News round up: Sky F1 to air special Williams documentary; Formula E wins award for TV product

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, Sky Sports ramp up preparations for their British Grand Prix coverage, whilst Formula E have won an award focussing on their television offering.

ICYMI: Round-Up #2 (May 28th): F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that the team will feature in the Netflix’s second season of Drive to Survive, having played no part in season one. Speaking to Motorsport.com, Wolff said that Netflix will film with the team at one race this year, which will “probably be Hockenheim.”
  • Ahead of the British Grand Prix next month, Sky Sports F1 have been busy filming different features.
    • Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert have been revisiting the 1995 British Grand Prix in Sky’s own cinema. Herbert won the race after Hill collided with Michael Schumacher in the closing stages.
    • A documentary celebrating Frank Williams’ fifty years in Formula 1 will premiere following the Silverstone qualifying session. The documentary features current Sky analyst and Williams Heritage driver Karun Chandhok driving the Brabham BT26, which was entered in 1969 by Williams as a privateer. Piers Courage raced the car to second place in the 1969 Monaco Grand Prix, their first ever podium.
  • F1’s in-house digital team have filmed two excellent pieces of content in recent weeks.
    • The team gave fans a peek behind the scenes with McLaren during the Monaco qualifying session.
  • F1’s in-house digital team is now also producing the content for Formula Two and Formula Three across social media, which explains the recent surge in video content across both of those championships.
  • To help with Formula Two’s growth, Formula 1 has launched an official podcast for their feeder series. Following in the footsteps of Beyond the Grid which launched a year ago, the Road to F1 podcast sees Alex Jacques and Rosanna Tennant interview the stars of Formula Two on their way to F1.
  • W Series commentator Claire Cottingham substituted for Jennie Gow during 5 Live’s coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix. Gow will be back in pit lane for 5 Live at Silverstone.
  • Recent audience figures in the Netherlands make for interesting reading. Live coverage airs on pay-TV outlet Ziggo Sport, and according to audience agency SKO
    • The Monaco Grand Prix averaged 547k (34.3%) for the pre-race build-up, 1.24m (46.1%) for the race itself and 637k (22.8%) for the post-race analysis.
    • In comparison, coverage of the French Grand Prix averaged 396k (26.5%), 824k (40.9%) and 357k (19.8%) respectively.
    • Max Verstappen’s dramatic victory in Austria averaged 479k (29.1%), 1.20m (49.5%) and 878k (36.9%).
    • France rated lower across all metrics. Austria rated lower than Monaco for both the pre-race build-up and race, noticeably closing the gap for the latter. Amazingly, Verstappen’s victory meant that the post-race segment for Austria rated higher than the French Grand Prix itself!
  • ESPN in the US continue to tout their own F1 audience figures. Live coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix attracted 1.1 million viewers on ABC, an increase of 17 percent on last year’s figure.

Formula E

  • Formula E TV won the ‘Best in Sports Media’ prize in 2019 Sports Business Awards. Formula E fought off competition from the likes of BBC Sport and the PGA European Tour to win the category.
    • The SBA said that Formula E’s television content “creates jeopardy, develops character and narrative throughout, uses technology and innovation to create a point of differentiation, and educates consumers about electric mobility while giving global manufacturers a platform to test and develop road-relevant technologies.”
  • The BBC’s technology programme Click went to Berlin at the end of May to find out more about the innovations driving the electric series (link).
  • On the social media side, Formula E’s team have been busy linking the championship in with popular culture. Heading into the Bern E-Prix, Formula E put their own spin on Crash Team Racing across their social channels.

Elsewhere…

  • IndyStar posted in the run up to the Indianapolis 500 an excellent behind the scenes look at NBC’s IndyCar coverage. The article is well worth a read, even if a little late noting on my behalf.
  • According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, an audience of 1.10 million viewers watched the IndyCar Grand Prix at Road America on NBC in the US, their highest IndyCar audience on record outside of the Indianapolis 500.
  • The remainder of the 2019 VLN Series will air live on Lets Go Racing’s YouTube channel. The channel, which also airs the Japanese Super Formula championship, was founded following the demise of Nismo TV at the end of last season.
  • Fans of the British Superbike championship in the US and Canada can now watch the championship live via MotorTrend On Demand platform.
  • A trailer for the new Ford versus Ferrari film was released last month ahead of its theatrical release in November. The film, which starts Matt Damon and Christian Bale, focuses on Ford’s attempts to beat Ferrari in the run up to the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. For UK readers, the film will premiere under the title of Le Mans ’66.
  • The Le Mans Esports Series generated some big numbers across digital media during the 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend. Ben Rossiter-Turner, the Managing Director of Virtually Entertained, gave readers a behind the scenes look at the series on his LinkedIn page.
  • In today’s unusual mention, Channel 4 Weather is now sponsored by W Series.

