Andrew Benson: BBC F1 writer

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    Lucas Wilson

    Does anyone else think that he is the worst F1 writer currently?

    Can’t stand his clear hatred of Hamilton.


    Yes, he is notorious for his anti-Hamilton comments. British media have something against this kid, i am not going to say what as it will probably breech some forum rules, but if Hamilton was of any other nationality he would be treated as a king. Jenson is loved by the media and rightly so, he’s a nice guy, word champion, but there is a stark difference the way British media pampers JB as opposed to LH. Just imagine if Lewis was still at McLaren and struggling, think of the criticism etc. he would receive.

    Lucas Wilson

    Yes British media do seem to have a problem. A joke a few years ago is that people noticed that Martin Brundle used to interview Hamilton only if he had a bad race :-)


    I’ve read plenty of Benson articles, but I’ve never noticed any dislike towards Hamilton. Do you have any articles in mind, @full-throttle-f1, in which this dislike is clear?


    He used to show a MAJOR dislike of Schumacher. His horribly biased articles means i almost totally ignore his work

    Alex green

    Benson is about the only british journo that doesnt have his head up hamiltons rear end,the british press are poor when it comes to the reporting of other teams/drivers(apart from maclaren)I quite like being overseas just for some neutral press


    So far we have a lot of shrill complaints and nothing to back any of it up. I don’t want a thread that’s just indiscriminately slagging someone off.


    It seems to me that there are a lot of people out there who want to shout about biased journalism when a journalist doesn’t agree with their (usually very biased) personal opinion. There are also some who seem to think that journalists should act in some sort of national interest, and never be critical of sportsmen and women of their nationality. All of which is utter rot – journalists have an obligation to report the truth, no matter how unpalatable it might appear to fans. If a driver is performing badly, then people like Benson should rightly point it out. The one thing I have noticed is that, positive or otherwise, Benson seems to concentrate far more attention on the British drivers than others, which I’m not sure is really fair in the scheme of things.

    We are lucky here in the UK that our press is generally free of this sort of nationalism, and that we can rely on the media to tell us the truth. If we start trying to convince ourselves that we as laypeople know more than those whose job it is to be involved with, and report on, a certain sport, then we have moved away from the principles of sportsmanship, and are living in a fantasy world. Journalists should be under no obligation whatsoever to ‘support’ a certain driver, and if they were then they aren’t really journalists at all; just wheels in the driver’s PR machine.



    Hear, hear.


    @MazdaChris, I agree with most of what you say, but I’m a bit puzzled by this:

    If we start trying to convince ourselves that we as laypeople know more than those whose job it is to be involved with, and report on, a certain sport, then we have moved away from the principles of sportsmanship, and are living in a fantasy world.

    Why couldn’t an F1Fanatic, who spends a lot of time each day reading and discussing F1 news, know more than somebody reporting on the sport?



    I understand why you’d think that, but realistically a fanatic, even a very well read one who devotes a huge amount of time to enhancing their understanding of the sport, is never going to be as clued up as a ‘proper’ journalist. By which I mean someone who attends races, conducts in-depth interviews with people directly involved in the sport, and has high level contacts who can drip through insider information. The key difference you need to keep in mind is that everything a fanatic consumes is second hand. Journalists get their information direct from the source. We may spend a couple of hours a day reading the latest tidbits, while a proper journalist makes it a full time job, reading just as much as you do while also gathering information from lots of sources that you and I could never hope to access. I keep this in mind whenever I read a piece from a respected journalist which expresses an opinion which I didn’t hold myself already – while I could probably construct a compelling argument as to why my opinion is more valid, the undeniable fact is that no matter how much time I spend reading the internet, my opinion will never be as well informed as that of the journalist, and so I must usually defer to their superior knowledge on the subject.

    After all, what’s the point in a journalist who knows less than a fan?


