The F1 coverage debates: What do Asian fans think of ESPN Star Sports?

Posted on

| Written by

ESPN Star Sports didn't show last year's Singapore GP live in all regions

We’ve already covered the new BBC coverage in Britain and how Speed TV broadcast F1 in America. Now guest writer Jay Menon tells us about ESPN Star Sports’ Asian F1 broadcasts…

For a region as big as Asia, it’s a pity its F1 fans and motor sport lovers get such poor television coverage.

I am Malaysian, and like the other fans in 24 other Asian countries, we are subject to the deeply disappointing F1 broadcast that is available to us via the ESPN Star Sports network.

Although significant improvements have been made to their Barclay’s Premier League coverage over the years, the F1 broadcasts have remained the same, although efforts have been made to improve.

Despite being a large network, owned by ESPN and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, both of which have significant experience in sports broadcasting, they’ve failed to live up expectations.


ESPN Star Sports has been broadcasting F1 to a significant number of Asian countries for about a decade. Before they bought the rights to F1 most countries in Asia broadcast races live or delayed on their local terrestrial channels, for free.

In Malaysia we used to get the ITV feed until the early 2000s. Initially, the show just started with host Steve Dawson presenting the race, with very minimal pre and post race analysis.

The number of bodies in the studio has increased over the years, with the addition of a second host and resident pundits. Since the inception of F1 on the channel, the commentator’s microphone has been firmly held in the grasp of Steve Slater.

Though widely criticised among fans, Slater has managed to hang to the mike since. He was accompanied by Chris Goodwin in the beginning. Chris was great, very insightful and sensible, he was constantly covering for his less competent colleague for a good number of years.

Goodwin was then temporarily replaced by Julian Bailey before making a brief return. Since then, Steve Slater has shared commentary positions Asian ex-F1 drivers Alex Yoong and Narain Karthikeyan, and GP2 racer Karun Chandouk.

The format

Coverage begins on the Saturday with qualifying. Almost all the qualifying sessions are broadcast live, barring a number of exceptions over the years.

The most glaring one in recent years was, ironically, last year’s inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, where the broadcast was delayed due to a rugby match. Sessions from Montr??al, Interlagos and Indianapolis have been delayed in the past as well, due to schedule clashes with live football.

Qualifying is typically hosted by the calm and concise Steve Dawson with Alex Yoong in the studios. Steve Slater shares the commentator’s mike with Yoong during qualifying although both of them are thousands of miles away from the track. ESPN Star does not practice track side commentary, which is disappointing. Their race central is in some Sky studio in London.

Poor commentary usually accompanies qualifying. They do employ a pit lane reporter, Sanjeev Palar. He gets sent to a handful of races over the course of the season, but doesn’t do very much.

The pre-race show begins an hour before race time. The show is hosted by a former model/VJ/Princess (seriously, she was married to a Malaysian Prince once) called Paula Malai Ali, with Yoong as the pundit. Paula may look good on camera, and is capable of holding her own as a presenter, but unfortunately, her statements and comments pertaining to the sport appear to be very coached.

The show features a number of special segments, nothing much in the way of high profile interviews, technical insight, commentaries etc. To be fair, they do try, but the quality isn’t really very good. There’s a bit in the show called "Mobil 1 Flying Lap", which as you’ve guessed, shows a flying lap around the respective circuit. This is typically with Heikki Kovalainen or Lewis Hamilton, nothing like what British fans get with Martin Brundle.

During this show, race central, with Slater now joined by Chandouk (he’s been sharing the commentary position since the end of last season), links up to the studio for a live pre-race discussion. The only credible comments during the pre-show, race and post-show are from Chandhok.

I can’t take Yoong seriously, and neither can hordes of others. I mean, what else can you say about the worst F1 driver in recent years?

Dawson takes over 15 minutes before the race for latest updates, which isn’t really very much either. There are no grid walks, pre-race interviews with drivers, nothing in ways of that. You do get a few bits here and there from the pit lane reporter, that’s the best we can hope for.

The race coverage itself isn’t much to shout about either. Slater’s bubbling commentary makes things rather annoying. Chandhok stables the ship with his curt comments cutting Slater off when he makes mistakes. I can safely say he calls a good race.

Commercial breaks every 20 minutes too, can’t help that I suppose. There are no ongoing pit lane reports during the course of the race, like Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie, just wayward guessing from Slater. No communication with the pit lane reporter whatsoever either.

Post-show the indifferent quality remains. Press conference, bits of interviews if we’re lucky and a re-cap on the race followed by a post race discussion between the studio and commentators.

Improvements needed

F1 or motorsport in general, isn’t really the sport of the continent. Football takes center stage in most parts of Asia and of course there’s cricket in India. This is probably the reason why much budget isn’t set aside for F1 coverage. In my opinion, these need to be done in order to improve the broadcast:

1. Get a proper commentating partnership going. A great relationship in the commentary booth blossoms over time, you can’t keep swapping people around. Slater must go before any of this happens. Just in case anyone from ESPN Star is reading this – James Allen is out of a commentary job…

Constant communication with the pit lane reporter during the race would be handy as well. The thing I never got round to was, why send a guy over there, when you’re not using him?

