Brundle and Coulthard expect unpredictable 2011


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Martin Brundle, David Coulthard, 2011

Between them they started over 400 Grands Prix and caused an enormous crash at the start of the Australian Grand Prix 15 years ago.

Now Martin Brundle and David Coulthard will be talking to 50 million English-speaking F1 fans every race weekend as they take over commentary duties at the BBC.

Speaking to F1 Fanatic at the BBC Television Centre in London Brundle said: “I think we’ve just scratched the surface of David’s understanding and knowledge and eloquence around F1. I’m looking forward to hearing it as much as sharing it.

“I’m not going to suddenly pretend I suddenly don’t know anything about Formula 1 any more. I’ll do the shouty bit but we’ll debate things, we’ll disagree on things, we’ll tell the story, hopefully, in an informative and entertaining way, and I’m really motivated by it.”

Sure enough, the two have very different views on what’s going to be the big talking point of the year.

“The tyres are the same for everybody”

Brundle expects the switch to Pirelli tyres to play the biggest role in determining car performance but Coulthard sees it differently:

“The way I see it is the tyres are the same for everybody. They’ve got two choices of tyre, Pirelli will obviously have designed those tyres based around the cars they’ve had available to them for testing. They’ve had an old Toyota Formula 1 car and some GP2 cars for testing.

“But what they deliver to the race track will be the same for everyone. A good car will exploit the potential of that tyre, whether it’s a Pirelli or a Bridgestone. There’s no question that certain cars have a particularly characteristic movement and they interact with suspension or geometries of individual cars.”

Coulthard expects the rear wings to play a major role this year:

Button and Hamilton mark Coulthard's final F1 race in 2008

“What I think is going to be a bigger influence is how efficient people make their slot gap openers. How predictable that is for the driver, the variation in how the airflow re-attached. That will come down to research in the wind-tunnel, things like that.

“I don’t see the tyres as being the biggest deciding factor between the teams because they’re all the same. How those cars interact with the tyres will be different. But, presuming they’ve all got their models working well, it will be the other gizmos and gadgets that make a difference: downforce, drag and so on.”

Although there have been suggestions the Pirelli tyres will degrade extremely quickly, forcing drivers to make up to four pit stops, Coulthard doesn’t see that happening:

“Of course there will be degradation on the tyres and Pirelli are very hopeful about trying to create a drop-off. And I think that’s a good thing.

“We saw it at Canada with the Bridgestones, we all were supportive of having tyres with a bigger variation. Then the driver has to commit to how does he handle the degradation and everything.

“But it remains to be seen whether these are just tyres that are falling to pieces – which I would be surprised about – versus tyres that the actual properties change as the tyre wears and it loses grip.”

Coulthard doesn’t foresee any difficulty explaining the new Drag Reduction System – which can only be activated at certain times on certain parts of the circuit – to viewers:

“They’re not complicated. They might be to people who are not involved in Formula 1 for 20 years or whatever I’ve been.

“I’ve been involved in Formula 1 for 18 years now test driving and racing, and it makes it pretty logical to me what’s going to be interesting is using all of the tools the BBC use to explain it to the public in a way that they get it straight away.”

Rear wings worth ’70 or 80 horsepower’

Massa activates Ferrari's Drag Reduction System

Brundle adds that he expects the wings will provide a significant performance boost:

“The FIA haven’t finalised exactly when you’ll be able to open the slot gap in your rear wing and how long for. I think they’ll fine-tune that depending on how many straights there are on a race track and how long those straights are. There’s a fudge factor that’s going into this.

“But, fundamentally, you open the slot gap by 40mm and you’re going to go faster. I’m told by a couple of F1 people who should know that it’s the equivalent of 70 or 80 horsepower which is the power of a little mini shopping car or something.

“I just hope it doesn’t end up being artificial, and being a slam dun for the driver behind.”

But unlike Coulthard, Brundle doesn’t believe the wings will be the big talking point of the year: “I think it’s all going to be completely overridden by the Pirelli tyres.”

