Weekend Preview: 20-21 June 2009

Feature Events

FIA Formula 1 World Championship

– Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix
– Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England, UK
– (9/17)
– 60 laps

The final FIA Formula 1 British GP to be held at Silverstone, for the foreseeable future at least, as in 2010 this event is scheduled to move to Donington Park. Irrespective of how Donington will turn out, it will be a shame to leave Silverstone. The facilities for the crowd, the teams and the sponsors are not brilliant yet the actual racetrack is one of the best in the world. I absolutely love that camera position on the fence on the entry to Maggotts/Becketts, you really get a sense of the speed and the rapid direction change of these cars.

Quite what the motorsport landscape will look like by June 2010 is anybody’s guess – which teams will arrive at Donington? Will the circuit even be ready? Will FOTA organise their own British GP, held at Silverstone?

All this is for the future.

For now though, let us focus on this race meeting. We can reasonably expect the Brawns to be strong and today’s times from Free Practice suggest the recent Red Bull updates have strengthened that team. We could be in for a very competitive race!

While this is a home race for Jenson Button, it has historically been one of Rubens Barrichello’s stronger circuits, expect him to come into play here. As for the other teams.. forget it, they are scrapping for minor points.

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on BBC One at 12.10pm BST (race start 1pm)
, followed by the F1 Forum on the red button service
USA – DELAYED on FOX at 3pm ET (I’m not sure how much pre-race they’ll have, if none that’s still a SEVEN HOUR tape delay *shocked*)

Support races: GP2 Series, FBMW Europe, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, Historic Sportscars

BEFORE THE RACE at about 11am UK be sure to head to www.sidepodcast.com and join the live Parade Lap! It is an online radio show loosely discussing F1 with a laid-back Sunday vibe. It will end as the BBC coverage begins and there is live text commenting! Stick around on the site to live comment the race.

I intend to both live comment the race on SPC, and live tweet on Twitter. If you follow my Twitter account and are located in the US (or elsewhere) and do not wish the result to be spoiled, you should avoid Twitter completely or un-follow me until you have seen the race. Sorry, the live audience isn’t going to wait for you!

IndyCar Series

– Iowa Corn 250 Presented by Pioneer
– Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
– (7/17)
– 250 laps

The return to the fast 7/8ths of a mile oval in the Pressdog’s back yard, Iowa. Check his site for regular updates from the track during and after the weekend!
Iowa is a small oval but it is designed in such a way that the racing and the speeds are as they would be on a superspeedway. Craziness ensues! They haven’t been coming here long but it is turning into a must-see event, unfortunately year 1 was for all the wrong reasons will lots of crashes. Year 2 was much better with close racing everywhere. What will this year bring?

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra at 6pm BST
USA – LIVE on ABC at 1pm ET

Support races: Firestone Indy Lights, USAC..something or other

Other Events

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Toyota / Save Mart 350
– Infineon Raceway, Sears Point, California, USA
– (16/36)

TV Guide:
UK – LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra at 10pm Sunday
USA – LIVE on TNT at 4.30pm ET Sunday

For all other events I will list the UK TV channel only, if you are elsewhere you will have to look it up (check their website).

NASCAR Nationwide & Trucks

– Milwaukee (Saturday on ESPN2 and Friday on SPEED, respectively)

GP2 Series

– Silverstone
– Britain
– (4/10)
– Setanta Sports 1: Feature on Saturday at 2.55pm, Sprint on Sunday at 9.25am (both live)

FIA Formula 2

– Brno, Czech Republic
– (2/8)
– Eurosport & live web streaming: Race 1 at 11am Saturday, Race 2 at 12.30pm Sunday

FIA World Touring Cars

– Marriott Race of the Czech Republic
– Brno, Czech Republic
– (6/12)
– Eurosport: Race 1 at 11.45am, then F2 at 12.30, then Race 2 at 1.45pm(both Sunday)
– with F2, FMaster

FIA GT Championship

– Oscherseleben, Germany
– (3/8)
– Setanta Sports at 10:30am
– with FIA GT3 European Championship, FIA GT4 European Cup, Formul’Academy, FRenault NEC, ATS F3

Australian V8 Supercars

– Hidden Valley, Australia
– (5/14)

Grand-Am Rolex Series

– Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio, USA
– (6/12)

Super GT

– Sepang, Malaysia
– (4/9)

Intercontinental Rally Challenge

– Ypres, Belgium
– (5/12)
– Daily updates on Eurosport


I believe that’s everything, let me know if you spot something else worth noting.

