Gary Anderson to leave BBC’s Formula 1 team

Gary Anderson is to leave BBC’s Formula 1 coverage, The F1 Broadcasting Blog can confirm. Anderson was a part of the team for the 2012 and 2013 seasons as pit lane reporter and technical analyst alongside Lee McKenzie. In 2013, he was joined by Tom Clarkson in the pit lane, however it must be emphasised that whilst Clarkson is a great pit lane reporter, he is not a technical analyst. It appears that Anderson’s role will not be replaced and means that for the first time in nearly two decades, there will not be a technical view point in Formula 1′s terrestrial television coverage.

The role of technical reporter has been a part of Formula 1′s coverage since 1997 when ITV replaced BBC as rights holders. Before then, you would have had Tony Jardine or Jonathan Palmer doing the odd technical feature, but nothing on a full time basis. ITV’s coverage expansions changed that. James Allen was designated the role of pit lane reporter, which also covered the technical side of events. When Allen moved to the lead commentator role in 2002, Ted Kravitz moved over from the production area into the role, which he held throughout ITV’s coverage until 2008, and then until 2011 on the BBC. Of course it goes without saying that this was all playing out to a terrestrial television audience, so whilst there was technical information, it was not massively in-depth or mundane as it needed to cater to a casual audience. Which is fair enough, but the fact is, it was there.

Changes came into swing with the BBC and Sky rights deal beginning in 2012, but the role of technical role remained, and in fact turned into a better role. As good as Ted Kravitz was, having an actual former technical director on BBC’s team I felt boosted it immensely. In my 2013 Verdict piece last month focussing on the BBC team, I went as far as saying:

It is a strange one actually, as you would probably logically feel that Anderson and Kravitz should be the other way around. Anderson doing more technical stuff on Sky Sports F1, with Kravitz on BBC F1. Both do fantastic things in their respective roles though and I would not want that to change.

However, whilst that is true, I have not come across a comment on this blog with anyone who has an issue with that. I felt it was brilliant that Anderson could do his technical analysis to a bigger audience. 2014 is a year of massive, far reaching and drastic changes where the technical aspects of Formula 1 are concerned. Today’s news leaves a gaping hole in BBC’s coverage. They need a technical analyst, and they need one fast. For me, it is a fundamental part of the F1 coverage. As good as David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan are, they are not designers. Only a select few can hold that role. They can’t leave Anderson’s role vacant, and they also can’t expect Clarkson to fill Anderson’s role. You need the technical mindset to fill the role. Kravitz over on Sky, despite not being a technical director in the past, has justified his position in the past ten years with some fantastic work. Maybe BBC are thinking, or already have done, of giving Ross Brawn a phone call. I hope so, but the outlook appears bleak.

To anyone suggesting Sky should pick up Anderson: him and Kravitz on the same team would not work, in my opinion. Why have two people in very similar roles? By hiring Anderson, you’d be basically telling Kravitz to leave. The latest move by BBC feels, sadly, like an attempt by someone, whether within the F1 team itself, or higher up in the chain, to dumb down their coverage. This blog understands that Anderson was pushed from the role, rather than Anderson leaving of his own accord. I hear one or two people saying that “this is the beginning of the end for BBC F1″. This is the same people that predicted the end at the end of 2011, and then 2012, and then 2013. In my opinion, short term and long term, BBC F1 is not going anywhere. As always, there could be changes where radio is concerned, as Ben Constanduros hinted to earlier although it has to be said that TV and radio exist out of different budgets, the TV coverage is in-house, the radio coverage is USP Content.

Regarding Anderson, to quote a phrase, and more apt considering his role: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Update on February 5th – As noted above, and confirmed this evening, the BBC did indeed let Gary Anderson go and that it was not his decision. At a Cass Business School event, Anderson commented on the departure. I quote from tweeter @CausticCorner who was present at the event: “Ooh, Gary Anderson says it was #BBCF1 who decided viewers “don’t appreciate technical #F1 analysis…” and let him go.” So, there you have it.

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Posted on January 13, 2014, in BBC F1 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.

  1. Un f***ing believable

  2. A great loss surely to BBC’s coverage of F1. Gary was the man with all the technical details you could have and he could explain every bit of equipment without Kravitz and the SkyPad. All he needed was some pen and paper and that was it. I would like to see on both BBC and Sky to have a properly qualified Technical analyst at the helm. Gordon Murray, Chris Dyer or Patrick Head should have that responsiblity. Dyer has had success as a race engineer for Schumi and Kimi but as a technical analyst, he would be good but DTM commitments would underline his commitment to the job. Murray would be a great choice because he has that experience of designing F1 cars with Brabham and McLaren so he would be a no-brainer. However, his design company may get in the way so half the race meetings would seem perfect for him. Patrick Head, undoubtedly would be the preferred choice on BBC and Sky’s radar because his experience with Williams and his technical expertise would be a perfect fit for Sky and BBC. It would solve of the imbalances Sky have with their Race Weekends.