Spot any stories making the rounds worth mentioning? Drop a line in the comments section.

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Strong social media growth for Formula E as Hamilton continues F1 onslaught

Motorsport Broadcasting has tracked the social media figures for a range of stakeholders over the past five years.

In the latest analytical piece, we look at Formula E’s growth across social media, Lewis Hamilton’s gargantuan reach, and how Twitter is fast becoming an archaic platform.

As always, this site uses publicly available data to piece the jigsaw together, such as the number of followers.

Whilst the figures presented do not give a reliable indicator as to the engagement per series, the figures do give an idea as to whether a championship or team is attracting a new audience, which is critical for the growth of the sport moving forward.

Championships
This site tracks the social media fortunes of thirteen different championships at a variety of levels. The list ranges from the likes of Formula 1 and MotoGP on a global level, down to the domestic championships, such as the British Superbikes series and the British Touring Car Championship.

As each entity operates at a different level, expecting the same amount of growth from all of them is unrealistic.

The series on the move from a percentage perspective is Formula E, having grown its social media following by 160 percent since the middle of 2018. From 893,000 followers last Summer, the championship now has 2.33 million followers, a staggering growth for the electric series.

However, analysis of the underlying figures raises some suspicions as to whether Formula E’s growth is all natural. Whilst their Twitter reach has stalled, their Facebook following has jumped significantly from 497,000 likes last Summer to 1.60 million likes currently, an unusual rise considering that growth was slow for the first half of 2018.

In comparison, Formula E’s Instagram growth is more natural: 217,000 likes in May 2018 to 361,000 likes in December 2018, and now 544,000 likes, with the percentage increases modest along the way.

The other big mover is Formula Two, whose social media following has increased by 65 percent in the past year. However, the raw volumes are low, as Formula Two’s portfolio of channels increased from 215,000 followers to 355,000 followers in the past year, Instagram contributing most to the gain.

MotoGP and Formula 1 continue to lead the way. Between December 2018 and now, MotoGP’s portfolio has increased by 1.12 million fans, with F1 jumping by 2.36 million fans. F1’s growth has actually slowed compared to last year, a legacy of how F1 playing catch-up on social media after years of neglect from Formula 1’s owners.

Formula 1’s presence on Netflix, with Drive to Survive, should help the figures grow, but to what effect is difficult to say. Although the Netflix documentary launched to a huge buzz within F1 circles during March, the impact it has may serve as an undercurrent to these statistics throughout the remainder of 2019 as non-F1 fans find the series, rather than present a ‘big bang’ effect immediately.

In addition to Netflix, F1 has made significant movements on the social media front in recent years, so any movement will be down to a multitude of reasons for them. The series has experienced a good first half of 2019 on Instagram, with F1’s number of followers increasing by 24.6 percent, from 5.60 million fans to 6.97 million fans.

An extra emphasis on Instagram helped the World Rally Championship in the first half of 2019. Their following on the platform increased from 734,000 fans to 996,000 fans, representing a larger than usual jump at 35.7 percent, and helping the series to a 9.8 percent increase overall across the main social media platforms.

F1’s teams
The same core principles apply when analysing Formula 1’s ten teams: Instagram growing, Twitter slowing and Facebook holding the core of the audience. However, Instagram is making serious inroads on Facebook on this front, and again is the place for stakeholders to direct their resources.

F1 and F1.5 gap is prevalent across social media, although McLaren joins the top three teams, with the remaining six teams forming F1.5. The story remains the same as before, as Red Bull continues to close the gap on Mercedes.

Between July 2018 and now, Red Bull’s following increased by 1.99 million fans, with Mercedes’ increasing by 1.50 million followers. Mercedes’ following continues to reach the edge, with McLaren recording a larger gain.

Red Bull continues to seize the initiative on Facebook. The Milton Keynes based team increased their following by 835,000 likes in the past year, compared with an average increase across the grid of just 135,000 likes. Mercedes have failed to improve their Facebook reach in nearly three years (stagnating at around 11 million followers), with Racing Point further down the grid also struggling.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari remain in close formation on Twitter with Ferrari having the edge, but Instagram is where all teams have seen their reach increase significantly. Since July 2018, McLaren’s audience on the image sharing platform has increased by over one million fans, with the other three big teams following behind.

