Terrible F1 Lead Commentator

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    Joe Crecca

    TO: ESPN Ombudsman

    FROM: Long time Formula 1 fan

    Subject: How to Make watching F1 on ESPN enjoyable

    Watching Formula 1 racing on ESPN IS NOT ENJOYABLE!

    The main reason it is not enjoyable is not your video coverage but rather your lead commentator whose name I believe is David Croft. Please let me elucidate on that comment.

    David Croft’s almost sole mode of delivery is high CFM (High cubic feet per minute) hot airflow at ever-increasing levels of pitch, maximum words per minute (Think, “Gatling Gums”) and decibel level. He maintains that for the first third of a race before he seems to calm down a bit. If there’s an attempt to pass, or God forbid, and actual one where one driver overtakes another then it’s gloves off and back to the endless screaming. How David Croft covers starts are the worst by the way. How long can you listen to this sort of aural onslaught?

    It has gotten to the point where after a few minutes following the start I mute the sound and watch the race in silence. And if I turn on the captions that blocks a portion of the screen which is already masked on the left by the race standings and the top and bottom by all too frequent info boxes.

    This is a ridiculous happenstance when being able to hear the power units should be part of the fun. THAT IS HOW ANNOYING CROFT’S COMMENTARY IS! I am forced to turn the sound off otherwise I’d have to turn the race off!

    One point must be made crystal clear: What makes watching the race or any sports event enjoyable is NOT THE COMMENTARY! IT’S THE RACING! What you have in F1 is just the opposite. The commentary is detracting rather than enhancing the viewer’s experience.

    There are several F1 fans I know who have actually stopped watching F1. One of the reasons is David Croft’s exasperating commentary.

    Before ESPN took over coverage of F1 races it was on several different channels. But the 3-man team doing the commentary on all but the last two channels were Bob Varsha, David Hobbs & Steve Matchett. In the pits was Will Buxton. Bob, David & Steve were perfect in every way. Will Buxton had a proclivity to drone on forever and was annoying because of that and the fact that he sounded like a duck. Strangely, whoever you have in the pits also has a voice like a duck!

    SOLUTION? Bring back Varsha, Hobbs and Matchett. And Peter Windsor should take over pit commentary.

    Then along came Leigh Diffey from Australia and Bob Varsha was sidelined. Hey, folks. Since you are broadcasting in America would it be too much to ask for an American commentator? Diffey had a marked tendency to raise his voice to a crescendo in volume and pitch over the slightest, e.g., cars touching, passes or attempt to, wheel lock-ups, you know truly significant things that happen in racing all the time – Not. By marked contrast Hobbs & Matchett maintained their usual level of verbal decorum.

    By the way, why is it all you broadcasting companies hire foreigners to be race commentators in America?

    Besides my issues with commentators here are some other general observations:

    1. KUDOs for broadcasting the entire race without a commercial break!

    2. In the Bahrain race I did not see/hear even one in-car camera segment.

    3. Anthony Davidson, Paul DiResta and Martin Brundle are all OK.

    4. Team radio exchanges are too often ignored or not carried. Since team radio is difficult to understand the commentators should take responsibility to stop their chatter, listen intently to what is being said and then clearly inform the viewers about what’s happening.

    Thank you for considering the points I have tried to make in improving ESPN viewer experience when tuning in ESPN especially Formula 1.

    Joe Crecca
    North Bend, Washington

    P.S. How do I get this to ESPN? I tried and could not find a way. Thank you.

    James Brickles

    Couldn’t agree more. I watched Channel 4’s highlights as well as the YouTube highlights. For whatever reason, David Croft feels the need to just shout at everything he sees and it ends up sounding really forced and disingenuous, whereas Ben Edwards has a much more natural and more pleasing delivery. I think it’s because Edwards’ background is in motorsports and understands the excitement of a race, whereas Croft is just a sports commentator.

    Ben Needham

    I also don’t rate David Croft and find him difficult to listen to. Ben Edwards is far better and easier on the ear. Croft seems to love shouting at the most minor event taking place and it never feels like genuine excitement. I wasn’t a fan of James Allen either, but at least you could sense he was enjoying what he was watching.

    Of course, those of us who were around for the Murray Walker era have been spoilt in that regard. He made mistakes of course, but it was only through his gut-busting, mind-boggling excitement at what was unfolding in front of him. Perhaps it’s nostalgia, but I will forever love listening to Murray Walker’s commentary and his successors have all come up short.


    I like Croft although he’s short on info like lap times, positions after pit stops etc so you must follow closely yourself. You can’t just lean back and enjoy the show like top commentators allow you to.

    “He’s gaining” doesn’t tell me much. The contrived last laps ‘drama’ is also getting old.

    If you don’t like shouty and screamy, just be thankful you didn’t have to listen to Murray.

    Euro Brun

    Sadly i think you’ve missed the point on ESPN’s coverage…

    It is Sky F1s coverage that ESPN simply forward on (with extra advert breaks), hence you won’tget any American commentatos, neither will ESPN have any input on this front.
    This is because ESPN do not want to soend a penny more than the pittance they are already paying to fill the gap in coverage after NBC dropped out. NBC was given grief at times, but I guess you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone.
    Downside is now Sky are also owned by Comcast, if NBC get the rights back, it’ll probably be the same unless some serious backing cones in, or maybe a good American driver gets into a top team (or Hass are competing for the championship!).

    In solidarity, I also get angry with Croft, but mainly cos he misses so much then gets excited about something that he’s wrong about anyway!


    “In solidarity, I also get angry with Croft, but mainly cos he misses so much then gets excited about something that he’s wrong about anyway!”
    Tell me about it, I think I probably annoy my family even more by shouting at the idiot on the TV as if he can hear me. I don’t remember getting annoyed at the commentators for any other series, even John Watson occasionally says something of value.

    The issue seems to be people more interested in football commentating on F1, Legard was the same (although he did seem to be earnestly trying to learn whereas Croft has never improved). When they get overexcited about every little thing it undermines the emotion when something actually exciting happens.

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