Murray Walker, 1923-2021

The voice of Formula 1, Murray Walker has died at the age of 97, the BRDC has confirmed.

Walker commentated on motor sport for decades, from his first Grand Prix race in 1949 all the way through until retiring from his Formula 1 commentary role at the end of 2001, for both the BBC and ITV.

In a statement, the BRDC said “It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE.”

“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nations favourite commentator and a contagious smile. Murray will be sadly missed; his mark and voice will live on in motorsport and our hearts forever.”

“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community.”

Writing on Twitter, Martin Brundle, who commentated with Walker full-time from 1997 to 2001 said “Rest in Peace Murray Walker. Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula One legend.”

Silverstone’s Managing Director Stuart Pringle said “It is with great sadness that I have to inform Silverstone’s fans that Murray Walker died earlier today. He was to so many of us fans of F1, the voice that epitomised the sport we love.”

“Knowledgeable beyond words and with a passion that occasionally got the better of him in commentary, he brought the sport and some of its greatest moments to life in a way that ensured they remained seared in our memories for ever.”

“Much will be written about the impact that Murray had on the sport and we will make a more fulsome tribute in due course, but for the time being rest in peace Murray and thank you.”

A legend who has inspired generations

When people think of F1, past or present, they think of a handful of names. Senna. Schumacher. Fangio. Prost. Hamilton. Bernie. And Murray.

The first F1 race I watched was the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix. Two things got me addicted to F1 that year and into the 2000s: Michael Schumacher in the iconic Ferrari, with Murray Walker and Martin Brundle providing the sound track. Without Murray, I doubt this site would exist.

Although Walker did step aside at the 2001 US Grand Prix, the joys of the internet means that his commentary lives forever, and is easy to find on any F1 archive clip from the 1970s to the 1990s.

I cannot mention Walker without mentioning James Hunt, two opposites, but joined together in the commentary box discussing the one thing they loved most: motor sport.

During Walker’s tenure, F1’s popularity in the UK boomed, thanks in part to Nigel Mansell’s and Damon Hill’s on-track successes, but also due to Walker’s commentary, Walker communicating the intricates of the sport to the masses.

Lines such as “And I’ve got to stop, because I’ve got a lump in my throat!” are forever etched in F1 history, and will always will be.

I had the pleasure of meeting Murray twice. The first was at a signing for his ‘Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken’ book in late 2002. What I remember about the evening most was not the actual signing, but the long queue of hundreds of people, which stretched far outside the Waterstones.

From kids, like me, through to the grandparents, everyone wanted Murray to sign a copy of the book. And that was a sign of just how much people connected with Murray at home. Murray was special, and he brought our wonderful sport to life.

Fast forward 16 years, and to the second meeting of me and Murray, this time at Channel 4’s Formula 1 launch.

Murray was on stage with the rest of the Channel 4 team, before joining the rest of the team in roundtable discussions with media afterwards. Even at the age of 92, Murray was in fine form.

Sadly, there will not be a third meeting.

The motor racing paddock is filled with young talent: racers, mechanics, hospitality, and on the broadcasting side, producers, commentators, presenters and so on.

All of them have a connecting bond: they grew up listening to Murray’s infectious commentary. Without Murray, the motor racing paddock today would be a worse place. There will never be another Murray Walker.

Murray, you inspired generations, not one generation, but multiple. Legend is bandied around far too much, but you were a legend, and simply the best.

We’ll miss you.

Who’s hot, who’s not? Reviewing 2020’s social media metrics

Each race weekend, teams, drivers and riders battle for points and prizes, with the aim of reaching the top of the mountain in their respective series.

Underpinning each entity is a social media team. For the likes of Formula 1 or MotoGP, the social media team may be a genuine business unit. For smaller championships, it may be a single person running the show.

The objective in all cases remains the same: to drive engagement on their social media channels, turning casual fans into passionate fans which, hopefully for the entity in question, turns into a profit further down the line when the fan begins to purchase their products.

Motorsport Broadcasting is an independent website without big backers, and therefore relies on trackable information already in the public domain, such as the number of followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Whilst this may not show who has engaged with individual posts, what it does help to show is who is attracting a newer, fresher fanbase to their platform, therefore becoming more marketable to their team or stakeholders around them or, alternatively, who is struggling to hit the mark.