2. The commentary crew must broadcast from the race venue. This would allow more access to up-to-date information and all the on-goings in the paddock on a race weekend. It would also allow more interviews, pre-race comments, grid walks etc…

3. More technical insight is required. More segments on car development and F1 technology are required during the pre-race show.

4. Credible hosts and guests would make things a lot better. The large problem with Asian television is that you can get on camera because you have a pretty face; this applies to both male and female. People without the proper credentials, both host and guests, should not be appointed. Only Dawson and Chandouk are worth keeping from the current line-up.

If there’s anybody who watches or has watched the ESPN Star broadcast, what do you think? Have I been too harsh?

Read more

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

78 comments on “The F1 coverage debates: What do Asian fans think of ESPN Star Sports?”

  1. They showed the Singapore GP live on ESPN Star Sports, last year (Starhub), so it’s probably depending on which region you happen to be in.

    Agree with you on Slater, his commentary leaves a lot to be desired, think the worst bits of Allen and Legard (can’t stop talking).

    Chris Goodwin is a good commentator, but he is eventually limited by how much he can say about certain teams (McLaren, in particular, which employs him for their driver development program). Poor Julian Bailey, we never got to know you, because you could never get a word in between Slater’s exposition…

    Alex Yoong isn’t THAT bad, he is miles better than some of the TV actors who were roped in by Mediacorp to comment during FP1 last year (you know they are hopeless if they mistake spark showers from bottoming out with electrical problems). GP2’s Karun Chandhok is probably more updated in terms of technical matters but is seriously underused.

    If you ask me, Sanjeev and PMA need to be replaced immediately, I don’t see the purpose of having them around, and PMA seems to have pretensions of being a lifestyle reporter rather than a serious presenter.

    Keeping the multi-talented Dawson and Chandhok around is probably wise, and getting a test driver is also a good idea in case Chandhok gets the big call…

    Finally, get rid of the damnned ads which repeat themselves ad nauseum every five minutes!!!

    1. Could not agree more, today (26 Sep) just find out Star Sports are not showing quali live in Malaysia, they are however showing it live in Singapore. 2 weeks back I watched Monza in Jakarta on local TV. MUCH better than Star Sports! Not sure where the feed came from (BBC or ITV?) but they had knowledgeable commentary, at the beginning lots local adverts but the last 20 odd laps were add free. And thats from a local free channel.

      If I hear Steve Slater say ” let’s savour the sound of those V8 engines” (he says it cos he has nothing better to say), the TV’s out the window. Unfortunately where I leve (Malaysia) its Star sports or nothing… Get your act together guys.

  2. Where’s the Bahrain GP Prediction?

    1. That kicks in after FP2 here, I think.

  3. a tad too harsh i think…steve slater is definitely lacking some enthusiasm juices…

    it will be interesting to know how much espn/star sports invest (time + $$) in their F1 and EPL coverage..wouldnt be surprise if F1 is only a small fraction of EPL…

    1. Lacking? No, his problem is that he lets his enthusiasm get in the way of his commenting. And if I had a dollar for each occasion he says “100% committment” (as if the drivers are not trying to keep the cars on the track every lap), I could be the 14th entrant for the 2010 F1 season… :D

  4. longlive Ferrari
    24th April 2009, 9:36

    yes thats true!
    we all have to bear woth this bad coverage of the race. after each race, i have to download bbc race coverage to get a feel of the grid environment before the race! :(

    1. Can u give me the link to download bbc race coverage

  5. Well, I live in India, and have to watch F1 on ESPN-STAR sports.
    Thanx to them that they show it LIVE!
    But at the same time, it is irritating for following factors as well!
    1. You dont get to see FP sessions.
    2. Pre-race interviews also very rare.
    3. Adds every 5 minute during qualifying as well! And they just dont have any idea about the ad timings.Just imagine, you are a BRAWN fan and Button has decided he will do only one flying lap in Q3. It is highly possible that you will only be able to get updates only! ;)
    4. commentators, Slater is horrible, so is Yoong. And god only knows why PMA is there!

    But everything said, at least it is because of them I get to see the sport back home!

  6. We had good commentator in form of Chris Goodwin, but he was helping Bruno Senna during 2007 and 2008 season, so he has not been commentating since then.

    Actually 2 Brits, Chris Goodwin and Steve Slater were good pair.

    They also showed Singapore GP Practice Live with Sir Jackie Stewart. They delayed Singapore GP Qualifying but race was at proper time, live. They also get Julian Bailey, ex-F1 driver, a Brit for some races.

    ESPN Star usually delays qualifying (4-5 times a year) but never race.

    1. I remember that they had Sir Jackie Stewart there, but he could never get much in either, or that they (mostly PMA) kept cutting him off… Must have been hell for the famously pedantic Scotsman to have had a taste of his own medicine… :D

    2. I agree with U that Steve & Chris were good pair

  7. i think your article is spot on. too harsh? not harsh enough. star sports coverage of the f1 races is just plain rubbish with crappy presenters who don’t know what they’re talking about (paula, sanjeev, alex)and keep on making mistakes and missing out on important information (slater, alex). only chandok is good and dawson to a certain extent. the worst part is the damn ads, non-stop and always cutting in at the wrong time like when somebody is about to overtake..arghhh! that so ****** me off

    now i don’t bother to watch star sports anymore,every race weekend i go online and participate in the live blog at f1fanatic, open the live timing and watch the live feed..