For those in the UK, don’t forget the return of Top Gear on BBC Two at 8pm Sunday!

Finally, if you missed the Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark and Graham Hill docos on BBC Four earlier in the year, as I did, they are repeated in one lump on Saturday night from 8pm. Enjoy!

MotoGP back to Eurosport

Gotta love the about-face. First Dorna takes the rights from Eurosport to sell them to FTAs, then they do a deal with Eurosport France causing uproar among fans in the UK and beyond.

Autosport.com and others are reporting that Dorna have changed their minds due to pressure from fans (and Toby Moody) and will indeed once again show 125cc, 250cc and MotoGP races during 2009. The support events will be live and the main event will be delayed on British Eurosport. I don’t know the status of the other local Eurosport services so I’m afraid you’ll have to check that yourselves.

2009 MotoGP Coverage (UK)

All MotoGP races are live on BBC2. These are followed on the Red Button by MotoGP Extra, an analysis programme. Also on the Red Button are the 125 and 250 races as well as qualifying for all classes. Commentary will be as before: Charlie Cox and Steve Parrish.

British Eurosport:
All MotoGP races are delayed on British Eurosport*. 125 and 250 will be live as will all Friday and Saturday practices. The big news: The Toby & Julian Show will return!

* I expect this to mean the main channel, not Eurosport 2.

Both broadcasters will make the races available online after the event, via BBC iPlayer and Eurosport Player respectively.

BBC F1 coverage announced

The BBC officially revealed their plans for the 2009 Formula 1 season today, confirming much of what has been rumoured over the last few months (particularly on the F1 thread of the DigitalSpy forums). This is the most comprehensive coverage of Formula 1 ever seen on free-to-air TV in this country, and rivals the pay-monthly options in Germany and Italy.

Note: This is UK only. There will be no live coverage on BBC World or BBC America.

Announcement here and press pack here (4 pages, remember to click through!).

First the broadcast team. This was announced in November and I posted short profiles in my post at the time (not to mention a video of The Chain). This is a recap of the line-up:

Anchor: Jake Humphrey
Pre/Post-Race Analysts: David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan
Commentary: Jonathan Legard and Martin Brundle
Pitlane: Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie

Coverage switches from ITV1 to BBC1. Humphrey brings a different style to the anchorman role, while Legard coming from radio is a much more laid back presence in the hot seat than his two predecessors. Brundle brings his lengthy F1, Sportscar, and now TV experience back to the commentary box. Kravitz also joins from ITV with McKenzie coming from coverage of A1GP and GP2. DC and EJ should be a hoot in the post-race analysis whenever anything controversial happens!

Commentary: David Croft and Anthony Davidson
Pitlane: Holly Samos

BBC Radio 5 Live continues on from last year. Croft and Samos continue as before while Maurice Hamilton (no relation to Lewis) is replaced by the excellent but out-of-work F1 driver Davidson, who lost his drive when Super Aguri went under and ended up guesting for BBC Radio coverage last season. To be honest I rarely listen to this coverage as I’m watching the TV.

Blogs from the commentary legend that is Murray Walker, current driver Mark Webber, the current on-screen team and their producer(?) as part of an overall relaunch of the Motorsport section of the website, which has been pretty poor over the last couple of years.

Next… the details!

(I’ll recap how you can receive these channels at the end of this post.)

– Every F1 race of 2009 will air live on BBC One and Radio 5 Live.

– Every qualifying session will air live on BBC One and 5 Live, except for Brazil which will be on BBC Two due to the time zones interfering with the beginning of primetime.

– Every race and qualifying session that happens before 10am UK will get a repeat showing that afternoon. ITV has done this for some time.

