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Your classic Belgian Grands Prix

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Andrew Benson | 11:47 UK time, Wednesday, 26 August 2009

There were two obvious potential front-runners in our selection of five great Belgian Grands Prix for the latest edition of our classic Formula 1 races series, and the thrilling 1995 and 1998 races did indeed turn out to be the most popular.

Michael Schumacher's brilliant victory for Benetton in 1995 is our pick and the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme of the time is embedded below. There are also links to shorter highlights of that event and the other four races we chose - 1985, 1992, 1998 and 2008.

If you would like to know a little more about these races before watching them, then have a quick look at last week's blog on this subject.

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Watch short highlights of the 1992 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1985 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1995 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 1998 Grand Prix
Watch short highlights of the 2008 Grand Prix

The highlights will be available on satellite and cable from 1500 on Wednesday 26 August and will stay up until 1400 on Friday 28 August. They will be on Freeview channel 301 from 1400 on Thursday 27 August until 1930. Then from 2200 until 9am on Friday 28 August.

The 1995 race earned the most requests among respondents to this blog - but only by a small margin over the spill-a-minute 1998 race. And some of those who 'voted' for '95 made it clear that you actually thought '98 the more exciting race, and would have plumped for that if we were able to show a half-hour highlights clip of that.

I expected the 1998 race to be the most popular and it turns out that had you all voted with your first preferences - rather than tactically to ensure you would get at least one long video to watch - then it would have come out on top.

It was indeed a brilliant race - but this was a particularly strong selection. I was especially surprised that the 1992 and 2008 races did not feature strongly in your preferences. In fact, Michael Schumacher's maiden career win and the manic last three laps of last year's race were less popular than the less well known 1985 event won by Ayrton Senna.

Perhaps that is a reflection of both the tactical voting that is becoming increasingly prevalent, as well as the fact that this was a particularly strong selection of races, as is fitting for arguably the greatest race track on earth (with the possible exception of Suzuka, but more of that in the Japanese edition of this series).

Certainly, it's well worth watching all the clips if you have time. There is some great racing there which should whet your appetites nicely for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

Thanks, too, for your suggestions of races we had missed - I knew 2000 would feature strongly because of Mika Hakkinen's brilliant overtaking manoeuvre on Michael Schumacher to win the race.

I remember it well - I had a bit of a set-to with Schumacher in the news conference after the race because he would not acknowledge that he had been out of order in his defensive tactics on the lap before Hakkinen made it past. Perhaps I'll tell you more about that in next year's selection.

The issue of us not cutting longer highlights clips for races when ITV held the F1 rights in the UK from 1997-2008 has become something of a recurring theme on 'classic races' blogs.

I do understand the frustration of those ardent fans among you who think we should expend the effort to cut extended highlights for all the races we offer, rather than just broadcast the ones for which they already exist because that was the era when the BBC held the rights to F1.

But I'm afraid there is no prospect of us changing our approach. Popular though this feature is, I'm afraid putting together these clips is a fairly labour-intensive process and the people who do it have to work on other sports as well.

It is our responsibility to cover all sport as best we can on limited resources, and I'm afraid we simply cannot justify the significant amounts of extra time and work involved in producing them.

For those of you who do not understand our decision, it might also be worth you bearing in mind that the shorter five-to-nine minutes highlights clips are always more popular - even than the longer versions of the same races.

Having said all that, we are thrilled that you like this feature enough to ask us for more and more - and I'd like to reassure you all that we intend to carry on with it next year.

In the meantime, enjoy the race clips on offer, as well as this weekend's race in Spa. And I'm sure we're all looking forward to the classic races selection for the Italian Grand Prix, which I will publish on this blog next week.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for 1995 extended Andrew. :)

    However, ITV did do 45 minute highlight shows - what's wrong with you guys chopping off the start and end of the programme and cutting off the break bumpers?

    If you ask me that is much easier than having to match 5 Live commentary with pictures. There is nothing stopping you from using ITV commentary with a certain person - it's like you don't want to. We'd prefer 45 minute ITV highlight programmes with Allen commentating rather than hastily cut 5 Live 5 minute edits.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with D_M_N_ - and even though Mr Allen's commentaries left much to be desired, he's still miles better (with martin Brundle's help) than old bore Walker.

  • Comment number 3.

    you can tell watching the press conference in the 1998 race that Ralf was unhappy with 2nd place. he was faster than Damon but was ordered to hold place

  • Comment number 4.

    1995 was a good race, the first one I started my collection at.

