The BBC F1 magazine was released yesterday, and in it contains a few interesting tidbits from BBC F1′s editor, Mark Wilkin.
The first is that, according to Wilkin, we will be getting a complete overhaul of the World Feed, with a new graphics set. Wilkin, speaking to the magazine, said “Together with our Host Broadcast partners, FOM, we have been developing a new graphics package, with much more information. This will enable commentators Ben Edwards and David Coulthard to be aware of what is happening on the track and in the pitlane and to be able to interpret it for the audience.” Given that specific reference is made to Edwards and Coulthard, it is clear to me that Wilkin is referring to the World Feed, although I imagine BBC’s own graphics have been tweaked slightly too.
A new graphics package is not a surprise, 2014 is a ‘new formula’, and it makes sense to overhaul everything from the bare bones upwards from a graphics perspective. It would be the third major iteration in graphics since 2004, the first from 2004 to 2009 was in the form of ‘squares’, with the second, more ‘swoosh’ style from 2010 to 2013. It is not too surprising to see BBC working with FOM on that, and they would not have been the only broadcaster to get involved, Sky would have been involved to along with a host of other foreign broadcasters. Obviously FOM never officially confirm graphic set changes, so I think we will have to wait and see until Australia to see what exactly has changed regarding the graphics, but there will be at least some change anyway.
Meanwhile, BBC have invested in a tablet for David Coulthard to use in the paddock. Wilkin notes that Coulthard “will be able to review footage and control the pictures”, and that the addition will be “a new dimension for the post-qualifying and post-race analysis which promises to be an exciting part of the coverage.” Whilst I am happy that it is in the paddock, and not in a cupboard like Martin Brundle had to suffer in the early part of 2011, this appears to be a rip-off of the Sky Pad. Of course, Sky have ripped off BBC ideas in the past (from the basics back in 2012 vs BBC in 2011) but it doesn’t make it any better. It’ll be interesting to see it on screen though, but whether it is actually a necessity, I don’t know. The last thing we want is for both shows to look and feel identical aside from the talking heads.
Lastly, highlights of the Brazilian Grand Prix appear to be getting a primetime slot. The magazine has a start time of 20:00, presumably both BBC Two, for both days. I expect that this hinges on whether it is a title decider or not, a title decider involving a British driver could see a very late move to BBC One (although this is unlikely), but on the other hand if the title has already been decided then it could well be 22:30. In other words I don’t think this tells us much.
It has been over one hundred days since Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to win the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix to close off what was a dominant end of the season for him. Every year, it feels like the Winter is longer than the previous one, despite it being statistically quite the opposite with the Grand Prix season finishing later as the years progress. The rule makers can change things all they want, but one thing remains the same: the excitement that most fans feel when March comes around every year. Formula 1 is back!
The Australian Grand Prix as always is the traditional curtain opener, as they say, there simply is not a better place for a race. So, what has changed on the broadcasting side of things in the off-season? If you watch Sky Sports F1 throughout the season, you will be glad to know that no one has left, and only one addition in Bruno Senna. Simon Lazenby is back as presenter for a third season, alongside Damon Hill, Johnny Herbert and Anthony Davidson. Senna will be there for seven races, so used in rotation with the three already mentioned. Martin Brundle (entering year 18!) and David Croft remain as commentators, with Natalie Pinkham and Ted Kravitz roving the pit-lane. Steve Rider is also back presenting F1 Legends, and whilst Juan Pablo Montoya may not exactly be deserving of the title ‘F1 Legend’, I am definitely looking forward to that edition, airing in the post-Melbourne slot. I’ve moved all the classic F1 details down the page, for anyone looking for that.
Whilst Sky’s line-up is largely the same, it is made stronger by the fact that BBC have made their line-up, in my opinion, weaker. The trio of Suzi Perry, Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard return, Coulthard also joining Ben Edwards again in the commentary box. This is Jordan and Coulthard’s sixth season as pundits, both having been members of the BBC team since they regained the coverage in 2009. It is also Lee McKenzie’s sixth season with the broadcaster, Tom Clarkson joining her in the pit lane. Mark Webber will also be part of the team, but it is unclear whether he will be at any races with the team as it was not mentioned in the press release. However, Gary Anderson has been axed. For those out of the loop, I direct you to the original announcement, his view point on it all, and Ben Gallop’s statement on the matter.
Over on BBC Radio 5 Live, Allan McNish’s role extends so it covers all platforms (although I am not entirely sure how he will factor into BBC TV’s coverage) and more races. Meanwhile James Allen and Jennie Gow return for a third full season. Jack Nicholls will be lead commentator for four races, the first being China. BBC’s TV coverage of Qualifying is on BBC Two due to the Six Nations coverage involving England over on BBC One. For some confusing reason though, repeats bump it out of its 13:00 slot and into a slot that is two hours later. I assume the rationale behind it is so it doesn’t clash with Italy vs England. Instead, it will clash with Wales vs Scotland, and talking of Scotland, viewers up there will get the race one hour later than the other nations and on BBC Two. The final note to make is that Sky have split their shows into three, which first happened in India last year. Of course, whilst there may well be some spinning where ratings are concerned as a result, The F1 Broadcasting Blog promises to lay all things out black and white regarding viewing figures. Hopefully…. here’s the schedule!
