverage has been going 2 years now and has gone from strength to strength with the coverage it offers.

        Theres other things that can be dropped, Snooker, darts, various Athletic championships. I cant speak for everyone but given the choice of which to drop, its not a hard choice to me. Frankly i wouldnt cry much if ITV got the football highlights as I grow more and more tired of Match of the Day with each passing season.

        • Chippie said on 12th March 2011, 12:19

          I’m going to pick up and run with that point about Match of the Day, because I’m also getting bored by the Beeb coverage. Ever since they lost Ian Wright it doesn’t feel like ‘fun’ watching Match of the Day, it’s still very accurate and technically brilliant but when you watch Match of the Day 2 you can see a spark which Match of the Day doesn’t have.

          • Calum said on 12th March 2011, 20:11

            The man who does MOTD2 on a SUnday night makes it more fun than MOTD1 on a Saturday – it’s much less formal than the Staurday night version where Garry Linekar, and usually Alan HAnsen and Mark Lawrencen are so serious in their match analysis. MOTD2 is heloped by it’s guest subhosts who are more jokey about gaffes and mistakes.

    • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 12th March 2011, 13:30

      As far as I’m aware the BBC will have a contract in place about their F1 coverage so they’ll be under obligations they can’t get out of.

      Wimbledon is another matter, Sky has been trying to buy Wimbledon off the BBC for years but Wimbledon is a protected sport so it would require legislation for Sky to buy it off the BBC.

      This is a scare story that is part of the BBC’s PR campaign against cuts.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 13th March 2011, 16:24

      F1 is too important.

  2. somerandomguy said on 12th March 2011, 0:28

    oh no please dont drop f1. i dont think they will. does this also apply for one hd in australia? because i think they use bbc coverage.

    • Homer said on 12th March 2011, 0:52

      they only use bbc audio – but they’ll take any english audio, so there’s always the world feed commentary i suppose …

    • DavidS (@davids) said on 12th March 2011, 2:22

      As Homer said, they only use the commentary provided during the session, not even the Jake and Eddie Show. Considering that Martin Brundle was commentating for ITV during their years covering the sport, and easily switched over to the BBC, it’s unlikely that he won’t continue as commentator on a new network. The video feed comes from FOM, and will be unchanged.
      The article also says that the BBC are contracted to cover those events until 2014, so there’s a few more years yet.
      There’s little actual hard news in that article, it’s basically working off an executive suggesting cutting those sports as a way of saving money. In years gone by, they’ve suggested cutting Top Gear (which is unlikely).
      I think it’s just political leverage used by execs against the strongly unionised blob of bureaucracy who strike every time someone suggests that they could be made redundant.

      • In years gone by, they’ve suggested cutting Top Gear

        And Doctor Who, which along with Top Gear is one of the highest rated BBC shows and easily among their biggest profit spinners through BBC Worldwide…

    • Toro Stevo said on 12th March 2011, 2:56

      We also used the ITV commentary when it was being used.

      If it were to change hands, the one problem I can see though is that the new rights holder might try to charge too much, and we’ll get reduced coverage, or worse. We haven’t got Premier League highlights on free to air in years because of how much they are charging.

      And if it does change, I don’t mind who does the British commentary, as long as they don’t go all James Allen and turn it back into the Lewis Hamilton show featuring F1.

    • Calum said on 12th March 2011, 20:12

      If F1 on BBC is dropped I will eat my Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes team cap…

  3. RIISE (@riise) said on 12th March 2011, 0:29

    I want ITV back provided they minimize the adverts. I hate Jake Humphrey with a passion.

    • Icarus said on 12th March 2011, 0:35

      You should fear that it will go on Sky or some other premium TV provider. That seems to be the trend today.

    • Homer said on 12th March 2011, 0:52

      easy, just don’t tune in before the race starts…

      • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 12th March 2011, 11:44

        I got Sky and love it for its football coverage, but the adverts happen just as much as on ITV for other programs, e.g 4 per hour which would mean 6-8 per race if on Sky. Sure, it has HD and could bring in any pundit/Ex-driver to cover it, but Im certain it wouldnt be as good as BBCs.

        • John H said on 12th March 2011, 13:51

          Sky would be a disaster. I’m pretty sure Bernie rules out Sky solely because of the sponsors requiring as much TV exposure as possible.

          I don’t know what the equation is though.

          • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 12th March 2011, 17:02

            that rules out anyone other then the BBC then, and if reports are true, they cant afford it either. ITV, Channal4 & 5 and all their minor channals are crammed with adverts who wont be paying Bernie for the privalige, its to who owns the channal.