The Netflix effect appears to have had, at headline level, a positive impact for Renault and Haas. Helped by the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo, Renault’s following has increased from 3.66 million followers last Summer to 4.27 million followers currently, a strong increase considering their growth figures had slowed somewhat up until that point.

Being a newer team means that the full impact of Haas’ increase is not apparent in raw volume, but a percentage jump of 39 percent cannot be overlooked. The increase helped them claw over the one million figure as well, just ahead of the now defunct Manor outfit at the time of their administration.

Outside of Haas and Renault, there are no other unusual increases. There may have been minor bumps due to Netflix, but nothing significant in the grand scheme of things.

F1’s drivers
Standing far above everyone is Lewis Hamilton, with 21.20 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, a gulf that increases by the day.

The combined following of the next nine drivers, from Ricciardo on 4.83 million followers down to Carlos Sainz on 1.33 million followers, is 21.48 million. In other words, nine smaller F1 drivers equals one Lewis Hamilton from a social media perspective!

Hamilton’s following on Facebook and Twitter have stalled, however his reach on Instagram has almost doubled since last Summer, moving from 6.89 million followers to 11.50 million followers, cementing his place at the top of the Grand Prix tree.

Behind Hamilton, Verstappen and Ricciardo made respectable increases, but further down the pecking order there are three success stories.

Despite being in only his second season, Charles Leclerc is already the sixth popular F1 driver on social media, and rising, with an increase of over a million followers in the past year, helped by his move to Ferrari and an ever-increasing Instagram presence.

The aura around Kimi Raikkonen has resulted in him becoming the fourth most popular driver on Instagram, despite having zero presence elsewhere on social media. Elsewhere, Lando Norris’ following is increasing rapidly across all social media platforms, as Norris’ following cross cuts both F1 and eSports.

As new drivers enter the sport, it is interesting to note how the skew for each driver moves increasingly towards Instagram and away from Facebook and Twitter. For example, 50.8 percent of Nico Hulkenberg’s following comes from Twitter, compared with 13.8 percent for Charles Leclerc. In contrast, 37.0 percent for Hulkenberg is Instagram related, versus 78.9 percent for Leclerc.

The younger drivers are far more likely to build a platform on Instagram in 2019, whereas the 2009 to 2014 generation of drivers focused far more on Twitter at that time, hence the wildly different skews.

If you manage any championship on social media, Instagram is the place to divert your resources. Facebook is still growing from a motor sport perspective, and remains by far the biggest social media platform, but has now fallen Instagram in terms of growth.

Facebook is better for long form content with Instagram primarily intended for short-form videos. Twitter is great for your existing audience, but not great if you want to hook new fans in, as the figures throughout this article demonstrate.

What content across social media has made your eye-brows raise recently? Have your say in the comments below.

News round-up: F1’s US audience figures increase; Formula E hits the big screen

In the latest Motorsport Broadcasting round-up, it is good news for Formula 1 in the US, whilst Formula E hits the big screen at the Cannes Film Festival.

ICYMI: Round-Up #1 (May 13th): Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

Formula 1

  • Good news for F1 on the US audience front, with ESPN reporting double-digit growth year-on-year. The first five races (excluding Monaco) have averaged 564,000 viewers on ESPN compared with 442,000 viewers last year. ESPN also tout the strong growth in the coveted Adult 18-34 demographic, increasing 107 percent year-on-year.

Formula E

  • A new feature-length documentary covering the 2017-18 season premiered at Cannes Film Festival last week. Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville and Leonardo di Caprio produced ‘And We Go Green‘, which goes behind the scenes during Jean-Eric Vergne’s championship winning season. LBI Entertainment are handing distribution rights for the documentary.
  • With Dario Franchitti over at Indianapolis, Tom Blomqvist and Nick Heidfeld joined Jack Nicholls and Bob Varsha on commentary duty during the Berlin E-Prix weekend. Blomqvist was alongside Nicholls for practice and qualifying, with Heidfeld joining Nicholls for the race.

