BBC F1 2009 – broadcast team

EDIT – I’ve noticed people are still arriving on this older post via Google. Please go ahead and read this, but then make sure you check out the update here – thanks!
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From the BBC Sport website:

David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan have joined the BBC as part of next year’s presentation team in Formula One.
Coulthard, who retired as a race driver at the end of the 2008 season, will join former team boss Jordan as a pundit alongside anchor Jake Humphrey.
Jonathan Legard moves from 5 Live to commentate with ex-F1 driver and award-winning broadcaster Martin Brundle.

The pit-lane reporters will be Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie.

This is excellent news! Can you just imagine Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard as analysts? These are probably the most outspoken, witty and fun guys in the paddock. DC has certainly grown into himself since leaving McLaren, at least to the outside world’s perception. This is going to be fun! Now, I’m not sure either will be in the commentary box, or “the booth” in American parlance. I think they’ll be in a studio role either in London or trackside. It’ll still be great and I fully expect them to interject into the race commentary.

Jake Humphrey as main anchor will bring the F1 coverage away from the “grey-haired old anchorman” style we’ve had for the last however many years (always?), which just does not fit with the image of Formula 1 as a young, dynamic sport. More so since Red Bull joined the party. He’s a capable guy in his 30s who has covered the Olympics, the Euro 2008 football tournament, and a host of other sports for the BBC. He’s very much the up-and-coming man at BBC Sport and has been for the last year, this can be considered his first major long-term anchor role as his other stuff was for annual events, magazine shows or for the Olympics, a results roundup show.

Jonathan Legard (no Wiki page) was the main commentator for BBC Radio Five Live from 1997 to 2004, before taking on a football role for the station. Five Live is the BBC’s main sports and news talk radio station. I’m not familiar with his work in either of those roles and I’m not entirely sure what TV experience he has, so I’ll be watching with interest to see if he can translate to the less descriptive style of television. Because of this he is potentially the weak link in the chain.

Side-note: David Croft currently holds the F1 commentary role for Five Live and looks like retaining that job. Croft also covered GP2 for ITV4 this year, leading to speculation that he was training himself for the Big One. I’m pretty sure Croftie is going to be gutted with this decision, and while he is fairly good, he does make a fair few mistakes on the GP2 coverage. I’m not saying it’s an easy job, but still..

Ted Kravitz became ITV’s pit strategy reporter when James Allen was promoted to lead commentary on Murray Walker’s retirement in 2002. Kravitz is hot on the strategic side of the sport and has definitely improved over the years. It used to be that Allen was the best pit reporter in town and Ted did well to fill those shoes. Allen turned out to be a good but not great commentator – he did get better, no matter what many people on the internet may say (I’m by no means a big fan, but you have to give credit where due). Kravitz has done some anchor work for the BTCC on ITV4 and you have to say he hasn’t been great in that role. I’m glad he continues in his element next year.

Lee McKenzie is not the token female, just as Louise Goodman wasn’t at ITV. McKenzie has experience in the pitlane role for Sky Sports’ coverage of A1 Grand Prix as well as covering WRC and many other motorsport events. It says on Wiki she has her own company looking after several top drivers in several championships, which I never knew. I think she’ll be good if the BBC doesn’t relegate her to Louise’s more recent role of simply trailing after drivers who have crashed out for whatever reason. We need that but some idea of what the lower order are doing in the pits would be nice too.

This is such a brilliant line-up, I’m like a little kid at hearing this! The article quoted above says the practical side of things will be announced later but I can tell you this:

Race coverage will be live and exclusive on BBC One (home of ‘Eastenders’, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (AKA the origination of ‘Dancing w/t Stars’) and ‘Spooks’ (‘MI5′)) for the entire 2009 season. In full. With no adverts. At all. Ever. Unless you count BBC self-promos. Of which there are many.

All qualifying sessions will be aired live on BBC Two (the home of ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Heroes’, fact fans) for the 2009 season.

There is speculation that there will be enhanced coverage available on digital TV via the ‘red button’ interactive service, including alternate camera angles and live timing, similar to the service on the Premiere channel in Germany.