“I’ve done my apprenticeship”

And he’s not much moved by concerns that BBC’s commentary team will suffer for having two former racing drivers without a journalist: “Was Murray Walker a journalist? A classically-trained journalist? I don’t think so.”

He adds: “I’ve had 14 years now as a commentator. I’ve been talking into cameras for 35 years as a racing driver. So I think I know a lot about Formula 1 and I now know a lot about broadcasting.

“I think I’ve done my apprenticeship. I also write 60,000 words a year as a journalist. I can write a mean column if I want to.

“Our job is to explain what’s going on in a highly complex, fast-moving sport to well north of 50 million English-speaking people around the world. I feel very well qualified to do that.”

Brundle believes this year’s races will be “harder to keep hold of” than they were last season:

“Which is a good thing because last year’s they’d get off the line, you knew they were going to stop once, and it was quite easy to predict the race thereafter.”

This year he expects “a little bit of unpredictability. I think it’s going to be very exciting.”

2011 F1 season

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Images © F1 Fanatic, Red Bull/GEPA, Ferrari spa

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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66 comments on “Brundle and Coulthard expect unpredictable 2011”

  1. I think I’ve done my apprenticeship.

    Yup, sure have and I’m happy the BBC have decided to trust in him to take the lead. I’m looking forward to this year’s commentary :)

    1. (But it’s not Brundle we are worried about)

      1. It will be better for the F1 fan as opposed to the casual fan. I’m sure Martin will be fine as a commentator, just needs to get a bit more emotinal sometimes.

      2. DC is going to be a bit awkward for his first few races, but I suspect he will quickly find a rhythm and improve…. I very much doubt we will have someone as terrible as Legard commentating our races at all….

        Give him some time before you start judging.

        1. Was I judging? I just said I was worried.

          I think Brundle will, as always, do a fantastic job, He is without a doubt the most qualified man for the job.

          In the same way that Murry grew as he commentated, so has Brundle. Good luck!

          1. I didn’t mean to imply that YOU were judging, just passing comment that I am sure that there be lots of people posting post melbourne about how bad DC is and how he should never be let on tv again….

            and that i wish those people would take a moments thought to consider the job that DC is stepping into and give him a few races to get comfortable before they start to launch the criticism ;-)

          2. @Andy
            I’ll happily give DC a chance, I just hope he doesn’t spend half his air time praising red bull like he did this year!

  2. Nice interview.

    Agree completely with Brundle, the tyres will be the biggest factor this year, I would be very worried if the rear wing devices played such a big part that they became the biggest factor. Ideally they are an aide to potential overtaking, rather than an automatic push-to-pass.

    1. I fear that tyres will be the biggest factor this year too.

      I’d rather that the drivers would make a difference.

      1. I see the two as one and the same – the tyres will show up the differences between the drivers.

        1. It will make a difference in the drivers “for sure”. They will all be turned into tyre saving zombies.

          Any difference that there was between drivers will be banished out. No more overtaking or such fancy stuff. Just do your laps and wait for a pitstop to get past.

          1. What with KERS, DRS and ‘edgy’ tyres, It really beggars belief that someone actually sees that as how the races will pan out!

            There will be those that can save their tyres and those that can’t. There will be those that use KERS correctly and those that don’t. There will be those that can get themselves into a position to use their DRS and those that can’t.

            Or you could take all of those things away and go back to how it used to be – processional.

          2. In addition to what VXR said

            There will be those who find that being on the right tyre at the right time will make all the difference. Tyre saving zombies should be easy pickings for drivers on new rubber, especially when they have kers and the rear wing to play with.

            That said I suspect the first race will be dull, just like it was last year… the teams have a couple of massive new factors to play with and I suspect they will be conservative… Unless the rain hits Melbourne again that is…

        2. Agreed. But it’s only too obvious that it will.

          1. It wasn’t processional last year, it was one of the best seasons ever, and that’s in 30 years of watching F1 (and not because the championship fight, I mean individual races).
            The biggest thing that can mess this season is the tyres, that is a major concern, at this moment in time KERS and DRS will have little impact when a car is lap 5 seconds a lap slower because the tyres have fell off the performance cliff nothing else will matter. Its not racing its a lottery.