Thursday 6th March
21:00 to 22:00 – F1: Season Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Friday 7th March
20:00 to 21:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
Saturday 8th March
21:00 to 22:00 – Horse Power (Sky2)
- repeated on Friday 14th March at 10:30 on Sky Sports F1
- behind the scenes documentary at Ferrari, produced by Whisper Films
Monday 10th March
21:45 to 22:00 – Pinkham’s F1: Part 1 (Sky Sports F1)
- the basics about Formula 1 for novices
Tuesday 11th March
21:45 to 22:00 – Pinkham’s F1: Part 2 (Sky Sports F1)
- the basics about Formula 1 for novices
Thursday 13th March
04:00 to 04:45 – F1: Driver Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 to 21:00 – F1: Gear Up for Australia (Sky Sports F1)
21:30 to 22:00 – F1: Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Friday 14th March
01:00 to 03:20 – F1: Practice 1 (Sky Sports F1)
01:25 to 03:05 – F1: Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05:15 to 07:30 – F1: Practice 2 (Sky Sports F1)
05:25 to 07:05 – F1: Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
07:30 to 08:15 – F1: Team Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
09:30 to 10:30 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
Saturday 15th March
02:45 to 04:15 – F1: Practice 3 (Sky Sports F1)
02:55 to 04:05 – F1: Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
05:00 to 07:45 – F1: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
05:55 to 07:05 – F1: Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
14:55 to 16:25 – F1: Qualifying (BBC Two)
17:15 to 17:30 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook (Sky Sports F1)
Sunday 16th March
04:30 to 09:15 – F1: Race (Sky Sports F1)
=> 04:30 – Track Parade
=> 05:00 – Race
=> 08:30 – Paddock Live
05:30 to 08:00 – F1: Race (BBC Radio 5 Live)
09:15 to 10:15 – Legends: Juan Pablo Montoya (Sky Sports F1)
11:15 to 12:00 – Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4)
- featuring Murray Walker
14:00 to 16:00 – F1: Race (BBC One)
- note: For Scotland viewers, the race is on BBC Two at 15:00
19:00 to 19:15 – Ted’s Race Notebook (Sky Sports F1)
Wednesday 19th March
20:30 to 21:00 – Midweek Report (Sky Sports F1)
Classic F1 on Sky Sports F1
For this season, I’ve made the move to separate the classics out of the main body, primarily because Sky are not repeating races straight after the first airing in that block. Whilst they are still airing about 100 classic races this season, the two repeats are being finely spread throughout the year, meaning that the Australian repeats will not turn back up until say August at a guess. The idea that Sky are broadcasting more classic races though is incorrect I believe, they are not, the difference this year is that the scheduling is consistent, even though it does mean that the race weekends themselves are a bit more bare.
07/03 – 21:00 to 00:15 – Race of the Century Winner (2011 Canadian Grand Prix)
08/03 – 21:00 to 23:15 – Race of the Century Second (2008 Brazilian Grand Prix)
09/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – Race of the Century Third (2005 Japanese Grand Prix)
10/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1985 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
11/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1986 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
12/03 – 21:00 to 21:30 – 1987 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
13/03 – 21:00 to 22:30 – 1989 Australian Grand Prix
14/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1996 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
15/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – 1994 Australian Grand Prix Highlights
16/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 1990 Australian Grand Prix
17/03 – 21:00 to 23:45 – 1998 Japanese Grand Prix
18/03 – 21:00 to 22:00 – 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix Highlights
19/03 – 21:00 to 23:30 – 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
20/03 – 21:00 to 21:45 – 1988 Japanese Grand Prix Highlights
21/03 – 21:00 to 23:30 – 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix
22/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 1998 Hungarian Grand Prix
23/03 – 21:00 to 21:30 – 1989 Italian Grand Prix Highlights
24/03 – 21:00 to 23:00 – 2012 Belgian Grand Prix (with Sky commentary)
As always, if anything changes I shall update this blog if necessary.
Bruno Senna will be part of Sky Sports F1′s team for the upcoming season, it has been confirmed. He will be present at seven races, whilst also appearing in special programming celebrating the life of Ayrton Senna.
Senna, who raced in Formula 1 between 2010 and 2012, will be at Malaysia, China, Hungary, Singapore, Russia, USA and Brazil. As well as being a guest on The F1 Show, Senna will offer analysis on the Sky Pad and be in the commentary box with David Croft, presumably for practice at those races. Speaking to the Sky Sports website, Senna said: “I’ve worked with Sky Sports F1 from the other side of the microphone, and always been impressed with their dedication and creativity so I’m delighted to be joining the team. I’m particularly excited to get my hands on the touchscreen technology and I hope to reveal a few tricks of the trade but also show just how skilled these drivers are. The 2014 rules and regulations, driver changes and new circuits we’re seeing this year promise for a fascinating season with everything to drive for – I can’t wait to start.”