    One of the unfortunate consequences of living in the age of the internet, is that literally anybody can create a website and claim to be an expert on a subject. As a result, F1 sites with article after article written by people who have never even attended a race, litter the internet. Their content containing nothing more than plagiarised and regurgitated information the ‘writer’ has taken from more authoritative sources. In true Chinese-whispers style, you end up with reports which are several generations removed from the original source, and bear little if any resemblance to real life factual reporting. If you’re a fan, relying on these sources for your F1 knowledge, then you’re at risk of being misled by people whose goal is not to inform people, but rather for the self-aggrandisement of the author. Forming an opinion based on things you’ve read on the internet, then, is a dangerous business, for there are as many armchair experts out there as there are stars in the sky.

    The upshot of all of this is that readers become suspicious of everything they read, including material which comes from genuine sources. This, I think, is why Benson comes in for such a raw deal – he’s bombarded by armchair experts who read something somewhere that disagreed with what Benson is saying, and lack the requisite skills to understand the difference between proper journalism and creatively written fiction.

    This is why there are very very few sources I would ever rely upon for genuine F1 news and insights. Autosport is probably the best, and if you don’t have one already you should get a subscription to Autosport +, because then you’ll see the power of proper journalism and get an insight that you’ll never see on 99% of ‘F1 sites’ out there. But even reading these excellent, insightful articles, I would never fool myself into thinking that I had some kind of deep understanding as a result – at best I’d simply be repeating what I’d read, which is no better than those I criticise. An insightful article written by a decent journalist will, even a very long one, be comprised of little more than snippets of the sum of the information which went into its creation. When you see a well written article which talks at length about elements of Concorde for instance, you are seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the agreement contains. The journalist will have gone through a long process of research, whittling down a huge body of information, sorting out what’s relevant and what’s not, but all the time assimilating the information they are discarding. The journalist then, through the process of writing a piece, will gain far more knowledge and understanding of the sport than the article itself could ever hope to convey to the reader. And that is why a fan, even one who reads almost everything there is to read on the subject of F1, will never be quite as well informed as the journalists who write the pieces the fan reads.


    @mazdachris, I’d like to subscribe to the view you’re presenting here, but I think it’s a little too romantic, and too black-and-white.

    I think I disagree with two things, the first is that fans can never have the knowledge of a journalist, and the second that having first-hand knowledge is a prerequisite to having an equally informed opinion.

    To start with the latter, I wasn’t there at the beginning of F1Fanatic, but I’m guessing Keith’s access to first-hand information was limited also, which did not stop him from setting up an interesting blog.

    As for the first point, I think in F1 much of a journalist’s information is second-hand anyway. Formula 1 is a very closed world, and I suspect there are only a few journalists who have a lot of access to the people in F1.

    To conclude, I think it is possible to write interesting opinions and analyses with second-hand information, and also to write uninspiring pieces with first-hand information. I believe for someone who writes F1 articles, his or her qualities as a writer and an analyst are more important than the source of the information.

    Jon Sandor

    A good sports reporter has three missions to accomplish.

    1) The transmission of factual information – not only who won the race but a huge amount of technical background information explaining how and why they won. Gary Anderson generally fills this role in the BBC F1 crew.

    2) Talking with the parties involved to get the “inside scoop”. At its best this can result in the readers gaining valuable insights, but it can easily degenerate into little more than malicious gossip – “Sources say that Kimi Raikonnen eats his boogers”.

    3) While all journalists have the above two functions, sports journalists have an extra one – they (ideally) love the sport they are covering and the transmit that love to their readers. They care about the integrity of the sport and its history, and they put the accomplishments of todays champions into historical context. Unlike the weather or business news, people follow sports for emotional reasons, so hyperbole which would be completely out of place in covering stocks is almost required in covering sports. Good sports reporters are in the business of myth making.

    I find F1 journalists in general (present company excepted) to be rather poor at their jobs compared to the journalists in other sports which I follow. Benson, whose particular job niche seems to be the second category I mentioned, strikes me as a fairly average example of the breed given their generally low standards. Why so many Hamilton fans are fixated on him is a mystery.


    “Sources say that Kimi Raikonnen eats his boogers”


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