BBC F1 Coverage 2010 – Analysis

Jake Humphrey has been growing into the job, but he struggles to get away from the “President of the Student Union” image. But the defining moments of his coverage this year have been two moments:

  1. In Hungary, during the discussion of Schumacher’s inexcusable manoeuvre on Barrichello and whether he would get punished for it, Martin Brundle and David Coulthard were chuckling and asked a rhetorical question “Who is the only driver to be penalised his points for the season” (Schumacher, for an attempt to drive Villeneuve off the circuit in 1997). Jake was on tenterhooks, not knowing the answer. Whilst he’s not there to be an expert, it shows his lack of experience in F1.
  2. Abandoning the coverage of the Japanese Grand Prix to present the Commonwealth Games in Delhi may have seemed an attractive option for him, but it demonstrated a lack of commitment to the F1 coverage and moreover, Lee McKenzie showed a safe pair of hands in surely the most difficult coverage of the year, as Saturday Qualifying was postponed to Sunday morning.

Last year, Eddie Jordan’s and David Coulthard’s mutual animosity threatened to boil over beyond the entertaining into embarrassing and counter-productive. Aside from the odd barb or two, this has dampened down.

Eddie Jordan can still be embarrassing at times, and is often far too pompous, but without him you get the feeling that neither Jake nor DC would get the big interviews.

David Coulthard has for much of the season been little more than a Red Bull apologist (whether you feel they have anything to apologise for or not) and needs to have better separation between his role as Red Bull consultant and BBC expert summariser. It was therefore a huge surprise that he was allowed in McLaren’s Mission Control during the Korean Grand Prix, but it turned out to be a missed opportunity as viewers were left none the wiser as Coulthard told us how great it was to be there with access to all the info.

Martin Brundle is a safe pair of hands on the commentary and generally manages to get a few interesting snippets on his grid walk – certainly more than on comparable coverage in other countries. He doesn’t really gel in the commentary box with Jonathan Leggard, though.

You really have to wonder how Jonathan Leggard managed to land the job. He doesn’t seem to know that much about F1, or even notice the events he’s watching on the monitor in front of him and clearly doesn’t listen to what his co-commentator is saying. He’s had his chance, it’s time for someone else.

Ted Kravitz has provided a range of inside info snippets from the pit lane both during and after the race. Long may it continue, but you get the feeling they could integrate him into the Red Button Forum somehow.

Lee McKenzie similarly does sterling work in the pit lane during the race, not much more to say there.

For most of the season, the Red Button Forum has been an interesting mix of analysis and driver interviews, with Jenson Button a particular favourite, as well as Anthony Davidson from the Five Live team.

Towards the end of the season, levels of professionalism have been dropping and the main presenters give more the impression of a lads night out with banter and bets, seemingly forgetting we tuned in for analysis. Keep the pranks for after the broadcast please, gentlemen.

Bernie has thus far refused HD coverage, presumably wanting to monetarise it, however I fail to understand why the BBC could not have broadcast upscaled HD on the BBC HD channel, as they have now done on the new BBC1 HD for the last two races. Now this is the case, their last excuse has gone for using “4:3 Safe” graphics on their feed. Nobody has a 4:3 HD TV, they’re all 16:9, so can we have the 16:9 graphics that other countries use, pretty please?

Red Button coverage of the free practice sessions has been very patchy on Freesat, with no way of finding out if or when they will be repeated if you happened to be at work – some races had no coverage, others full, others live coverage but no repeats etc., plus you cannot record the Red Button programmes on Freesat+ like you can on Freeview+, where it’s also a separate channel in the EPG.

So all in all, not too much wrong – replace Leggard, more commitment from Jake and DC and sort out the free practice coverage and the HD feed.

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