ITV F1: goodbye or good riddance?

2008 F1 season

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Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix will be the final F1 broadcast by ITV.

Since taking over from the BBC as the UK’s F1 broadcaster at the 1997 Australian Grand Prix, ITV will bow out having covered 206 grands prix. But because they interrupt races with adverts they have missed over 31 races’ worth of live action on average.

Adverts are just one reason why the channel has attracted so much comment and criticism from fans in its 12 years as British F1 broadcaster. Will it be goodbye or good riddance when the transmission ends?


An improvement

It’s easy to criticise ITV – because it’s easy to forget how limited the coverage of F1 on the BBC often was before it lost the contract at the end of 1996. It was only late in the life of ‘Grand Prix’ – BBC’s much-loved F1 programme – that live qualifying coverage was featured.

Nor did the BBC ever solve to problem of how to replace James Hunt. Hunt was the perfect foil to Murray Walker in the commentary box, but successor Jonathan Palmer was less successful.

Martin Brundle

When ITV took up the F1 rights in 1997 it solved the problem straight away, by pairing Walker with Martin Brundle. In many ways the boundless enthusiasm of Walker and the experience and wry humour of Brundle was superior to the old Walker-Hunt pairing.

ITV’s F1 coverage began brightly. It helped that 1997 was an exciting season with one of the most heart-stopping championship finales ever seen. But with established F1 pundits like Simon Taylor and Tony Jardine, I found a lot to like in ITV’s approach.

Brundle has gone from strength to strength. In 2005 he faced down Bernie Eccletone on the grid at Indianapolis about the chaos unfolding around them. In 2006 he pursued Max Mosley in the same fashion at Monza over Fernando Alonso’s ludicrous penalty.

That the FIA are now apparently leaning on the BBC not to hire him next year because they are intimidated by his criticism is a testament to the quality of job Brundle has done. The BBC must bring him on board for 2009.

Good riddance

Over time I found myself increasingly frustrated with the changes to ITV’s coverage. But the worst problem with it was there from the start: the adverts.


I know F1 fans outside Britain who’ve always had to put up with adverts during F1 races will find me complaining about ITV’s a bit petty – but I make no apology for it. Especially today, when digital television and the internet means they could easily offer an advert-free service for a subscription fee – something other racing series have been doing for years.

Nor did ITV ever bother trying to use picture-in-picture to show the race alongside adverts, which is common practice in other countries.

The arrival of adverts meant we all had to get used to missing some of the most exciting moments of the past decade-and-a-bit.

Damon Hill’s shock pass on Michael Schumacher at the Hungaroring in 1997? ITV missed it. The puncture that ended Schumacher’s title hopes at Suzuka in 1998? ITV missed it. The gearbox glitch that ruined Lewis Hamilton’s title bid at Interlagos last year? ITV missed it.

This is just a handful of examples. One of the most infamous occurred in 2005 – not long after I began this site. ITV made such a botch of the San Marino Grand Prix coverage the tense final laps as Fernando Alonso battled to keep Schumacher at bay were largely missed.

Based on 2007 figures*, ITV have missed so much live action during live Grands Prix it amounts to over 31 races worth of footage.

And for several years live qualifying sessions at certain rounds was missed entirely as ITV chose to show other programmes.

Commentary team

Having solved the ‘how to replace James Hunt’ problem, ITV didn’t do as good a job with the ‘how to replace Murray Walker’ problem.

Admittedly it was always going to be fiendishly tough to replace someone like Murray, to whom the cliche ‘national institution’ is often applied with good reason.

Writing on earlier this week Mike Doodson said:

Although a couple of venomous websites have long had it in for James Allen as ITV’s lead race commentator, I find him both knowledgeable and authoritative. Yes, his forced cheeriness can be irritating at times, but he almost always susses out race strategies correctly and makes far fewer mistakes than Murray Walker used to do.

I don’t agree that it’s just ‘a couple of venomous websites’ (Sniff Petrol?) that don’t like James Allen. If there’s one thing I’ve done a lot of, it’s talk to other British F1 fans. And the near universal verdict on Allen is not a positive one.

It’s a shame because Allen is clearly as passionate about F1 as you or I. I like his writing (read his last book on Michael Schumacher), I thought he suited his earlier role of pit lane reporter very well, he’s joined us in the world of F1 blogging, and he’s not as partisan as you might think – in a recent column on ITV-F1 he re-affirmed his belief that Alonso is the best driver in F1 today. But I just don’t like his commentary style.

Allen also gets it in the neck for ITV’s partisanship but I think this is an editorial policy they are expected to adhere to. I thought the BBC trod the line between balanced reportage and national sympathy very well – I don’t think ITV is aware such a line exists. My assumption is, from day one, they’ve tried to drive up viewing figures for advertising purposes by over-selling the British angle.

Somewhere along the line Jardine, Taylor and the purpose-built studio disappeared. Now we have Steve Rider and Mark Blundell struggling to make themselves heard. This at least was an improvement over the dark days of Beverley Turner interviewing a celebrity hairdresser on how he prepares his Sunday roast. I’m not making this up.

An episode last year highlighted the sorry state of ITV’s F1 coverage – and the lack of comprehension in traditional media about the contempt most fans hold it in. After a frantic Canadian Grand Prix which saw Robert Kubica suffer a huge crash and Lewis Hamilton score his first win, ITV rushed through the post-event coverage so they could hurry on to other programming. After masses of criticism from fans ITV published a pitiful attempt at an apology.

Despite the hammering they took from the public, ITV were inexplicably handed a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award – and quietly took the apology down for their website.

*2007 average race length was 1hr 34min, and ITV showed 4hr 6min of adverts in total. Projecting those averages across its 206 races gives a total of 49 hrs, 40 minutes. See here for more: How much F1 did ITV miss showing adverts in 2007?

The end

The weighting of this article will give you a clear impression that I’m more in the ‘good riddance’ camp than ‘goodbye’. But I think we should remember ITV have brought some improvements to F1 coverage. Broadcasting the Friday practice sessions online this year was a big step forward.

ITV has at least done enough with their coverage that it won’t just be enough for the BBC to take over next year with ad-free coverage and expect that alone to be welcomed as an improvement. British fans will expect online coverage, HD footage, and most importantly, Martin Brundle.

What’s your verdict on ITV’s 12 years as Britain’s F1 broadcaster? Are you a reader from abroad who has to put up with worse?

More on BBC’s F1 coverage in 2009

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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93 comments on “ITV F1: goodbye or good riddance?”

  1. I agree with Tony Dodgkins, Allens not bad, hes knowledgeble and a genuine fan. But it seems we just dont make commentators who sound like their sport anymore, ted Lowe snooker, that old bloke who did the horses and the even older one who did the tennis, dan maskell pron: “Deyan Meyaskell.”

    Murray was a complete scatter brain but his pitch and tone were perfect as were his melodramatic pronouncemounts. Allen didnt have a chance against that. But all in all theyve had a good run and have raised the bar. No adverts and the chain are almost all the beeb need to raise it further but please no lifestyle pieces.

  2. schumi the greatest
    29th October 2008, 11:30

    Well i only started watching f1 seriously in 97 when itv already had the contract. my main grumble has always been the adverts.

    but there are, as you say keith, some positives. the build up to the races has always been good in my opionion, often a whole hour of build up with features and interviews and technical features.

    but there are plenty of things itv has done which i dont like, plenty of people who read this site compalin about the bias towards hamilton (myself included) but ther’s always been a birtish angle to the coverage. 98 was all about coulthard (all the adverts in the week leading up to the race would focus on him) the same thing happened in 99, only this time with eddie irvine.

    though my main issue is the team of experts they have there now. Other than brundle i think they are all crap. blundell offers nothing whatso ever and i dont like james allens commentary (if i hear about hamiltons drive in gp2 at istanbul 06 never again it would be too soon)

    i just hope the bbc leanrs from what itv has done good and bad and find the perfect soulution.

