Casting an eye over F1’s podcasting exploits

Podcasting is increasingly playing a major role in the broadcasting landscape, as fans look to listen to their favourite stars on the go, whether it is on the tube, on the train, or out on the run. Last year, Formula 1 got in on the act with their own podcast.

Daniel Finley (@DF190587), a regular Motorsport Broadcasting reader, sent in his thoughts on the podcast so far…

At the end of June 2018, a teaser trailer for an upcoming podcast appeared across Formula 1’s social media platforms. The trailer promised to give you insights into what the drivers, team bosses and other stars get up to ‘Beyond the Grid’. The trailer included snippets from interviews with Lewis Hamilton and Gerhard Berger.

A few days later, Formula 1 published the first episode, as presenter Tom Clarkson interviewed Hamilton in a 54-minute piece. The tagline “F1 has given me a life – but it’s also broken me” was centre of attention.

This week saw the publication of episode 38 (an interview with James Allison), and with the first anniversary fast approaching, now feels like a good time to provide a review.

A different medium, the same rewards
Podcasting in general is a very popular media outlet. Just last week at the Digital Content NewFronts conference, it was revealed that the New York Times podcast ‘The Daily’ reaches two million listeners per day, an astonishing statistic. Public data on the number of subscriptions and listeners is difficult to come by.

The top ten sports podcasts in the UK on iTunes contains mainly football based podcasts. At the time of writing ‘Beyond the Grid‘ was ranked the 11th most popular show in the sports category which does suggest that it is doing well, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.

Interestingly, Beyond the Grid is not the highest ranked F1 podcast currently: that honour goes to Whisper Films for Channel 4’s F1 podcast ‘On the Marbles‘, which is currently 9th in the charts after just four episodes.

There are of course other long-running F1 podcasts available. BBC Radio 5 Live have published a podcast, ‘Chequered Flag Formula 1‘, for over a decade. Their offering includes a preview and review of a race weekend, which is useful if I have not been able to follow full weekend, but for me of limited benefit most of the time.

The 5 Live team does offer some special episodes but these are sporadic. Recent special episodes have included a debate on the newly created W Series, and a discussion with Bernie Ecclestone.

Of the 37 Beyond the Grid episodes so far, nine have featured current F1 drivers, with five featuring current team bosses. The rest feature past F1 drivers, old team bosses and other F1 celebrities, including a particularly special episode with a certain legendary commentator.

In true podcasting form, episodes are available free of charge through popular podcast applications. There are, of course, some adverts often at the beginning, middle and end of the episode that Clarkson reads out featuring sponsors Bose. While they may break up the flow of the podcast it is a small price to pay for a free product (and there is always the fast forward button).

Each episode last around an hour, giving enough time to chat to the guest in detail. Clarkson conducts each interview in a professional but relaxed manner, and is well prepared for each guest. It is clear that he knows each guest well, often referring to the first time he met the guest, helping to build-up rapport between Clarkson and the listener.

The highlights so far
I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode to date, they are informative and provide some great anecdotes that are not often heard. Some highlights for me include:

  • Episode 7 with Christian Horner included a guest appearance from Geri, Horner’s wife, and was recorded the day after Daniel Riccardo’s announcement that he would be moving to Renault.
  • Episode 20 with Claire Williams provided a fantastic insight into her early years around F1, getting to know the drivers as they stayed at the family home, as well as her current role in F1.
  • Episode 22 with Emerson Fittipaldi was an emotional listen, as Fittipaldi described his time with Ayrton Senna.
  • Episode 23 with Rob Smedley, in particular when he was discussing the 2008 title loss.
  • Episodes 27 and 28 were special episodes with Ross Brawn and Sabine Kehm respectively, to celebrate the 50th birthday of Michael Schumacher. Both episodes provided great stories from their times with Michael.

My absolute favourite to date is episode 34 with the legendary Murray Walker, to celebrate the 1,000th F1 race. If you are only going to listen to one episode then this is the one. His knowledge and passion for F1 remains, and the final two minutes of the podcast are enough to make the hairs on your neck stand up.

In my opinion the podcast is a very welcome addition to the overall broadcasting offering by Formula 1, under Liberty Media. I would certainly have no hesitation of recommending the podcast to new and long-time followers of F1.

I look (and listen) on with interest to see how the podcast will develop. Clearly there are several current drivers and team bosses who have not been interviewed yet, which are obvious future candidates for Clarkson to chat to.

I personally would love to see the podcast extended to include some people who are not normally heard/seen from F1. Perhaps a pit lane mechanic, a member of the hospitality side within a F1 team, or who knows maybe even an interview with Chase Carey.

In the meantime, go ahead and give the podcast a listen.

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6 thoughts on “Casting an eye over F1’s podcasting exploits

  1. The best series of podcasts are from Missed Apex.
    Fun informative and have Joe Saward being as informative as ever.
    Never miss an episode and I always look forward to Monday morning drive to work to hear their thoughts on the Sunday Grand Prix.

  2. My opinions:
    – Clarkson has done a stellar job with Beyond The Grid.
    – I think that Jenny Gow & Co do a fine job with Checkered Flag. Good way to keep up with news on a race weekend.
    – Missed Apex started out great but has developed into a lot repetitive chatter and inside (to the podcast) jokes. IMO, Seward obviously has decades of experience but he should stick to writing. He comes across has as a pompous curmudgeon. MA best assets: The Diary of An F1 Boss series with Matthew Carter and the regular Tech series with Matt Somerfield

    Podcasting has been growing massively for a decade or more. Essentially, it’s the new radio.

  3. I can’t have any pod cast reminders because they might tell me race results before I can watch the highlights. This is same for twitter I had to unsubscribe from many things

  4. Re: podcast reminders. Podcast apps all handle notifications differently.

    I use Pocket Casts and it simply indicates how many new podcasts are available on the icon for the podcasts on the main screen. Even when you click on the podcast, it just shows the name of that podcast: Missed Apex and The Checkered Flag simply say “Qualifying Review” or “Race Review”, they don’t have any spoilers in the title of the podcast.

    RE: spoilers. Although F1TV Pro has been rightfully criticized for the serious problems with the service, they don’t show any results spoilers when you go directly to the F1 TV website to watch replays.

  5. I truly believe Clarkson is the one of the best F1 reporters out there and hope he will lead F1’s own broadcasting plans going forward. To me the best ones are the Autosport podcast by Edd Straw, F1 Word together with Beyond the Grid. It’s truly a pity that F1Blog has had to wind up because of issues with F1 on its naming rights.

  6. Re: Listenership of podcasts, data for this can be found, although (as you can imagine) it varies territory by territory. In the UK, podcasts reach around 12% of the population. It is a growing medium, but radio is still the dominant audio player of our time (especially now it is fully digital.)

    In the UK, the BBC and its domination of public radio means that around a third of listeners use BBC Sounds/iPlayer as a gateway into podcasting, (sometimes without even realizing it.)

    Re: Beyond the Grid, I have to say F1 have done a great job with this. Most “official” podcasts are fairly dull, whereas this one actually covers ground that hasn’t been covered elsewhere. The mark of a great podcast is one that you feel you need to listen to again, rather than a disposable weekly update, and Beyond the Grid gets full marks for that. So on that score F1 have nailed this right out of the gate.

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