  3. anyone know why he left? BBC not want him? he asked for to much money? Upset a big knob somewhere? personal mater ‘illness in family?

  4. I’d like to see Gary with Ted at Sky. Nobody is better than Gary at explaining the tech stuff, which I think many people are interested in, especially Sky’s paying customers. He was all over the tyre situation at Silverstone last year before anybody else. Can we have him, Sky? Please?

  5. I have read, on Thejudge13.com, that Gary wanted his role expanded, and that he is going to Autocar.
    It also mentioned that the BBC is reneging on its deal to broadcast F1 until 2018 and intends doing the dirty on us.

  6. At this stage such rumours could just equate to lively negotiations… If the expanded role thesis is correct, that would surely mean TV commentary. Commentary was Anderson’s core radio role outside of practice sessions, and it worked very well IMHO. The argument here is that F1 races are now so biased towards strategy and engineering, away from pure driver-on-driver overtakes, that there is a dominant case for a more technical person as the full time colour commentator. That’s the sort of production direction change that you can only attempt when you have someone like Anderson already lurking on the team, but is also the kind of break from tradition that would encounter considerable resistance, because for decades the second television commentary seat has been an ex-driver.

  7. I am not so much a supporter of Anderson but more his role.

    This appears to be yet another example of the BBC following Sky into dumbed down, lightweight Sun reader coverage.

    If the rumour on Thejudge13.com about the BBC dumping F1 is true, I wonder if Bernie will circumvent the free-to-air rule and sell out to BT.

    Yay, two ways to pay……..

    • “I wonder if Bernie will circumvent the free-to-air rule and sell out to BT.”
      He has already bent it severely out of shape. resulting in huge tv audience falls.
      Most teams cannot get major sponsors any more so have to resort to pay drivers.

  8. What a joke a bad one just when the biggest tech shake-up in F1 (TM )… THE BBC get rid of a brilliant technical pundit who like Gordon Murray Adrian Newey can actually draw with paper and pen . I know luckily I saw him in action when we supplied driveline parts to Jordan . He was brill to work with and a no bullshit way of working .

    Some suit at the bbc has made a big mistake . They seem to just want bimbos presenting . I was told by an insider was because he looks too old and fat . My insider used to commentate on Moto GP …… SO KNOWS .

    Why did the old BALD EJ (HE IS BY THE WAY ) not back him up ….

    Bad decision .

  9. I smell Style over substance Brian and it’s not good at all. If the BBC want a tabloid presentation to F1, it undermines the great work they have done over the past several years and by removing Anderson is complete lunacy. So that’s why in an earlier comment, decided to have Chris Dyer, Patrick Head and one you already mentioned Gordon Murray because they bring a lot to the table in engineering terms. However, it seems both BBC and Sky want former drivers and that brings a big imbalance to the British coverage of F1. Whether or not that’s good, we’ll have to explain our disgust once the 2014 season commences. I think ITV’s earlier team of Jardine and Taylor was good because you had both people working in motorsport. One was a journalist, the other was in F1. Even though Taylor was out at the end of ’97, we need that sort of line-up. One former driver, team principal, technical analyst should work nicely for a F1 TV team.

  10. Thanks Umar you are completely correct . The Techs you mention would all be good as pundits . Gary was first to crack the mystery of all the blowouts at Silverstone last year on the kerbs . You also saw the respect when he interviews Brawn and such like . They respect him because he had been there and done it .

    By the way when he draws things he thinks and sees in 3D . Amazing to watch .

    We watched him re draw the 1998 Hubs with a pen that one of his Draughtsman had messed up on tolerance in 10 mins around the table . Won’t mention who originally drew it as they still sit on the prat perch being tv like …….. if you get my drift ……

  11. As has already been said numerous times, biggest tech shake up for yonks, and BBC in it’s infinite wisdom dispenses with someone completely respected by the viewers & F1 community!!! Major FUBAR …
    The other tech people mentioned are also as equally qualified to comment on these things for TV, but the thing that sets the likes of Gary and his Sky counterpart Kravits apart, is their personality and flair to engage and be warmed to by the viewers. They have hugely increased my understanding and knowledge of the car side of F1, whereas before I didn’t bother with what I basically didn’t understand. And should imagine many out there in same boat. I really can’t think of many of them doing it week in/out. Maybe I could be proven wrong, just my opinion.
    I subscribe to, and watch the coverage from Sky only because BBC no longer broadcasts all races live, and am a complete petrol head & F1 junkie. But if it was covered by BBC then I watched their coverage, (despite Suzi P!!!) But with no tech guy now have to really weigh up the options. Really miffed & feel let down big time by them.
    But the main point is we all agree letting Gary go, BIG mistake.