Okay… so you’ve convinced me… NOW the licence fee is worth it!

Music recommendation: Fleetwood Mac – ‘The Chain’ (BBC F1 intro 1996)

If the Beeb doesn’t bring back their iconic Grand Prix theme tune in some form or another then they are utter, utter, fools.

Note to international readers: This is about BBC taking back the rights from ITV for the first time since the close of the 1996 season. If you didn’t grow up to this music then you probably don’t ‘get it’, but believe me: This is Very. Very. Cool. Goosebumps every time I hear it.

Dr Gary Hartstein

There’s an interesting article at the International Herald Tribune about Doctor Gary Hartstein, originally from Staten Island, New York and now living and working in Belgium. He is the FIA’s medical rescue coordinator and rides in the Mercedes response car, the one following the field on the first lap. He took over from (the legendary) Professor Sid Watkins a few years ago when Watkins went off to found the FIA Institute.

The article is written by Hartstein and he explains his role at race weekends, you should check it out (there are two pages).

I also recommend clicking the author’s name when done to see some of Brad Spurgeon’s words on the subject, particularly the 2002 article.

F1’s New Wings

Check out a photo released by the Williams team this week:

Jonathan Kennard performing a shakedown at Kemble airfield, Gloucestershire. Photo taken from

That rear wing is just awful. I actually like the lower front wing, although I don’t like how it extends in front of the wheels, that’s going to cause more debris and more nosecone changes.

Admittedly this is the 2008 FW30 running 2009 aero, the configuration most teams are expected to run in the group tests next week, but still ugly! I hope that the definitive ’09 cars will be more in proportion and more in line with Autosport magazine’s mock-ups of a couple of weeks ago.

What do you think? Reckon we’ll get used to it?

Note that as it was only a shakedown neither the slicks or the current grooved tyres were used.

Tin Tops

And so begins the off-season. Here in Britain the temperatures have dropped, the radiators are on and the hot drinks are being consumed in earnest.

Already there is the noticeable drop-off in forum/newsgroup posts, which happens every year yet seems always to take me by surprise. On F1NGers there were over 100 posts after the Brazil race, now they are barely 15 per day. This year for the first time I am following motorsport blogs and I’ve noticed the same pattern. There’s just not enough news – interesting news – to drive the content, what is around is just test reports and speculation about drivers in lower-order teams. Anyway, frankly some of my blogger friends deserve the rest after the amount of good stuff they’ve written over the year! I don’t know how they keep up the post rates.

Not much rest for me though, I’m obsessed with this stuff so I’m gonna keep on trucking, if only a couple of times a week. I’ve built up a nice archive of recordings to watch to keep me going. This blog was partly set up to rattle on about what I’m watching, as much as comment on latest results and reports, so you might get a few posts like this until March.

I’ve spent the last few days watching cars with roofs (1). DTM Norisring, WTCC Estoril and WRC Finland.
(1) It should be rooves. One hoof, two hooves. One roof, two rooves.

The Norisring is an interesting place. Basically it is a short, bumpy street track of about 1.4 miles situated in the German city of Nuremberg, the track running around the Steintribüne where Hitler held his rallies. It is also FAST! These DTM cars are no slouches and the track is wide, they get decent speed along the front straight into the hairpin which looked like producing a major smash up on lap one, they did well to avoid one.
The race was entertaining, not the best I’ve seen and not the best I’ve seen at the Norisring despite this only being the second race I’ve seen at the Norisring. Last year’s race was more fun. This is my first season watching DTM in full. I like the speed and power of the cars!
Jamie Green won the race despite driving away with a fuel car still attached to the car, which fell off down the road. In any other series he’d get a penalty so the commentary – and me – were wondering how he kept the win. It was a good drive though.