A note of caution on Facebook: the platform is removing the ability to ‘like’ pages, instead only allowing users to ‘follow’ pages. Facebook notes that the update will “simplify the way people connect with their favourite Pages.”

“Unlike Likes, Followers of a Page represent the people who can receive updates from Pages, which helps give public figures a stronger indication of their fan base,” Facebook adds. This does mean some figures in this piece have increased slightly more than previously.

Championships

Motorsport Broadcasting compares social media data from 15 different championships, from Formula 1 to the new W Series. 2020 was disruptive for those hoping to grow their following, with most series inactive from March to July.

Some ventured down the Esports route to keep fans engaged during last year’s lockdown before the action restarted. Two championships suffered the most because of COVID: the electric Formula E series and the W Series.

Formula E hosted their final 6 races across 9 days in August, whilst W Series cancelled their second season owing to the pandemic.

Nevertheless, the W Series increased its following from 110,000 fans to 154,000 fans, the series no doubt hoping to capitalise on their presence during F1 weekends in 2021. Meanwhile, Formula E’s portfolio grew from 2.44 million fans to 2.63 million fans across 2020, an increase of just 7.7%.

After a period in 2018 where Formula E’s following was rising sharply, the electric series has seen its growth stall in comparison to other series. Whilst COVID has halted any momentum the series had; the reality is that Formula E’s social media platforms have been struggling since early 2019.

In April 2019, 2.19 million fans hooked onto their platforms, meaning that Formula E has only gained half a million fans on social media across the past 22 months.

Whilst Formula E’s slowdown is somewhat explainable, IndyCar’s stagnation cannot. The American series grew its following by just 20,000 fans during 2020, despite holding an Esports series which garnered worldwide attention, followed by a successful 14 race calendar.

Formula 2 continued its social media rise during 2020, doubling its reach from 536,000 followers to an excellent 1.12 million followers.

With Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott both moving on, however, it is difficult to envisage Formula 2 continuing such strong growth during 2021.

Something that, in my view, will likely play against Formula 2 this season is the new championship structure, as the feeder series alternates its slot on the F1 calendar with Formula 3.

If Formula 2 continues to grow strongly during 2021, then it is possible F2 could overtake IndyCar in the social media pecking order later this year.

Out in front, F1 and MotoGP continued to surge unaffected by COVID during 2020, both quickly heading towards 30 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined.

F1 teams

1st on track, and 1st in the socials. 2020 was a success on and off track for Mercedes, as they continued to increase their lead over Red Bull in the social media stakes.

Mercedes’ advantage on social media is reflective of their openness across their social media platforms.

Despite Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas being their main players on-track, it is technical director James Allison who plays a key role in Mercedes’ digital output. Allison explains in clear detail the design decisions that his team make during each Grand Prix season, helping put Mercedes a step ahead of the rest both on and off-track.

Whilst Red Bull’s portfolio is still growing strong, arguably the Milton Keynes outfit has slipped back in recent times – a slip that we can trace back to Daniel Ricciardo’s departure at the end of 2018.

Statistics compiled by Motorsport Broadcasting show that Red Bull consistently recorded the strongest growth of any F1 team between 2015 and 2018, but has now not only slipped behind Mercedes, but also Ferrari and McLaren.

And, despite Ricciardo not being in a race winning car at Renault / Alpine, his growth on social media during 2020 was still bigger than his former team-mate Max Verstappen (see the chart below), showing how popular he is amongst the motor sport fan base.

Has Red Bull’s revolving second seat turned potential new fans off the team? Of course, we should note that Red Bull still has a combined 18 million followers across the three major social media platforms, an excellent number and only behind the black cars.

Red Bull’s figures will be one to watch this season as Sergio Perez brings his Mexican contingent with him from Racing Point, now rebranded as Aston Martin.

Fuelled by Perez’s shock win in Bahrain, Aston Martin ended up best of the rest on social media in 2020, meaning that they are highly likely to overtake both AlphaTauri and Williams in total followers as 2021 gets underway.

Both Ferrari and McLaren maintained strong growth despite their on-track misfortune in recent years (although the latter is now firmly on the road to recovery), showing how important it is to have a strong brand name behind you during tough times.

F1 drivers

If social media was a championship, then Hamilton, Ricciardo and McLaren’s Lando Norris were 2020’s winners.