  3. People are very harsh on James Allen – and it’s not always deserved. For some reason his enthusiasm has never been as endearing as Murray Walker’s – maybe if he were 80 it would be different. But Allen/Brundle are a much better pairing than Walker/Hunt ever were in the old BBC days, when coverage was very limited indeed.

    But both BBC and ITV coverage are better than many countries. I’ve had many frantic channel flicking moments in hotels across Europe and Central/North America only to find that local coverage starts literally moments before the race.

    Here’s hoping that lack of adverts will make the BBC coverage. What’s most annoying about ITV is when you get up at four in the morning, watch a few minutes of coverage before the first commercial, only to find that the lack of middle-of-the-night advertisers doesn’t stop ITV filling a yawning gap with previews of its own programmes.


    I live in Belgium, an before F1 moved to ITV, I loved to watch the race on BBC (Murray Walker played a big rol in that).
    When the BBC ended there broadcasts, I was forced to watch F1 on the VRT (Belgium national broadcast). Bad commentaries, if the race time was in conflict with an other show, you could see a 30 min summary late in the evening, but no rerun. Or no race at all.

    Viva la BBC

  5. i live in singapore and the only channels which show f1 races are cable channels (ie. i have to pay a subscription fee) – adverts are rife too but thankfully i haven’t really missed anything of great importance over the last two seasons

  6. Cameron aka. SkinBintin
    29th October 2008, 12:08

    Here in New Zealand we have to pay for a Sky Television subscription to watch F1 Qualifying and Grand Prix’s. They just play the ITV content. It still has ad breaks, even though we are PAYING for it. So annoying. Hopefully, Sky has retained the rights even though british rights have moved to BBC. I’d much rather keep British commentators than NZ moving to converage from a different country.

  7. On TV adverts in general, Mike Doodson has a point in his Brazil GP article:

    … interrupting an F1 race in order to sell stuff is, and always will be, an insult to the viewers’ intelligence: if the TV broadcasters don’t dare to do it to football or rugby, what gives them the idea that they can inflict it on F1?

    Think of the outrage there would be when TV stations put commercials in the middle of a football/soccer match…

  8. One thing that you guys in Britain get that we don’t get in Canada on TSN is decent pre-race coverage. It is nice to see the guys doing interviews in the paddock and small segments prior to the grands prix.

    In Canada on TSN we have Vic Rauter in the studio in Toronto talking to a bloke who is on a cell phone at the race. Their predictions are horrible and most of the news they talk about is at least a week old. They have no up to the minute information on anything and they just make a hash of it for a half hour while you watch a mainly video only TV feed from FOM. At least they sydicate the ITV feed for the face with Martin Brundle et al. For the Canadian Grand Prix, TSN does it’s own coverage.

  9. Good riddance. I only started watching F1 in about 2002-03 so ITV is all I’ve known but the adverts have been a constant annoyance the whole time.
    I have a feeling though that the BBC coverage may not live up to the high expectations we seem to have. They’re going to be just as biased towards Hamilton, and may not have as much pre-race build up and for all we know the new team might work terribly together and we may end up missing Allen (!).
    But as long as I can watch a full, uninterrupted race then I’ll be happy. And as long as the BBC follow ITV’s lead and broadcast Friday practice somewhere (red button perhaps).

  10. I’m glad it’s gone, I was gutted when I heard ITV were going to be broadcasting F1. I have hated it since before it even started – adverts and F1 don’t mix, and don’t get me started on James Allen.

  11. Mark my words, we will miss ITV coverage pretty soon when the BBC take over next year. The criticism of Allen has been mainly from Hamilton haters who do not want his name even mentioned. I don’t think any of the presenters are unduly partisan considering Lewis is British and vying for the championship – have a look at Spanish and Italian coverage for real bias. I will miss all of them – I think Rider is very professional and good at being an anchor, Blundell is a warm, comfy figure, Brundle is great at the technical side as is Ted Kravitz, I must say I won’t miss Louise Goodman, and James Allen is a very good enthusiastic commentator. Sometimes the “mob” is not the best judge and the BBC seem to be more and more led by mob mentality nowadays.

  12. @Keith:

    British fans will expect online coverage, HD footage, and most importantly, Martin Brundle.

    More importantly, fans will also expect Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” as the theme tune to the GP coverage, although knowing the BBC it will be a Big Beat remix featuring a rap from Dizzee Rascal.
    As for ITV; it speaks volumes that people are celebrating the return to the BBC purely because there will be no adverts. You can’t come back from an ad break with the words “You are now looking at the new world champion because THIS happened whilst you were away” and have people respect you as a sports broadcaster. They will be remembered for all the on-track incidents they missed through adverts than they will for all the good stuff they brought to F1 telly coverage.

  13. I’ll miss Steve Rider’s wobbly mike hand…

  14. S Hughes –

    The criticism of Allen has been mainly from Hamilton haters who do not want his name even mentioned.

    No it isn’t. Before Hamilton there was Button. but even then most of the criticism I’ve heard about Allen comes down to his style.

  15. ITV generally improved over the years, but made a few mistakes along the way, all of which have been mentioned in the article. Although I was never a fan of James Allen in any role.

    The BBC will be providing coverage of all F1 sessions and most support races next year (red button), so I expect it will feel like a quantum leap from what ITV have been offering. As long as the commentary is acceptable (I’m not sure I’ll like it), and the bias is reduced to almost nil, it should be pretty good.

  16. Its Hammer time
    29th October 2008, 12:38

    I am probably on my own with this one. I find myself at work sometimes subconsciously humming the theme tune of the Sony High Def Adverts on F1 program advert breaks – does anyone know who sings it? I have always hated the presence of adverts, but for some reason I am fond of this tune !

  17. ade, I would be quite happy with Dizzee Rascal doing the theme tune. Why should that be deemed bad? He is a great artist. Honestly some people are determined to be stuck in the middle ages and never want things to progress. I hope they don’t bring back The Chain, but I bet they will – giving in to mob mentality instead of thinking of something new and having integrity.

    Keith, I disagree. If you look at the ITV F1 forum, most if not all of the complaints about James Allen are that he is biased towards Lewis Hamilton (which he is totally not actually). I once phoned ITV to praise them for their brilliant coverage of the Monaco 2008 GP, and the woman I spoke to sounded relieved as she said they have so many complaints about bias towards Lewis Hamilton. That was from the horse’s mouth.

    I hope the last programme of the Brazilian GP is totally about Lewis though – hey they have nothing to lose. I always found it perplexing that no-one ever complains about the bias towards Henman and the English football team or the British Olympic team, but when it comes to Hamilton, there is an uproar if commentators seems to favour him and want him to win. I put it down to racism.

  18. Keith, just look at the comments on here to see that most are complaining about Lewis-bias when it comes to James Allen.

    I too will miss Steve Rider’s wobbly mike hand.

    And I will miss the theme tune.

  19. yorricksfriend
    29th October 2008, 12:49

    Here an Australia we get the feed from Britain on channel 10 which is a commercial channel so we won’t be getting ad free races anyway

  20. Does BBC offer sports on iPlayer after the event?

    I’m looking forward to no adverts during races.

    Honestly don’t care if there’s not much build up to the race as long as they show qualifying live (they should offer practise sessions on iplayer too IMHO) and have some coverage of technical aspects of the sport.

    I hope they get Brundle on board, can’t think of anyone else who’d do it justice (and please Beeb keep his grid-walks too!!) and DC ould be a welcome addition too. Ted Kravitz should keep his pit-lane reporter position too I think.

    The one thing I’m really hoping the BBC coverage brings is use of the Red Button or online to choose different camera angles etc, maybe the main camera feed with no commentary and purely team radio traffic, or the option to have the timing screen up at the same time etc. If it’s in HD then I’ll be at the in-laws for as many races as possible since they have HD and big-screen tv and I don’t!!

