F1 Off-Season News #2

BBC HD Scandinavia
Image via Wikipedia

There are always interesting stories floating around in the F1 world. I want to talk about some of the most interesting.

Broadcasting Changes: HD and BBC Commentary Switch

Formula 1 Administration are now making the switch to send the world feed out to broadcasters in HD from 2011 onwards. Broadcasters such as the BBC are opting to pick up this HD feed and will transmit it on their BBC One HD channel. F1 races will look phenomenal in HD, especially Singapore so I can’t wait to see it. This is what I bought an HD set-top box for.

In other BBC coverage news, as I’ve mentioned previously, David Coulthard will step up to the commentary box to replace Jonathan Legard. More recently the BBC have also confirmed that DC will still be part of the familiar trio with Jake and Eddie before and after races, and will only miss the time he has to spend sprinting up to the commentary box before the action begins. During that short time, Eddie Jordan will get a chance to give more detailed, serious views on the action than he could before and take a more central role in analysing things.

Liuzzi, Sutil, Di Resta and Hulkenberg all in the running for Force India drives

Despite Liuzzi having a contract for this season, it looks as if the team wants to buy him out and replace him presumably with DTM champion Paul Di Resta. It was originally thought that Adrian Sutil was fairly safe in his seat but it has been suggested recently that VJ Mallya, the team owner was not happy with him for waiting until all other options were firmly closed before opting to resign.

Nico Hulkenberg is desperate for a race seat after a pretty good rookie year at Williams including a brilliantly judged pole position lap and a fighting drive at the start of the Brazilian race. If he doesn’t unseat Sutil, then he may end up having to settle for test and reserve driver which will be a massive shame for him. You would think that Mercedes would be interested in him to replace Heidfeld if that position is still vacant.

Liuzzi would then be a strong candidate to join HRT should they still need a second driver by that time. At the end of the day, Vitantonio will either keep his F1 drive, or get a big pay cheque for doing nothing. He may even get paid twice if he gets the HRT drive or a test role somewhere else.

Other drivers desperate to stay in F1 and those returning

It’s been reported recently that HRT not only snubbed both Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok for race seats, but they have gone ahead and signed an Indian F1 driver who last raced for Jordan in 2005, Narain Karthikayen. I had never heard of him until this announcement but it seems he’s been in the NASCAR Truck Series this season. He’s lucky to be able to come back as the F1 world has a very short memory and drivers are quickly forgotten with little chance of a return, with new up-and-coming talent always emerging.

While it is now is confirmed that the best Bruno Senna or Karun Chandhok can hope for is a test drive role ( Team Lotus said to be the target for Karun), the two ex-Sauber drivers from 2010: Pedro De La Rosa and Nick Heidfeld as well as potentially numerous other drivers we don’t know about, are all fighting for that last HRT spot. Who will get it is anyone’s guess, but it seems likely that whoever does will be bringing sponsorship money with them.

It’s a sad state of affairs and I’ll have more on this soon.


F1: Legard out at BBC, replaced by DC

David Coulthard testing for Red Bull Racing at...
David Coulthard

Jonathan Legard has been replaced at the BBC by a promoted Martin Brundle and David Coulthard, who presumably is going to be the colour commentator in addition to his role at the beginning and end of shows with Jake Humphrey and Eddie Jordan. It would be a great shame to lose him from from his current role, no matter how good his race analysis and commentary skills are.

I do feel bad for Jonathan Legard to be replaced in this way, despite not always being a fan of his sometimes over-excitable style. I remember at the Japanese race he made a couple of mistakes that made him look a bit foolish but it’s so easy to do. But I just remember that and maybe the BBC did too. Organisations can be so fickle, and they might have listened to some negative viewer feedback as well.

However, despite it being a tough thing to happen, I do still feel that next year’s commentary will benefit as a result. It will still be exciting and fun, but I think Martin and David combined, especially because they are both experienced ex-F1 drivers as well as good friends, will produce some really interesting conversation and will engage with viewers better than in past years.


iplayer Wii Channel Thoughts

I played with the BBC iplayer channel for wii and it’s good. About as good as the virgin set-top box on demand and certainly better than the ps3 version. That version though is essentially a rush job link to the browser rather than a standalone app. You can really tell the difference and it’s nice to see the BBC put in the effort for this channel.

It’s also nice to see nintendo open up the wii menu to 3rd parties and it will be interesting to see where they go with this with regards to partnering with other content providers.

Regardless, this is a good first step and something that quite a few people will find useful.