Archive for July, 2011

UPDATED: F1 on Sky and the BBC – Will it be on TopUpTV/DTT/Freeview and BT Vision??

The BBC has announced that it and Sky Sports will broadcast Formula 1 jointly from 2012 and 2018, with the BBC only showing 10 race weekends live, and Sky Sports will show everything live.

Details we know:

  • 10 BBC race weekends live
  • The BBC will have extended highlights for the rest
  • Radio 5 live keeps full coverage
  • Live BBC  events include Monaco, Silverstone and the season finale

Details we don’t know:

  • Will Sky put coverage on Sky Sports channels 1 and 2 on Digital Terrestrial (Freeview) and will Sky encrypt its coverage? [UPDATE – as of 3pm July 29th Sky has confirmed in responses to queries on its website that no decision has yet been taken on which channel it will be on]
  • What are the other 7 races and how and when will they be determined? Time of day? Location?
  • Will Sky and BBC share a single production organisation?
  • If so, who’s production organisation will make the shows?
  • Will Sky and or the BBC both send journalists to cover all events?

The first question is important. If Sky puts F1 on Sky Sports HD 3 or 4 (as with IndyCar at present) people with BT Vision, DTT/Freeview will not be able to watch at all. If they do go with Sky Sports 1 or 2 the first obvious question would be where’s all the football going to go? [UPDATE – as of 3pm July 29th Sky has confirmed in responses to queries on its website that no decision has yet been taken on which channel it will be on]

It might make sense for Sky to buy the production service from the existing team producing F1 shows for the BBC. I don’t know how much of that team is internal and how much contracted out. Although Sky Italia do have a production on the F1 circuit.

It can’t make sense to have two sets of production or commentary teams, unless the BBC’s production is limited to piping in the World Feed and setting up a cheap studio in Manchester.

Speaking of piping in the World Feed and setting up a cheap studio, I hope when Sky say they’ll “give it the full Sky Sports treatment” that they’ve got more in mind than their IndyCar coverage…

The final thought from me is that this is a terrible outcome, actually it’s so bad I didn’t even realise it was an option. Splitting the coverage confuses the coverage and dilutes it. They do something similar to this in the US with Speed TV and Fox and it’s actually worse when the shows are on Fox. I understand that it’s a hard thing to justify for the BBC in the current budgetary times, so they should just drop the lot and let it go to Channel 4.

I wonder how Channel 4, ESPN, Channel 5 and Virgin are feeling about the BBC working actively with Sky (a commercial broadcaster) to keep the rights out of their hands.

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Lewis teaches Fernando a lesson – German GP Recap

I like Lewis Hamilton’s honesty.

After rubbishing his car on the Friday and stating bluntly that it wasn’t good enough for pole, he admitted that as he’d sat in the car before Quali 3, he’d wondered if he’d have to eat his words.

Because he nearly did make pole.

To be honest he should thank Eddie Jordan for his success in Germany. After all it must have been EJ’s comprehensive Saturday pre-show feature on the decline and fall of McLaren, followed by a strident ‘will you resign?’ interview with Martin Whitmarsh, that set the wheels of fate turning. After all, the gods can’t allow EJ to be right, not even once.

Stefano Domenicali has probably already called the BBC to arrange an EJ special ‘what’s gone wrong at Ferrari?’ feature for the Hungary show.

I wish more commentators would accept the simple maths that only one team at a time can be the front runner. I think Whitmarsh is doing a great job, as is Domenicali, probably a better job than Christian Horner, who can escape much scrutiny because the car is so good.

As for the race, it was great to see three cars from the three top teams battling it out at the front, it doesn’t happen every day.

My thoughts on Vettel developed as the race progressed, from “he doesn’t like it up him” to “He really doesn’t like it up him”.

The guy can’t really race with the best. I’m pretty sure if they all had equal machinery he’d be smoked by Alonso and Hamilton.

On this day, anyone would have been smoked by Hamilton. His ability to defend against Webber through turn 2, then a lap later take the attacking role against Alonso and make it work, was beautiful to watch, and must be a horrible thing for Alonso to replay.

It’s definitely game on for Hungary.

Edmonton Indy Recap

We didn’t have a repeat of the Toronto Indy demolition derby at this weekend’s Edmonton Indy.