  8. ninad..last year star sports delayed 1 or 2 races because of another sport..that was %^&%$# crap for me..f1 takes a back seat compared to football or even c’mon..

  9. nirupam..go online and watch all sessions from nowon..fp1, fp2, fp3, qualy and race..nuff said..

    1. I know I can.. :P
      But isn’t it better to watch those on TV rather online??
      (Something I am enjoying with BBC!)

  10. Great article. Couldn’t agree with you more.

    Steve Slater is terrible. He doesnt have to try hard to put his feet in his mouth.

    Karan is pretty good. He pre-race analysis is good. His reading of various team strategies during the race is outstanding.

    I am from India. I think the number of people who watch F1 races on TV from India have doubled/tripled in the past 2-3 years.

  11. I really hope something gets done so people from Asia can get the experience.. the TV experience that is. The interviews, per-race grid walks, etc. make it so much more interesting.. adds the extra “spice” to the coverage.

    I’m so lucky here. SPEED from America, TSN (Canada) which broadcasts the Live BBC F1 feed from start to finish and TSN2, which does the qualifying each and every race.

  12. little off topic here but i thing Jonathan Leggard should be replaced. prefereabally by some one that knows what formula one is about, Hopefully by Anthony davidson.

    1. On one level I would like to get good commentators for F1 coverage, but I would rather see the likes of Ant Davidson, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok battling it out with the other guys on track next year, think they’ll factor into Lola and Prodrive/Aston plans?

  13. anirudh on rampage...
    24th April 2009, 10:18

    Not to mention they dint air Monaco GP, where Adrian had the miss of his lifetime……

  14. Anirudh, they did air Monaco 08 in India!

  15. I had a chance to look at the ITV F1 Coverage last year after the season was over (thanks to all good guys who hosted High Defination Coverage on the net). After looking at that coverage whenever I read comments on how bad James Allen was or how many ad breaks were on ITV I think that if they start broadcasting ESPN Star telecast in the UK I guess after first qualifying fans will personally go to the ESPN office and corner the guys who broadcast and especially Slater… seriously coverage is pathetic….

    Slater is useless he is 100% on enthusiasm but 0% on sense and on the top of it he makes countless mistakes…. any Silver car is Lewis for him…. sometimes last season he even called a Force India as a McLaren of Lewis Hamilton !….

    Last year ESPN Star didn’t telecast live qualifying for Bahrain (EPL Soccer match) and then Singapore again soccer…. Thank god that now they have a dedicated channel for cricket otherwise god knows what they could have done….

    PMA and Sanjeev should try to take up a job with some lifestyle channel even there I don’t think they will do good…

    Now, add to all this this year during a Pre Race Show which they call RaceDay these guys are showing clips from last year.. so if any one watched racedays last year will remember the trip to Melbourne downtown and then recently Shanghai.. they are exactly same….

    Some how I tolerate the race proceedings as I concentrate more on the action on the rather then commentry by Slater and now Chandok… but then ad breaks .. the frequency a break for two minutes after every 5 laps!.. and worse these days they are showing cricket shots for the upcoming World Cup on June .. I mean how is it justified……

    Having said all that still F1 fans in India have no other choice but to watch the ESPN Star broadcast and some of us who have seen the broadcast in other countries only feel that there is a lot of scope for improvement.

  16. I think it often tends to be a vicious circle in many respects. If you’re only getting modest viewing figures then there’s no real incentive to drastically increase the effort you put in to your broadcast. But having not put in the effort, you can’t then necessarily expect lots of new people to tune in and be wowed by your coverage.

    Having said that, though, if you get the right personnel then you can make a big difference to the quality without too much drama.

  17. I have on occasion, watched ESPN Start Sports for F1, and agree with everything the writer says. Seriously, my condolences to all of Asia. Slater is so, so , so bad. how can anyone who has been commentating on the same sport for so many years still not know next to nothing about it?
    And the commercial breaks – all the time.

    I have nothing against him, but I personally was no fan of James Allen, but I concur he would be a 1000 times better than Slater.

    The main problem is commentating when you are 1000’s of miles away. This really is an impossible task. The lack of atmosphere just seeps through the broadcast, and just adds to the cluelessness of the commentary.

    An all round disaster. ESPN Star treat F1 as if an afterthought, with nothing more than contempt.

  18. I think its a bit harsh writing off Alex Yoong on the basis of “what else can you say about the worst F1 driver in recent years?”.

    I met him at Brands Hatch and he was very polite, knowledgable and well-spoken and his performances in A1GP have proved that he wasn’t the total disaster he appeared to be in F1.

    Besides, he’s probably a better pundit than Blunders Blundell was – Alex might have struggled to handle an F1 car, but Mark could barely handle the English language!


  20. yoong is ok and he is easy on the eye for the female fans

    slater is a joke- i dun understand what he is blabbering about half of the time. I would make a better presenter than him – in fact any brain dead person would too

  21. i live in Indonesia but we got BBC coverage here (which aired in local television with several disturbing adsssss!)

    i once watched ESPN Star Sports F1, but thanks a lot. it was really really rubbish to me. the commentary was errrr– disturbing the race itself!

    i always loved the combination of Brundle and Allen on ITV. James Allen was very very expressive during the race! i want him back on BBC now, replacing someone-who-accompanies-Brundle.