MotoGP

  • Quest have changed the time slot of their MotoGP highlights programming. The first three races aired in an 18:00 and 23:00 time slot on Monday evenings, effectively splitting the audience.
    • Viewing figures have not been good. Their 18:00 showing for Austin made BARB’s consolidated top 15 with 196,000 viewers, all other airings have failed to make Quest’s top 15, averaging around 150,000 viewers or below.
    • From Jerez onwards, Quest reduced the two airings to one, airing at 22:00 only on Monday evenings. Current schedules for Mugello suggest that the one airing strategy will continue moving forward.
  • Suzi Perry is back in the BT Sport hotseat for Mugello, after a recent bout of illness.

W Series

  • Speaking to this site following Zolder, Whisper Films stated that their production team during the Hockenheim and Zolder weekends consisted of 34 people. The split was exactly 50/50, with 17 women and 17 men. The production house says that this covers both permanent staff and freelancers.
    • The figures cover the live World Feed production, as well as highlights
    • The figures also include those working on a documentary that Whisper are producing covering W Series’ inaugural season
  • Speaking to RaceFans, series organisers noted that over 400,000 viewers watched the first race in the UK on Channel 4 from Hockenheim. CEO Catherine Bond-Muir told the site “Even [on] Channel 4 we absolutely knocked out of the park the internal audience estimates.”
  • NBC in America has picked up highlights of the series. The broadcaster will air a one-hour highlights show of each race on their NBCSN channel (including commercials).

IndyCar Series

  • The first Indianapolis 500 to air on NBC drew the 500’s highest audience since 2016. According to Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal, the race drew 5.4 million viewers across TV and digital. The race recorded a 86 overnight rating (excluding digital), also the highest since 2016.
  • Ahead of his Indianapolis 500 commentary debut, NBC lead commentator Leigh Diffey spoke to Phillip Bupp at Awful Announcing about his journey to date (link).

Elsewhere…

  • Eurosport have picked up the rights to MotoAmerica highlights in the UK. The one-hour highlights programme began airing last Saturday.
  • Motorsport Network have announced that their new feature length film Heroes will premiere in the run-up to the British Grand Prix. The trailer, which features swathes of archive F1 footage, was unveiled last week. Manish Pandey, one of the men behind the Senna movie, is director and writer for Heroes.
  • It is worth mentioning changes within the Sky Sports hierarchy in the UK. Sky have promoted Barney Francis into the role of Chief Executive of Future Sport, with Rob Webster succeeding Francis as Managing Director of Sky Sports UK.
  • Down under in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald report that Foxtel, which is owned by News Corporation and Telstra, is struggling against the rise of streaming platforms. The paper reports that “non marquee” sport, including motor racing, are under threat.
  • ESPN in the US featured Billy Monger’s remarkable story in their weekly E:60 magazine programme. The show featured his story last Sunday (ESPN’s Vimeo account have uploaded a preview clip).
  • The BBC have written a fantastic piece looking at Katherine Legge’s battles in motor sport, which is worth a read.

Spot any stories making the rounds worth mentioning? Drop a line in the comments section.

News round-up: Turner returns to F1 fold; F1 adjusts OTT pricing; Barrat joins Formula E’s TV team

As part of a new strand on Motorsport Broadcasting, we will begin to round-up the stories behind the camera that may not have featured in one of the main articles on this site.

The regular round-up will include snippets from across the landscape, every two to four weeks. In the first round-up, a familiar name returns to the F1 fold, plus a whole lot more…