  12. I preferred Gary Anderson on 5 Live, for some reason he irritated me on TV and tended to drone about wing angles and drag whilst ignoring any action. Ted Kravitz seems more willing to throw back to the lead commentators if something is happening on track whilst he’s speaking and a bit more aware of the whole picture. GA’s analysis is fine during free practice when there’s not much going on and he certainly knows his stuff. I for one am glad he’s going and I hope he gets a great role somewhere else. Now if the Beeb had any sense they’d get rid of Ben whatsisname and find a decent commentator. The Beeb team actually turned me off F1 on the BBC and I paid for Sky for the 2013 season as BBC was driving me mad.

  13. Look guy’s what do you want ? A magazine style approach of technical stuff with Kravitz who has never drawn or designed a component in his life or ever worked at the engineering coal face and run a design office . OR do we not all want someone who has ……

    Er that would be Gary don’t you think . He doesn’t just give technical info about the cars as he spent many years on the Prat Perch making the calls on tyres fuel weather etc .

    Been there and got the T-Shirt . I don’t know about you guys but I want to read and hear about the sport from people who are properly experienced .

    The BBC have really messed this one up with what is approaching tech wise in 2014 .

    I can’t wait to see how there new line up will handle explaining it all to us .

    I have had similar thoughts from people who still work in the Paddock and they all feel the same way .

    I would never reveal names but all you guys above on this thread are correct .

    It’s a shame for SPERRY she doesn’t stand a chance and if BT Sport carries on with those viewing figs then I can see Jake making a return .

    That’s my two penny worth anyway . First race will be interesting ….. we will all be glued !!

  14. I really do suspect BBC are running an exit strategy on their F1 coverage and pruning the likes of Gary A is madness. I was willing to see how Suzi P developed but her bumbling presentation skills never really improved last season and I think she would prefer to be presenting Moto GP than F1. I have been a BBC F1 viewer for many years and the idea of moving to Sky is going against the grain but I can see it happening sooner rather than later.

  15. I’m not sure that it’s part of an exit strategy, although that wouldn’t surprise me.

    I suspect it’s far more likely about the BBC copying Sky’s terrible output than anything else.

    Over the last season, when I watched the Beebs output, they seemed to be desperately trying to copy Sky’s self indulgent, superficial Sun Reader output.

    This is a terribly bad call, when the split first happened I was pleasantly surprised that the Beebs output still outstripped Sky for both quality and enjoyment. Now the Beebs output is like a gifted, charming professor trying to rap to their students.

    Sky may have money compared to the Beeb but we all know that money doesn’t buy you class.

  16. Can’t believe someone as talented as Gary is leaving- I was dependent on him explaining all the changes . One of the few technical guys who could explain complex issues with just a few stokes of a pen. Bad move BBC, very bad move

  17. I think the reason is because Gary looked scruffy, could do with a hair cut and was overweight. Perception is a fact of life, especially if you are a tv presenter. Also you have to wonder if a designer is good why not be a designer? I will miss Gary though.

  18. What a crass decision to lose Gary Anderson – he actually gave the coverage some sensible depth and always spoke with real knowledge. A great loss and typical of the BBC – now I suppose we will have more of the hysterical Jordan blatherings – a man who never actually tells you anything that you don’t know already.

  19. I do not believe the BBC have let Gary Anderson go. He is in my opinion the best ever F1 analyst and will be missed. I have learnt more about the technical side of F1 by listening to Gary and the simple way he puts things over than anyone else in the history of F1 on T.V. Whoever made this stupid decision should be sacked and the BBC should be begging Gary to come back.

  20. Gary Anderson was an okay technical guy, but listening to him trying to explain things was woefully painful – Brundle did an amazing job at ITV and BBC using graphical animation – Anderson tried to explain all on an A4 pad with a pencil, it simply did not translate well. So why can’t a driver (Coulthard/McNish) do the technical stuff? or on occasion just interview someone technical to do the explaining – I am sure Williams or McLaren would enjoy the additional PR that comes with that,

    • Sorry but the old A4 pad and a pencil way of working will always win . Graphics and so forth only works when the presenter has had a load of time and rehearsal . By then it’s old news . For example Gary at a GP was the first to explain (2012) why the integral wheel nuts were coming adrift and explained on a A4 pad held up close to the camera that the problem was what is called the start thread which is spark eroded in manufacturing as the tolerance is so tight . Also some teams were mixing Titanium Hubs with Aluminium Wheel Nuts and it was chewing the thread . (McLaren ) .