    D_M_N_, I'm guessing that if the full ITV highlight programme was to be shown, then BBC would have to pay ITV for the programme use - maybe they do already for the short clips - or do they get these from FOM - but I'd guess they'd want more for the full programme

    When ITV used to show old clips from the first BBC era, I think then we only ever got Murray's commentary, none of Jonathan Palmer, so it's the same situation as with BBC not using Mr Allen - although we did here him on the MAS 2001 clips :)

    It seems that we do always get one full Grand Prix programme if the race existed before 1997, whether it's classed the 'winner' or not so I think we should be grateful for that.

    Long may this feature continue!

  • Comment number 5.

    @HugoZinnie, woah I wasn't even trying to suggest Allen was better than Walker!

    @Williams_Renault. I don't think BBC would have to pay for it seeing as all footage filmed at an official Formula 1 race weekend is copyright of Formula One Management is it not?

    It just seems extremely petty that BBC are trying to cut out and avoid using Mr. Allen's commentaries at all costs.

  • Comment number 6.

    Allen was better than Walker, though marginally.

    I agree though, it does seem that the Beeb in their wisdom to be old hat are not using his commentary. Bit like reinventing The Chain, by god thats overplayed. Thats about the only bit of footage I mute!!

    What else do I pay my licence fee for, certainly not crappy football, so please Beeb, use it for some good and pay for decent stuff, and yes that includes ITV coverage which you still have lot to live upto commentary wise.

  • Comment number 7.

    Allen better than Walker no chance you lot no chance Walker can never be beaten he was the doyenne the true ggezer when it came to F1 he brought the sport alive and made quality gaffes allen does not come close

    Keep all the clips intact with thier original commentary coz thats how we viewed them

  • Comment number 8.

    Personally as i've said before we should just be grateful that we even get 5-10 mins of the itv-era races. Yes it would be brilliant if we could see the 1998 Spa race with full highlights but if it isn't practical as Andrew suggets then we'll just have to accept that...

    Given the various arguments about post 1996 races i would like to tentatively suggest a solution for next year... how about limiting the selection of classic gp's to before 1997? And for those races that have only been in existance since 1997 how about replacing them with races such as Portugal, South Africa, Holland, Austria (the mega Oesterrichring), San Marino etc etc.

    In addition to this, perhaps only the winning race is shown extended highlights, on the pre-condition that it cannot be an option for the following year (in other words don't show the other four options in shortened form like we get at the moment - but that mightn't go down well with a lot of people here).

    Personally I would rather get to watch only one extended classic GP for, say, Imola, than watch five hacked together 'classics' from Shanghai

    Any thoughts?

  • Comment number 9.

    Quote (Andrew Benson):
    But I'm afraid there is no prospect of us changing our approach. Popular though this feature is, I'm afraid putting together these clips is a fairly labour-intensive process and the people who do it have to work on other sports as well.

    I think thats utter rubbish to be honest. If you are able to spend time and money being petty and cutting James Allen out of everything then I really dont see how you can justify that statement. In fact if you left James in, it might not be such a labour intensive process and we might get a few more races from those years when the 5Live commentated to the F1Digital+ feed.

    This is the BBC, not ITV, not Sky Sports, not ESPN. This is a non competitive organisation whose first priority should be giving the most they can to us the viewer. Not wasting resources being petty and replacing commentary in time that could be spent giving us lengthier cuts from a greater range of races.

    I also notice that you've cut the end off of the 1998 race.

    I just watched my own archive of it and i dont see why this was unavoidable. The only possible reason that i can see is that after the finish, the director cuts to Eddie Jordan talking into a microphone with ITV on it. Now if that is the reason, thats just patheticly petty and i refer to the paragraph above.

  • Comment number 10.

    @swrcsky, that won't work because there are some classic races which would be left out.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Andrew, it's good to see you acknowledge the increasingly prevalent tactical voting. For this reason, and because of your time constraints, may I suggest a system like this for next season?

    8 to 10 possible choices for Classic F1 of which say half are pre 1997.
    The 3 most popular choices decided by the vote get 10 minute highlights.
    The most popular pre 1997 race is guaranteed the full BBC highlights package.

    That means firstly, less work for you guys because you only have to cut 3 races instead of 5, secondly the voting means something, thirdly there is no longer any tactical voting and finally everybody is happy because there will always be a full BBC highlights programme.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great, look forward to seeing these.

    A few people have made comments like 'getting rid of Allen at all costs'... has it actually been confirmed that the extra work is to get rid of him? Or is it that he wasn't employed by the BBC, and that the highlights are also from ITV, occasionally with their own logos over the top of them? Most noticably as the lights go out a message usually appeared with the commentators' names and a nice big 'ITV' logo, and cutting the start out wouldn't really be an option.

