“What’s the point of Formula One?” – Radio 4 programme featuring me today

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

A pointless endeavour?
A pointless endeavour?

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was being interviewed for a Radio 4 programme called “What?s the point of Formula 1?”. The finished show airs today.

You can catch the half-hour show on Radio 4 at 9am and 9.30pm, and after that it should be available on BBC iPlayer for a week. As far as I’m aware you don’t have to be within the UK to listen to it.

The programme also includes contributions from Frank Williams, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, The Times F1 correspondent Ed Gorman, FIA technical advisor (and former Jaguar F1 team principal) Tony Purnell and motor racing correspondent Doug Nye.

Update: Listen to the show here in iPlayer

I recorded my interview over six weeks ago with host Quentin Letts, a journalist for the Daily Mail. Obviously there have been many developments in F1’s political sphere since then and I’ve had several conversations with the programme makers who’ve been striving not to get caught out by the unfolding events of the past few weeks. I should point out, however, that I’ve had no input into the editorial direction of the show.

As you can guess from the title the programme is intended to be light-hearted but a bit provocative. It’s part of a series that asks “What’s the point” of various things – last week it was the Privy Council and they previously did Michelin Stars.

It’s not intended to be taken terribly seriously, but I hope you feel I give a fair and accurate representation of what F1 fans think of the sport and the people involved in it. Look forward to hearing what you make of it!

See the official site for “What’s the point of Formula 1?” here.

41 comments on ““What’s the point of Formula One?” – Radio 4 programme featuring me today”

  1. I shall definately make a point of listening!

    N.B. The photo at the top reminds me that I think that the Renault is the best-looking car this season! And I don’t know if anyone else has spotted the Spanish flag hidden on it?

    1. Unfortunately we don’t get bbc radio in autraluia, maybe i can find it online. i originally thought the renault was hideous but i love it now. i spotted the spanish flag from day 1!

    2. I’ve added a link to the show on iPlayer above, does that work for you?

    3. Wow, you’re making a lot of media appearances.

      I’m guessing you’re cheap…


    4. Oi!

      I prefer to think of it as good value for money :-)

  2. Keith…

    I’m desperately need your HELP on behalf of Indonesian Formula 1 fans…We are tired of our official F1 broadcaster Global TV that makes F1 enjoyment at its worst point…Every years it always a step backward of coverage quality…You may not be able to see the Global TV coverage, but if you are…You will feel the boredom and pain of being F1 fans in Indonesia…Ads are everywhere,SMS Quizzes are everywhere,irritating commentator,boring build-up,and F1 highlights isn’t a highlights at all…

    All the terrible things…

    I knew back in the day there were ITV petition fiasco and the James Allen stuff as well. Finally, BBC gives better F1 coverage and replaced JA with Jonathan Legard…

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to use our voices here. Global TV hasn’t changed and ignored us all.

    I made a Facebook Group called “Stop Siaran F1 di Global TV” and also its forum thread at Detik Forum Formula 1. But there’s complicated law here to make a petition.

    Please, Keith…

    If you could help me to make Indonesian F1 TV coverage into the spotlight of F1 fans around the world, I hope Global TV will respond it…

    Please, Keith…

    I really love this fantastic blog…
    If you can make the differences to give us better F1 coverage, you will not only be remembered as a hero of Indonesian F1 fans, but you will also be a true F1 hero on the world…

    I’m also kindly ask other visitor of this blog for helping us all as well…


    Cep Goldia Claresta Mufti
    Tasikmalaya – Jawa Barat – Indonesia

    1. Well now how can you refuse such a heart felt request?

      Say Goldenboy91 is your internet good enough to get TV streams? If it is you could probably just watch the US Speed TV coverage via some streaming application, Speed TV finest coverage the world has to offer.

  3. spanky the wonder monkey
    19th May 2009, 9:09

    currently listening live through windows media player….

    1. Please can you help me spanky.

      i’m a brit in america and would like to listen to the radio 4 broadcast.

      How did you get it and to play on media player?

      I’ve looked for it but with no luck


    2. spanky the wonder monkey
      19th May 2009, 10:04

      i used the media guide option, then selected “radio tuner”, searched for “BBC” then clicked the radio 4 entry.
      bit of a faff to get there, but hey, it is windows ;-)

  4. WidowFactory
    19th May 2009, 9:35

    Just finished listening to this on iPlayer. Although they did a good job of getting opposing viewpoints (Keith’s and the tree hugger woman), I don’t think they did a very good job at all at actually addressing the question – What’s the point of formula 1? They explained the politics and rule changes and Ecclestone’s greed and so on, but they didn’t actually touch on at all what makes motor racing interesting and exciting!