  21. S Hughes – That may be the case now, but many people were complaining about Allen long before Hamilton arrived in F1.

  22. I’m not sure what I actually dislike about James Allen. He seems like a decent sort. I think it may be that he is the person chosen to do all the “if you have never ever seen an F1 race before” stuff which gets old really quick. He does say some daft things sometimes but it is a hard job.

    As far as the partisanship thing goes, I don’t mind that. Provided it is constructive. Tell us the technical aspects of why lewis is good, examine something, but a musical montage is never good and there have been too many.

    As for the adverts. I wonder if they have every sold anything? I switch chanels, gets drinks, check blogs, etc. I certainly don’t watch the adverts.

  23. @HammerTime – Def Leppard

    I have to agree mostly with SHughes, though I’ve found James Allen increasingly more irritating this year… and in some respects he has turned me off Hamilton (and before anyone starts, I think it is amazing what Lewis has brought to the sport and he will make a worthy champion)… Louise I will miss, particularly her chats with DC (maybe in that respect her retirement in line with his is not so bad). Adverts don’t bother me so much (though SanMarino’05 was a complete c_ck up!) as they offer time for nature breaks.

    In particular I’ll miss that lovely girl waving the chequered flag in the intro… but not the scary asian bloke!

  24. Keith’s right about the Allen critics. They’ve always been there. And they have a point. My favourite Allenism is when he was talking about the importance of tactics in F1 and started off at a tangent from which he could never really recover – “F1 is like chess – a game. A game played by two people. In a garden.” I think Martin Brundle brought it to a halt by pointing out something that was actually happening on track.

    My second favourite Allenism is when he tried to say that someone was driving gingerly, but started the sentence in such a way that he had to use an adjective rather than an adverb. “That was a very, uh, ginger lap.” he muttered, realised it didn’t sound right and tried again, only to repeat himself. Again, Martin Brundle rescued him.

    But the Hamilton bias is explained by viewing figures. They went up last year, and it wasn’t just Allen who talked more about Hamilton than other drivers. There was a letter in F1 Racing magazine last year complaining about all the covers featuring Hamilton, to which the editor replied that the reason was economic – the magazine sold more copies with Lewis on the front than any other driver.

  25. I agree that in the beginning of ITV coverage, F1 managed a mini-renaissance. The magazine format of the show highlighted the BBC’s lack of enthusiam for the sport by showing as little as they possibly could in a slot on Sunday Grandstand. For quite a while, I did not even mind the adverts too much. Except for some of the cited incidents that were missed, the inclusion of adverts on rather predictable races did not change my enjoyment. As time has marched on, I feel things have deteriorated. How come 45 minutes of football can be watched without an advertisement break but F1 is forced to have one every ten minutes or so? Contraversely I will also add that prior to the appearence of a certain Lewis Hamilton, the programming remained fairly objective. Now, if Lewis hasn’t finished in the top three, ITV believes that no-one is interested in what they have to say and will cut away from the official drivers press conference for an interview with him. I’m sorry but that never used to happen to any of the previous or current British drivers. It’s not as if Coulthard or Button get asked about their races in preference to the drivers press conference so why do they think they can do this with Lewis? I like Lewis as a racer and I’m glad he does well and I’m a patriot but thoroughly resent the blatent bias that has crept in.

    I hope the BBC will retain the good aspects ITV coverage has introduced and fingers crossed, Martin Brundle despite the FIA allegedly attempting to stop this. The lack of adverts will now be seen as a big plus. I also hope that James Allen will be lost in the transfer. I don’t have anything personal against either him or his knowledge or passion for the sport but this doesn’t not sit well in a presenting or commentary capacity. Perhaps he should stick to writing good books whereby he has an opportunity to think before he speaks instead of the verbal diarrhea we’ve had to contend with as audiences of F1.

  26. but when it comes to Hamilton, there is an uproar if commentators seems to favour him and want him to win. I put it down to racism

    S Hughes – racism? please. I’m a huge Hamilton fan but sometimes I almost find myself wanting him not to win if it will shut up the biased morons at ITV. I want fair, balanced coverage. It is nothing to do with race whatsoever.

  27. Okay Keith, I didn’t know that. I was just going by the complaints over the last 2 years.

  28. The Chain, The Chain, The Chain. If they don’t bring that back, I’ll cry. Still brings a shiver to my spine when I hear it to this day. Oh… and no adverts will be a bonus too.

    I don’t know if it’s even possible with FOM, but could the BBC offer a ‘red button’ service whereby you could pick your own cameras, e.g. follow your favourite driver for a few laps? Also, switching from TV commentary to 5 Live has saved my sanity on many occasion whilst watching the football.

  29. I was indifferent to Allen when he first took over from the Fiery-Trowsered Walker, but those first few years when Ferrari were dominating, his blind enthuiasm and excitement for one car winning everything, during a time when a lot of us lot were just getting terribly bored with it, really irked me. I’m a proud owner of a ‘Stop the Cock’ t-shirt.

    I really hope the BBC take Brundle, I’m sure they will, and probably already have, I doubt the FIA’s moanings will have ‘owt to do with it in the end.

    I have to agree though, the BBC’s coverage was not really top notch in ’96, and felt that ITV’s first year really showed what could be done with F1 broadcasting. Apart from the adverts of course, but then, none of us will miss those. neither will I miss the sponsor’s adverts before and after the title sequences going into and out of the ad breaks… this year with Sony’s chopped-in-half Mustang, Honda’s lawnmower racing a couple of years back… and those awful clucking chickens, they were the worst.

    Bring it on BBC… and bring The Chain with you, or else!

  30. I too feel that there’s not much wrong with James Allen’s writing. My main gripe about his commentary is the fact that he often doesn’t ‘commentate’. I’m shouting at the TV as one car dives inside the other & all we get from JA is ‘and there’s Webber putting a move on Trulli’ spoken with about as much excitement as if he was buying socks at M&S. I mean, the Test Match Special commentators do a better job of raising my pulse & they’re commentating on cricket – on the radio…

  31. as someone who’s only watched F1 for just over a year or so, i missed the bbc age so can’t really compare the two.

    but, and this might just be me, does anyone else find murray walker’s commentary even more annoying than james allen’s?

    their both obviously passionate about the sport, but walker just got so excited, so easily! watching older grands prix on youtube, murray’s nasal whine and loose grasp of reality really starts to grate on me for a while.

    the only thing that really annoys me about james allen is the constant repetitiveness of certain phrases (“…number crunchers who would normally work in investment banks…”) and his bizarrely obvious disdain of felipe massa (watch whenever massa isn’t in front, allen rips it out of him everytime!)

    but walker’s overexcitedness, plus his seemingly undying love for michael schumacher, just doesn’t work for me. although walker being corrected numerous times by martin brundle after schumacher crashed at the 99 British Grand Prix was quite entertaining.

  32. I agree with Keith’s article. When BBC used to cover F1 you often just got the race, no qualifying and no race build up. My main problems with ITV are the adverts and James Allen, I was not a fan of Allen long before Hamilton was in F1, but if I had to list specific points that I didn’t like about him I may struggle, it is more just his general style.

    ITV’s coverage of Hamilton hasn’t really bothered me (probably because I am a fan) but I do admit they do overdo it at times. I remember when Button entered the sport, a lot of people didn’t seem to like him and blamed the extra coverage ITV gave him and said it wasn’t justified because he wasn’t successful, which is different to Hamilton because he has been successful from the first race.

    I predict the BBC coverage will be similar to what they do with MotoGP at the moment, but with qualifying shown on one of the main channels. They will defiantly use the Red button for some part of their coverage, be it different camera angles, timing screens or just to show some of the regular coverage when the schedules are full during other sporting events such as the Olympics, Football World Cup, Six Nations Rugby, Wimbledon etc. So a set top box is on my shopping list before the new season.