            The most obvious answer in all this is to cut costs at the top of the chain. Do the presenters and fatcats in suits need their hefty pay? cut it by X% and theres a chunk of the budget back right there.

            The alternative is what happens every Christmas and the BBC do re-runs of past races, Canada ’78 anyone?

          • Asanator (@asanator) said on 14th March 2011, 15:15

            Bernie rules out Sky because he insists that F1 is shown on free to air (terrestrial) channels to maximise the number of viewers that can watch it. It doesn’t have anything to do with adverts which is why ITV were able to buy the rights.

            I find Sky’s sports coverage to be pretty rubbish, it’s not all about quantity, it’s about quality, Just look at what they’ve done with the cricket! I have to watch it with the sound turned down and TMS’s radio 5 feed on.

  4. IceBlue (@iceblue) said on 12th March 2011, 0:30

    Sorry McLaren, but I think this unit will outperform your MP4-12C for less money. Not to mention it looks cooler too and you won’t believe where it is made.

    • Dane said on 12th March 2011, 6:24

      maybe in a straight line, but i think the Mclaren would easily beat it around a track

    • Burnout said on 12th March 2011, 6:24

      What makes you think the SSC Ultimate Aero is cheaper than the MP4-12C? The prices listed on Wikipedia are:
      Aero : 650,000 USD
      12C : 230,000 USD

      In any case, I’m quite sure the Aero doesn’t conform to GT3 regulations.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th March 2011, 8:29

        So that is about 3:1? Then you can spent the rest actually running the car to get to grips with it and be 10 times faster around a track than with that Aero.
        Sounds like a deal for the McLaren. If you are waiting for a 1.200 hp monster, I think McLaren might bring someting nice with the top of their line of 3 cars. This is the “starter” package with relatively high volumes.

  5. US_Peter said on 12th March 2011, 0:33

    Loved the article about Ganassi’s tunnel. Very interesting stuff.

    Happy birthday to all of the birthday people!

    • yes, how interesting was that! It must be a bit freaky if you didn’t know what is was to be hearing strange V8 noises coming out from that tunnel like in the first video. Also strange to see an abandoned highway, like in that second video.
      I thought it was very interesting, and i wonder if F1 teams would:
      1 – consider using it
      2- consider trying to replicate by finding tunnels in Europe
      3 – I don’t think they could afford to construct a tunnel, the cost to benefit ratio would be to small, and perhaps applies to numbers one and two above, but loved the link.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th March 2011, 8:32

        I think the hardest part would be the 2. point. I doubt there is much in the range of “left over tunnels” in Europe.

        Possibly on a closed old railway track, but that would make it pretty expensive to convert and probably to narrow to make sense.

  6. sato113 (@sato113) said on 12th March 2011, 0:36

    aha! so it looks like Pirelli will be colour coding their tyres this year. good news.

  7. Michael Griffin said on 12th March 2011, 0:38

    The BBC get over £4 Billion of our money every year and they have to cut F1 or Wimbledon?

    Someone needs to sort out their finances there….

  8. Bellof (@bellof) said on 12th March 2011, 0:42

    This is very worrying news if ITV and BBC don’t screen F1 on ‘council’ TV then this is a historic moment for uk (and austrailia?) viewers the dawn of the pay per view era…

    This would have a massive impact on F1’s ability to reach large an audience as possible in these regions shifting the viewer market and no doubt reducing the audience and possibly even the media’s perception… hope the bbc get it sorted and continue to spend my tv licence bucks wisely

  9. maxthecat said on 12th March 2011, 1:01

    BBC wouldn’t drop F1, i know the viewing aren’t huge (roughly a 2 million per race average over the 09 season) but there isn’t anything else they can replace it with that will attract those figures on a regular basis in the timeslots F1 runs.

    Interesting article here talking about the drop in viewers worldwide

    • maxthecat said on 12th March 2011, 1:02

      link didn’t post, never mind

      • Dave said on 12th March 2011, 8:32

        Roughly 2m per race? Multiply that figure by just under three, then you’re correct. They get 5m to 6m for each race. (including pre-show it’s 4m)

        • maxthecat said on 12th March 2011, 12:44

          BBC released figures for the 2009 season, the rights cost £30 million and the viewers where 32 million over the whole season, so if you do the math that’s nearly 2 million a race, 17 races (not stated if includes Quili)

          They don’t state if that’s unique viewers (i doubt it) so at a cost of roughly £1 per viewer it isn’t a good return for the BBC. Worldwide figures dropped too by about 1/2 a billion. Unfortunately i cant post the link here as it won’t let me.