    I suspect (and hope) it's the latter, and that the ITV highlights just aren't suitable to be broadcast on the BBC with different policies on content

    As for the claim of James Allen being better than Murray Walker... words fail me. I'm sure Walker could commentate on paint drying and make it exciting.

  • Comment number 13.

    Murray making quality gaffes???? You got that right, thats why he was utter rubbish!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    To everybody that is complaining about not having extended highlights from the ITV era, here is a possible suggestion.

    ITV still have a Formula 1 site which is updated daily. Why not get in touch with ITV via the website and ask them if they would be willing to upload highlights programmes from their archive in a feature such as this one. It must be appealing to them as they can also advertise at the same time.

    Quick question Andrew. I assume that more than one full BBC highlights programme is prepared for possible broadcast based upon the opinion of the bloggers, e.g. '85, '92 and '95 for this selection.

    Therefore, to save them going to waste, could the choices that have not been shown this time around for various races be shown on the red button service in the off season (November to March). I am sure this would prove popular.

  • Comment number 15.

    Nice one Andrew.

    2008 was a cracking race but the stewards p*ssed all over the result - I can;t bear to be reminded of it.

  • Comment number 16.


    ITV do not have any rights to FOM material - therefore would be unable to upload any archive material.

    BBC have access to FOM material, including ITV commentaries which they could use, but choose from the period of 2002 to 2008, not to use it.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's telling me that the footage is unavailable in my region, but I live in Cambridgeshire! Is anyone else having this problem?

  • Comment number 18.

    Ref #16 D_M_N_

    Thanks for letting us know that.

    That just emphasises the point that people have made in earlier blogs.

    If ITV can't show any of the footage that THEY broadcast in the first place and the BBC has no intention of putting together a full programme from that period, then there is absolutely no point whatsoever in voting for races from the 1997 to 2008 era, no matter how good they were to watch. You will only ever get a small selective clip.

    Surely it is much wiser to 'vote' / suggest races from the BBC archive so that they can be given extended highlights.

  • Comment number 19.

    Yeah, and there's also the pre-Walker era too.

    Okay, much of it (assuming it still exists) would be in black and white and with Raymond Baxter commentating - real period stuff, but none the worse for that. A great reminder, too, of how really dangerous racing used to be and just how much TV coverage has improved.

    By the way, the 2009 coverage makes for outstanding programmes. We are very lucky that the Beeb is willing and able to invest so much time and money on our behalf.

  • Comment number 20.

    Thanks for these videos, much appreciated. Perhaps to cure the tactical voting, all 5 races are shown with full highlights if pre-1997 and then we all vote on which was the best race. This way, the best race will win and we get the chance to rate how good the races that we haven't seen before actually were.

  • Comment number 21.

    Andrew, do you know if there would be any possibility at any point when the schedule allows of having a round-up of the classic GP highlights (both 45-minute shows and 5-9 minute edits) that have been broadcast so far this year?

    It's a shame that some of the best races haven't been available to Freeview viewers because of scheduling constraints. Would there not be any chance of putting them on again one evening or weekend when there are no other events of higher priority being broadcast?

  • Comment number 22.

    Thanks Andrew. Some classic races here.

    If the five minute clips are labour-intensive, I'll volunteer to do them! Just ask, and I'll accept.

    For Monza, have you got any "old" classic footage (similar to what we had for the German Grand Prix - 1961 it was on that occasion, or maybe some pre-chicane Monza footage)? It would also be great to see the old banked track in use.

  • Comment number 23.

    If BBC have rights to use ITV commentary, then why not just use it anyway. Allen wasn't that bad, and considering that we are missing out on some legendary races in that time period (eg. Malaysia 01, Belgium 98, Europe 99 and probably Italy 01 next week). I wouldn't think any higher of ITV if the BBC showed their highlights show, as the BBC one is still miles better than any other. Even if you so desired, you could cut out Steve Rider or Jim Rosenthal and replace if necessary. If Allen is the only problem, then what's the problem.

    Moving onto the problem that is Jonathan Legard, I read that Murray Walker said "James Allen set the bar so low that Jonathan Legard tripped over it." As funny as it may seem, Legard needs to be replaced by someone like Crofty from 5 Live or even James Allen himself who, as i said earlier wasn't half bad.

    P.S. Is it me or does Legard use the words, "He's on a charge" for every single "hot" qualifying lap. Someone needs to broaden their vocabulary.

  • Comment number 24.

    Well, I've just watched the five highlights - and THE highlight was the 2008 race BECAUSE the commentary was SO GOOD. (Ditto the racing, by the way.)