The World Touring Cars were at Estoril in Portugal a week later, this is back in July. S2000 cars are not fast, at least not on tracks of this size, I don’t know why WTCC insists on visiting them. 2-litre tourers work better on shorter tracks because they just look slow, slow, slow on GP-length circuits. And you only get 12 laps per 25 minute race! A shorter track provides more laps and more chances to try that overtaking spot. Touring cars are all about fast frenetic action over 25-30 minutes, and F1-style tracks don’t provide that. (I don’t class DTM as ‘touring cars’) Okay the racing was reasonable and Tiago Monteiro raced hard to win the second race. But I just didn’t care – and I like touring cars.

World Rally was at Rally Finland in August, the craziest rally of them all. Seriously if you think you’ve seen rallying before, driving quickly along narrow roads, then think again. You’ve seen nothing until you’ve seen a Finn on Rally Finland! They push like crazy, take risks over the jumps and I don’t know how they get the cars to turn like that, but they do. Loeb won, becoming only the 4th (or 5th?) non-Scandinavian to win the event in 35 years or more.

There has been talk about taking the S2000 rules from WTCC, souping them up a bit, and using that as the basis of a new WRC car. Why can’t they also use it as the basis for a new WTCC car? They need pepping up.

I said last week that I’d recommend some music or a podcast whenever I could, just for the off-season. It might be well known or it might be relatively obscure. The first song is in the latter category.
This is from their first album, they have just released their second album. Despite being a video just play the song and look away, love it, then watch the vid later. I love the low-budget quirks like when he carefully places the drumsticks down to clap!

DARTZ! – Once, Twice, Again

If you like it check out the Buy Album link when the video ends or use the other links to see their profile to find out more (go to the L.FM artist link to find your way to their MySpace page).

(sorry if my constant edits buggered up your feeds, I was trying to make the video not autostart)

Catching up on some news

Check out Pressdog, MyNameIsIRL and other bloggers (as well as Sarah Fisher) on Trackside with Kevin & Cavin which is a weekly IndyCar radio show in the Indianapolis area and online. Proviso: I haven’t listened to it yet. I’m currently listening to Live Fast Racing podcast 18 which I know is a few weeks old now but also features Bill and Jeff and is really very good indeed.
Lots of chat about IRL, a little about F1, all good.

A busy week in the world F1 in this first week of the off-season. I’d intended to do smaller updates during the week but my accounts studies got in the way so I hope this works as a summary.

Force India
A big reshuffle in progress at the team formerly known as Jordan, with Colin Kolles (the dentist) and Mike Gascoyne (the rottweiler) both leaving at the behest of Vijay Mallya, a guy who makes Flavio Briatore look modest, but I like him. You gotta like a guy who owns a beer company and an airline. Force India will announce a new management structure on Monday.

Probably bigger news is that they have parted ways with Ferrari. Unannounced but expected is a switch to Mercedes engines and gearbox. Some sites suggest they’ll also take McLaren customer chassis. I don’t buy that because this team has been against customer cars for years regardless of what name was above the door.

Driver Update
Toro Rosso will be testing Takuma Sato again this month and it could be that he is being lined up to replace Sebastian Vettel.
Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi will both test for Honda which may lead to Barrichello losing his drive. This has led to suggestions of Rubens Barrichello moving to Toro Rosso. Sebastien Bourdais’ place isn’t necessarily fixed so they could take Sato AND Barrichello.
Nobody seems to be rumouring anything about Sutil’s seat at Force India which I’m sure is still available. I’m pretty sure Fisichella is locked in. Up and coming team (since 1991!) so it’s a seat that may just prove useful to someone.

TMR Rocks
So I rule all and that’s official. I mean what did I say the other day?
Check it out:

I propose a Superlicence for race stewards. I want these people to have had experience officiating F1 Grands Prix, or have performed a similar role in another top line or feeder championship for at least a year. I want there to be a permanent steward who attends every GP and chairs the stewards’ meetings, as Tony Scott-Andrews did.

Aaand what did the FIA announce this week?

The FIA also announced that trainee stewards – nominated by their nation’s governing body and selected by the FIA – will attend five grands prix next season in an observation role. Any national stewards officiating on a Formula One race for the first time must have observed at least one grand prix in this way to obtain their stewards’ super licence. A short CV of all trainee stewards will also be posted on the FIA website. The FIA also confirmed that ex-racers are eligible to obtain their national stewarding licence and graduate to the super licence.