    I would be happy if BBC coverage was about the same as ITV but without the ad breaks, they have to make sure they get Brundle and use the classic theme tune with no remixes, (I never knew it was called The Chain before people mentioned it when BBC got the rights back).

    I agree with post 16 Its Hammer Time, in that I quite like the 2 songs Sony has used on its adverts this year. Although I don’t know the titles I wouldn’t be surprised if the first one was by AC/DC or Iron Maiden.

  33. Man, as we used to say here in Brazil, “vocês estão reclamando de barriga cheia,” something like “you´re complaining too much with too much food on the table…”

    Here, in Brazil, we have the qualifying at Saturday and the race at Sunday. Anything more. NO free practice, NO pre shows before the race, NO post race interviews and NO show about Formula 1 on pre season or post season. The lead commenter is a shame, a guy who haven´t even a half technical background that James Allen have. He comments volleyball, football, basketball, swimming, athletics, Olympic Games, boxe, tennis…

    This guy is the lead commenter from the mainly TV Channel at Brazil. In fact, his mission is to bring more “emotion” to transmissions, even when what we need is good and basic information…

    About the ads, I think it could be annoying. Here, the guys use just a logo on the top left of the screen and a narration with the sponsor slogan. But, if someone ask me, I would easily switch the coverages…

    About Allen, well, I like him. The first time I watch the iTV coverage was in the middle of the last year when I started to download the races, and I loved everything, including James Allen, maybe because I put him in context with my own TV coverage, here in Brazil…

    I think that you must to give a credit to iTV about the free feed in internet, something that I am feeling hopeless about it in Brazil.

    But I think S Hughes is right, you will miss the iTV very soon because you can satisfy 100% percent of the audience and what I noticed is that the complains come from the F1 hard core fans, not from the mass. And if the mass start to complain…

  34. Jeff, do you also object to the mawkish raving over the British Olympic team or the Henmania or the rabid OTT hoo-ha over the English football team? I don’t think they are unduly biased. Why shouldn’t they want the British driver to win? James Allen is always going on about how he thinks Alonso is the best driver anyway (he’s wrong BTW).

  35. The BBC have already announced their line up for F1 in 2009, and it includes Martin Brundle. David Couthard was mentioned as an ‘in studio’ expert commentator.

    I don’t mind the bias toward Hamilton as I’m a massive fan and it’s well deserved. There used to be as much bias towards Button, and what for??

    I don’t understand all the negative stuff against our two top sportsmen i.e. Lewis Hamilton and Andy Murray right now. We should be made up we have a couple of winners for a change!!

  36. Allen’s problem is he rarely describes the actual action. Murray could make a dull race interesting because even if there was only one overtaking move for 14th place he would actually DESCRIBE what was happening, and in a way that would make you think it was for the lead…

    What Allen does is spend time warbling on about something related to F1, and then tacks on at the end “driver X has passed Y”. He’s meant to commentate on what’s happening on the track, but spends more time talking about what’s going on round the periphery of the sport.

    I think he’s undeniably passionate and knowledgeable about the sport, but he’s a dreadful commentator. He was excellent in the pits, and he would have done well in the Blundell-type pundit role, but he’s not a natural commentator. He was cheap, which helped, I think.

    In terms of ITV on the whole they did move the bar on from the BBC. It took a while, but we eventually did get all the quali sessions live – for a bit it required digital channels (ITV2/3/4) but eventually all were live on ITV1. We got Friday practice on the web this year, which was nice, although why there’s no FP3 is a mystery, and the web stream is often a bit flaky. We get a lot of time pre-race, and we’ve got a lot of time pre-quali this year, although arguably they fill it much more poorly than they did 10 years ago – Rider and Blundell waflle for a hour without saying anything of substance. Post-race has always been poor – spending an hour talking about what might happen and 15 minutes talking about what DID happen has never made any sense, and why they could not utilise ITV4 for post race discussion is again a mystery.

    I’ll be sad to see them have their final race, as I’ve grown accustomed to them, like a comfy slipper. But what’s being planned for the BBC next year sounds very impressive and is going to lift the bar yet higher.

  37. David Watkins
    29th October 2008, 15:32


    Nail. On. Head.

  38. Do you know what, I don’t really care! If I was offered to watch F1 without advert breaks then I would of course prefer it, but I think ITV have done some decent things. I cannot remember a BBC highlights show analysing the key points of the race after it had been completed, it was straight to a Murray talk over of the points and then, see you in 2 weeks time. ITV do this, even if they have cut a live race early due to schedules. BBC back in the days of Grandstand broadcast F1 delayed so they could play parts of F1 in between people hiting small red balls into little holes. So I think ITV have had a positive impact on the shape of a F1 programme.

    The point is that, it is the on track action that is what makes F1 coverage exciting or not! I have never though – That race would have been extremely exciting if James Allen had not commented on it, or visa versa. Murray is not coming back, get over it, and accept that no one else is Murray.

    ITV is very bias to British drivers and that can annoy some people, but at the same time the BBC covered F1 and whenever a British driver won the title Murray Walker gushed with joy and was never objective in his reporting style – but because it was Murray we let him off.

    I think ITV have done a decent job and I would say thanks for the memories and actually making more of a commitment to it that BBC in the early 90’s.

    My feeling at this stage without seeing BBC’s plans for F1 coverage is “Great no adverts” but “Better the devil you know”

    Steve Riders wobbly hand R.I.P!

  39. Good Riddance !

    ITV may have improved a little on some areas of the coverage compared to the BBC and I will be forever gratefull that they hired Martin Brundle.

    Unfortunately their constant race to the lowest common denominator makes me want to scream. Fair enough, there are some casual fans that don’t understand the intricacies of the sport but do they have to talk to us as if we’re 6 years old, forever repeating themselves about white lines on tyres or whatever favourite rule they’ve got this month ?

    With the exception of Brundle & at times Kravitz (and formerly Jardine, and Hill when he fills in for MB) the ITV team are a waste of space, I know several people who watch the race but listen to radio commentary just to get away from Allen’s constant drone.

    I’ve been in despair since the day he left the pit-lane & moved into the commentary box, some old F1 presenters were a bit dull or annoying but no-one ruins a race like James Allen can.

    Hopefuly we’ll also get a bit more balance on the BBC, the constant fawning over British drivers is just too much, there are other, and in many cases better, drivers out there but the most we see of them is a 30 second promo before going back to see what Lewis had for breakfast.
    I’m British but that doesn’t mean I automatically love all British drivers.

    And I’ve missed more action than I care to remember thanks to their ad-breaks too.

    In all I’d give ITV 4/10 – could do a lot better !

  40. Good Riddance, but i hope the Beeb employ brundle, he is one of the few ex driver commentators who hasnt been out of the sport for too long and has a huge passion for the sport, just need someone to do most of the talking and bbc would be onto a winner. Clarkson anyone haha

    I’m not sure about hammond doing steve rider’s bit, i find his voice rather annoying when he does the power laps on TG

  41. Re. James Allen.

    Many people complain about his commentating but state that he is passionate and knowledgeable about the sport.

    Passionate – definitely: Knowledgeable – no.

    He may know a lot about the history of the sport and the politics within it, but as far as racing, strategy, overtaking etc go he’s awful. A fair proportion of each race can be spent correcting him – and how hard is it to recognise which driver is which? he is constantly mixing teammates up when it is clear to the viewer – there are two very easy ways of recognising which driver is which and he continually gets it wrong. He regularly misses action on the track that we have just seen – sometimes there is a quick flash to an overtaking manoeuvre while he is droning on about something inane – say, Piquet on Webber – and then some laps later he’ll say “oh, has Webber caught up on Alonso?” just because they have the same car, then he’ll continue off on that tangent until Brundle corrects him.

    If a football commentator was as bad as Allen at recognising the competitors he wouldn’t last a week in the job.