Unlike at Toronto, we did see penalties handed out for most of the major incidents, unless the incident itself caused the offending driver to lose a lap, which is viewed as a penalty in its own right.

The race was run this year on a slightly different part of the airport, and looked more like a real racetrack, although I wouldn’t have liked to see a car go off track into the deep grass, and was surprised to see marshal posts with no catch fence protection.

Despite the new-found penalty culture, there was still a notable lack of etiquette among some of the drivers. Also, sadly in almost every case the victim ended up with a worse finishing position than the perpetrator, even after serving their penalty. Polesitter Takuma Sato was particularly badly affected.

That can’t be right, and it’s time for IndyCar to look at other penalties beyond the drive-throughs, including stop/go penalties, grid position penalties and points deductions.

The cars are almost too robust, and survive where F1 cars would fall apart on the spot. The only exception to this robustness is the front wing, which seems to cut tyres more easily than the F1 wings.

I’m looking forward to Mid-Ohio, and some proper road course racing.

Pirelli make really good tyres

On this weekend’s preview show, the BBC F1 folks wasted 10 minutes talking to a load of dull as ditchwater feeder series drivers, all brits. I don’t even remember which feeder series it was, but it was either F2, GP2 or GP3. Anyway, two of the drivers hadn’t even bothered to master use of the words ‘for sure’ but luckily one of them (I think he’d come second in something) did have it nailed, and used for sure, four times, in one short and banal statement about his future hopes and dreams.

The one saving grace in this whole sorry mess was that Lee McKenzie was cheeky enough to take the piss out of him for saying it so much.

So why was this desperate feature included? My guess, it’s a sop. The BBC F1 people, fearing for the future of their coverage, are trying to bolster up the ‘look look we support grass roots sport here’ subsection of whatever ghastly, overly beaureaucratic report the BBC Trust will force them to make in the name of ‘consultation’ before shutting them down and letting the rights go elsewhere.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I love the BBC F1 coverage, it’s great.

On the other hand I f**king hate the ‘unique way the BBC is funded’ and the ‘nanny knows best’ attitude of the BBC Trust which comes as a result. Make no mistake, the BBC is screwed, it’s got a financial settlement tighter than schumachers mid 90s overalls, and desperately needs to cut costs, fast.

If it was down to me I’d let the commercial broadcasters get on with it. Nothing’s more commercial than F1, so there’s no less suitable place for F1 than on a ‘non-commercial’ channel.

Why? The small matter of sponsorship activation.

When someone sponsors something they want something in return. It’s human nature. It’s good business sense. It’s also contrary to most of the arcane rules governing the BBC.

The BBC’s rules are so arcane that even when someone DOESN’T sponsor something they STILL get their arses in a twist about it. Cue the anquished series of multi-level meetings which must have accompanied the decision to cover Jake’s iPad in layers of carbon-look sticky backed plastic.

When the BBC screwed up by allowing Robinsons to sponsor sports personality of the year it created such an almighty f**ktastrophy that I’m surprised anyone involved with the decision is still alive.

Yep, the BBC is one messed up organisation.

So, when I saw a nice feature on tyres in the show last saturday, I scarcely raised an eyebrow. Mid way through I thought ‘Pirelli have done alright out of this’ and chuckled. When I heard that the last line was DC saying ‘thank you Pirelli’ I thought – ‘kudos, pure marketing gold’.

It wasn’t until they returned to Jake, who introduced the lovingly assembled collection of gleaming tyres and referred to the ‘press officer’ who had recently departed the scene that I began to fear for Jake and team’s naivete. This feeling of ‘guys, guys, stop, tone it down’ grew as the plaudits continued.

I don’t think there was anything wrong with the Pirelli report, I quite enjoyed it. It’s OK that Pirelli invited Martin Brundle to test their car. Pirelli are part of F1, they’ve paid to be there (oh god) and they have a right to exploit that (err).

I’ve lived with American motorsport coverage, I’ve lapped it up and I would be quite happy to hear ‘Fernando Alonso is carrying the Santander onboard camera’ and ‘let’s recap the overtaking moves with Perky Jerky, your overtaking friend’.

But I’m not the BBC Trust, and THEY are ****s. THEY use words like ‘undue prominence’ in big weighty reports entitled ‘taking your sport away and giving it to Channel 5’.

That’s all I’m saying.