The gulf between Hamilton and the rest of the F1 continues to get larger and larger, as Hamilton’s activism off the circuit cuts through to a wider audience that transcends the sporting world.

Hamilton’s combined social media following of 33 million fans is over 4 times the next best in F1, with Ricciardo in 2nd on a combined 7.56 million followers. On Instagram alone, Hamilton has 21.6 million followers, the highest for any motor sport driver by some margin.

Behind Hamilton and Ricciardo, 2020 was the year of the Twitchers, with Norris, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell all reaping the rewards, building a strong following during the first lockdown in spring.

Norris attracted further attention during the lockdown by participating in IndyCar’s iRacing Challenge, even if it did not necessarily help the latter in the social media standings.

Russell’s growth was one of the strongest during 2020. Helped by his Mercedes drive in Sakhir, his following surged from 551,000 fans at the end of 2019 to 2.55 million fans across the three main social platforms, a rise of 362% in 14 months!

To put that into context, current Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas grew his following by just 841,000 fans, considerably lower than his Twitch counterparts, including Alex Albon. If this was a qualifying session, both Bottas and Albon would be out in Q2.

The figures show how important the UK territory is to Formula 1, with 3 of the top 6 ‘growers’ during 2020 consisting of the British contingent.

In addition to the Grand Prix field, Motorsport Broadcasting also tracked Mick Schumacher’s following through his second season in Formula 2.

Schumacher’s growth across the year is remarkable for a driver who was, at that point, in the feeder series, reflecting the name and the weight that he carries on his shoulders with him into F1.

The 2021 season, for both MotoGP and F1, begins on Sunday 28th March, with live coverage of F1 testing beginning of Friday 12th March.

Coverage of testing for UK viewers airs live on Sky Sports F1, with coverage also available via F1 TV Pro for those territories with access to the series.

All the figures above compare the number of followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram between November 29th, 2019 and January 30th, 2021, therefore encompassing the whole of the 2020 motor racing season.

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Flashback: 2000 European Grand Prix

On the eve of the Nürburgring’s return to the Formula One calendar, Motorsport Broadcasting has decided to be a little nostalgic, with a throwback to the 2000 European Grand Prix!

Funnily enough, many fans remember the events of the 1999 running of the Grand Prix far more than 2000, as Johnny Herbert climbed to victory in mixed weather from 14th on the grid. But, reviewing that race from a broadcasting perspective feels too obvious.

And, whilst the 2000 race may not have been thrilling in quite the same way, it for me is still a classic wet weather race in the Eifel mountains with twists and turns along the way.

Would McLaren be able to outsmart Ferrari, or would Michael Schumacher’s wet weather prowess show once again? Here we go…

  • Date: Sunday 21st May 2000
  • Time: 12:15 to 15:15
  • Presenter: Jim Rosenthal
  • Reporter: James Allen
  • Reporter: Louise Goodman
  • Commentator: Murray Walker
  • Commentator: Martin Brundle
  • Analyst: Tony Jardine

By this point in their coverage, ITV dedicated around 45 minutes of build-up to the European races, with another 30 minutes for analysis post-race. The build-up gradually expanded in length year-on-year, and before we know it, the commercial broadcaster was dedicating an hour of programming to build-up.

Pre-Race
Following Simon Taylor’s departure from ITV’s Formula 1 line-up, the team opted to bring an additional guest into their studio for some of the build-up, an array which included the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, Bernie Ecclestone, and even Ant and Dec!

For Nürburgring, it was the turn of Mercedes’ Sporting Director Norbert Haug in the studio, Haug joining Jim Rosenthal and Tony Jardine.

The build-up for this race feels split in two: the first 20 minutes focusing heavily on the McLaren and Ferrari scrap, with the latter 20 minutes looking at some of the other stories making the F1 agenda.

In my view, the format works, and more importantly covers a lot of ground across the segments, meaning that the viewer feels well versed in the world of F1 by the time the lights go green.

Haug’s insights were not the most engaging however, but nevertheless helped bring additional context to the McLaren and Ferrari battle.

2000 European GP - refuelling.png
ITV’s pit lane reporter James Allen goes behind the scenes with the BAR team during refuelling practice.

Following the usual qualifying round-up and summary, conversation moves onto the big incident from the previous round in Spain: a botched refuelling pit stop from Ferrari resulting in a broken ankle for Nigel Stepney.