  10. Steve said on 12th March 2011, 1:03

    I would actually love it if another company ran the English language broadcasts of F1. I’m so sick of the “British is all that matters” attitude that the BBC crew have, that I dont tune in until the race starts. Some times I mute the audio because It just gets so bad.

    If another company had the broadcasting rights, then I’d be able to watch the pre-show and listen to the commentary.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 12th March 2011, 7:19

      Like when they did the Forum in the Toro Rosso garage with their Swiss and Spanish drivers?

    • Mark Hitchcock (@mark-hitchcock) said on 12th March 2011, 10:47

      Did you ever watch the ITV coverage? They were much worse than the BBC when it came to focusing on British drivers.

      If it went to Sky it would be totally unbearable (for the much fewer people who could actually watch). From what I’ve seen of their sports coverage (a little bit of the Ashes review) it is incredibly biased and nationalistic.

      Above all, I don’t think I could go back to watching a race with advert breaks.

    • Yes, I can’t believe that a British TV Channel would focus on the British drivers…

      …have you seen the Spanish, German or Italian coverage?? From everything I hear they’re just as bad if not worse.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th March 2011, 11:20

      I’m so sick of the “British is all that matters” attitude that the BBC crew have

      They are far, far less focused on the British drivers than ITV were – to the point where I have to say I don’t really notice it that much.

      ITV were so fixated on the British drivers it was toe-curlingly embarrassing. And don’t get me started on the time they gave Schumacher an England football shirt.

      • S.J.M (@sjm) said on 12th March 2011, 11:54

        The Cynics here would point out a Mr David Coulthard might have been focus’d more on a Australian/German partnership last year ;)

        BBC are far, far from biased to British drivers, vertainly compared to ITV. But are British programmes anyway, I wouldnt begrudge a German channal focusing on German drivers/teams.

      • Choltz said on 12th March 2011, 13:11

        ITV was horrible with it’s coverage of Hamilton, I started watching coverage on Speed after the Spa race where Hamilton cut the track to close up on the lead car and pass, which was obviously a huge advantage, but they rambled on about his penalty it in the next race commenting on anyones mistake that caused a cut. BBC does focus on the British drivers more, but not too much and not talking them up so much.

        I hope BBC doesn’t drop coverage, commercial free F1 is the only way to watch it!

      • DeadManWoking said on 12th March 2011, 14:02

        Being in the US, I watch Speed’s coverage on my big HDTV but they only cover P2 Qualy and Race. Last year I watched all the BBC coverage by livestream or DL and didn’t find them overly Brit-centric and an average of 10 1/2 hours per race brilliant. By contrast, Speed has 5 1/2 hours per race and if you cut David Hobbs he bleeds Rocket Red!

    • Daffid said on 12th March 2011, 11:46

      The ‘Better than ITV’ argument doesn’t really cut it. They ARE better than ITV, but the Lewis/Jensen obsession still makes me sick, I gave up watching anything except the actual race about a third of the way in last season.

      But curiously, I was recently made aware of people who ONLY watch F1 for the EJ/DC/JH banter, so I have to live and let live a bit, and allow for the fact that different people switch in for different reasons, and the BBC have to drum the viewers up somehow.

    • taylortheory (@) said on 12th March 2011, 11:50

      you cant blame the bbc for focussing on the british drivers as most people watching in britain will be most concerned by whats happening to the british drivers and they will get more in terviews with the british drivers as the british drivers will want to do interviews with the british media the most and the german drivers will want to talk to the german media the most and so on.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th March 2011, 11:56

        I don’t agree – from my experience a lot of people in Britain follow F1 out of an interest in the sport, not just out of blind allegiance to the drivers who are from the same country as them.

        (I’m not saying the same does not go for other countries, but we are talking about the BBC here.)

        Also, people’s allegiances to nationalities goes further than just drivers. Two-thirds of the teams have facilities in Britain and naturally they have a lot of support for that reason.

        And even if all that weren’t true, the first priority of the BBC (or whatever broadcaster) should be to cover the sport well, not to pander to nationalistic allegiances.

        • hawkfist said on 12th March 2011, 12:15

          The vast majority of people who go on websites such as this aren’t people who are interested in nationalistic allegiances, however I would say the vast majority of the 6 million who watch the races on the BBC every week probably are.

          The money to support this coverage is coming from British taxes, and the chances are the more casual viewer is going to have an interest in how the Brits are doing moreso than any other.

          Also, I don’t think the BBC do a bad job at all of spreading their coverage around. They seemed to have a lot of love for Lotus last year(granted, British team – but most of them have a base in England these days) – and neither of their drivers were British. They seemed to try and get through every team at some stage in the season.

          I think the people who say it focuses too much on the British drivers are using selective memories to forget all they do with regards to other teams.