    And why oh why does he have to get Brundle to explain week in, week out, what it means when the “track is rubbering in”? for the casual viewers? please – there are some, as yet undiscovered tribes in the Amazon who now know what that means.

    I’ll never forget the way he ridiculed Ralph Schumacher for naming his son David, stating “hmmph, not a very German name is it?”

    Well, 1. He can call his son whatever he likes; 2. In Germany David is pronounced differently; and most importantly 3. It was just a little hypocritical, given that Allen named his own son Enzo.

    So good riddance to Allen and the adverts – oh, and also that bloke who presses the stopwatch when teams are refuelling during the pitstop – I’ve never seen him get it right yet.

  42. His other son is called Emerson…

  43. What annoyed me the most and I seriously hope will not be repeated at the BBC is the huge bias towards British drivers (Hamilton in particular).

    ITV would cut the post race interview as soon as Hamilton was done talking, if he didn’t finish in the top three there was often no post race interview. I’m British but want to hear from all drivers. It seems to me that Steve Ryder is sucking up to Hamilton, almost every race he has an interview with him and no other driver! Everything revolved around Hamilton and who finished ahead of him or behind him. Finding that Hamilton came third and two Ferraris ahead of him is the wrong order.

    I don’t want this to be too much Hamilton bashing, I just want the coverage to be equal (or more balanced) between drivers. Some drivers you would never hear of or see and some there was interviews and chats and videos about them in every race.

    Please BBC ensure all drivers get equal coverage!

  44. Couldn’t agree more Andrew, there’s more than three drivers on the grid and I’d like to see more of the non-British drivers on our TV coverage too.

  45. Be careful what you wish for…..

    Like most contributors I was extremely pleased we were going to lose the damned ad breaks…..but….
    In my view ITV have made a pretty good job of work out of their F1 presentation ( barring the ads ! ) and I’m quite certain they have broadened and deepened the scope of their coverage to standards far beyond anything the BBC used to offer. Yes they have featured a great deal about UK drivers, but as S. Hughes and others point out, you just try listening to the rabid outpourings of several other nations F1TV teams and you’ll discover what fanatical hysteria sounds like !
    By comparison all the ITV reportage has been measured, careful and reasonably accurate.

    My second point is the real worry though. We all know the BBC is strapped for cash ( probably because it spends it’s millions on the likes of Ross and Brand ) and I shall be very pleasantly surprised if they spend even half the money and effort on classy presentation that ITV have given us. The ads Do drive us all nuts and the comparison with the lack of ad intrusion on the sacred game of soccer is well made by many, but…the sheer quality of the coverage they have given us otherwise will be very hard to match.

    And no, I don’t work for ITV !

    Be very careful what you wish for……

  46. I agree w/ ade in that ads are really annoying and disruptive during live coverage. But then again, what would be a good solution ? I have never watched ITV, since I don’t live in the UK, but I can tell you that SPEED (US) also has a lot of them during the race. But they do carry all Qs (15-minute delay) and Friday practices (P2) live. And the commentators are decent, w/out overhyping one driver or the other.

  47. Having travelled the world and seen other countries’ coverage, and vaguely remembering the BBC coverage from 94-96, I have to say it’s a goodbye from me (and it’s goodbye from him).

    Germany gets advert breaks lasting SIX MINUTES (that’s four laps to you and me)! Hello?!? Contempt?!?

    The BBC coverage was mediocre. ITV pulled it light years ahead.

    It’s not perfect, but then what is? I think it will be a hard-ish act to follow, and I’m pretty sure the hard-to-please people on this site will have a similar amount of criticism for the BBC’s coverage next year. It would be nice to be proved wrong but my completely unfounded opinion tells me that next year will be roughly the same quality.

    Walker would always be hard to replace but in a way his best quality was that he was a lovable buffoon. Allen is servicable (oo-er) in my opinion but let see if anyone else can do better.

    Count yourselves lucky. You have the best coverage in the world.

  48. I don’t get the slamming on itv… ok adverts aren’t cool.
    Glad the bbc will cover it just for that!

    Allen is ok in my eyes, good knowledge and sure he is cheering for the brits, but i don’t mind since its britisch television :)

    I have seen many coverages from different languages, nothing comes close to ITV, nice build up and good commentary with knowledge!

    I won’t really miss Allen, but they do need Brundle for sure!

  49. Beneboy, ur right in what you’re saying you are british and you dont have to love british drivers, but ITV have done nothing wrong to what the BBC wud’ve done in that position. Im not saying there’s anything wrong with favouring the british driver or anything, im all for it.

    After all sports broadcasters tend to side with the british guys, well not if they’re Audley Harrison! lol, but you know what i mean.

    ITV have done a great job if you ask me. From the days of Jim Rosenthal, Simon Taylor and Tony Jardine (who came with the bbc along wiv murray walker) to the days of Steve Rider and Blundell they’ve done a good job with the race build up.

    Yes in the last 2yrs they have scrapped the post-race analysis or a good 10-15mins worth of it if Lewis isn’t in the top 3, but in the main they’ve done a good job there. As ppl said F1 when it was on Grandstand there was harldy no analysis and Murray and/or Steve Rider
    would say ‘thanks for that we’ll see u in 2 weeks time’.

    ITVs coverage though will tend to be critized for 2 reasons. Adverts and James Allen. The adverts are a tad annoying in that we have sometimes missed some key bits but in the main you cant have it all can you.

    James Allen i admit at times dosn’t do himself favours and as some ppl have said would probably be liked today had he kept his role as pitlane correspondent (which Ted Kravitz who helped produce the show, has now done on2 a gr8 job. if he goes to the bbc no1 wud complain) or as a race analyst (in the blundell role). Overall Allen is resented because of his cliches and the fact that whoever took over from Murray Walker wud’ve been critized, whether that’d been Ben Edwards, Allen or any1 else.

    In a way replacing Murray was always going to be an impossible job. Its abit like the problems Man Utd had with replacing Schmeichel in that its taken ages and only really has Edwin Van Der Sar come close to replacing him as the likes of Bosnich, Barthez and even Tim Howard all had problems. Even VDS is critized because he lacks Schmeik’s presence. James Allen is critized because he’s not on a par with Murray Walker and also because he favours one driver more than another.

    Another thing that some user picked up on was the Ferrari-dominance years that Allen unluckily was called to dominate on, those were years where tbh you didn’t need to watch the race because as soon as qualifying had happened u knew that when Schumacher was on the front row and Rubens behind him, it’d be a boring ferrari win. And aside from DC and JPM battling the 2 those years of 2002 and 2004 were sad years for the sport. Schumacher was a good driver, but was he really worth 7 championships. 4-5 perhaps, not 7.

    Anyway ITV’s coverage has been good, id give it 7-8/10, its been good, yes the adverts havn’t helped and perhaps the lewis-mania hasn’t helped. But at the same time Lewis was there getting the results and doing well and with that the other british driver’s results wasn’t that gr8 so Lewis wud make the headlines, more ppl not only in britian but across ITV’s feed wud be more intrested in Lewis.

    I look 4ward 2 the BBCs coverage, red-button, camera options, etc will be good. The BBC will do the show similar to ITV but without the adverts, they wont try and cover Lewis as much but they will if results tend to be the same.

    PS: Steve Rider, who has come in for some criticsm. I think the guy’s done a good job in replacing good ol Jim Rosenthal (who was a gr8 part of the ITV team b4 he left) but gets critized because he’s wooden as a presenter. I think he’s a perfectly good presenter, he presents, he knows his motorsport. I dont think really he wants to be interviewing Lewis for the thousandth time b4 the race (and thats something that ITV have done wrong, 1/2 interviews perhaps, but not 5/6) but if the producers are paying him to do it, would you argue with them. Rider ppl dont like mainly because he replaced Rosenthal some1 they identified with and by coming from the BBC and coming into ITVF1 with a lesser ‘studio’ feel to it, it just annoyed ppl.