        3. Nice to see both give a bit different view, good for arguments. But as you say Keith, it is all about what driver and car combo is kinder on its tyres (or gets the Q3 speed) and what driver+car better uses its KERS and rear wing better.

          I get the feeling Brundle will probably focus a bit more on strategy (Legard never really let him) and DC will be able to highlight different usage of the wing especially.

          By the way, James Allen shows a comparison of the testing times development between 2010 and 2011 where you can very clearly see, that the cars get faster on Bridgestones and slower on Pirellis. Pretty neat, and defenitely a big factor in races.

          1. Didn’t Pirelli say the other day though, that the tyres would perform differently in races due to the higher temperatures that will be expected during the fly-away and summer european races?

            They’re built to operate at high temperatures so until we see how they fair in that circumstance there is no way of really knowing how they will affect races.

            Lower Temp = Less Grip = More Sliding = More Degredation.

      2. If you just want the drivers to make a difference, why not have them all just driving the same car?

        And isn’t it the job of the driver to “make a difference” with the tools that he’s been given?

        Anyway, this is F1, and more than any other motorsport it’s still really the money that makes a difference.

        1. They can not really make the difference anymore because the tyres don’t allow this.

          The only difference they CAN make is to see if their tyres last maybe a lap longer. Or degrade a bit less.

          1. It is up to the driver to use the tyre in a way that makes it last. It’s a ‘skill’ that some drivers have and that some drivers need to get a hold of.

            The Pirelli tyres, more than any F1 tyre ever before, will allow the drivers to do this.

          2. The tyres are the same for every driver and team, it’s the cars which are the biggest differintiator

          3. I would expect the driver to have to do his own with the tyres to make them last, the only way for tires not to allow for that is if they are indestructable and stay hard/without grip no matter what you do.

        2. Yes but I don’t want to see drivers running at 70%.
          I’d rather 100% and not one overtake.

          1. A car being driven at 100% isn’t necessarily a physical thing. Rally cars barely generate any sort of g’s, but many say that they are far more ‘difficult’ to drive than F1 cars.

            F1 cars, in 2011, will still have be driven at 100%. If they aren’t, then you lose!

          2. No can’t agree,
            I’m not talking about physicality.
            I talking about drivers lapping 3 – 4 seconds slower that they could just because they have to preserve the tyres.
            It’s in danger of becoming an exercise in putting in the lap times the engineers inform the drives target.
            If you drive 100% in 2011 you’ll be looking at 4 or 5 pitstops unless they improve the tyres. It gone too far the other way from last year there should be some middle ground.
            I don’t want to see people driving to theoretical target laps because that is a computer prediction of the fastest way to complete the race.

          3. I would disagree. If you drive that fast that your tyres only last a lap or so then IMHO that would be classed as over-driving.

          4. Honestly BBT, if someones lapping 3-4 seconds off the laptime they could be getting, somebody whos pushing hard could make a pitstop every 10 laps and stay ahead of them.

      3. Drivers wont be the main factor as long as the cars will be different :)

  3. I hope I get to hear some of their commentary this season. I’m located in “SPEED” territory.

    1. Last year ‘SPEED’ territory would have been a blessing. We’ll see what these two characters are like this year.

      1. We get lots of ads on SPEED though unfortunately.

    2. In Canada we get the race in TSN, luckily the commentry feed comes in from BBC….woooo hoooo

      but the flip side is TSN doesn’t care about F1. They never did. I still have no clue if the race telecast is going to be in HD here. SPEED is better in this area.