So yeah, listen to me, I’m a pompous F1 fan who knows it all! Yeah. Or…not.

New Deputy
The FIA has appointed Nick Craw as Deputy President for Sport, replacing Marco Piccinini. Craw is the president of ACCUS, the American national sporting representative at the FIA (on behalf of NASCAR, IRL, ALMS, etc). This is a good thing for me because Piccinini is ex-Ferrari so to my mind that removes a layer of perceived bias. And there is again an American that has something to do with F1!

Yet Another Schedule
The FIA has released yet another version of the F1 calendar for ’09. I can’t remember the last time they’ve released so many of them. This time they’ve shunted China to April to fall between Malaysia and Bahrain. Everything at the end of the year moves up 2 weeks to fill in the gap.
There is no news regarding Canada, the last I heard a deal could still be done if the money can be found.

I was playing around with Feedburner last night after I posted this. Let me know if it causes any problems as I’m not sure what I’m doing..

Lewis Hamilton , World Champion

Congratulations once again to Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 FIA Formula One World Champion.

In Britain an audience of 8.75 million watched this race (average taken over the 3 hours of coverage), that’s 41.3% of the total viewing audience during that period. It reached a peak of 13.05 million (50.9%) although the article doesn’t state when this was (I think we can guess!).

These percentage figures are absolutely brilliant! Brazil always gets good figures due to it being one of only a few prime time races and it being the season closer – yet this is unheard of. It usually gets 6 mil and the afternoon European races get 3.5m. This race recorded the highest figures of ITV’s entire 12-year tenure as broadcaster of F1 in this country.

A few other notables, and this is where I go unashamedly patriotic since we don’t often get the chance in sport.. Hamilton is:

- the youngest ever F1 champion at 23 years, 9 months and 26 days. This beats the record set in 2005 by Fernando Alonso at 24 years, 2 months and 17 days, I seem to recall Alonso beat Emerson Fittipaldi’s long-standing record which had held firm for thirty years or so.

- I believe he is the first black champion of any major motorsport series globally.

- the 30th F1 champion.

- the 9th British champion, and this is the 13th championship won by a British driver.
- the 7th English champion, the 8th won by an Englishman (okay so he’s only half-English).
(for completeness the other 5 titles were won by Stewart and Clark, both Scotsmen)

- the 6th champion to win it in a McLaren (others: Hunt, Lauda, Prost (x3), Senna (x3), Hakkinen (x2)).

- the 8th champion to win it by a single point (others: Hawthorn 1958, P.Hill 1961, Surtees 1964, Hunt 1976, Piquet (Sr) 1981, M.Schumacher 1994, Raikkonen 2007). The 1984 title was decided by 0.5 points which is the smallest margin in F1 history, it came about after a race was aborted and half the available points were awarded.

- the 2nd driver to win the title in only his 2nd season, the other was Jacques Villeneuve.

- this was the lowest winning total since 2003, which was the last time it was won with less than 100 points.

This was Ferrari’s 16th Constructors title, their 8th in the last decade! That’s how dominant they were with Schumacher. Note that this title has ‘only’ been awarded since 1958, eight years after the Drivers title.

With thanks to Michele Merlino’s stats review at Check it out, although you may need a subscription, I’m not sure as I get the full website free as a subscriber to the print mag.

Ping America
Make sure you vote tomorrow! Stand in line all day if you have to. I’ve heard forecasts of a 90% turnout in some places which is just crazy. They are worried about getting everyone done before closing time so don’t leave it late unless you have to. Take it from someone who’s just had Tony Blair’s replacement foisted upon him with no election – VOTE! I might have voted for Brown if I’d had the chance, I’d just like the chance. Our system sucks sometimes.

I’m not going to tell you which way to vote, or which way I would vote if were American. I’d love to but can’t and won’t.

Good Luck. I’m convinced this is closer than the media is making out – anything can happen.

EDIT – yay :-)