    I think anyone who listened to that programme with a negative view of motor racing would still not understand why so many people enjoy formula 1.

  5. Thanks for your help spanky. I tried but my media player just would not connect.ah well never mind i hope it was good and Keith did well as usual.

    1. i clicked on “the finished show airs today” and then “listen”. seems to play fine from my browser, but i haven’t tried wmc or similar.

  6. Quentin Letts OH DEAR GOD!!!!!

    Keith if you’ve misrepresented me, the fans, I will never forgive you ;)

  7. “K” you’ve got to be kidding.

    I have watched SpeedTv’s covergae of formula one several times. And it is light years behind the BBC and/or ITV’s coverage of Formula One.

    I feel sorry for Goldenboy91, but i can’t see what Keith can do to help. And Speed tv streams may not work outside of America.

    1. No way better than ITV, I can’t say about BBC because I haven’t watched Speed TV since BBC took over from ITV. ITV was shockingly egregious, Peter Windsor alone made Speed TV better than ITV.

  8. John Spencer
    19th May 2009, 14:00

    I caught the beginning of this by chance in the car, having forgotten it was on.

    And I promptly turned it off before Keith even came on. There was a woman bleating that she didn’t understand the difference between qualifying and the race, and I thought this was just such typical b****y Radio 4 f*****g nonsense.

    Not so much light-hearted as light-minded.


    But I’m sure you were great, Keith.

    1. There was a woman bleating that she didn’t understand the difference between qualifying and the race

      Yeah I thought that was an odd way to approach the discussion. Are that many people really confused about the difference between qualifying and the race? Not people who read this site, obviously, but others?

      Anyway, John, if you wanted to hear my sections I was on twice in the second half of the show.

  9. Very good contribution Keith :) But that Natalie Haynes apparently a “comedian” is so ridiculously biased she even contradicts herself!

    In a way F1 could be as pointless as Curling. Yet do people constantly moan about Curling? No. Same with Tennis.Its the same with Tennis, I enjoy Tennis, but what ‘social contributions’ have tennis come up with? Not many. Is it easy to get into? Not really.

    Its ignorant t***s like her who look at F1 at face value. I’m absolutely 100% fine with some people not liking F1, but to have such stupid and generalised views (she even thinks EACH race is decided in the courtroom 6 days later :/ and that road cars have had ZERO innovations from F1 cars) that having people on like that is such a waste of time and infuriates true fans like me.

    1. spanky the wonder monkey
      19th May 2009, 14:35

      ahhh, but it’s not aimed at fans. it’s aimed at your typical radio 4 listener (whatever that may be….only thing i ever hear from R4 is the posh R4 lady reading emails on scott mills’ show).

      if the show were about debate (don’t think it was, as in the end didn’t get to hear much) then it’d be a different story. i thought the courtroom comment was pretty valid when you consider what was happening in F1 when keith made his contribution and no doubt that was a similar time to when haynes also made her soundbites.

    2. Thing is if you’re going to start saying things like “look at how much fuel they use going to the races” (as one contributor did) then you have to ask how much carbon does the world cup tournament use? Or the Olympics?

  10. notice most of the complaints are lodged by women and the ignorant. art imitates life.

  11. I really can’t stand that women

  12. Christopher
    19th May 2009, 16:37

    Speed TV’s coverage is way below par when compared to the BBC…i hate to say it. Lucky I get the BBC broadcast recorded & sent to me

  13. What is the point of snide, third rate comedians who can only get hired by the BBC?

    1. They give you something to moan about.

      lol I’m just kidding no offense.

  14. For people outside the UK who can’t use the BBC iplayer try http://www.uknova.com – I’ve checked and it is on there.

    The only downside is they have a membership limit so it is pot luck when you can register, but worth the effort IMHO

    1. Other forms of streaming exist also, various P2P streaming applications etc.

  15. Considering it was presented by Quentin Letts it wasn’t too bad I guess, very authoritative Keith and a shame they didn’t speak to you a bit more over some of the others. I wasn’t really into that woman talking about “green” issues. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for sustainability and I think F1 should be at the forefront of that, up until now and for the foreseeable future F1 has been in denial really, but she didn’t make good arguments. F1 is a clear and easy target which should make change more possible it’s just lame that it is yet to happen.