  22. alex yoong is good compare to other…but PMA should stop being a presenter….f1 is not her style….slater is just rubbish…how bout james allen for star sport???

  23. I live here in the Philippines, and I remember Robert Kung on the mic during early 2000. it is much better now than before, honestly. What can we say or do if we do not have any options at all. I’d say, lets just be settled on what we have for now.

  24. I live in India and i find star sports coverage as terrible.the only reason i tune in for any pre-race or pre-qualy programmes is because of Karun Chandhok and Steve Dawson.alex yoong isnt bad.The rest are pathetic to say the least.There is a commercial ad after every 5 laps.No telecasting of Free practice sessions.Slaters shouting and mumbling gets me irritated.atleast chandhok and goodwin for that matter provide some insightful thoughts.The only thing good about this is that atlest they broadcast every race LIVE!!!

  25. Wolf needs to be here. :D

    I’ve said my piece on this many times, so I’ll do a rundown for each person on the team.

    Slater – Ah, yes, Steve. Easily the weakest link in the lineup – he’s not even easy on the eyes like PMA. He’s been doing this for more than a decade and hasn’t really improved much in that time. He doesn’t add anything of value to the show, but he keeps the mic because they can’t find anyone to replace him. I’d love Allen to come over here (even if most Brits hated him at ITV), but I don’t think ESPNStar can match what RAI (the Italian network) is paying him to do part-time work for them.

    Chandhok – easily the best analyst ESPNStar has had (even better than Goodwin). He’s a keeper. But I dread the day we lose him to Force India. It would be great that he got a shot at F1, but his replacement in the booth wouldn’t be as good as him, even if it were…

    Yoong – He’s OK, I guess, but I don’t really notice him. Again, he’s not able to add much to the broadcast. His soft voice doesn’t help his cause, either. But hey, he’s better than Blundell, so that’s a start.

    Dawson – He’s an OK presenter for what it’s worth. He knows little more than the basics of the sport, but he doesn’t talk much anyway, so it’s fine. Worth keeping, but I wouldn’t mourn his departure from the lineup either.

    Ali – She’s easy on the eyes, and would do well if she were talking about the other side of F1 – the glitz/glamour/lifestyle side of things. But I don’t think she’s in her comfort zone partnering Dawson in the studio for Raceday. We need a more sports-oriented type of girl in there (think Louise Goodman or Lee McK), not a former VJ.

    Palar – a close 2nd to Slater as the most annoying guy on the lineup. Points for effort, but not much else. I can understand that they don’t send him to all races due to budget constraints. I think they’re better off just losing him from the lineup altogether and using the money somewhere else.

    I’m surprised they don’t attend races in person – it makes their performance suffer for it. They can improve in a lot of areas – streaming all sessions online, more interviews with F1 people, doing more research. There have been some improvements (like spending more time on pre- and post-session coverage), but much, much more needs to be done.

  26. BTW, commercials – I understand ads for products, but for their own shows?! Just silly. If they really want to do it, fine, but at least show the race on at least some part of the TV screen. It’s not worth missing part of the race just to see commercials for other TV shows.

    Which is why I keep a BBC JTV feed running in the background – it’s a lifesaver sometimes.

  27. Singapore grand prix was shown “live”. I am Malaysian too.. even they did broadcast practice session.

    few things that i really dont like from espn are:-
    1. too much of adv (this is really too much)
    2. inexperience commentators

  28. Arun.....India
    24th April 2009, 17:32

    Well the broadcast sucks big time with lousy commentary from steve slater and that to not trackside.They dont show the free practice at least they can show it online in their website.The press conference is very late and there is no pit lane reporter.What these people can do is instead of wasting so much resource and giving such a lousy show,They can give a direct feed from probably bbc.

    But this all said i am happy that i atleast get this.

  29. I will not purchase any product from companies whose ads disrupt a grand prix, anyone care to join me?

    As for football, it seems to me nobody actually watches it, all i see are “fans” with 3 cell phones taking bets.

    So put the football on the radio, cut the ads, fire slater and yoong, replace PMA with some young eye candy, and get someone to commentate who does not sound like he is talking down to a 5 year old.
    After a decade of negative comments towards slater it is obvious star do not care what their paying customers think.

    1. I will try 2 help U

    2. if there were no people/companies willing to advertise their products during the race, then the race wouldn’t be shown on TV at all, douche bag.