    3. Within 2-300 mile-o-meters of the boarder you could capture tsn/bbc on a dish.

      English Global Broadcast ?

      race booth: Varsha,Roary Byrne, Brundle

      roving reports: Coulthard, Alan Jones/Prost

      managing director: Pierre Luiggi Martini

  4. Will we still have Jake Humphrey and Eddie Jordan too?

    1. Yes they still present the show Luis, DC and Brundle are the commentary team.

  5. I think that Brundle and Coulthard will make a good team. Unfortunatley, here in Thailand we get the Star Sports commentary, ie, Steve Slater screaming mindlessly into a microphone. Oh well, we can always turn it down…

    Bring on Australia…………..!

    1. I am in Thailand too, I know what you mean. Even if it is broadcast in HD, I don’t think we will see true HD. I don’t think I have seen any show on any channel here in HD. I tend to download the BBC broadcast, but that is usually a day late and it is really really hard to discipline myself to wait for that.

  6. ‘will be talking to 50 million English-speaking F1 fans ‘

    wait how come? the BBC only broadcast to the UK? we certainly don’t have 50 million f1 fans here!

    1. i think they are reffering to all the other countries that pick up their commentry. We in NZ get the bbc commentry 4 the practice seasions and race, which im reeally happy about. a few other countries must get them to.
      Im really looking forward to hearing them this year, should be good

    2. In Canada, we BBC commentary for quali & the race. Unfortunately, we don’t get pre or post race coverage. I have to download those from torrents.

    3. in Australia we also utilize the BBC commentary, and thank the universe for that! go go Brundle!

  7. just thought you’d be interested to know, everyone’s favorite commentator Jonathan Legard is now on the BBC’s Football League Show (football) as a reporter – must be disappointed he’s not allowed to shout at things anymore

    1. Football is where he came from, and that’s where he should have stayed.

      Back to the tyres thing.

      Last season the drivers went on about how frail the tyres would be, and that they would only last a few laps before they would have to pit again.

      Remember the Bahrain race where they tip-toed their way around?

      Well it turned out that not only did they not have to pit very often (just the mandatory once, except for Canada of course) but that they could have probably done most races on the softest compounds, not pitted, and still have managed to set their fastest lap at the end of it. The tyres were too good. Thank goodness Pirelli have seen the light. Just get on with it!

      1. Need happy middle ground though. Look at James Allens blog.

      2. in some ways it will be less artificial as now drivers will have to pit as their tyres are shot, rather than having to pit because the rule says they have to at least once. Okay there is still the artificiality of having to use both compounds, but it is a better compromise than last year where as VXR says in many races they wouldn’t have had to stop at all.
        Ideally they should be supplied with the tyres and the teams and drivers should then decide what is the best strategy – without any mandatory changes. That might work nicely with the degradation forcing some changes and IF the soft is significantly faster than the hard for enough laps to make it an option.

      3. To be fair, he did F1 on 5Live before his football stint.

    2. He’s also presenting the Sports News on the Today Programme on Radio 4 which is actually quite a top job in the Beeb. He seems to be doing quite well for himself now…

  8. HounslowBusGarage
    22nd February 2011, 21:23

    Brundle has matured enormously behind the mike and is now a consummate communicator on every level. DC still has to loosen up a bit and find his own style, but I have no doubt that these two will develop and express contrasting opinions thereby giving us insightful commentary without Legard’s awful ‘wall-of-sound’ technique.

    1. The phil spector of grim chat!

    2. I don’t know Brundle behind the mike (i’m Italian)but i think it was a great driver, one of my favourite English driver.

  9. I just youtubed that crash and it was spectacular!

    1. It was… I saw it at the time… nobody could believe it when Brundle started legging it back to the pits to get into the spare car before the race restarted!

  10. People have their own takes on what will be the deciding factor or most exciting variable of the season – the truth is none of us know and will continue not to know until the season gets under way. And that is why it’s going to be so exciting :)

  11. The start of a grand prix is usually what determines the quality of a commentator
    I see both ex drivers as pretty laid back in their commentries, perhaps this comes from having to be cool while working under pressure during their racing years.
    They are better at analysis wether they get it right or not.