    1. I thought Jackie Stewart telling him he doesn’t pay enough attention when watching the races was hilarious.

      I did the interview with Quentin around six or seven weeks ago and he was really easy to get on with, very chatty. It was pretty obvious what tone they were aiming to strike with the programme and I think they did it well. Inevitably hardcore fans like ourselves were going to find some of the criticisms put forward a bit naff.

      As I mentioned above recording the programme so early made the logistics a little complicated. One point I mentioned – about the ‘most wins’ system potentially being introduced next year – is now off the table (for the time being at least).

  16. Oh that tree-hugging woman obviously likes fresh air… there’s plenty of it between her ears. How bigoted/ignorant can you get?!?

  17. You’re in illustrious company there Keith – Nigel Roebuck, Doug Nye, Jackie Stewart etc – maybe it’s a generation thing but I thought you came across better than some of them, just by engaging with the interviewer a bit more.

    On green issues, and ignoring the hopeless “comedian” woman, Tony Purnell’s comments bothered me – 3-cylinder engines? (they’ll sound rubbish!) Rewards for the best fuel economy? I hope that’s just Max Mosley advising Purnell to stir up another argument.

    1. Tony Purnell’s comments bothered me – 3-cylinder engines? (they’ll sound rubbish!) Rewards for the best fuel economy? I hope that’s just Max Mosley advising Purnell to stir up another argument.

      He`s Max` heir apparent which is definitely worrying, 159Tom.

  18. stewart was my favorite part :)

    i think you had a very strong analogy with the helium and triangular pitch. accurate, illustrative and comprehendible.

  19. I found it hilarious that the “comedienne” lady tried to make a point about F1 using up a finite resource and comparing it to people starving in the world.

    No problem with people not enjoying Formula 1, but at least come up with a decent reason why! I’m sure she never leaves a morcel of food on her plate at dinner what with all the starving people.

    Well done to Sir Jackie Stewart for giving him a dressing down about paying attention. Another pointless argument. The commentators constantly give you the running order and it is almost always on the screen.

    I presume it was supposed to be a light-hearted look at it, but I found anti-F1 (for want of a better term) came across as ignorant, whereas the pro-F1 side put forward their case very well. Or maybe I’m just biased because I’m pro-F1 myself.

  20. ****NEWS FLASH*****

    Ferraris appeal has been rejected by the court of appeal! Good News in my opinion.

  21. Thanks for your response Keith…

    I’m very grateful that you give me such opportunity to write an article about Global TV’s F1 coverage in your blog…

    I will do my best to write the article after the Monaco GP…

    PS.:I’m sorry if I have no decent English language…

    Thanks again, Keith

  22. the argument that it’s difficult to understand is moot. as stewart said, there are organisations such as the BBC, Speed and others, that provide information specifically to aid comprehension, and do a great deal to make the sport accessible to new followers.

    the green agenda always comes across as a dubious argument because all people see is cars going fast, which equals bad. i think the environmental argument will only start to hold water once there are real visible changes ie – hybrid cars, fuel cells etc. but it takes time, so that doesn’t really answer the question either.

    sponsors agendas are driven by commercial aspects, but they are there to fund the sport and are not the basis for its existence. if it were self-funding, as in the days of the silver arrows, cooper and vanwall, we wouldn’t need them. but it’s not, so we do. a necessary evil then.

    the point that was missing from the programme is that the point of F1 is that there are (for good reasons or bad) millions of people around the world, petrol heads and normal people, that just find it great entertainment. full stop. nuf said.

    i wonder if they have planned a programme entitled “what’s the point of the olympics?” or “what’s the point of the world cup?”

    if they did i think that the arguments for and against would be similar in many ways, but i can’t believe that they would miss out the fact that it is simply entertainment, created for interested people!

  23. Nice one. Just listened to the show…

  24. Owen G – I agree, and I can’t just believe that it is because we’re F1 fans.

    Timmy M – I like the sound of “what’s the point of the Olympics”, I can’t stand the bloated, out of proportion “celebration” of who can pump themselves full of the most steriods.

    (Actually, I don’t mind it that much but I thought I should take up the ignorant viewpoint…)

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