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BBC Provides 5* Coverage of F1
F1 Grand Prix on BBC1
Member Name: chicklitreviews
F1 Grand Prix on BBC1
Advantages: No ad-breaks, great presenters
Disadvantages: Jonathan Legard
When the Formula One coverage moved to BBC from ITV for the 2009 season BBC made a whole ring of changes. The only personnel kept on from ITV were Martin Brundell as co-commentator and Ted Kravitz as pit-lane reporter. We were kept waiting a while to see who would anchor the show - there was no way Steve Ryder was going to leave ITV's football coverage so I wondered who would take his role. The role was given to Jake Humprey whom I'd only ever seen on Sportsround. David Coulthard (who retired after the 2008 season) and Eddie Jordan joined Jake to help give their opinions in the build-up to both the qualifying and the races. Meanwhile Lee McKenzie joined Ted Kravitz as a pitlane reporter and Jonathan Legard joined Martin Brundle as co-commentator.
The BBC's coverage starts on a Friday - Thursday if you're in Monaco - on the Red Button where you can watch the two practice sessions. The commentators during Friday practices and the morning Saturday practice come from BBC Radio 5 Live and are, usually, David Croft and Anthony Davidson along with Holly Samos as pitlane reporter.
For Saturday qualifying Jake Humprey, David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan present between 40-60 minutes worth of build-up giving us all of the latest news, talking to drivers/team bosses/Bernie Ecclestone before handing over to Martin Brundle and Jonathan Legard who guide us through qualifying with extra news from Ted in the pits. Between each qualifying session (there are three) we go back to Jake, David and Eddie for their thoughts on the action before the next session begins. After qualifying is over we talk to the drivers if there's time before getting the confirmed grid and Jake says goodbye.
Raceday dawns and we get another 40-60 minutes build-up with the same formula as qualifying. We also get Martin Brundle's legendary grid-walk where he collars the drivers as they are getting ready to get into the car. He even resorts to shoving other broadcasters out of the way to talk to some drivers. After Martin's grid-walk we hear the national anthem of the country the race is in before Jake hands us over to Martin and Jonathan for the commentary of the race. A new addition to this years racing is finding out how much weight all of the cars weigh and Ted Kravitz takes us through the weights and we find out when drivers will stop for their pitstops. During the race, as well as having Martin and Jonathan commentating we pop to the pits every now and again for updates from Ted and interviews with drivers that have crashed/retired from Lee. After the race it's back to Jake and co. for the podium celebrations, the drivers' press conference and then we get opinions of the race from David and Eddie. If, after the race, you're STILL mad for more F1, you can press your red button for the F1 Forum with Jake, David, Eddie and Martin! Fabulous, see you next weekend!
If, throughout the race, Jonathan Legard starts to annoy you, you can switch to the red button again for alternative commentary. You have the choice of the BBC 5 Live commentary or the CBBC commentary. We haven't actually tried either options but I can recommend the BBC 5 Live commentary from the practice sessions. There are also other ways to watch the racing - focusing on a certain driver or seeing the laptimes as they go through. We don't use that feature so I'm not 100% sure what there is to offer!
The BBC coverage completely eclipses the ITV coverage. For starters, the BBC has no adverts so you can watch the whole three-hour programme without interruption. For me, that is how the racing should be. Who wants an ad-break at a crucial point at the race? Countless times ITV used to go to an ad-break and we'd come back and find someone had crashed out. It got very annoying.
The coverage is immense on the BBC and we're always up-to-date with the latest goings-on, and I think the build-up is incredibly impressive. It would be nice if the BBC gave a bit more time at the end as sometimes you don't get that much after-race features as there's usually no time left however if you have the red button that isn't a problem as you can just go to the F1 Forum.
Jake Humprey is outstanding as anchor of the show and it's a good job he didn't get mown down when he almost walked in front of a Toyota. Joking aside though, he knows a lot about F1 and is clearly a fan. I thought Steve Ryder was a great anchor but Jake is even better. He lets David and Eddie argue amongst themselves but isn't afraid to ask difficult questions. The banter between Jake, David and Eddie works really well and I think they make a fab team. Having David Coulthard in the team adds an interesting insight as David is only recently retired and is still active with Red Bull so he knows things that are going on. I worried he wouldn't work fronting the show with Jake and Eddie but he's surprised me. He's articulate and doesn't mind sharing his opinion. Eddie Jordan is just plain hilarious. He is not afraid to show his opinion and has called McLaren's car a "dog" and said Kimi Raikkonen was rubbish this season. It's refreshing to have so much honesty in a sport that isn't exactly renowned for that.
Martin Brundle is an excellent commentator. I was so pleased BBC kept him on and he is the best F1 commentator out there. He is an ex-F1 driver so knows his stuff, he adds interesting insights and provides his famous gridwalk. Not only that but he does the track guide, as well as "The Formula" which gives us insights into the workings of F1, explaining different parts of the car/track. The same can't be said for Jonathan Legard. He sounds like a horse-racing commentator. It is incredibly irritating. He constantly shouts above Martin and it takes him half an hour to pick up on something I noticed as soon as it happened. He gives me a headache and I wish they'd give his job to David Croft. I just tend to tune him out. For example we were on the last lap of a race, I think it was the Italian GP, and Jonathan didn't even acknowledge Rubens Barrichello as the winner, he was just going on about Lewis Hamilton's crash. Completely ridiculous.
The BBC 5 Live commentators make a great team. David Croft is knowledgeable and I enjoy his insights. He's a bit like Jake Humprey, OK to let Anthony talk but also offers great input. He knows the sport well and really shines in his role. Anthony Davidson, who is Brawn GP's test driver, is great as the co-commentator and is very well spoken and enjoyable to listen to. He offers a great insight into the world of current F1 drivers (it was only a few years ago he was racing in F1, there are rumours around he may be back in a car in 2010 and is, as I said, Brawn GP's test driver). David and Anthony make a fabulous team however I'd love to see Martin Brundle paired with David Croft. I think that could work really well. My favourite pitlane reporter is Ted Kravitz. He knows his stuff and gives us valuable insight throughout the races. Lee McKenzie is OK as a pitlane reporter as is Holly Samos, Lee is good when interviewing the drivers after they're retired/crashed/finished the race.
The BBC really do put on a fab show for the F1 and I'm so pleased it returned to them. I look forward to the coverage and to see what features might be shown. One of my favourite features was when Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Jake went to Silverstone and Jake drove both Lewis and Jenson around the track. Jenson was petrified, it was hilarious. It's nice to see that Jake doesn't mind participating in features like that as they're very interesting.
The BBC F1 coverage really is outstanding. It says it all when the only downside is I'm not a fan of Jonathan Legard. I tried, really I did. It's also good that the Lewis-mania that infected ITV seems to have dispersed on moving to the BBC. ITV got rather obsessed with Lewis towards the end - yes I know he won the World Drivers' Championship but it was still a bit much. The BBC present a more balanced view and it's really great to see other drivers being interviewed at their homes, etc.
With any luck we'll eventually get F1 in HD. Now that would be impressive.
Summary: Much bettter than ITV's coverage!