The conversation provides the opener to an excellent segment from James Allen, who joined BAR during their pit stop practice to demonstrate the many roles and responsibilities during the pit stop sequence.

McLaren versus Ferrari remains the theme in the pit stop piece, with comment from McLaren’s Ron Dennis and Ferrari’s Ross Brawn. Next-up, on-board for a lap of the Nurburgring with Rubens Barrichello!

A thrills and spills VT showing Johnny Herbert’s spectacular victory from 1999 follows, with a segment on the other side of the ad-break taking us further into the world of F1 through Martin Brundle’s ‘Inside Track’ series.

Brundle’s piece for round six of 2000 looks at F1’s strict weight limits, well timed given that Prost’s Nick Heidfeld was thrown out of the weekend after qualifying for fielding an underweight car.

Attention turns further down the pecking order to two F1 struggles: Jaguar, and Jacques Villeneuve. Jaguar had yet to capitalise on Stewart’s strong 1999 season, the team the subject of Louise Goodman’s segment.

The thing I really like here is that the segment was not a ‘talk to camera’ segment, but rather an all-rounded segment that offered different perspective, with the opinions of technical director Gary Anderson and drivers Eddie Irvine and Johnny Herbert on show. The editors made clear the purpose of the segment from the outset, which made it even more engaging.

An interview segment between Brundle and Villeneuve followed. You really got the impression from these two segments that every second of the broadcast counts, there is no waffle, no glitziness to the output, but why should there be?

The piece touches on Villeneuve’s disappointment with his move to BAR, his relationship with Craig Pollak and whether he, in Brundle’s words, can “really walk away from a works Honda deal?”

2000 European GP - final turn angle.png
An excellent camera angle as the cars head out of the final bend onto the start-finish straight.

Rosenthal and Jardine filled the gaps in between the VTs, but this was a segment heavy build-up, with Brundle’s famed grid walk not in sight, for this round at least. In ITV’s early days, the team did not overuse the grid walk, gradually bringing it in until it became a permanent fixture at most races from the mid-2000s onwards.

With the scene set at “a cool 10 degrees,” it is race time!

Race
I have mentioned this before, but the 2000 grid is gorgeous, with the red Ferrari’s, green Jaguar’s, and yellow Jordan’s amongst the colours on offer.

Back in the early 2000s, F1’s television operation for most viewers was decentralised. ITV directed the British Grand Prix, Fuji Television would direct the Japanese Grand Prix, and here at the Nürburgring, it was German broadcaster RTL who controlled of the European round from Germany.

Off the line, Hakkinen stormed into the lead from third, swapping places with Coulthard, as Schumacher remained in second. The first of Murray Walker’s prophetic pe-race predictions came true, as Villeneuve in the BAR jumped up to fifth from ninth on the grid.

Only four drivers are on the harder compound Bridgestone tyre. They’ve got the super soft tyre here for the first time this year, and the soft tyre, which is actually the harder one here today, is being used by both the Ferrari drivers [Rubens] Barrichello and Michael Schumacher, by Jacques Villeneuve and by Jos Verstappen. And I certainly know in the case of the Ferrari’s that, as Martin has said, it’s because they just get a better balance on the car. They tend to go off after about ten laps, so Michael Schumacher will be looking to get ahead as soon as the race begins, and in order to do that, he’s got to pass David Coulthard. – Murray Walker talking tyres.

The local RTL director had a limited choice of exterior angles to play with for replays of the start, with no on-board angles during this sequence.

Remember that the local director was ‘competing’ against F1’s own digital operation during this era, meaning that on-board angles were rare for most viewers worldwide.

Shots from Heinz Harald Frentzen’s Jordan, Jean Alesi’s Prost and Rubens Barrichello’s Ferrari were on offer throughout the mixed weather race, none of whom ever had a chance at victory (and Frentzen’s race lasted just a single lap).

Unsurprisingly, the director focussed firmly on Schumacher’s attempts to take the lead off Hakkinen, the German harassing the two-time champion lap after lap, meaning Walker ended up reciting the order every so often.

With rain threatening, a lot of chatter was about refuelling, with Brundle adequately explaining the rationale behind a heavier fuel load at race start.