  30. Praveen Titus
    24th April 2009, 18:10

    I was just thinking, why aren’t fans in Asia complaining about teh USELESS F1 coverage we’re forced to watch. All the points Jay Menon said are true – he wasn’t harsh at all. On teh contary he was bit too polite! I don’t need to repeat the faults already mentioned and the solutions proposed as you guys have understood them properly. I’ll just throw some light on another glaring fault(too light a term I think) about ESPN Star Sports’ F1 and motorsport coverage. Don’t they have access to films of past F1 races? In 2004 they showed a little tribute on Senna before the San Marino Grand Prix without showing his crash. It was there in You Tube but these guys don’t have access to it, it seems. And before every race it would be better if they could play us highlights from some race in the past rather than wile away the time with Paula’s poses or some usless bits of information they provide about the area. For the Australian Grand Prix coverage in India, they showed something about the sports stadiums in Melbourne as well as a few secs showing cricket being played in a stadium there. They wasted precious seconds on a sport which we’re too tired seeing here in India. Instead they could have shown highlights from the 1994 Grand Prix at Adelaide where Schumy lunged into Damon Hill. It would give viewers a deeper perspective about the sport. They give Cricket Gold about previous historic matches and do teh same for football, but nothing for motor racing. They’ve never given insights on the Senna-Prost battles, the Stewart-Cevert friendship, Prost’s comeback championship swansong, Gilles Villeneuve’s magical races, Jim Clark’s genius behind the wheel, NOTHING! A few minutes devoted to a look-back highlights package would work wonders. But along with that, all the other faults must be rectified as well. Paula and Slater should go (I have to admit though, noone can match Slater for enthusiasm unless perhaps Murray Walker), pit-lane interviews during teh race must be included, etc. etc.

    All that said, there are places in teh world but there is virtually no motorsports coverage. At least we’re getting to see the F1 action as it unfolds, even though Slater and co. can’t analyse them without bordering teh realms of insanity. How much ever we may cry about the way ESPN Star Sports treats motorsport fans, I don’t think things can ever change. There isn’t a worthy competitor to ESPN Star in India or Asia that broadcasts or at least analyses F1 better. WHO”S THERE, TELL ME! They’re enjoying this monopoly they have. Even if we boycott watching their races they’ll happily switch over to more Cricket, Football, Golf, Tennis, NBA,and other action. We’re a neglected lot and have to live with it. Keith, can u help us in any way here?

    This is beside the point, but I’m glad that thanks to other sports channels in India such as Zee Sports, Neo SPorts, Ten Sports along with ESPN Star, we’re able to watch F1, A1GP, MotoGP, NASCAR and World Superbikes all mostly LIVE! Not many countries even in Europe and the Americas can boast that. Hope any of these channels takes over F1 coverage, after the contract with ESPN Star ends, and gives us hardy motorsport fans a better deal.

  31. btw…its ‘the’ not ‘teh’…

    1. Praveen Titus
      24th April 2009, 18:50

      yeah, I was in the moment

  32. Thanks Jay, for the wonderful artical.
    Could not agree with you more.
    I have beeb watching F1 for quite a few years in India(Mostly they are on Star Sports).
    The most annoying part is the advertisement. Every five minutes you get lots and lots of Ads.

    Forget about FP or even SP (They don’t have time after showing the replay of a cricket match thousand times!!!)

    The commentry is horrible.They talk about absurd refulling times and strategies.

    Now I am in the US watching F1 in SPEED… I can say its much much better even with its ads….

  33. I remember it being even worse — a few years ago, the Indonesian ESPN Star coverage would piggyback on the Taiwanese feed. The race commentary is the same, but the pre-race commentary is hosted by some Mandarin-speaking commentators — this, in a country where only 2% of the population are ethnically Chinese (myself included) and more than half or those do not speak Mandarin!

  34. Well written article. I’m from India and although cricket takes a center stage here there r loads and loads of F1 fans here but ESPNStar has not done anything ti improve the broadcast.

    I think its high time they did something. Especially track side commentary.

  35. Mouse_Nightshirt
    24th April 2009, 23:09

    I’m going to be in Singapore for 8 weeks for work over the summer – is this the feed they get?

    1. Yup – this is what you’re getting. If you’re from the UK, it’s 2-3 steps down AT LEAST from what you have now.

  36. I’m just thankful that there is Star Sports coverage in Korea. I used to live in the US, and I exclusively watched Speed Channel, with the exception of other channels for cycling. Slater and Goodwin are o.k., Sanjeev is a useless dork, and Paula is very professional, but new to the game, so she doesn’t have much to say. Alex Yoong knows a lot about the circuits, etc., but I ALWAYS cringe when I hear him introduced as “Formula 1 Superstar Alex Yoong” (or something similar). I’ll take what I can get, but I do want better.
    The problem is in Asia there really isn’t the market to support some of the high-cost changes suggested, like track-side commentary, etc. Without companies that are willing to pay big buck for advertising, Star Sports has to do what they can with what they’ve got.
    I also really enjoy their WRC coverage, but I have a few suggestions:
    1. Flush Sanjeev
    2. Get a sound engineer that understands that we can’t hear them talk with the race engine background noise set louder than the commentators. (this especially goes for WRC-they must have BBC production engineers, it’s so bad)
    3. Hire someone to travel exclusively with the teams and actually provide some interesting info and interviews.
    4. No more ‘wine and cheese’ segments about the host country. We don’t care – we are watching to see F1. If we wanted to know about the host country’s culture, city life, etc., we’d be watching Food Channel.
    5. Get more racing programming on Star, maybe even a seperate channel. WRC and F1 are great, but Aussie V8 supercars are a kick, the various Touring Car Championships are great for my bumper car addiction, and Truck racing is absolutely hysterical!
    6. Put more video on-line, possibly even a subscription-based service. I’d buy it in a heartbeat!
    Just my 2 cents…

    1. Praveen Titus
      25th April 2009, 14:22

      You’re absolutely spot on. We don’t need to see about the host country’s food and marketplace. That’s what I was saying they just don’t have the resources or access to anythng good they can show. It’s really bad.

