With BBC Sport challenged with cutting £35m from its budget, a costly jaunt around the world to 19 different countries was always going to be high on the list of possible casualties. It was the common thinking, a foregone conclusion even that ITV would step in to take over the remainder of the BBC’s F1 contract however a shock swoop for Channel 4 has been making waves in the F1 community since its announcement before Christmas.
According to Autosport, the BBC will save in the region of £42m by culling F1 from its portfolio, averaging out a cost of £14m per season, and a return of in show advertising is inevitable due to Channel 4’s status as a private broadcaster. With Channel 4 already (thankfully) committing to races shown without advert breaks, below are three things we’d like to see in Channel 4’s coverage when they take over the reigns from the BBC next year.
Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard making the jump across. Regardless of if you like or loathe him, or as Ron Dennis put it, think he’s the village idiot there can be no doubt that EJ bought a certain shade of pleasant colour to the BBC’s coverage. Whether you always agreed with Eddie or not, he always bought a different, team principals insight into matters in F1 and losing his input in the presenting team would be a major loss. His chemistry with his fellow on screen presenters and personalities within the paddock was a joy to watch and the former Jordan team boss would be a very welcome addition to the Channel 4 line up.
The same can be said for David Coulthard, who since his retirement from racing has taken to presenting and commentating like a duck to water. Martin Brundle’s departure to Sky has allowed Coulthard to emerge as quite possibly F1’s next best pundit/commentator and there can be no doubting the extra level of understanding and detail a successful former driver and race winner can bring to the show. I’ve always thought the best commentators and presenters are those who have had a successful career in the sport and the capture of EJ and DC would represent a significant coup for Channel 4.
Pre race show held at the track, not the studio. Yes, although shipping a whole production crew across six continents over the course of the year doesn’t come cheap but it would be a major regression if Channel 4 reverted to presenting the show from a studio in the UK. I assume a trackside show comes as a given, otherwise I’m sure that information would be in the public domain by now however it is an essential element of comprehensive race weekend coverage. The closet thing I can draw comparisons to here is Formula E. Given the reasons for a studio show being that the series is still in its infancy have been noted, you only need to watch the pre race coverage of a FE race followed by trackside coverage of an F1 race to see the difference being at the circuit makes.
The Gridwalk is a must. This point brings us full circle (relatively) back to our first point and that is that retaining the pre race gridwalks are essential. Martin Brundle’s have acquired an almost cult legendary status over the seasons and his move to Sky left a large void in the pre race build up which David Coulthard has filled very capably. Whilst arguably not as cut throat and vulture like as Brundle, Coulthards recent F1 experience has allowed him to gain pre race access F1 personalities others may not have been able to and again, his past F1 experience clearly shines through. The loss of the pre race grid walk would be a huge dark cloud on Channel 4’s F1 debut and one I’m sure they have already taken steps to avoid.
Much improved online coverage. Whilst the BBC’s website did duly provide the latest news and occasional columns from Hamilton, McNish and Coulthard, online presence in an area in which Channel 4 can immdiately begin to improve on the BBC. Whereas the BBC’s football site was updated multiple times a day with opinion columns, stats and news headlines the Formula One page often stayed unchanged for days at a time. It would be extremely refreshing to see Channel 4 investing significant amounts of time in creating a comprehensive online F1 user experience ranging from highlight videos, to interviews and a data center (or something of the sort) to allow the more hardcore among us to spend more time reading about the sport we love. Given that Channel 4 currently (and understandbly) lacks a form of Motorsport news website then the creation of one before pre season testing begins would be a good place to start.
Are there any other things you’d like to see Channel 4 include in their F1 coverage from next year? Let us know in the comments below!
Images thanks to http://www.channel4.com and the BBC.