For the Italian GP we had Mario Andretti commenting or trying to for the entire race. Mario sounded like he was up for the experience and there could have been a whole host of subjects explored and developed by David Hobbs, Leigh Diffey, Will Buxton and Steve Matchett getting Mario’s takes, stories and insights. But predictably, that didn’t happen because the broadcast was once again dominated by the ex-mechanic, Steve Matchett. Quite amazing, really. At one point, with Mario Andretti and David Hobbs sitting there, there was Steve Matchett pontificating about driver skills and the challenge of Monza ! Doesn’t NBC have a producer attached to the races who could gently take the mechanic aside before the next one and suggest he dine on one of his tire degradation charts and stop hogging the air time?
Better yet, move Matchett out of the studio and put him in an F1 garage set where he can chime in periodically with tech segments during each practice, qualifying and race.
Personally I think we need Hobbs out of the studio as he’s gone from being an ok commentator to somebody who just randomly mumbles on about stupid stuff. Though for what it’s worth I think that both Hobbs, Matchett & even Mario need to shut-up when it comes to talking about how todays cars drive or what it’s like to work on them as neither Hobbs nor Mario have driven (in a race) in anything remotely close to the current F1 cars and things in the pitlane/tech side of things have sure changed a ton too since Matchett was last involved (and BTW my feelings on that stand true for NASCAR coverage too, just because you drove a car in 1980 doesn’t mean you know what it’s like to race todays car).
I can’t stand Matchett. Hobbs was ok for a while, and seemingly a pretty nice guy, but is really not cut out for commentary. I would love to see that whole team replaced. Will Buxton does a pretty good job, though.
Lee Diffey is a pro, I like the sound Bob Varsha’s voice more, but of course what’s being said is what’s most important. I do think Steve Matchett’s technical chops are up to date, and his enthusiasm is a plus, but the problem at Speed and now NBC is no one seems to have understood that he’s an amateur when it comes to live sports announcing and maybe he simply doesn’t understand how it should work.
I’ve always loved David Hobbs, but he needs to be brought into the conversation more by Diffey, or he’ll just hang back and lob the occasional zinger . David Hobbs was an accomplished driver – Le Mans, Can Am, F1, Indy 500, Formula 5000, even the Daytona 500, winning his share of races including the 1000k at the original Nurburgring. Anyone who knows what it’s like to go flat out through the Masta Kink, down Mulsanne sans chicanes and has stormed around Silverstone at full chat with nary a run off area in sight can speak about racing today with credibility. But because David Hobbs raced at a time, and I’ve forgotten who said it first, “when sex was safe and racing was dangerous.” I can see where younger fans who don’t remember racing in the 1960’s and 70’s as I do might find some of his Hobbsian observations to be a bit boring, but there’s no lack of respect for today’s drivers on his part. At least none that I have heard. Will Buxton does a good job.