    F1 has no mood music, so its the job of the commentator to help convey that mood to the viewer. Which brings me back to the start of a race. That is usually the most exciting moment of the grand prix and a commentator has to add to the excitement level. That extra adrenalin rush helps one get through the 3rd lap depression that fllows, as the cars settle into their monotony.

  12. great stuff! I awalys knew Brundle would eventually take Murray Waker’s spot, and deserving he is too.

    My only problem is that I’ve moved to Tanzania, where my internet speed is 236kbps, (GSM EDGE ONLY) and this year they’re broadcastng in HD!! :(

    I have avidly followed all the practice sessions, qualy and race on iplayer since the BBC took control, and now I’m gonna have to download the races (in SD cos it’ll take years to get the HD versions) and watch them days after they’ve happened. I’m a die-hard fanatic (like most of you) so it doesn’t bother me too much, I still watch even if i know the outcome, but so sad i’m missing out on HD this year, especially as i brought my computer and HD monitor out with me. Might even get me mum to record it for me on SkyHD and send it out on DVD, could be quicker than downloading.. sadly.

    1. South Africa M Net / DSTV broadcast into Africa via satellite decoder also in HD. And we get the BBC commentary. I know that you can pick it up as far north as Nigeria. May be something you can look into.

  13. VXR said:

    >There will be those that can get themselves into a >position to use their DRS and those that can’t.

    Imagine that DRS is not realy useful except for, say, Hamilton. He is very aggresive and he gets the knack on passing just pushing the button. No one else does, but for him is like that.

    What do you think will happen to the regulations?

    1. There are many in F1 that can overtake as well as Hamilton can. The question he and his team should be asking themselves is to why he needed to overtake as much as he did?

      And I don’t think that being overly “aggressive” is going to do any drivers any favours this season.

      The regulations will probably get altered slightly during the first few races. Or, if the DRS don’t work, then the FIA will simply have the teams turn them off.

  14. I vote for Keith to present the F1.

  15. Overjoyed that Legard won’t be ruining race weekends anymore, Brundle and Coulthard are two of the best commentators anywhere, what a delight!

    Gonna be a cracking season… :)

  16. You can’t read too much into the tyre performance just yet. They’ve been testing in relatively cool temperatures which will obviously affect how much heat the drivers can get into the tyres. They’re built to operate in a higher temperature range than we’ve seen so far in testing.

    As someone else has mentioned, look at the Bridgestones last year, the drivers predicted they’d fall away after a handful of laps and then we saw Button doing well over half a race distance on the softs in Abu Dhabi.

    1. I think that both Button and Rosberg did around 50 laps each on the softer tyre in Abu Dhabi, and remember that this tyre hadn’t been changed in any way whatsoever since the start of the season!

      There is no doubt that the Pirelli tyres will be much better on a track with higher temperatures. But hopefully, not that much better! :)

  17. I thought they came off as a bit arrogant in the interview. I like Brundle, but I’m not convinced about Coulthard. I mean, he doesn’t think tires will be one of the biggest stories? Both of them have been apologists for the F1 status quo, which I find off-putting. The best thing about BBC coverage is no commercials.

    1. Sometimes Coulthard’s ‘that has always been the way it is in F1’ line, does start to grate a bit after a while. Maybe because he always fell foul of the way F1 was more than any other driver?

      It’s certainly a good thing that team orders are legal again this season!

  18. Great insight into what I think will be a historic pairing. Also I hope they argue the toss over tyres vs. DRS :D

  19. Undoubtedly an unpredictable season awaits. Lots of offs and ons. Great news for fans, difficult to swallow for drivers and bookees. I have no set favorites, I just love exciting races so I am extremely thrilled. Sure, RedBull and Ferrari seem to have the upper hand, but with all the elements from tires to DRM and marbles, this is going to be very unpredictable. I expect a lot of crashes, DNF’s, ticked off drivers and unimaginable things.

    Bring on 2011! It’s going to be great.

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