          • Steve said on 12th March 2011, 12:31

            “The money to support this coverage is coming from British taxes”

            Maybe a percentage is from British tax’s, but a large amount of it is from license fee’s paid to the BBC by all the hundreds of TV networks around the world who broadcast the BBC show in their countries.

            My my country for example (South Africa – most widely used language here is English), the only coverage of F1 is on DSTV (pay to view) who hold exclusive rights for my country. No doubt DSTV had to pay a large sum of money to the BBC for those rights.

            I think it is fair to say that the BBC’s coverage of the sport is the most viewed around the globe, which means it is not exclusively for Brits. There are probably more viewers watching from outside of Britain than inside. The English language is not exclusive to the UK… other counties speak it too.

            My point is that the BBC should market their product towards the global audience which they serve, and not their local audience.

        • I agree completely with what Keith has said. Furthermore, people should remember that the BBC coverage also goes to a lot of other countries – for example, here in Australia. This would be income lost to the BBC should they cancel their coverage, and while that might not be all that significant in comparison with the overall pricetag, it is significant. It’s my understanding that Australia alone pays between 10 and 25% of the overall quoted pricetag for formula 1 coverage. How many other countries do the same? What is the actual NET cost to the BBC of the coverage by the time all such factors are taken into account? Simply quoting the bottom line would seem to be myopic and one-sided.

        • Sound_Of_Madness said on 12th March 2011, 12:52

          I have watched a number of BBC-broadcasted races, and they did not seem very focused on the British drivers (some older races seemed to repeat again and again how were the British drivers doing, despite how much below the grid they were). Perhaps this is due to the fact that you have to pay attention to the British guys due to them being frontrunners, I think that a better comparison will be made this year that di Resta runs (who should not get much attention as midfield runner).

        • Wallbreaker said on 12th March 2011, 12:52

          That´s my huge problem with German broadcaster RTL. They focus extremely on German drivers which annoys me a lot. Commentator Heiko Wasser outs himself every single time as a Vettel fan. Disgusting for someone who actually has to be neutral. Ferrari boys are always the bad guys for them. Being a Ferrari fan it ****** me off. If I had the money I would watch it on Sky Germany, though I don´t like Jaques Schulz for the way he´s speaking but they´re at least objective…

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 12th March 2011, 15:25

            I agree. If it weren’t for that their coverage could be quite good, with Lauda (who is sometimes worse than Jordan though); but not being a fan of Vettel, I got to really dislike hearing about him the one time I recorded the RTL broadcast.

            I mean, Vettel was one of the main competitors so yes, naturally he comes up. But they hardly mentioned Webber or Hamilton, or even Alonso; and certainly not entirely positively. I guess if it had been at the start of the season they would have also talked a lot of Schumacher and Rosberg, but that became too embarrassing later in the season …

  11. Bernard said on 12th March 2011, 2:07

    Maybe the BBC should ask for a bigger subsidy from Apple to cover the every growing stock of macs, iphones, ipods and ipads they enthusiastically promote on a daily basis.

  12. sato113 (@sato113) said on 12th March 2011, 2:14

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I actually really enjoy getting up around 6am, sitting by the tv with a blanket and watching a race at 7. there’s no distractions at that time of day either, just me and f1 in peace… ;)

  13. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 12th March 2011, 2:21

    Probably that tunnel is being used by a team for wind tunnel.I am not sure why BBC wants to drop F1 as I think may be next to cricket & football it is a favourite.

  14. Eggry (@eggry) said on 12th March 2011, 3:43

    Pirelli intermediate tyre’s tread is wired.

  15. Jay Menon said on 12th March 2011, 4:44

    It’s a shame if the BBC decides to drop F1 and continue paying ,Chris Moyles an exhorbitant sum of money to sit in studio talking rubbish. Sad

    • Very well said although when it comes to talking rubbish Jake Humphrey on twitter takes some beating.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th March 2011, 11:23

        It does seem to me that if your Twitter account has ‘F1′ in it people are going to expect to spend more time talking about F1 and less about your favourite football club and everything else.

        I think he should set up a personal account for all non-F1 stuff – I’ve done this, and it has a tiny fraction of the number of followers the F1 Fanatic account does, which I think proves my point!

        • I agree with Keith. I stopped following Jake Humphrey on Twitter because of his endless football tweets – I also find it annoying that the BBC link his tweets to their F1 page so at one point the Formula 1 tweets were showing a constant stream about Norwich Football Club. I don’t care about Norwich Football Club, I care about Formula One.

          I do follow Martin Brundle now on Twitter, whose tweets are about Formula One (and of course I follow F1 Fantatic)

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