The director did miss Benetton’s Giancarlo Fisichella overtaking Villeneuve live in the early phases, but under the circumstances, an understandable omission. Schumacher eventually dived down the inside of Hakkinen into the chicane he designed, as the forecast rain intensified.

2000 European GP - lap graphic.png
The rainmeister at work, two seconds a lap faster than his team mate.

At which point, the race kicked off in many different directions: Jos Verstappen, Marc Gene, and Pedro Diniz all lost it in the tricky conditions. Considering how patchy some of the television direction was back in the day, the German director on this day in history did fantastically well to catch the key bits.

Both Walker and Brundle through this race relied on the World Feed pictures and just one timing monitor, as the front runners carved their way back through those who had yet to switch to wet tyres.

The commentary felt very instinctive, but it also felt like they were living through the moment with us, which made it all the better. Walker described it as a “commentator’s nightmare,” Brundle called it a “commentator’s dream!”

Also inspired was ITV’s lop-sided ad-break structure for the Grand Prix, with the first 26 minutes running without adverts. It did mean more frequent adverts later (five ad-breaks in total), but was unavoidable at time. ITV did capture Schumacher’s overtake on Hakkinen live, so you cannot complain, really.

A late pit stop meant that Barrichello dropped back through the field, which probably pleased the director given the on-board camera on Barrichello’s car!

As the order and conditions settled down, so did the coverage, with the director focusing more on the battles in the latter half of the points paying positions, with heavy focus on Arrows, BAR and Benetton. On the commentary side, Allen provided additional analysis on the movers and shakers from pit lane throughout the Grand Prix.

One battle caught in its entirety was a three-way scrap between Irvine in the Jaguar, Ralf Schumacher’s Williams, and Verstappen’s Arrows. Unfortunately, it ended with both Irvine and Schumacher eliminated at the first corner, followed by Verstappen shunting into the wall towards turn ten.

This is where you can see how radically Formula 1 has changed in even twenty years: Verstappen’s off would have necessitated a Safety Car nowadays, but back then controlled under yellow flags.

One man making a good impression was Verstappen’s team mate Pedro de la Rosa who had crept up to third, which Walker hyped on commentary as “something F1 really needs!” In the end, de la Rosa did need to pit again, dropping him further back.

If anything, the direction for this race was not too dissimilar to a Grand Prix in recent times, given what the director had to work with. Safety Cars aside, the major differences were the lack of team radio and on-board angles, both of which would have added an extra dimension.

RTL’s director caught Ferrari’s error in under fuelling Barrichello at his second stop instantly, which the ITV team picked up many laps later.

2000 European GP - Verstappen.png
A huge off for Jos Verstappen prompts yellow flags, but not a Safety Car.

In the end at the front of the field, Schumacher picked up his fourth win of the 2000 season, with Hakkinen finishing 13 seconds behind! Coulthard and Barrichello finished in third and fourth, but one lap behind…

Post-Race
With the race overrunning slightly, analysis from ITV was thin on the ground, but nevertheless covered the key events.

Brundle called the race “a very significant day in this year’s World Championship.” As it turned out, Ferrari would only win two of the next seven races, with McLaren largely dominating the Summer months before the tide turned in Italy.

Paul Stoddart is an interesting sighting during the podium celebrations with the Ferrari crew. Although not yet a Formula 1 team boss, Stoddart was present in the paddock, his European Aviation outfit sponsoring the Arrows team.

Following the podium procedure and an ad-break, a young sounding Tom Clarkson is the man asking the questions in the post-race press conference.

Coulthard was amiss to explain the issues with his McLaren, although the ITV team were keen to praise him afterwards, Jardine calling his performance a “very, very brave effort”, the bravery cited due to the plane crash he was involved in a few weeks earlier.

Back in the paddock, Allen interviews Barrichello to wrap up analysis of the big two teams. A brief comment on Jaguar follows, tying up the loose ends from the pre-race build-up, before a few promos and standings concludes ITV’s broadcast of the European Grand Prix!

If the action is anything as thrilling this Sunday, we are in for a treat…


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How Motorsport Broadcasting has covered F1’s transformation under Chase Carey

Last week, Liberty Media announced that Stefano Domenicali would be succeeding Chase Carey as Chairman of Formula 1.