– There will be a highlights show on BBC Three every Sunday evening at 7pm (not Brazil). ITV last year showed highlights at midnight.

– Each race will be available on BBC iPlayer for up to 7 days after the event. Once downloaded you can keep it for up to 30 days. I think the BBC3 highlights package will also be available if you’re short on time.

– Every Friday and Saturday practice session will air live on the BBC Red Button and online, and 5 Live Sports Extra. No word on whether the TV will feature radio commentary, for the moment I am assuming it will. ITV last year did not have any commentary on their online feed.

Red Button
BBC Interactive’s Red Button service for Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin customers will feature some special delights:

– A choice of commentary: either the TV or Radio feed. Hell of choice between Brundle and Davidson, as well as being quick drivers they are both natural broadcasters.

– All practice sessions will be on the red button, not on BBC 1, 2, 3.

– After qualifying and race coverage has finished on BBC1 there will be an ‘Interactive Forum’ on the RB. This is a phone/text/email show with talk from DC and EJ.

– During the race there will be a choice of screens:
1) The main BBC One feed with choice of commentary;
2) Split screen featuring the main feed in one window, onboards in a second window, and a leaderboard;
3) Rolling highlights of the race so far;

Those on the DigitalSpy forum think #2 will be similar to Premiere in Germany, which looks like this:

(with thanks to whoever I stole that from)

Um. Can I just say? Ultra-cool!

No word yet on whether this will be extended for qualifying, or jut race-only, but it’s pretty cool either way.

I am seething a little here because I don’t get the interactive service until Digital Switchover occurs in my region in May. Luckily those streams are online! They’ll be geo-locked to UK-only but I’m sure the techies among you will figure out a way around that. And it means my first Red Button trials will occur during the Monaco Grand Prix – kick ass!

There is a very high degree of likeliness that we will see a Top Gear F1 Special sooner rather than later. Lee McK has already done the lap! I’m having visions of the TG team wandering around the F1 paddock, not during race coverage but as a part of the next series.

5 Live will have a preview show on Friday nights of race weekends, as they have done for a while now. Also continuing is the post-race Chequered Flag podcast featuring driver interviews. I have to say I’ve completely missed the boat on both of those shows, I will try and catch up with them this year. All you international readers should be able to download the podcast freely.


Okay I think that’s everything, but I’m sure to have missed something – please let me know in the comments!

How To Get These Channels

BBC1 and BBC2 are obviously available everywhere, if you don’t know how to get those you aren’t in the UK so none of this post applies to you…
BBC3 and Red Button are on digital TV only. You should be able to find BBC3 easily enough on Freeview, Freesat, Sky and Virgin Media. To go Interactive just hit Red during any F1 broadcast.

5 Live is on 909 and 693 Medium Wave, DAB and online.
5 Live Sports Extra is on DAB and online.

I’m not sure the online feed for radio will work , it’s historically been blacked out during F1, so use the TV feed.

I’m sure any American/Canadian/other readers will be turning to our mutual friend Justin for a little help if they don’t like their own domestic feed..

* * *
PS – Meesh sez the USF1 announcement was a washout so I’ll not recap that today, head over to her blog instead.
PPS – Got my tax exam result last week. Pass. *Yay*

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!
* * * *

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.

ITV’s Farewell Montage

No matter what you think of ITV’s coverage since 1997 this weekend marks the end of an era. The ITV Sport / North One Productions people had the rug pulled out from under them when the top brass decided to cancel the contract two years early and grab more football rights instead.

During the qualifying show today they aired this goodbye piece, which will undoubtedly be in the pre-race show as well. It starts off being the usual downhearted ‘sorry to be leaving’ thing (and your heart sinks when you hear that damned song again)… clips of Lewis “when I was a young boy”… and then they have a bit of fun!

Great to see a sense of humour from the ITV team, I wish they’d shown it a little earlier. The sudden stop halfway through to show the words “place commercial here” after all the shit they’ve been through with timing of ads, the reposte from James Allen to the criticisms of basically every internet forum and blog around, and the F1 community saying when you’re gone we’ll carry on.. Lewis’ face when Steve sings!