    Anyway there’s not more to say, ITV have for me done a good job but there have been some small aspects of their production which havn’t been as-great as they should be. But you cant have everything can you.

    Hammer time – the songs on the Sony HD (Experiment) ads are Iron Maiden – Can I Play With Madness and the other one is Def Leppard – Rocket! Hope that helps.

    Again Keith another gr8 article that has brought alot of talking points, alot of which have been mentioned in my household this year between the F1 fans.

  50. i know most people dont like the presenters now, and thats because of their interest in Hamilton. Hamilton is an incredible driver and makes the sport more like true f1 than nascar with no overtaking.

  51. Robert Edwards
    29th October 2008, 20:40

    I live in Spain, speak spanish, and watch F1 on Telecinco. They are also to loose their F1 contract after Sunday’s race to another new spanish channel La Sexta. T5 have covered F1 for 5 years and in my view done the best job of any spanish channel during the entire history of f1 broadcasting here in Spain.

    However, having said all of that, there has been obviously massive bias towards Alonso and against Hamilton, despite Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren’s test driver) being a co-commentator for the channel. At times it’s been very amusing to listen to the Spanish view. This year they are more neutral and at last actually praising Hamilton!!

    But getting back to their coverage, they have shown all qualifying sessions on Saturday live plus all races, always with a 1 hour preview program before the with many enlightening features from week to week.

    They have managed to explain over the last 5 years the many technical issues to the viewers, who let’s face it, were attracted to the sport as a result of Alonso, and many of them I still consider as Alonso fans, not F1 fans!

    I am not confident that the new channel that has the coverage for next year will be up to the same standard. We will have to see….

  52. Leon, you might like this one:

    Comparing ITV’s current output to the BBC’s last decade is irrelevant. The BBC have made huge improvements to their sports coverage in the last few years.

    The use of interactive features in football, the Olympics & other sports they have shown in recent years has been brilliant. Where ITV & SKY go for populist sensationalism they tend to opt for a more rational style of reporting & commentating.

    To be fair though, if F1 introduced more cameras & technology to the feed they give to broadcasters then the show would be improved far more, regardless of the broadcaster.
    Watched a few laps of IndyCar recently all from a helmet camera, the view was through the visor so you looked at what the driver looked at, it was amazing watching how he looked for the breaking points & acceleration zones from his perspective.
    The use of multi camera feeds like we get for football would be good too.

  53. Robert Edwards
    29th October 2008, 20:42

    …. furthermore, the spanish channel DOES have the little window in the corner during the adverts.

  54. will not miss itv..
    does anyone know the bbc format?? broadcasting time before and after the race?? will they have saturday qual??
    i seem to remember bbc coverage was just the race.
    another point- i like most(all??) f1 fans was a fan of murray walker but i have to say his mansell and hill pro commentry was a bit much sometimes alot like james allen and his lewis commentry -mind you i was not a mansell/hill fan so my memory maybe incorrect.
    whats the odds on missing something huge on sunday just to cap off the itv years?

  55. The problem for any commentators on TV is that they are having to comment on what people can see with their own eyes. I suspect a lot of us find that both Allen and Brundle get it wrong sometimes – which begs the question why leave the sound on? See it and form your own conclusions!
    Mind you, in a world where people listen to a radio whilst watching a live match in front of them, a good number of spectators do not trust the evidence of their own eyes, only what someone else tells them!
    Having said that, I like Brundle (although wonder at what point we will be better served by someone with more recent F1 competitive experience), don’t have a problem with Allen (poor sod has to cater for a huge range of audience from first time casual viewers to dedicated armchair experts) and prefer him to Walker, who was a bit too excitable and frequently talked nonsense when judged against what was actually happening. I think Goodman (or her role) is a bit superfluous since when did any driver ever say anything worth listening to immediately after they retired (or justabout any other time when it comes to that!)? DC occasionally gets a bit excited, but perhaps he retires more often! I concur with everyone else who would like coverage without ad breaks or anything else.

  56. Good Riddance to the ads, can’t believe that ever happened and I never did get used to it. I like their extra stuff on the website though and the ability to watch Friday practice live. Hope the Beeb does the same. I think Russell Brand should be on the team ;-)

  57. Like everyone else I welcome the prospect of an advert free race but fear the prospect of low budget BBC coverage. All those adverts and ITV F1 competitions pay for the entourage of ITV that travels around the F1 calendar ensuring atmospheric coverage at each race.

    I read somewhere, possible here that the BBC will skinny down the numbers that travel to the grand prix. A sterile studio will not have quite the same appeal as outside the McLaren garage shouting over a V8.

    I strongly disagree about biased coverage towards Lewis. Yes there are more features and interviews with him than other drivers but lets not forget that both ITV and BBC are British broadcaster and Lewis holds the highest profile of any current F1 driver in the paddock. I live in Spain and if you want biased coverage tune into Tele 5 for Alonso, Alonso, Alonso.

    I read many F1 websites and I have to say the ITV F1 site is one of the best. Arguably they pinch much of their news from other sites, but it consolidates most current stories into one place. After each race I look forward to Ted Cravitts and James Allen’s diaries.

    Personally I think that if you removed the adds from ITV you would have had a near perfect package, one that the BBC will have trouble replicating “for sure“.


  58. I liked ITVs coverage, but am sick & tired of the bias commentary that has become ‘The Hamilton Show’. Crapping on about his GP2 drive @ Turkey & justifying anything he does wrong & criticising anyone who gets in from of Hamilton. I mean *** is with the ITV Hamilton book?

  59. OK, just my 2p :P
    I live in Poland and still choose to watch ITV’s coverage online most of the time. Why?
    Their commentary is quite good actually. I’m not a fan of Allen really, but when you compare him to a guy who explains to you that softer tyres have this “white stripe” with enthusiasm and vocabulary of a 5yo for 5 minutes every race… Well, in short he’s not the worst possibility :P
    Then there’s a great race build-up, mainly thanks to Martin Brundle. The pit reports during the race are also a nice thing to have, especially when you can get some comments from the teams about what has just happened (rather then listen to a layman getting it wrong again having watched nothing but the same footage you’ve just seen).
    Adverts are obviously a big disadvantage. btw, on Polish commercial TV they show adverts only before and after a race, and somehow it is financially viable for them…
    And there’s the whole “Hamilton show” thing. Of course it’s annoying, but it’s so much better than our local Kubica obsession that simply makes me cringe. It’s funny however to see his father’s embarrassment when they ask him all those dumb questions in the studio after a race ;D And I don’t think it’s a question what your nationality is, I just find it plain stupid whoever they concentrate on.
    Still, I think some of the best race comments I read are here, in the live reports. So thanks for that Keith :)

  60. If there is 3 things that annoy me in life it is hamilton, mclaren and adverts so over exposure of all 3 by ITV has not put it high in my good books. I get soo annoyed when one driver is closing in on another and then it goes to an advert, you get back to the action and it shows you a replay of the move!

    I also hate the way James Allen goes on and on and on about mclaren and hamilton, there are other teams and other drivers for god sake!
    But the thing that annoys me most of all is when they try to get other drivers penalties to try and benefit hamilton! See when hamilton hit Alonso and for the entire race they blamed it on Alonso without any evidence whatso ever!! Also when Massa made a move on Webber, almost straight away it was ‘did he go over the line there?’ ‘Im not sure that was entirely appropriate’.

    Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the after race analysis, it is always, interview with ron dennis, interview with hamilton, with button, with coulthard. And for the press conferances we see it when hamilton wins, watch his bit and then its ‘you can see the second and thrid online’

    So for me it is GOOD RIDDANCE!!