The news, first revealed by RaceFans, is not a huge surprise given rumours about Carey’s replacement were swirling for a while (even if Domenicali himself was not publicly linked). Nevertheless, the announcement means that Carey will depart his role at the end of 2020, ending a near four-year tenure.

Carey’s tenure began in January 2017, when Liberty Media completed their acquisition of Formula 1 from CVC Capital Partners. In that time, Liberty Media have overhauled the sport in many different areas.

Here, we look back at some of the key broadcasting moves from across the past four years, as covered by Motorsport Broadcasting…

Before Liberty – Although Liberty have made huge strides in recent times, we cannot thank them for everything.

For example, Formula 1 launched their social media platforms in 2014 and 2015, whilst preparation for F1’s over-the-top platform began in the ‘Bernie age’ as well, with rumblings around an app featuring on-boards from every car swirling in October 2016.

So, whilst Liberty under Carey did oversee the eventual execution of the likes of F1 TV, some work in the background did pre-date them.

March 2017 – One of Liberty’s first actions was to encourage teams and drivers to exploit social media. To begin with, Liberty gave teams and drivers flexibility to upload short form videos to their social channels. Boy, we really have come a long way in three and a half years, have we not?

June 2017 – Whilst Carey could (and did) change many aspects of Formula 1, one aspect they could not change was Sky Sports’ UK deal to broadcast F1 exclusively live from 2019 to 2024. In Liberty’s first public comment on the matter, then-Managing Director for Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches said that Liberty intended to ‘honour and respect’ the Sky deal.

On all fronts, the genie is out of the bottle. There will be bad moves; there will be experiments that fall flat on their face, by both the teams and Liberty Media. Now is the perfect time for mistakes to happen when fans are generally accepting that change is happening, and are prepared to accept that there will be early bumps in the road. You would rather make mistakes now when these forms of communication are niche for Formula 1, working to establish common ground, themes and decision-making as the season progresses. I would much rather see risk taking over the next few races instead of an organisation that is clearly relaxing or unable to adjust, as was clearly the case with FOM in previous years. – Me writing in March 2017

July 2017­ – Arguably Liberty’s first statement of intent, hosting a live event in the centre of London on a Wednesday evening, prior to the British Grand Prix.

Well received by fans, the likes of Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard and Martin Brundle hosted the event. Liberty has tailored follow up events to the respective follow audiences, and to date there has not been a repeat of the London iteration… yet.

November 2017 – Who knew a logo could prove to be so controversial? If ever there was an instance where Liberty was spot on, and the fans were wrong, it was here.

Fans online panned the new Formula 1 logo, including myself. I admit, I was wrong. The reaction was a little over-the-top. And speaking of OTT, that was where F1 was heading next, as Liberty concluded year one in charge of F1. For them, it was about laying the foundations for the future: kick start future initiatives (Esports), whilst also strengthening every area of the business, which they seen as flailing under Bernie.

February 2018 – The official announcement from F1 that they were heading into the OTT space. Joining F1’s in-house team? None other than ex-NBC F1 colleagues Will Buxton and Jason Swales. The platform, which launched behind schedule in May, gave select territories access to the live action across a multitude of feeds.

A cheaper tier gave fans worldwide (including the UK) access to a wealth of archive material, F1 also taking the opportunity in recent years to stream classic races on YouTube. Not everything was straightforward: US broadcaster NBC cited the launch of F1 TV as a key factor for them dropping out of the sport at the end of 2016.

March 2018 – A new graphics set, a new weekend schedule, and a new theme greeted fans watching F1’s coverage of the Australian Grand Prix. Brian Tyler’s F1 theme is brilliantly awesome, inspiring many different renditions.

Some of the early mooted changes, such as a mid-race highlights package, never really came to fruition (other than Heineken’s floating stars, which I want to forget about). F1 canned other ideas, such as mini-sectors during qualifying, the previous year.

August 2018 – Liberty continued making moves across their social media output, bringing fans closer to the sport. From a broadcasting perspective however, not much gets better than seeing how F1 operates inside the gallery in the heat of the moment.

The team released a fantastic video (below) showing how they handled Sebastian Vettel crashing out from the German Grand Prix, which this site dissected in detail. For anyone who inspires to get into motor sport broadcasting, the video remains a must watch.

Year two really built on Liberty Media’s research from year one, the sport expanding into new areas of growth, such as podcasting. The sport also began to pay more attention to Formula Two and Formula Three, both of which have become far more integrated with F1 in recent times.

