Posts Tagged ‘TV’

I’m absolutely buzzing. Sitting here in the press room in Bahrain, tapping out my stories and I get a text from the Palladium in London to tell me that the ITV F1 coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix has won the BAFTA for best sports programme.

It is the third year in a row that the team I was part of has won this most prestigious award.

We won for the show which covered Jenson Button’s 2006 Hungarian GP win, for the 2007 Canadian GP show where Lewis Hamilton won his first race and now the ultimate TV moment in my career has been rewarded with a third straight BAFTA.

This is really special because we were up against the BBC’s outstanding Olympic coverage and frankly we didn’t expect to win. But I guess the BAFTA judges must have taken the view that what happened in that final lap was so extraordinary and that we gave it the right coverage and soundtrack.

I’m really proud of the work of all the ITV crew, the production staff from North One TV and the presenters over the 12 years.

But I’m especially proud of those last few minutes, which showed F1 at its absolute finest.

Read Full Post »

Some good news for F1 TV viewers

There was so much information being given out at the recent FOTA press conference in Geneva that the part about improving the TV coverage was largely overlooked by the media.

As it has subsequently turned out the FIA has not adopted the FOTA proposals on rules and cost savings and instead has very much gone it’s own way.

However, according to Autosport, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said yesterday that he will make sure that his TV direction team make use of the enhanced graphics being offered by FOTA to improve the TV coverage. Some of these ideas are really good, such as this one which illustrates the different lines the drivers take.

Another idea which was put forward by Flavio Briatore’s commercial working group, was to have a pit stop predictor, which uses GPS positioning technology to predict where a car is likely to rejoin. This will take away some of the suspense, but it may equally enhance the excitement in a close race for position.

Other improvements proposed by FOTA include, highlighting the cars which are fuelled to the finish, a GPS positioning map showing where cars are on track, opening up more car data and opening up all the radio traffic, which will happen this year.

And finally, FOTA suggested pit stop competition be part of the show, with a point awarded to the team with the fastest stop. This would start next year when refuelling is banned, so it would a question of who has the fastest pit stop.

Read Full Post »

From a fans’ point of view the big story from yesterday’s FOTA press conference was the changes they’d like to make to shorten the races, change the points and boost the TV coverage.

Martin Whitmarsh spoke about the desire to change the points system to reward the winner and podium finishers and to shorten the races by fifty miles, which for the average race will take about 20 minutes off the race time. The points thing will exaggerate the difference between the top teams and the rest and is possibly a payback for the big guys agreeing so many cost cuts and giving cheap engines and gearboxes to the smaller teams for the next three years.

All of this is in response to a huge public survey FOTA conducted. Unlike the recent ING/F1 Racing survey, this one asked people who are mildly interested in F1, not the diehards and the proposals are a response to that. These are the right people to be having that dialogue with because they represent the potential for growth.

Flavio Briatore picked up this theme, talking about how the TV show needed improving. And here we get into some difficulties.

FOTA propose to spice up the show by revealing the weights of the cars after qualifying, opening all radio conversations, showing which cars are fuelled to the finish and showing predictions of where a car will slot in after a pit stop.

Removing all suspense in other words, which I have to say might be a mistake. Telling people right away how much fuel everyone had when they set their fast lap makes qualifying even more meaningless than it is already and takes all the suspense out of the opening phase of the race. The not-knowing sometimes is the best bit. There were quite a few times when I was a TV commentator that I knew more than I let on because it was clear to me that by revealing the information I would ruin the sporting suspense.

The problem here is that they want to make it more accessible to the casual fan, which is laudable and they have some very good ideas like constructors’ championship points for the fastest pit crew. There is some fantastic information the teams have which would be of massive interest to viewers, like a graphic which shows the different lines drivers take around a corner, the radio traffic of course and things which only they see at present.

But to reveal many of the things proposed today would make F1 races less a sporting spectacle and more like a scientific process, with a predictable outcome. I think they need to be more selective, not give all the goodies away too soon.

Read Full Post »

Some good news for F1 TV viewers

Yesterday I wrote about some things we will not be seeing on TV, today I’m posting on a couple of things which will be in the show, although I’m not sure about one of them.

Radio conversations between team and driver have been available for a few years, but the team had a button it needed to press to make the channel open to the TV director. Renault were always very good and open about this, even though it used to irritate them that the director kept playing clips of them telling Fisi to push harder. Ferrari and McLaren were useless at opening the line, and would simply open it at the end, after a victory for some stage managed gushing. This season the radios will be open all the time from every team, so you should hear some much more insightful stuff and get a feel for how the big names come across on radio in the heat of battle.

The other thing I’m not so keen on. I’m told that the teams and the FIA are seriously planning to publish the weights of the cars after qualifying. If this is true I think it is mad as it takes away from the suspense of the opening part of the race and might make teams inclined to do more or less the same thing on fuel strategy as each other, which will create more of a procession.

One of the reasons qualifying with fuel has worked was because there was the chance to go short or long and we couldn’t be absolutely sure, because there was always that margin for driver error.

Also it will devalue the pole before the race has even started if say, Kubica has achieved it by running six laps less fuel than Hamilton and Massa. We’ll all stand on the grid saying, “So what?”

I hope that this change does not come about. The new mood of openess in F1 is good, but this is one step too many for me.

Read Full Post »

As regulars here will know, I occasionally like to highlight a feedback comment and there’s one here from Rpaco, who clearly has worked in the car/racing industry at some point. His comment in response to my post yesterday about Charlie Whiting’s briefing really made me laugh.

“Well I trust that the new BBC team will keep us informed of the engine number being used by each car. A spreadsheet will be needed to keep track of them all. Though I have a vision of the Lottery commentator, “the voice of the balls” giving the statistics on each number. ‘This engine was last seen as a bonus Friday engine Monaco and Spa. It has covered 1200 miles and 3 hours on the dyno.’

“Let us also hope that Charlie’s KERS training program for the Marshals goes somewhat further than his stated “We shall send them some instructions to read” All marshals are the salt of the earth, largely unsung, without whom this sport could not exist and many posses great knowledge and a deal more experience and common sense than the so called race stewards.

“However not all are great readers, and a more practical training is necessary, a few 10,000 Volt shocks should do it. 🙂 *Dont touch the ****ing car when the ****ing light is on!”

Actually we could all do with some more information on KERS and engines. It’s often hard to keep tabs on who’s on what engines even when you are in the paddock! And as for KERS, I’m told that there is currently no plan for an on-screen graphic telling the viewer when a driver is hitting his KERS button. I’m sure that Bernie’s FOM TV technical people will get onto this as the season goes on, as it would be indispensable when watching a good dice between two cars.

It rather takes away from the KERS story if the public hasn’t got a clue when and how it is being used. Don’t you think?

Read Full Post »

A night at the Oscars

Glenn Dunbar/LAT

Glenn Dunbar/LAT

At the Autosport Awards last night, otherwise known as the Oscars of motorsport, Martin Brundle and I were presented with an award for our commentary on the final laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the “Moment of the year”. It was a great honour, made all the more special because they chose Murray to present it to us.

They played the video of the final few corners on the big screen and my heart was thumping in my chest all over again – it really was the most extraordinary moment of sport.

I’m absolutely delighted with this gong as it provides such a perfect full stop to the whole 12 year ITV project.

Martin also took the opportunity to set the record straight on his feelings about working with me in the commentary box for the past seven years.

Read Full Post »