  61. The last ‘live’ ITV broadcast for a Formula One race I watched was at the end of the 2005 season, since then I have watched the American feed broadcasted by Speed TV.
    To be fair, Speed TV is pretty good. Peter Windsor does a grand job on his pit walk before the race, not unlike Martin Brundle, and David Hobbs always cracks me up with his typical English humour which really enlivens the experience of watching the grands prixs.
    However, when the grands prix are switched to Fox, for normally two or three races a year, it is terrible. There is no pre race build up, no podium celebration, just the race itself. It is as if they cannot wait to kill the broadcast off, as soon as possible. Then, I miss ITV.
    I can remember the San Marino race of 2005, and the commercial break that has become so notorious. However, even with the American broadcast, I do not escape the usual niggles. I hate it when you are about to see a driver pass another, say for the lead, and the tv footage switches to two Force India cars battling for last place. This often brings out the wrath of David Hobbs, which is often amusing, but by the time you get to see what you wanted, the action has long since finished.
    With the NASCAR coverage, you rarely miss any action. Most of the commercials are during the twelve or so safety car stints so you miss very little, and the broadcast is nearly always in HD. Now to be fair, for NASCAR it is easier. All the races being in America, the same broadcasters involved, compared to F1 being in sixteen different nations and all those affiliates involved. This does make F1 a difficult sport to broadcast, in my mind, to the same extent as NASCAR and Indycar.
    On the point of James Allen. He always tried, really hard, to come across the same way as Murray Walker did.
    The problem was, Murray Walker is one in a dying breed.
    What I used to love about watching grands prixs when he was on the mike was his knowledge, his indepth knowledge of Formula One. Not just about the 1970s, but the 1950s, when it started. He would go on about how he saw Ascari and Fangio go toe to toe at Monza, how he can remember watching Sterling Moss and Jim Clark battling away. Its the stuff of complete legend. This man did not just read it in a book, like I did, but actually saw it with his own two eyes.
    This is why Murray Walker is so respected by the fans, by Martin Brundle, by everybody. James Allen is a great guy, and he ‘DID’ his very very best, but he was not in the same league. If he is honest with himself, he would probably agree. No one, not even Martin Brundle himself, could replace Murray Walker.
    The BBC should adopt the same policy as they did with international football broadcasts, such as the World Cup. Have former, well known stars on the scene broadcasting, and special guests to give their opinion on proceedings. It would be great to have, say Hakkinen, or Lauda, or Prost, tagging along and giving their thoughts to what is going on, before and after the race has finished. Put the whole thing in HD, and allow the old footage on the internet.
    The internet has to be used to the full, to get these races to as many people as possible. If the sport of Formula One ‘is’ the true pinnacle of motorsport, then ‘it must’ become the pinnacle of international sports broadcasting. Other series should look to us for insperation, not the other way around.

  62. ITV rocks as compared to the channels who shows live F1 here in India.The Coverage of ITV is simply perfect. so atleast for me ITV is perfect for a F1 fan

  63. Amy is 100% correct.

  64. hey! between can u tell me any other site which has no Adverts?


  66. Being from Australia, it is really interesting to read the criticisms of the ITV coverage … the phrase, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is certainly the case for me. I, for one, would dearly love to have just the ITV coverage, ad breaks included, if it meant not having to tolerate the two commentators that the local broadcaster insists on putting on after each ad break.

    The truly annoying part about the arrangement in Australia is that, instead of hearing Martin and James’ commentary (which, compared to our two locals, is “expert” in every possible way), we have to listen to dumb and dumber, in their own annoying way, re-state what Martin and James said before going to the ad break.

    As for the commentary team, I agree with most others in that Martin Brundle is exceptional and, hopefully, has cemented his place as an expert commentator for many years to come. I must admit that James Allen does not irk me as much as he seems to irk others – I’d go so far as to say that I quite like him. Yes, he makes mistakes and is often corrected by Martin, but I think that this is what makes the two of them such a successful commentary team. I can imagine that having two “Martins” in the commentary box would result in a highly-technical and accurate, but utterly boring, coverage of the race.

    On a completely different note, and as this is my first post, thanks to Keith and all of the other contributors for making this a thoroughly enjoyable forum for all of us F1 fans out there.

  67. Chris P, lets just hope that Ch7 doesn’t get the F1 contract. I am sick and tired of watching ads with a bit of V8 supercar racing in between them.

    I would dearly love it if the beeb broadcast online, and that viewers outside of the UK could access. I’d be happy to pay for that. As someone else earlier said, here in Oz on a commercial network there is no way we will get the beeb coverage sans ads, so think yourselves lucky !

  68. As long as its not all about Hamilton, in Australia we dont care who broadcasts it. Ch10 here might not be the best, but it is a heap better than ch7 would ever do. Also with Ch10 having their new 24hrs sports chanel next year, things will only get better here.

  69. James Allen did a far better job in the Pit Lane than Ted Kravitz does now, and I agree he is obviously knowledgeable and a fan, but there have been times when he’s been talking nonsense and even Martin Brundle has shut him up.
    I never liked the forced ‘lets pretend we’re part of a team’ presentation by Steve Ryder and Mark Blundell. They should have put Mark alongside Ted in the Pit Lane for a start, or used him as a third commentator (especially when Martin was away). And I have never liked the way they persue an obviously annoyed driver or team principle down the Pit Lane for a quote, especially when its a McLaren man and they have interview rights anyway. At least they acknowledged some critism recently and have belatedly been annoying Ferrari as well.
    I say good riddance, though I hope Martin does continue with the BBC, but I wonder how much they have learnt from their past mistakes and ITVs?

  70. I remember the BBC days (just about) and remember the coverage being poor with the highlights being Walker and no ads. I find myself looking back at those days with rose tinted glasses though sometimes and wondering if Walker although I remember him being the highlight, was he? I don’t disagree about some of James Allen’s technical insight however I do find some of the very basic mistakes he comments on hilarious. He has the advantage of the driver information etc infront of him surely? but the amount of times I hear him say things wrong only for Brundle to have to get him up to speed or him sort himself out 30secs later. I think Brundle like Walker in the move to ITV is a pivotable part of the BBC’s sucess in portraying F1. I’ve always thought Damon Hill does a decent job of standing in for Brundle when he isn’t around so it would be interesting to hear those 2 together. I’m with everyone else on biased coverage too I find it tedious somethimes how Lewis is put on a pedastal and the coverage always diverted in his direction. Roll on next year IMO

  71. F1 has beeen ruined for me purley because of adverts. I took the dicission a couple of years ago to actively avoid any product that was advertised during a race. I also would record the event ans fast forward any advertising. Towards the end I even started to avoid Brundle and Rider.

  72. Tony Dodgins is a good mate and a fine writer, but he doesn´t yet contribute the Hack Looks Back column to I do.

    Mike Doodson

  73. Mike – that is a rather embarrassing blunder – I’ll fix it right away. Sorry, and welcome to the site!

  74. Tony Dodgins is a good mate and a fine writer, but he doesn´t yet contribute the Hack Looks Back column to I do.

    Mike Doodson

    WOW, Keith, you are under scrutiny… In fact, this is a fantastic news, mate. A fine proof that this is the right place to be vocal against FIA, Max, Bernie, stewards, Alan Donelly, etc…

  75. Allen is bad but not because he’s pro-Hamilton, because he’s pro-Schumacher. Surprised? It’s surprising now but Allen used to be unbearable about someone other than Hamilton. He just seems to ape what he thinks is the popular trend. And does it excessively.

    As an author I think he’s pretty good, I admit to owning a few of his books, but as a commentator I’ve disliked him since the first season. He just follows the crowd and amplifies their passion to ridiculous levels. It’s because he thinks it’s what we want to hear.

    Here’s a few facts as I see them:

    – Murray Walker was good but stayed on for 2-3 seasons too long. When a Ferrari looks like a Mclaren, Marlboro is confusing you by switching teams and it’s time to hang up the mike. Allen is making him look better than he was (at the end).

    – Brundle and Kravitz are good and deserve to be retained.