Martin Turner, Sky Sports F1′s Executive Producer, added: “We got to know Bruno in the paddock when he was driving, and I’m thrilled he’s joining us – he’ll make a brilliant addition to our team. His passion for the intricacies of F1 and knowledge as a recent F1 driver who’s driven these tracks and raced these teams will make for fascinating viewing. With Anthony Davidson and Bruno manning the touchscreen and offering insight this season, we’ll bring our viewers a unique perspective on what it’s like to line up on the grid and race wheel to wheel with Hamilton, Vettel, Raikkonen and co.”
The morale of this lesson is not to read too much into anyone within broadcasting claims to have ‘very exciting news‘ or ‘literally bursting‘ to tell people. Don’t get me wrong, Senna’s a good signing, and I can see their logic considering he is a recent driver in a more ‘current’ formula of Formula 1, plus it allows them to rotate a bit more. But another driver to add to the line-up means that we now have five drivers, potentially six if you include Karun Chandhok. I would have preferred a former team personnel to add a bit of variety, instead of the ‘talking heads’ with drivers. It seems like both BBC and Sky are going down the route of adding former drivers to the line-up. Yes, the drivers of course are the main focus, but there is more than them that makes Formula 1 what it is. Like I say, its good news, nothing more, nothing less.
As noted during one of Ted Kravitz’s Notebook’s through the weekend, Kravitz asked Sky Sports F1′s Executive Producer Martin Turner a series of questions. The key bits I have posted below whilst the video can be found here.
When asked why testing is not being covered live on Sky F1, Turner said: “Well first of all, we have been live at every test, we have Craig [Slater] and Rachel [Brookes] doing their live throws all throughout the day and we feel that is the best way of telling the story. We’re also telling the story on mobile, on app, on live blog commentary and we think they’ve gone down really well. [..] It is a great way of bringing it to a new audience as well [through Sky Sports News]. [..] Sometimes during testing, there are no cars on the track and that is quite a difficult story to tell live, but we hope the story we’re telling, and the variety of ways that we are telling it are going down particularly well.”
His line later on, noting that “live is always better than recorded” amused me considering Sky Sports F1 has been showing recorded content for months, and have not had one live programme yet in 2014 despite having the opportunity to do so. Even if testing was not live, The F1 Show for some reason is starting several weeks later than last year. Turner confirms that Natalie Pinkham will present every F1 Show, with the co-presenter rotating between Kravitz, David Croft and Simon Lazenby. There will again be two F1 Show’s in Monaco and Britain as usual, and Pit Wall Live is back. Regarding adverts in races, Turner said: “There never have been ad-breaks in races [on Sky], and there never will be.”
There’s a few more interesting bits in there, and it is worth a watch but those are the few bits I have picked out.
Mark Webber will join BBC’s F1 team for a few races this year and participate in some films with them, it has been confirmed. Given Webber’s high praise of the BBC, most notably on the track parade before last year’s British Grand Prix, this shouldn’t be too surprising. Great news nevertheless, in my view.
Also joining the BBC team is Jack Nicholls, who will commentate on four race weekends for Radio 5 Live. Nicholls announcement is significant: at the age of 24, he becomes the youngest lead commentator to commentate on Formula 1 in this country! Ages based on their birth year, so may be slightly out.
- Jack Nicholls (age 23 – at time of 2014 Chinese Grand Prix)
- Ben Edwards (age 28 at time of 1994 debut)
- Allard Kalff (age 26 to 30 at time of late 1980s debut)
- Murray Walker (~age 30′s – exact age unclear)
- James Allen (age 35 at time of 2001 debut)
- David Croft (age 36 at time of 2006 debut)
- Martin Brundle (age 50 at time of 2011 debut as lead commentator)
I’ve got to say that is an impressive statistic, at a time when the age of commentators is getting older, so kudos to the BBC for putting faith in someone significantly younger than the rest. Apart from those two pieces of news, the rest of the line-up is as expected, having already been announced in January. In terms of coverage details, I cannot see any differences with how things are covered: practice is again live on BBC Two for their live weekends with the F1 Forum back after the race. One minor difference spotted by Ashley is that the length of the US Grand Prix highlights programme has been shortened to 90 minutes, but I think it is best to wait until the preview magazine before reading too much into that, the same applies for Bahrain and Brazil.
Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, no replacement for Gary Anderson has been announced, I maintain that is a huge loss for the team which I believe they will feel greatly as the season progresses. Ben Gallop, BBC’s Head of F1, said: “We are all excited about the new F1 season on the BBC. 2014 sees new faces to complete our first-rate team and a stronger digital offering to our output than ever before, which really puts users in control of the action. This season has already got everyone talking, with intriguing technical changes and team line-ups, and we’re looking forward to bringing that in all its glory to our audiences.”