      More motorsports action is also necessary. We need more of a wider picture. They’re trying to cover it all up with a half an hour Engine Block show, which still falls way below expectations. Tin-top racing is spectacular, especially WTCC, DTM and V8 Spercars. But if you’re in India, NEO Sports provides NASCAR action LIVE and Delayed. They used to cover V8 SUpercars last year.

    2. NowImScared, it’s not that easy. Motorsport is spread out across other channels

      V8 Supercars – on AXN, oddly enough.
      WTCC – on Eurosport Asia – now there’s a contradiction in terms!
      NASCAR – not sure who has this now, but with ESPN having US rights to it, ESPNStar should have a good shot at getting this.

      I’m lucky I have AXN and Eurosport Asia, but it’s tough going to be a motorsport fan living in Asia.

  37. You are spot on, Jay. Steve Slater must go.

  38. I have a simple solution for Star Sports. Just simply follow Canada and Australia’s broadcasters’ examples. Do your own pre-race shows, then show the BBC race feed. If Bernie really does think Asia is an important growing region for F1, then surely a top class BBC F1 team will do wonders to attract/educate Asian fans to F1.

    Those clowns at Star Sports really do not cut it. During every race, me and my buddy would shout “Oh, Shut Up!” countless times at Steve Slater. How dare he calls himself a petrohead, when I think I know a lot more about F1 than him? He is annoying and plainly incompetent for the job.

    Here’s an example where top class F1 coverage vs Star Sports. My wife is at best a casual fan. Watching Star Sports, she gets really annoyed and would simply wander off after the 1st pit-stop (provided it is a “normal” race). But on occasions when she missed the live Star coverage, she watches the BBC coverage which I religiously download after every race, she is glued to the seats and says she’s amazed how informative the BBC crew are. She’s impressed by the live pit-lane driver interviews, and thinks F1 is just that much better with Martin Brundle on the mic.

    Here you go, another race weekend, another round of shouting at Steve Slater. Then desperately download the BBC coverage after the fact, and enjoy how the “real” F1 experience should be.

    Great post. I now know I’m not alone in thinking Star Sports is an insult to us F1 fans.

    1. Freeman, that’s exactly what I do. I watch the race on Sunday, then watch the BBC coverage on Monday. It’s amazing what you can learn from Brundle and Kravitz, even on a replay. For all of people’s criticisms about Legard and Allen, they’re both miles better than Slater.

  39. I wont say HARSH
    Yes Steve is not so good as u want any1 2 b.Chris was awesome.Alex does good.Karen is doing good.But my biggest frustration is commercial ads.It eats up more than 2/5 of the race.But thats all we can have here in asia.

    I pray they improve there coverage.

  40. From my recollection, the Singapore feed for race day has never been pre-empted or delayed by any other event, sporting or otherwise. Might need someone to confirm on this.

    Regarding the commentary and programme quality, I cringe whenever I think about the days when I thought Steve Slater was knowledgeable and engaging :D That was the early days, before I got to know the sport much more in-depth.

    I generally agree with the view that he is excessively talkative, incompetent, has poor grasp of the important things that are happening, and just far too excitable. I commend his enthusiasm, but calling every overtaking maneuver “absolutely SUPERB” and “FANTASTIC MOVE” cheapens the really good moments.

    The worst is when he sounds simply clueless. I remember this year in Sepang, he called Ferrari’s move to switch Kimi to full wets before the rain came as “potentially brilliant” (paraphrased). “HOW?!,” was my cry, together with a few million others I guess.

    I think he also completely missed why Glock was so slow in the last lap last season, but my heart was pounding too hard to hear properly, so I can’t be certain about that.

    Chandhok is great, Alex is ok, but the main problem is with Slater. The team does give information when the timings go green or purple, but hey, I have live timing
    for that myself.

    I’ve come to accept that advertisements are essential in the grand scheme of things, so don’t have many problems with them. Usually just switch to an online feed when that happens.

    I’ve never seen any other broadcasts of the race weekends, so I can’t compare well. Really have to get my hands on the BBC coverage.

    We badly need more people to watch the sport to get a critical mass, I suspect. I’m sure there WILL be more people watching from Singapore these few years, but the 4.8 million here can’t do much.

  41. In ASIA f1 viewers are less when compared to European continents. ESPN STARSPORTS have been broadcasting this F1 since a decade but no improvement at all!!!!! it remains the same .When it comes to INDIA,cricket is the only sport all people knows because of the vast popularity of this sport many sports are not shown that much interest and coming to F1,many people dont know what is meant by F1 also rather then educated people thats where the F1 stand in india !!!!!!!!!!!!! and ESPNSTAR sports as they dedicated 1 channel to cricket like that if they dedicate one channel to motorsports (oh will it happen ??? no but day dreaming)

  42. and to add to that, the commentary during the race/qualy are sometimes inaudible — but on the second thought, you may not want to hear ’em anyways ;)

  43. ok everybody..just forget star sports and every race please get yourself to a wifi hotspot and watch all sessions online from now on..fp1, fp2, fp3, qualy and race..

    goto, participate in live blogging, goto startup the live timing and open another window for the live feeds provided by f1fanatic..cheers

    btw, i have also met alex yoong courtesy of anthony hamilton and i can say that alex is useless, a shame to the nation, he was introduced to me by anthony but he just ignored me when i asked him a question 4 times, maybe i wasn’t rich so he didn’t want to bother..

    worst of all, anthony hamilton asked me earlier what i thought of alex and i let it rip..later anthony asked alex whether malaysia supports him and the answer was – “of course, they love me!” and anthony thought to himself – “well you haven’t met my friends have you?”. what a shame to the country..and he can’t commentate on the race properly either..he should go just like slater, paula and palar..

    my God..palar is the the money and throw him out pleae..