    When Jonathan Legard was the Radio 5 GP commentator he was brilliant as David Croft is now - and Simon Taylor before them. The common factor is radio and commentators who have to commentate on the race as it happens because the listener can't see what's going on.

    The problem with TV commentaries is that the commentator believes that because we can see what's happening, we know what's going on - if only!

    So, perhaps someone can pass a note to Jonathan in time for this weekend's race suggesting that he 'thinks radio' and keeps up a flow about what's going on on-screen. Then he won't have time for 'He's on a charge'.

  • Comment number 25.

    It's even worse for people not living in the UK where we cannot view the clips at all. I understand not allowing new shows which can be sold yet you have entire podcasts available for download. I doubt Korean TV will ever show old races so I don't get the problem.

  • Comment number 26.

    Does anybody else on this blog think that HugoZinnie is James Allen in disguise?

    All he has done in this blog, and the previous one, is berate the commentator before Allen (sacrilege and disgraceful, by the way!) and the man who replaced him.

    If you don't like what you hear, look carefully at your remote control and you will find a little button that says 'Mute'. Problem solved.

  • Comment number 27.


    Thanks for getting these onto freeview.

    This is easily the best pick of classic GP's since your feature on the Monaco Grand Prix.

    There's been a few comments in this thread about the BBC going to great lengths to cut out James Allen from some of the Classic GP's. If this is correct, then all i can say is, WELL DONE! Though he was bearable as a pit lane reporter, as the main commentator he was irritating to say the least. Keep up the great work BBC.

    As for the Monza GP, the 1998 race was a belter. Schumacher from 5th to 1st place. Blown engines, over taking, failed brakes and Murray exhibiting his classic 'trousers on fire' commentary.
    Hope you can also find a few pieces of 60's or 70's footage for this one.

  • Comment number 28.

    Isn't it ironic that James Allen is now the "voice of the post-race press conference", after replacing Peter Windsor who has had a conflict of interest since USF1 were given a license to race next year? The BBC have to broadcast his voice now!

  • Comment number 29.

    Mmm...still people moan and complain. What's wrong with everyone?? We had none of this last year with the woeful ITV and now we get the chance to see some highlights of past races and people are up in arms that its not good enough as if £10-20 a month should hand-deliver gold bullion to your door. (Although Jean-Christophe Boullion wouldn't be too bad! listener here) We've got great coverage that has raised the bar beyond belief. And lay off Leggie, he's doing a great job. I doubt any of the nay-sayers could do a better one.

    Reagrding the Spa classics, I would have prefered the 1992 extended highlights as I was a huge fan of James Hunt but alas, popular vote wasn't with me (never is...)so the 1995 will do just fine! I think Dr. JP was underated as a commentator.

    A suggestion for the Monza picks, my fav was 1988. A big Gerhard Berger fan, and to have a Ferrari 1-2, in Italian, just ONE MONTH after the death of Enzo Ferrari was just magical. Brings tears to my eyes everytime!


  • Comment number 30.

    You guys did a great job with the Belguim Highlights, they were excellent. I really enjoyed watching the extended highlights of 1995 was a great race and the 10 minute highlights of 1998 and 2008 were brilliant, those were the 2 races I'd seen before but I still couldn't keep my eyes off the screen.

    Can't wait for this weekends action I bet it's gonna be another amazing race. In fact I think all the races from now on are gonna be top quality since all the tracks left on the schedule are decent.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just seen the shows on Freeview, so thanks for putting them up on Freeview. I was amazed to see some important bits being missed out of the 92 highlights, like Patrese's overtake on Senna on lap 2, the pitstops of Alesi and Mansell, and the rush of cars going past Senna, just to name a few. The 1995 race was ok, but I just never got a great sense of pure clean racing from it. In 1992, you had several overtakes for most of the positions which were clean and great to see, whereas 95 you just had cars retiring from engine failures, or gearboxes, or a spin by herbert slowing the cars down for Schumacher to catch up. Then you had the disgraceful actions of Schumacher of trying to shove Hill off the track, by not only weaving but being overly aggressive (for those of you who don't believe this to be the case, then you obviously don't know the rules as the FIA Stewards gave Schumacher a suspended ban and several drivers mentioned about it).

    As to the commentary discussion, yes Murray "made prophecies which immediately turned out to be wrong" but he got excited at the right times and could keep the viewer informed about what was happening, plus he always generated one laugh per a race. James Allen was just bad. But Legard is doing ok, I would give him at least another season and he is far better than Allen who even makes the post race press conferences dull.

  • Comment number 32.