    – The Chain was great but if it means we get rid of adverts I don’t care what the BBC play. Let’s not lose sight of this: We are going to get uninterrupted broadcasting!

    Bring on 2009.

  76. Becken – thanks, I had a very nice email from Mark Hughes yesterday as well (the Autosport one, not the ex-Man U footballer!) Happily I hadn’t mis-attributed any of his work to someone else…

  77. good riddance to bad rubbish…hope the BBC leave the entire team where they are….in the dole q….

    A nice fresh unbiased team would be nice…

  78. It’s good riddance, end of!!!

  79. I’m from Singapore and the F1 races are broadcast by ESPN/Star Sports. The quality of the commentator (Steve Slater) is so-so, except that he tends to get drivers mixed up and reverts to stock phrases like “110% committment”. The ad breaks do get rather annoying, although to their credit Star reduces it by using advert frames. The technical commentators are usually guests, such as Julian Bailey (good driver, but a boring commentator), Alex Yoong, Karun Chandhok and Chris Goodwin. The studio crew, well, is quite blah…

    Still much better than what the free-to-air channel (Mediacorp Ch5) did for the Singapore GP before they wised up and used the ITV feed…

  80. KNF – “so-so” is a much kinder verdict on Slater than I usually hear on the Live Blog!

  81. I’ve never had a problem with James Allen, I think he does a great job and I’ll miss his commentary over whoever gets thrown alongside Martin at the BBC, I can only pray that reports of Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard both being part of the team are wide of the mark. The taste of sour grapes will be palpable if it turns out to be true.

    Personally I think a lot of the malice felt towards Allen is born of jealousy (everyone thinks they could do a better job) or fondness towards Murray Walker.

  82. michael counsell
    1st November 2008, 3:56

    Allen- see other thread
    Brundle – I am very respectful
    Blundell – Remembers the glory days only not the struggles…

  83. I’m a F1 fan and have been watching it since 1997. I feel it will be goodbye to ITV as they have done a superb job. I like having the breaks so that you could go to the loo if ness or get a drink, and personaly i dont think they have missed anything important, as they always show you a replay of anything inportant after the break. I just hope that the BBC can live up to what ITV have done and build on it.

  84. David Cheadle
    2nd November 2008, 0:27

    I like the way the bbc have a good idea of when things go bad, give it a few years break and get it back when it’s good again. Top Gear for example, They sold everything apart from the theme tune and name to channel5, getting rid of all the boring used car based nonsense led by quentin wilson and others. then just brought the program back with a better coherence and good presenters. Im sure the F1 will be no different.

    But guys, The Chain era is long gone… Fleetwood Mac…Really? The BBC are trying to bring F1 to a much wider audience, Hamilton has been one of the main representatives in bringing f1 to the ‘street’ and thats why now, the beeb are giving everything to get the coverage back. Hopefully they’ll push some boundaries and not let some stupid mistakes ruin their brilliant output (Brand and Ross).

    They’ll hopefully get the balance right. But it really is goodbye not good-riddence to ITV, I personally like the coverage, there’s enough of it and its shown twice on days when we cant be bothered getting up at 5am. probably because ITV has no other decent output.

  85. Better the devil you know. As many people have mentioned, BBC coverage may not have had adverts but please remember, it was poor, poor, poor. ITV were completely responsible for setting the bar to live qualifying coverage, informed and deep pre and post analysis.

    Lets not forget that Rosenthal and Ryder are exceptionally good, established and experienced sports presenters. Goodman and Allen know the sport inside out with decades of being involved in the sport. I cannot say the same for Humphries and McKenzie.

    Many people posting should watch French, Spanish and Italian coverage of the sport to see what happens when you put pretty people that know nothing about the sport.

    Good work ITV. With the BBC, we may be heading for Eurotrash.

  86. i can’t believe the amount of cr@p i’ve just read.

    i’m british, i tune into a british tv channel to watch F1, hoping to see the british drivers do well. Hamilton is the best at the moment so they should concentrate on him.

    give james allen a break for gods sake. he does a decent job when you consider he is only commentating from a tv monitor, with loads more going on in the background too. brundle is truly awesome, but i think he works well with allen. and don’t try and suggest murray walker was better – he was truly awful. my only dislike of allen is the way every GP starts with “and the …. GP is Go”, but I can live with that.

    BBC coverage will, I’m sure, be excellent. They, as everything, have come a long way since they lost the coverage. ITV did a brilliant job when they took over, but the ads are the crux. Simply not acceptable.

    But, other than the ads, I think the ITV package was generally very good.

    Another thing to consider – if F1 was made a bit more exciting, by removing most of the aerodynamics and going back to huge tyres, so that drivers could overtake a bit more, there would be less room for idle chat in the commentary box. James Allen sometimes has to fill best part of 2 hours when there is simply nothing to commentate on, other than a boring procession.

    ps well done lewis. A brit world champ!!

  87. I’ve been watching F1 since the sketchy transmissions in the 70’s. In South Africa, we had the BBC feed and Murray Walker was a name and an icon.

    I moved to Europe in 1990 and have since been watching F1 in different countries – but always pointing the dish in the direction of BBC. I moved to Germany in 2003 and have been watching RTL and Premiere there, as I also speak German. The “show” these channels put up is excellent, but the commentary is pitiful. So I have been watching the picture from Premiere – as they had no ads – and listening to BBC/ITV.

    Since 2005 I’ve been going more and more for the internet services and find myself watching the feeds for cinemas and taking the commentary from different sources. This looks to be where I will be for some time: picking the best feed on satellite – preferably in HD – and then running the live on the laptop and listening to British commentary.

    The German commentators are really putting you to sleep and soooo inaccurate. But nothing compared to the guy on Austrian TV. He – still – doesn’t know who is driving where and who is in what position at any given moment. If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.

    And if you were to listen to and understand a Hungarian or Polish commentator you would never criticise any British guy ever again.

    So, pick the best available and mix and match to suit your taste. But enjoy while it lasts as I’ve heard about the latest FIA plans, which will kill F1, which will kill the sport in the long run.

  88. I enjoyed ITV’s coverage and commentary team very much.

    Why do so many ppl think this should be free? You think faeries wave a wand and it just happens? Get a grip!

  89. Rich – Think what should be free?

  90. ITV’s coverage of F1 was bliss compared to the ***** we get in Australia. As an ex UK citizen i can confidently say that ITV were leagues ahead of anyone else.
    Granted, we had the commentary of the race from UK but the pre race show from the aussies was (and will still be) utter utter trash.
    And the post race follow up? Didnt exist. Straight into the next program.
    Live races? Ha! They delay it to the eastern states and then they delay it even further to us in Western Australia
    Qualifying? Are you for real? I dont think they even realise there is qualifying.
    And to add insult – adverts.

    So, think yourself lucky if you are an F1 fan in the UK.
    And congratulations to Oz channel Ten for destroying my passion for formula 1. Well done.

  91. I wouldnt mind if the figuresa were true but they are not. During an average 94 minute (5640 seconds) race, ITV usually had 4 or 5 60-90 second advert breaks

    Even taking the highest of those we get:
    5*90 seconds = 450 seconds

    So that actual percentage of races missed is:
    450/5640 = 7.98%

    Your Figure was:
    31 races/206 races = 15.05%

    Nearly twice as much, and lo and behold that equates to the figure if you include the advets both before and after the race itself.

    At least TRY to sound impartial and not just tell gross lies next time.

    1. If you have a look at the links above you can see the original article the data was based on:

      This blogger tracked the actual amount of race time lost to adverts, and as you can see it disagrees with your figure. I’d be interested to know why there’s a discrepancy.

      But I think your accusation that I’m not being impartial is well wide of the mark – I gave ITV plenty of credit in this article. And if I was trying to “tell gross lies” I wouldn’t have included links back to the original data would I?

  92. BBCs downfall started when they sacked Jake Humphrey

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