      Gary being a designer was able in the forum programme explain all that in a jiffy . Why ? Because he knows what he is talking about !!

      He also got to the bottom of the tyre failures on the bad kerb at Silverstone way before Sky even to the point that Pirelli wanted to see his sketches as part of their investigation . They hadn’t even had time to go look for themselves obviously . They trusted his judgement and analysis .

      Fancy graphics are good much later but you can’t beat an on the ground approach with paper and pencil . I will bet he knows why the Renault is struggling even now ……..

  21. I think it depends how much you know about the subject.

    Some of Brundle’s pieces on the BBC and Sky were technically inaccurate because they’ve failed to come up with a proper layman’s explanation, so they skip, ignore or misinterpret vital facts.

    Drivers are not engineers. A world class pianist doesn’t know how to assemble or tune a grand piano but knows if it’s out of tune.

    This is one of the reasons Ben Edwards is so much better then Croft. Croft is a jobbing commentator, just or maybe more happy to be covering football or darts. Edwards is an ex-motor racing mechanic as well as driver.

    So when Croft shouts ‘suspension failure’ and Edwards speculates it’s a broken torsion bar, one could identify, fit and tune said torsion bar, the other probably wouldn’t know what one looked like if you hit him in the face with it.

  22. So the BBC decided F1 viewers don’t appreciate technical F1 analysis? Were they drunk, on drugs and been hit over the head with a brick when they decided that?

  23. “This is the same people that predicted the end in 2011, and then 2012, and then 2013.”

    Its was dying, with this latest move, it is dead.

  24. I was @ the Cass event, & Gary Anderson said that BBC research showed fans weren’t interested in the technology of Fq.
    Nick Fry added that Honda & Mercedes’ research disagreed: fans are interested in the technology.
    While of course the Cass event was stuffed with fans [who travelled without tubes], the mood in the room was very definitely pro Gary. He’ll be missed.

    Will we get live action tweets from Autosport, with Scarbs & Gary Anderson doing real time tech analysis? Not as good as tv, but better than nothing.

  25. I’m afraid this comes down to the ‘floating voter’ mentality.

    Just like political parties don’t care about their hardcore supporters because they know they’ll have their support regardless, so broadcasters don’t care about the die hard fans.

    They know we’ll be up in the middle of the night to watch the far off races, they know we’re the ones that want the technical items.

    What they care about is the floating, occasional ‘sun reader’ viewer that doesn’t want technical information, they want shots of Nicole Scherzinger, Lewis’s dog or Perry in leather trousers.

    That’s why the BBC don’t want Anderson.

  26. The BBC is a shill organisation run by the Rothschild family – the same people who lied to us about 9/11. It’s obvious they want out of F1, they prefer distraction junk TV for the mindless masses. The coverage is already woeful, so making it worse will lower viewing figures and give them the excuse to chop it completely. Make no mistake, the BBC and Sky are not enemies, they are just shills of the establishment.

  27. IDIOT@GOOGLE.COM

    I watch F1 for the tech, I don’t support one particular team or driver either. Dumbed down F1 coverage is not the way to go, Sky F1 is my choice simply because Ted Kravitz, Martin Brundle and David Croft are excellent at what they do, it’s a shame that David Coulthard and Lee McKenzie didn’t move to Sky. I just wish that Sky would reduce the bullshit in their coverage, too many musical abstract montages and silly features.

  28. Formula 1 is by default an extremely technical sport. Removing Gary Anderson from the Beeb’s coverage will inevitably leave it diminished. What on earth are the BBC thinking? Hope Ross Brawn is available.

  29. 2013 was bad enough, incomplete coverage etc. Now the BBC have kept the fl**sie and chucked the techie 2014 will be too much of a trial. Seriously contemplating buying SkyF1 but poster above reports that is even worse coverage BBC 2013. Can life get any worse????

  30. Utter madness!!!! Gary was brilliant and will be much missed.
    #bringbackgaryanderson

  31. it is the saddest day of the year so far having just found out that gary is gone, this gentle giant can explain the most complex of mechanical systems or aero so idiots like myself can get an understanding of whats going on, and he is the only one on the show who did know what was going on with the cars

  32. Anderson did a great job for BBC F1. I’d much rather lose that bimbo Suzi Perry, than Gary. Stupid decision.

  33. Gary Anderson was about the only opinion worth listening to on F1 BBC TV. Good on the radio too. I have no idea who thinks Jordan is employable, he’s just a rent-an-idiot, who knows nothing about anything.