Formula 1

  • After leaving his role as Sky’s Head of Formula 1 in 2017, Martin Turner is back in the F1 fold. Turner is supporting F1 with their new digital programming, including the Weekend Debrief, which Ted Kravitz presents. Both Turner and Sky’s current Head of F1 Scott Young are involved in the production of the show, in a collaboration between F1 and Sky.
  • Formula 1 continues to tweak the format of the post-session ‘interview pen’ for broadcasters. During the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, each ‘group’ could ask each driver one question post-qualifying, with up to three minutes allocated post-race, although I understand that the situation is fluid depending on the race in question.
  • Alex Jacques and Davide Valsecchi’s voices will be on show in the upcoming F1 2019 video game. As in real life, the two lend their dulcet tones to the Formula Two action, which makes its debut in the gaming series.
  • The Azerbaijan Grand Prix saw Max Chilton partner Jolyon Palmer in the BBC 5 Live booth for practice and qualifying. Two weeks later for Barcelona, Tom Gaymor was alongside Palmer on Friday, with Marc Priestley joining him on Saturday.
    • An unusual set of teams, 5 Live’s coverage for both races was based back in the UK, with only Jennie Gow on site. With Jack Nicholls on Formula E duty, 5 Live’s commentary often this year is coming off-tube from the UK.
  • Formula 1 has adjusted the pricing for their over-the-top platform. The premium tier, F1 TV Pro, has had its price reduced from $99.99 to $79.99, or roughly equivalent depending on territory. Formula 1 has yet to give an official reason as to why, although the service experienced problems during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend. Speaking to journalists in Spain, Chase Carey said that it may take ‘another year’ to iron the bugs out of F1 TV.
  • In a change for 2019, selected journalists and outlets can now film content from inside the F1 paddock. The likes of Motorsport Network and Peter Windsor are already taking advantage of the change. However, there are restrictions in place, so that journalists are not treading on the toes of television broadcasters.
  • Sky Sports have launched a YouTube channel for their Formula 1 coverage. As a general rule, anything filmed outside of the race track has unrestricted worldwide access, such as this piece with Sebastian Vettel and Martin Brundle (currently at 97,000 views), however anything filmed inside the circuit, such as this Behind the Scenes feature with McLaren (currently at 10,000 views) is geo-blocked to UK only.
  • Both Porsche Supercup and Formula Three launched their 2019 campaigns in Barcelona, with updated graphics sets. With large fields, the graphics did not offer as much capability as the Formula 1 and Two sets. Nevertheless, Formula Three’s coverage saw the addition of team radio for the first time at that level.

Formula E

  • The Gadget Show’s Georgie Barrat will be part of Formula E’s television team for the remainder of the season, substituting for Nicki Shields who is on maternity. Barrat made her debut with the team in Monaco, although she has been inside the Formula E paddock before, filming a special edition of The Gadget Show during the 2017 Hong Kong E-Prix.
  • As with Formula 1, TMC directed the Monaco E-Prix last weekend, with Aurora Media Worldwide having a smaller on-site presence than usual.
  • Fans of Formula E can now race against their favourite drivers in real-time, as Virtually Live Ghost Racing is now available to download for free on iOS and Android.
    • The game re-creates every Formula E circuit, also doubling up as a second-screen experience, allowing fans to also ride on-board with their favourite drivers. Ben Constanduros and Chris McCarthy share the commentary duties throughout the season.

W Series

  • The news that W Series may become part of the F1 support bill next year in some capacity raises the question of which UK broadcaster would air the series if that scenario came to fruition.
    • Sky airs F1 exclusively live (for every race bar Britain), and may have some say as to whether Channel 4 can show W Series live, if it is part of the F1 under-card.
    • Porsche Supercup’s contract with Formula 1 expires at the end of 2019, which may open an opportunity for W Series.
  • Whisper Films, who produces the World Feed, noted in the run-up to the first round in Hockenheim that half of their “production crew for the 4 May will be female.”
    • Insiders pointed out to this site that many people working on the production were freelance and male, and are unlikely included in Whisper’s headcount.
    • picture of the on-site Channel 4 crew from F1’s Australian Grand Prix (also a Whisper production) highlights the gender imbalance. This is an industry problem as opposed to a Whisper-only problem, but writing statistics that are factually inaccurate will not make the problem disappear.
  • UK viewers will have access to live coverage of qualifying from Zolder onwards. Coverage from Hockenheim was geo-blocked for UK fans, but series organisers have confirmed that fans will be able to watch qualifying across Facebook and Twitter moving forward.
  • More than a week after the first event has concluded, and W Series have yet to upload highlights of the race to YouTube.
  • Prior to the inaugural race, organisers announced that Pitch International will “sell rights to broadcast W Series around the world” outside of the UK. As of writing, series organisers have yet to announce further rights details post-Hockenheim.

Elsewhere

  • Motorsport Network’s over-the-top platform has grabbed live coverage of the Japanese Super GT series. The championship, which features the likes of Jenson Button, initially opted not to pursue an English language live stream for 2019. Super GT in recent years has gained a cult following through NISMO TV’s YouTube stream, a deal which ended following the 2018 season. Instead, the series will air worldwide on Motorsport Network’s portfolio of outlets.
  • A bout of prolonged sickness has left BT Sport’s MotoGP presenter Suzi Perry on the side-lines in recent races. The existing BT team have helped cover the gap, whilst three-time British Superbike champion Niall Mackenzie joined the crew last time out.
  • The UK arm of the TCR Series will not air live in 2019. Instead, highlights of the series will air across the Fast Zone programme on Sky Sports, as well as Motorsport.tv, Front Runner and YouTube.

Spotted anything worth reporting? Drop a line in the comments section below.

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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