Nice to hear Murray Walker again, and a reminder of how good Allen was in the pitlane role.

Cool way to bow out. I hope they have a longer version to close out the coverage tomorrow because so much Formula 1 history has occurred since their eventful first season and this version only covers a tiny part of it.

For 2009 ITV’s racing activities are limited to live British Touring Cars on ITV4, as with this season. I hope they are able to develop that coverage a little more – and it’s pretty good already.

Goodbye ITV, and thanks.

I’ll see if I can dig up some more YouTube links of ITV’s history in F1 for posting from Monday onwards, as a send-off for them. I’ll also post a little overview of their good and bad points over the years as I will remember them going forwards.

All Quiet..

There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of news around at the moment, racing news, though the Autosport.com Paddock Life for Hungary noted that a lot of the non-specialist racing press (i.e. the newspaper people) were heading out to China for the Olympics rather than show up in Hungary. Can’t say I blame them given Hungary’s reputation for tedious races. OTOH there’s the big buildup and expectation for the Olympics only to get there and realise that most of the events are completely boring, too, since most of us only give a crap about the track events. Maybe that’s the just the racing fan in me but I don’t think so.

Oh, one completely off topic note:

I’m writing this with the aid of a pint of Carlsberg (it’ll be red wine in a minute), dimmed lights, and the band Yndi Halda, particularly the song Dash And Blast which is nearly 17 minutes long with no words and contains maybe the greatest riff/hook/whatever you call it I’ve heard. Go to the second link there and hit the big play button in the flash player on the right, wait for the long quiet intro, then carry on reading with ears open. Hopefully it’ll carry on playing into the 2nd track.

BTW these are links to Last.fm. I’ll probably link there often as it is the best site on the internet, you can see my profile by clicking the appropriate bit in the red box to the right.

Okay back to it.

So the specialist F1 press has continued albeit seemingly quieter than usual, apart from the big Mosely interview on Autosport.com (and in the mag) which I’ll read later because it is fucking long.

All the news at the mo seems to be in IndyCar with the apparent bluff/double bluff of Kanaan playing Ganassi via Robin Miller, so that he (Kanaan, not Miller) secures better terms with AGR.
Clever him. It brings into light the fact that perhaps we don’t always know what the hell is going on behind the scenes, how people manipulate the press to get the result they want.

Also around is the ’09 IRL schedule, which is fine, not spectacular but fine. The longterm Champ Car fanatics love the addition of more road/street tracks – although not necessarily the good ones. The longterm IRL fanatics hate that fact and want to return to the roots of the IRL – all ovals, or 80-90% ovals minimum. Hopefully these idiots on both sides will die out soon, or at least shut the hell up.

The more reasonable fans appreciate good racing wherever it is. They also recognise that Homestead and Belle Isle are shite and should be dropped forthwith. I really hope the IRL isn’t taking or keeping some venues purely to fill an oval/road quota or ratio because that would truly suck especially with some excellent venues currently missing out.
Elkhart Lake, Mont Tremblant, the Michigan oval. I don’t really care for street tracks so let’s not go the Champ Car route, just have three solid street events and leave that there.

And it looks like by the time of this year’s race or just after, Surfers Paradise will get announced as an A1GP event for ’09. They dropped Eastern Creek near Sydney for the upcoming season. All of which is great for A1GP who will be in the 2nd year of their relaunch by then and will be bigger than now, but that ought to be an Indy race.

The other thing around is the US TV deal to move from ESPN to Versus, a smaller channel. At first this looked bad. Then people on other blogs started commenting that the focus Versus will give might actually help. Seems to be helping NHL, they say. I have no idea about that. I just hope it works, and I hope they get the international deals right whether that means staying with current deals or moving on.

That’s all for now, more in a day or two. I’m disappearing for a bit to avoid the news and blog sites spoiling the IndyCar Kentucky race which I think is happening right now, and which I won’t get to see until midweek. If I get the chance I’ll write some test notes on GP2 as a prep for the upcoming IRL and F1 races.

You’re probably at the bit where they go “lalala” near the end. I told you they were good.