  34. I simply cannot believe that the BBC coverage is without Gary Anderson, who said that the British public does not appreciate the technical side of this sport. How dare you, I think you are gradually loosing your viewers BBC as you loose touch with us and what we want.

    • Could not be put any better whatsoever. They remove anything of worth or substance and try to pacify us with crap…

  35. Bbc have enough people there to tell us all the different changes there has been i liked gary but he was a bit dated alan could do his job with a lot more relivence to the viewer

  36. Another year of crap coverage by the BBC. And now we have lost Gary Anderson. I don’t know why they bother. Is this the beginning of the end got BBC F1.

  37. Agree with Chris above. BBC have a very weak main 3 presenters, or 2 when EJ is given the weekend off. Gary certainly gave it the gravitas required, now they are no different to SKY. Slowly losing interest in F1, hope the racing changes my mind.

  38. Well they had to pay for that eye candy presenter somehow. BBC has def lost the plot on F1 and maybe that is the plan – let ppl switch to Sky then we can dump it in total.

  39. I was looking forward to Gary’s input with the new regulations I think it would have been very interesting. He is a proper engineer and knows what he is talking about. Bad move BBC

  40. Disappointed that GA has been dropped, even though the BBC weren’t making the best use of him anyway, sticking him in the pit lane with a crap microphone so you couldn’t hear what he was saying 50% of the time over the engine or wheelgun noise.

  41. The bbc coverage a few years ago before sky was the best thing on Tv. I watched every practice on red button and every race. What a difference
    ! Suzi is awful always striking a pose and talking rubbish. It was great to have Gary though, the exact opposite of Suzi. Lee still there is good and of course Eddie but he is not turning up till Spain.
    Really dumbed down since sky took over in that no after hospitality just hanging around the back and not even drivers press after race.
    BBC spend all their money paying so called celebs and other rubbish cooking etc.
    Some people can’t afford sky.
    At the very least get rid of Suzi and bring back Gary for real fans.

  42. Here we are at the third GP and, sadly, Gary Anderson’s absence from the BBC coverage leaves a huge hole in their coverage. DC speaks from the driver perspective, EJ from the team owner’s, but there is no one who can just look at a car and tell the fans the good and bad points, knows how the varying design features work. Gary was always on the money with the who, what, where and why of it all. A joy to listen to as you knew the guy wasn’t blowing smoke. He could talk to designers, drivers, pit crew, team managers and owners and ask the searching, analytical questions. The BBC coverage has been significantly dumbed down by his absence. The suits in charge are a disgrace. Whoever decided to get rid of Gary should be fired and their salary used to re-hire Mr. A!

  43. Ok, so we’re now at the Bahrain GP qualifying and as a result of the gaping hole that has been left by the forced departure of Gary Anderson, Tom is having to seek the opinion of the teams to give us an estimated time required to get through each qualifying session. Poor, especially when Gary used to be right on the money in that department. What on earth made the BBC think that we wouldn’t appreciate some technical analysis from the commentary team?! Isn’t that what F1 is all about? Showcasing the technical abilities of the best engineers and drivers in the world? As a female with a keen interest in motorsport but with limited technical knowledge, I very much appreciated Gary’s way of simply explaining very technical matters. I would swap Gary for Suzi Perry any day of the week. She was great on Moto GP but she doesn’t have the same level of banter in F1 that Jake Humphrey achieved.

    • I quite agree Clare, but do not expect a u turn from the BBC, they don’t do that. I have a feeling that they will ditch F1 soon and as I can’t afford Sky that will be the end of me watching my favourite sport. Doug D.

      • Brian Hardie

        Just check out free channels on the internet and you will get it . Been watching Sky F1 all last year and this . People from Aussie to Canada to Japan all do it that way ……..

        Will be watching Bahrain in a couple of hours . Sod Murdoch !

    • Well said, Clare! Given all the new regulations, the fuel flow controversy, new engines, etc., the one guy on ANY of the F1 coverage who could cut through the hyperbole and explain the most technical of problems in plain simple language, was Gary. Clearly who ever made this decision doesn’t know their rear end from a hole in the ground. Suddenly the BBC coverage is listing heavily to starboard because the ship is taking on water fast! Even Eddie returning at Spain won’t be enough to rectify this. Fire whoever made this nonsensical decision and use the salary saved to get Gary back on board! This fiasco would look right at home in an episode of W1A.

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