    Ref #17 (jamiegoldberg):

    I too am being prevented from watching the race footage in spite of being a UK user (who watched an unrelated programme on BBC iPlayer less than 24 hours ago and has not changed any PC setting since then).

    The situation improved slightly when I remembered to log in with my BBC blog details; the extended 1995 highlights will now run, but the short race highlights and Murray Walker's Valencia review still won't.

  • Comment number 33.

    Andrew was just reading your article and I can completely understand what you say with regards to the cutting of extended highlights clips from "the ITV years" I was wondering though as I am very found of that 1998 race as are many others, would it not be possible in the off season for some of the popular ITV races from this year to have extended highlight reals cut then for use in this blog next year? I know you where very adiment in the BBC's stand point on this issue and I obviously don't know the inner runnings of the BBC but this doesn't seem like an umreasonable or impractical idea.

    It would be great to have some feedback from this positive or negative.


  • Comment number 34.

    I can't watch any of the short highlight videos, even though I am in the UK! Can anyone help with this?

  • Comment number 35.

    The most noticeable thing about these highlights, as someone too young to remember the pre-ITV days, is the quality of the camera work. When Hill and Schumacher were dicing about halfway through the video, the battle was covered fantastically with the use of helicopter cameras to show the closeness of the two cars. This quality doesn't seem to be there anymore, and on the occasion that overtaking does happen nowadays (Valencia needs to be dropped, its atrocious!) the TV director seems to miss it completely!

    As well as this the timing screens show when drivers are in the pits, like the live timing from Why isn't this used anymore in the TV coverage? It's quite handy to know because it tells you extra information that the commentators sometimes miss or don't have time to mention, which I thought was the point of the timing screens...

    One last question - who is commentating alongside Murray Walker? - not wanting to start another debate about how good people are, just wondering who he is!

  • Comment number 36.

    Bummer that '98 wasn't picked due to the tactical voters(this is why I don't tactical vote) but Belgium '95 is still worth talking about.

    It was the first Grand Prix I'd ever watched outside the UK, I was on holiday with parents in the Algarve, the hotel had 8 TV channels, only two of them were in English, luckilly one of them was Eurosport which screened live F1 at the time.

    My first impression when I saw the grid was "Damon might have a chance from 8th, there is no way Schumacher can do anything from 16th though". As a Damon fan, of course I wound up gutted. However, as the footage shows, there were five Brits in the points at one point(including a Brit 1-2-3), not so bad.

    And yes, Belgium '95 was one of a string of races that year(stretching back to Silverstone) where I was wondering "when is DC going to win his first Grand Prix?".

    As for the issues with ITV era races, I do think 'some' extra effort needs to be made with them if this feature is going to work fully(if nothing else just to eliminate the tactical voting - we've previously had people voting for Germany '82 just because there were full highlights available and it had Nelson Piquet taking a swing at someone), exactly what that effort should be is up to the BBC crew though.

    And Murray's commentory partner in the mid 90s was Johnathon Palmer aka midfield racer from the 80s.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi Andy.... any ideas as to why the iPlayer coverage of qualifying cuts off half way through Q1?

    I'd really like to see the rest of it.

  • Comment number 38.

    Sorry, but I'm going to open an old can of worms here......

    Can somebody please tell me what Schumacher did that was so wrong in 1995? The guy drove a single racing line through Les Combes, Damon was never far enough ahead of him for Michael to be obliged to yield, he didn't cut across Damon on an apex and he didn't constantly change lines or "weave".

    Watching the 2008 highlights, Kimi was more guilty of those things in his fateful scrap with Lewis - and yet Lewis ultimately got the penalty, while Kimi wasn't sanctioned at all.

    I always thought Schumi's censure after the 1995 race was something of a witch-hunt by British fans/Damon/Williams, still bitter - and rightly so - about the way the 1994 season was decided in Australia. Now there WAS an example of Michael going too far. But here, he didn't. The FIA only censured him to appease Williams and even the score after they lacked the bottle to penalise MS when it really mattered in Australia...... Two wrongs etc......

    Watching the 1995 race alongside Senna's characteristically stout defence in 1992 and Kimi in 2008 - not to mention Damon returning the favour to Michael by diving left after Blanchimont at around 3:24 of the 1998 highlights - Schumi evidently wasn't doing anything that other drivers weren't doing...... He just had the ability to do it for longer......

    I don't believe Senna, Kimi or Damon (who went on to win the 1998 race) were censured after their exploits. Schumacher simply chose a line and drove it, and Damon didn't have the nous or courage to get past. So can anybody explain to me what he did that was so evil?

    Actually, let me just amend that question: Can anybody who isn't a British fan or a Schumi-hater explain to me what he did that was so evil?


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