Under Liberty’s watch, F1 has given some new voices a go behind the microphone on commentary, with the likes of WTF1’s Matt Gallagher benefiting as a result.

February 2019 – Live testing! Yes, F1 aired the entirety of the first test live in 2019 on their over-the-top platform in selected territories, with Sky Sports taking each afternoon live as well. Fans enjoyed F1’s offering, and coverage returned earlier this year, with both of the three day tests airing live.

Also launching prior to the 2019 season was Netflix’s Drive to Survive, which has helped bring the sport to a new, younger audience.

October 2019 – F1 began to live stream races on platforms such as Twitch, with the Mexican Grand Prix airing live on the platform in selected territories. In a fortnight from now, the Eifel Grand Prix will air live on YouTube for fans in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

January 2020 – First revealed by this site the previous July, a new documentary series focusing on Formula Two premiered on F1 TV. The tragic death of Anthoine Hubert shone a different light on the documentary, as fans witnessed events through the eyes of his rivals, and friends, at the time.

COVID-19 pandemic – The COVID pandemic has meant that many of F1’s plans for their 70th anniversary year have not gone as anticipated. A documentary series produced by Sky in collaboration with F1 celebrating the seventy years premiered earlier this month. Other developments concern F1 in the UK and Germany: with F1 TV Pro mooted to launch in the UK next season, whilst F1 in Germany will move behind a pay wall.

Overall, there have been more up’s than down’s when you look at the broadcasting and social media picture in totality for F1 at the end of Carey’s regime compared to where they were at the end of 2016.

As Dieter Rencken on RaceFans recently highlighted, however, the incoming Domenicali has many waves to battle through over the forthcoming months and years.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and many broadcasters may seek to reduce their investment in F1 at rights renewals stage, although F1’s recent deal with Sky in Germany should give Liberty confidence that the news may not be all bad.

Then, there is F1 TV, and continuing to monetise that, whilst ensuring that the technical issues that have plagued the platform since launch do not continue.

Of course, the above achievements do not cover all avenues, merely a reflection of how Motorsport Broadcasting has covered recent events.

What do you think is F1’s biggest improvement, or misstep, on the broadcasting and social media front in recent years? Have your say in the comments below.


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F1’s Tuscan Grand Prix coverage prompts 133 complaints to Ofcom

Coverage of the inaugural Tuscan Grand Prix across Channel 4 and Sky Sports has generated 133 complaints, statistics released by the UK’s communications regulator Ofcom reveal.

Although their weekly bulletin does not outline what the complaints relate to, it is likely a result of Lewis Hamilton’s decision to wear a t-shirt related to the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Hamilton’s t-shirt contained the words “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the front, with the words “Say her name” on the back.

Viewers logged 75 of the complaints against Channel 4’s highlights programme, with 55 complaints for Sky Sports’ live offering. For the week, F1 attracted the second highest number of complaints.

Britain’s Got Talent led the chart, due to a Black Lives Matters routine from Diversity on September 5th, which has attracted over 20,000 complaints.

Ofcom have yet to confirm if they plan to investigate the F1 matter further.

How often do people complain about F1 races?
Whilst the number of complaints recorded here is far higher than usual for Formula 1, it still only comprises of around 0.004 percent of the three million viewers that watch each Grand Prix.

Two other races in the past 15 years have recorded over 10 complaints.

126 people complained to Ofcom about ITV’s coverage of the 2005 San Marino Grand Prix, where the broadcaster took a commercial break in the closing stages of the Grand Prix, in the middle of a close contest between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.

Three years later, Ofcom received 14 complaints about the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix, as Martin Brundle used the word ‘pikey’ to describe those relaying the tarmac prior to the start of the race.

Ofcom considered the grid walk matter resolved, whilst they deemed ITV to be in breach regarding the ad-break situation.

Other complaints in recent year have primarily surrounding swearing over the team radio, as well as before and after the race. The most recent complaint however came because of a superimposed Rolex clock during coverage of the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying session.

Although Imola 2005 and Mugello 2020 currently have a similar level of complaints, it is likely that will change over the coming days.

Outside of the Ofcom spectrum, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) slapped Sky with a warning for misleading advertising following their 2019 pre-season promotional campaign.


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