Channel 4’s inaugural F1 weekend (live and highlights): Your Verdict Revealed

Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage got under way with extended highlights of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, followed shortly afterwards by live coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

There has been reaction far and wide regarding their presentation team and their features so far, but what have readers of this site thought about Channel 4’s output so far? As one would perhaps expect this early into a new broadcasting era, there are a range of responses veering from high appraisal to negativity. Thanks go to all of you who commented on the piece asking for opinions.

We start off with Channel 4’s presenter Steve Jones. Jones follows in the footsteps of the likes of Jake Humphrey and Suzi Perry in presenting Formula 1 on terrestrial television. Some readers have compared Jones favourably to the aforementioned presenters:

Jones reminded me of Jake Humphrey in his early days, so I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. Can’t be as bad as Suzi Perry who never looked interested in F1. – Ted

Jones is still a little awkward but so was Suzi Perry at first. I think they’re trying to recreate the dynamic they had with Jake Humphrey and Jones will soon settle in with a few more live races under his belt. – whopix

Steve Jones impressive and looks as will be perfect for the job. – madmax

On the other end of the spectrum, Karla, Tarquin and Derek Colbourne all referred to Jones as “irritating”, whilst Chris says that Jones is currently the “weak link” of Channel 4’s line-up.

I think Golly makes a good point concerning Jones, and explains the rationale for Channel 4 appointing Jones as lead presenter instead of, for example David Coulthard or Mark Webber:

He’s not supposed to be an expert on F1, he’s the presenter who leads the programme and provides all the links to all the many changing topics, interviews etc. that take place over a GP weekend. These are happening constantly, with producers and directors constantly giving him instructions (and probably advice) in both his ears.

The poor guy has so much to remember and coordinate, while all the time presenting a relaxed and confident image to the camera. I think he’s already doing a fairly good job of it. People have suggested DC or Webber could do the job, but that’s not where their expertise lies – they’re the pundits who feed off questions asked and observations made.

One aspect of the coverage that received a variety of responses surrounded the break bumpers, which as pointed out in a variety of comments is one of the ways Channel 4 is trying to pull in a younger audience. The social integration was applauded, but the dub step music was not:

I do feel C4 are trying to reach a younger audience with their coverage. With the hashtags and (incredibly annoying) dub step music. – camf111

I love the graphics set up. It’s so Channel 4 but then it’s good that they’ve put their stamp on. The break bumpers to drive twitter use is a good way of having the inevitable social media plugging. – rosswilliamquinn

Some niggling faults, especially the dreadful “music” used as outro/intro to adverts & some extraneous attempts to introduce elements of pop culture into what really should remain a sports programme. – IanMac

Channel 4’s line-up was praised by readers, more so following their Bahrain Grand Prix coverage.

The rotating pundits’ idea has worked so far because it allows for good access and different angles for each individual due to their historic or current links (e.g. Susie Wolff in the Mercedes garage, DC driving the Red Bull with the two race drivers). – Tom

The grid walk was the best on terrestrial TV for years with Webber out there as well as Coulthard, who has never looked comfortable chasing down people to interview whilst on camera. – Anton Wilson

There were a few comments comparing Channel 4’s on-demand service All4 with the BBC iPlayer. Having kept an eye on All4 myself, I do think the service needs to improve – the turn-around at the moment is far too slow following a Grand Prix. Australia’s highlights programme was on All4 four hours after the programme had ended, as Michael alludes to.

Avoided spoilers and watched up until the red flag, then had to go out. Came back a couple of hours after the C4 programme had finished hoping to watch it on-demand, but it wasn’t available. Even now, four hours after the programmed aired it’s still not available on All4 – when you can torrent the Sky SD race broadcast in 20 minutes it’s not good enough.

As always, the comments are worth reading aside from those highlighted above. Instead of ending this piece on one overall comment, I’m going to end it on something different, which is a word cloud, generated using Word Clouds of all 65 comments from the original piece. The bigger the word, the more times it was mentioned by readers.

A word cloud of what readers think of Channel 4's Formula 1 coverage (as of April 2016).
A word cloud of what readers think of Channel 4’s Formula 1 coverage (as of April 2016).

2 thoughts on “Channel 4’s inaugural F1 weekend (live and highlights): Your Verdict Revealed

  1. I had never heard of Jones before and thought he looked up for the job at Australia highlights and couldn’t understand the negativity. Wind on to after Bahrain and believe me when I say I now understand the negativity.
    He seems completely out of place and hopefully realizes this sooner rather than later and tries to adjust accordingly.
    Riccardo “Prince of Australia” what????

  2. Having been lucky to find YouTube footage of NBC pre and post race coverage – Will Buxton continues to look massively impressive, as the sole presenter and pundit for their F1 coverage.

    I understand that F1 in the USA doesn’t have such prominence or complete coverage compared with the UK. However Buxton is a near-perfect blend of DC, Ted Kravitz and David Croft, rolled into one. He makes Sky’s quantity over quality approach look thoroughly decadent.

    For an example of Buxton’s ability to communicate effectively – check out his personal YouTube channel. He uses chocolate bars to provide the best and least patronizing explanation of the new 2016 tyre regulations. Personally I never considered there was much to get confused about – if you just read the regulations carefully. But various journalists thought differently and kept telling everyone how complex the new tyre rules are, to fill space during the off season. Nobody managed to explain them as effectively and succinctly as Will Buxton does on his home video!

    I’m surprised he hasn’t been tempted to move to an F1 broadcaster with a bigger audience of hardcore F1 fans. Does anyone know why he’s remained with NBCSN?

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