    1. Alvin, I’d keep Star Sports for the video quality, but little else. I keep their audio open sometimes so I can hear the cars properly, but if Slater gets too annoying, I mute him and switch to my BBC feed’s audio.

    2. Guys, thanks for all the comments, great to hear that there is support from the masses to diss the ESPN Star broadcast. I even sent them an email, stating their glaring reply as you’d expect.


      Do you mind me asking as yo how you get the BBC audio feed?

  44. Chris Goodwin was very good commentartor..and as many i really feel Steveslater is like a brand ambassador for lewis hamiltion rather than giving some insightful in to racing and sometimes he is totally underequipped with info. (for ex when alonso was qualified 2nd..he is quite interesting to see how KERS works at start of race..and truth is not Renault didn’t use KERS..). and the most disappointing is Alex young..and i really wonder he is past F1 driver. Karan gives very good insight in to technical handling of car etc.. overall ESPNSTAR has lot to do in finding good commentators..and moreover they take breaks at very important times. and more over most of breaks contain ads for EPSNSTAR programs rather ads that bring commercial money..hope ESPNSTAR improves..

    1. ok the race coverage , i think is spot on. most of the time , i get my f1 info here before the race, and i dont usually watch the pre race show of star, i only peek at paula, then i try to get a feed from jtv.

      i guess the problem is, if the race coincides with a football match, the football is shown firs(done it at time last year) i can understand if its a big four bpl match(only chelsea, man u, liverpool and arsenal have enough fans in asia) but why would i care if it was hull city vs middlesbrough, i mean i wouldn’t watch it, no disrespect, there aren’t many fans of some teams other than the four succesful teams, so why bring on f1 and i will watch the highlights of that football match later in sportcenter?

      you know. when i first saw the itv feed, i thought james allen was a genius, and brundle a god. lol then i saw comments against allen, but for me he was doing ok, compared to what we have. we had a feed of itv in 2005, shown by a sports cable channel called solar sports. but espn star stepped in and flushed out f1 from them, or else they would cancel the contract with the cable company and pull out their channels. shame, i always watch the feed from itv that year, coz star has a delayed live telecast. like 5-10 sec i suppose. sometimes the only way i watch raceday is to see what paula is wearing and imagining she’s going home to me tonight.haha then i get my f1 info here and other sites, classic videos etc, because we don’t get it here on star sports. i thank them for giving us dedicated football coverage, but not for f1. i mean the info i get from the net has more sense than what i get from raceday.

      i support the ausie way, i saw an old race on the net that the ausies presented but they bought the bbc/itv broadcast and its the one they air on tv.

  45. I totally agree on the quality of the show, it really needs a makeover.

  46. Sorry to respond to this so late. But you I think BTV coverage for Middle east is much worse..

    The Arabic Commentary is extremely rubbish. The guy never shut up. His voice is louder than engine noises..

    He is showing off his knowledge, trying to explain every single damn thing rather than concentrating on the race itself.

    During races I just hope he just shut up for one second.

    For me I would rather, watch the race without commentary.

  47. Totally agree with most of what you said. Slater must go – no quibbling there. Chandouk is good, as was Chris Goodwin – shame he went! I’m not hugely taken with Dawson – he always gives me the impression that he would be much happier commenting on football, and he, to me, is the one with the ‘groomed’ or coached comments.

    What’s wrong with Paula? I know that we are all supposed to be serious petrolheads and all that, and I am indeed one of those most of the time, but Paula injects an element of fun and humour into an otherwise pretty dull show. She somehow seems to be surrounded by mundane people, and thus stands out. Keep her, please, along with Chandouk, who will almost certainly move on to greater things next year.

    I agree again with your suggestions for improvement, especially where more technical information is needed, both before and during the race. How can the race commentators possibly do their job when they’re thousands of miles away? Lunacy!

    Jay – you can usually pick up the BBC audio and video feeds on one of the Justin TV channels, as recommended by The downside is that there is a delay of about three seconds between the Justin feed and the ESPN feed, so it doesn’t really work as an alternative source for good commentary.

    Does anyone else have a better solution?

    Nice article – thanks.


  48. Well.. Jay, youve said it all.. If its anything.. it might be a little too soft.. but definitely not harsh..

    Its time Star Sports had a self analysis and do something about their coverage.. We dont expect them to be the same as beeb.. but there are a lot of things that they could learn from them. and as most of you here agree i think Steve Slater should be replaced. People complain about james allen.. but if youve seen the asian broadcasts youll realize how good he is.. I mean who would be interested in listening to a commentator who cant recognize btw two drivers of the same team.. i mean sure the cars look similar n all but there are ways to identify it and if a commentator doesnt know tat, then he doesnt deserve to be commentator. But i don blame Slater alone for the bad service its Star sports as it is.. they don have paddock coverage. nothing from the track as is.. except for the 30sec when sanjeev appears on screen at the beginning of the race..

    With asia being such a huge market and with f1 moving to a lot of asian countries recently, the popularity of the sport has skyrocketed. I dont know why Bernie uncle would want to offer such poor service to a market with such potential. He should be tied to a chair and made to watch the Star Sports telecast of a race weekend! I’d love to watch his face when he finds out what ppl see f1 as, here in Asia.

  49. Ross Macfarlane
    10th May 2009, 14:58

    Steve Slater is the worst sports commentator I have ever listened to. He knows little, is overly opinionated considering his poor knowledge and is rude to his co-commentators.
    Worse he has an unfortunate tone and manner that just grates on the ears.
    I am lucky – i can switch on another channel and listen to the BBC feed – I only have to hear him when the other feed is on commercial breaks…I always felt that Chris Goodwin wanted to hit him when his interetsing insight would be inturrepted by Slaters uninformed interuption….
    ESPN – I know you have a low budget and Slater will work for peanuts – but please give someone else a try….I am fed up listening to a monkey!!!

    1. 1) Steve Slater must go…end of story. I’m at my wits end having to listen to such a bubbling idiot who has no comprehension of what good commentary is all about.

      2) Why in the hell do Star Sports insist on having ads every 5 laps when 95% of the content of the ads is promoting Star Sports coverage!!! If I’m already watching Star Sports I don’t need to be sold it again and again. WE ARE ALREADY PAYING FOR IT YOU F***** TOSSPOTS. I officially hate Star Sports and I hope all their scheduling genius’s get run over in a freak rhino stampede.

  50. Steve Slater is hopeless. He gets almost everything wrong. He attributes almost everything (like going off the track) to strategy. He doesn’t listen. He rudely and continually cuts off his colleague. Clearly ESPN don’t take F1 seriously or they would dump him.

  51. Coming from a TV network I can’t complain with their coverage. Of course, it could stand improvement but I think they did a fair job. Good to have non-technical people there also as a lot of potential F1 fans don’t know the first thing about racing. F1 is more a lifestyle event than pure racing anyway. I would like to see more stories about the drivers

  52. there a site dedicated especialy for this purpose

  53. well i live in india & watch f1 on star sports which is a pity.. The BBC sports telecast in UK is far better than this star sports telecast… The frequent breaks in between the races are annoying… But i think u people are to harsh on Steve slater he is not that bad a commentator… what i think is dat they should replace Karun Chandhok. They should also extend race analysis.

  54. well i live in india so i m forced to watch the star sports telecast of f1 which is a pity.. The BBC sport telecast in UK is much much better… & frequent advertisments between d race are annoying.. but i think u people are to harsh on steve slater, he is not so bad a commentator. What i think is that they should replace karun chandhok. Steve dawson is doing a good job.. The fact is that there is not much craze about f1 in asia as there in UK… so UK telecast is much better..

  55. I’m new to Malaysia; I’ve been brought up on BBC coverage and thought the brief ITV coverage was awful. However, I now forgive ITV having watched a race on Star Sports. I can ignore the commentary – although a woman in chatting about some drivel during the qualifying session right now. It’s the adverts that I find unbelievable. It was annoying during the last race, but to put adverts DURING a qualifying session is absolutely stupid. The amount of ads during the race is bad enough – seems every 2 or 3 laps they go off for a lpas worth of adverts. Murdoch’s link doesn’t surprise me with ESPNStar, his company(ies) has a poor reputation for quality of sports broadcast, even though he is able to buy the rights of all the sports. Just goes to so – profit ans sport don’t make good bedfellows.

  56. Ross Macfarlane
    12th September 2010, 3:16

    Please please please can espn retire steve slater….he cannot think and talk at the same time which seems to me to be an essential quality in commentary. Add to the fact he is so rude…cutting off the irish guy (and all comers before him) with inane observations. And finally his “i am shuuuuure” suffix comment leaves me hunting for the mute button…thank goodness i can also access bbc commentary for most races…
    i think the rest of the team are ok considering this is asia although the football guy is a bit out of his comfort zone….and paula is easy on the eye :)

  57. I realise that the F1 commentators are at the studio but that should not mean that we have to screw the sound up so high in order to hear them – especially the Irish guy mumbling away. He usually has something interesting to add but cannot be heard. Surely they can turn up the mikes – the annoying ad are always very loud, of course!

  58. I am currently in Thailand, watching the 2012 F1 Bahrain GP on Star Sports. There are two commentators. Karun Chandhok is cool, knowledgeable, confident and extremely good. Steven Slater is the polar opposite: he is useless. The OP was not too harsh but hit the nail on the head. For the good of the English-speaking Asian F1 audience, Star Sports needs to retire Slater and get someone who is Chandhok’s equal, but probably better at the dead-air-filling weightless commentary.

    1. They did have Gary Anderson co-commentating in 2010 and 2011 but he departed and I wasn’t surprised at all. The environment at Star Sports is so devoid of any real F1 juice. They wouldn’t ask Gary an good questions. And the questions from viewers which they ask people like Gary are so naive and elementary. I had emailed some quality questions to their ID but those were never asked. IMO even Yoong should go along with Steve Slater. He just does not have it in him. Star Sports also had Cosworth’s Mark Gallagher but that was only for one race this season.

Comments are closed.