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Your classic grand prix - race three

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Andrew Benson | 09:40 UK time, Wednesday, 31 March 2010

We have chosen the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix as our highlighted event for the third edition of our classic races series this year.

Although the general perception is that Kuala Lumpur's Sepang circuit , like many of Formula 1's new generation of purpose-built tracks, does not produce particularly good races, most of the five choices we gave you to debate were actually very good. And 2001 was rather better than that.

What had looked as if it would be a standard, straightforward romp to victory for Ferrari's Michael Schumacher, was turned into a classic by an early monsoon downpour.

Schumacher and team-mate Rubens Barrichello led early on, but they slid off the track in tandem while going through a quick right-hander and both were lucky to make it back to the pits.

By the time they did, the rain was bucketing it down, as it so often can in Malaysia, and this was where Ferrari made the decision that won them the race.

Ferrari's stops - with Barrichello and Schumacher stacked in line astern - were a bit of a mess, but by the end of them both cars had been fitted with intermediate tyres. In contrast, most of the other leading runners chose full wets.

With the circuit well and truly soaked, Ferrari's decision looked initially as if it might backfire. But the safety car was sent out to control the race until the rain had abated, which meant conditions were perfect for the lighter-treaded intermediates by the time it pulled in.

The two men were 10th and 11th - with Barrichello ahead - at the restart, but Schumacher quickly passed his Brazilian team-mate and both men proceeded to cut through the field like a knife through butter.

The action was good throughout the field and the race was one of the best produced by this demanding track.

The highlights are embedded below, with the other four choices, brief details of which I gave in last week's blog, linked below. There are no half-hour highlights this week because the selected race - which, as regular readers of this blog will know, we choose after looking at which event respondents are most enthusiastic about - was from the era when ITV had the rights to F1.

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You will notice that in two of the races - 2002 and 2003 - we have asked our F1 commentator Jonathan Legard to voice the highlights, and have blended his reportage with Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz's analysis from the live race coverage at the time.

This is because it is our policy to only use BBC commentators on our F1 coverage, and we do not have the 5 Live commentary from those races for various reasons.

I know some of you don't like this approach, but I'm afraid there is no prospect of it changing.

Let's hope Sunday's race at Sepang can live up to the thrills and spills 2001 and some of its other predecessors.

The classic races choices for the Chinese Grand Prix, which is two weeks after Malaysia, will be published on this blog next week.


  • Comment number 1.

    Hopefully this year will bring rain like last year

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks again. Interesting. Also, like Laszlo, hope for a good race.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks Andrew. Will they be on Freeview?
    Let's hope for a good like auslegal, Laszlo.
    Would be interesting to see how new teams cope in torriential rain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why on earth can the original commentary not be used? It seems more than a little childish.
    I take it you will have to start dubbing voices over any interviews you have with teams since they do not work for the bbc. Ridiculous.
    And why make the clips only minutes long? There is no point putting the videos up if they are so short.
    What a waste of time. I would like to actually SEE some of the classic races

  • Comment number 5.

    Paul, I can't speak for Andew, but the reason for most of your points is most likely $$$. If the BBC want to use any clips from ITV then they have to pay them, and even more if they used the original commentators (regardless of if they have / do work for the BBC now). And if the BBC want to bypass ITV and use clips from FOM's world feed, then it's serious $$$ because Bernard Charles Ecclestone owns the rights. 5 mins of footage would have a fair amount of zero's on the price...

    Anyway, bring on the 2010 Malaysian GP!

  • Comment number 6.

    This just reminds me how refreshing it is not to have such a dominant driver/car manufacturer romping away to victory every race. As it says in the commentary for the 2001 race, with Michael Schumacher winning this one, that made it 6 consecutive race wins from 6 consecutive pole positions. While this was good to watch just for the sheer skill he consistently demonstrated, after 7 World Championships I did start to find F1 sliding into a bit of a repetitive cycle. The last two years of F1 have by far been the most enjoyable to watch in my short lifetime - this may have been down to Schumacher's retirement, the gap between McLaren, Ferrari and the other teams narrowing, or the major rule changes. In these recent times, you really don't know who is going to be on pole, let alone who is going to win the race. And this year (despite Bahrain being a bit of a disappointment) the Championship is shaping up to be just as exciting. But at the end of the day, this is all just my opinion. I really enjoy these F1 blogs, so keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Andrew, great selection as always - 2001 definitely, I think, the best.

    I was just wondering, are the races going to be shown on Freeview?

    I think you've mentioned elsewhere that Classic Grand Prix will feature all the races from last year, but I've noticed that during the Bahrain and Australian editions, the 2009 events haven't been broadcast on Freeview (I don't know if this is same on satellite). Is this going to happen throughout the year?

  • Comment number 8.

    Just looked at the weather forecast for Sepang and it looks set for downpours! Here's hoping the race will be as exciting as Melbourne, although we could get a red flag and half points just like last year due to the proximity of the race to sunset. Anyway, keep up the good work guys.

  • Comment number 9.

    Like many others I appreciate the fact that the BBC take the time to provide us with this feature, and I thoroughly enjoy watching these races - most of them anyway.

    However, as the viewers are invited to interact, I would like to wade into this discussion about commentary. To set the record straight, the BBC have the rights to the world feed coverage for all 1997-2008 races and the ITV commentary that goes with it. There is no financial reason not to use James Allen's commentary. In fact, getting Jonathan Legard to voice over highlights of races is actually more expensive than playing with the original commentary. The policy of sticking solely to commentary from current BBC employees is not only a waste of resources, but it is petty and out of touch with the demands of the viewers for whom you are meant to be providing a service. Above all, the commentary sounds extremely disjointed with this odd blend of narration with random live comments, and there is no need for it. How does your policy benefit us? I strongly advise you to reverse it.

  • Comment number 10.

    I for one am glad that the BBC don't use James Allen's commentary!

  • Comment number 11.

    Well.. seeing as they're advertising his blog over there --->

    There can't be that much animosity, I never saw the massive hate for Allen, he was good at his job, try turning the telly down and talking and see how far you get.

    The fact that he asks the questions at the FOM press conferences as well mean that the BBC broadcast his voice routinely as a key part of their broadcast.

    Certain as good as Jonathan "on a charge/battle is joined" Legard..

  • Comment number 12.

    PS fantastic work gone into these edits and I'm for one glad that it's even available in the first place, I prefer the shorter format to be honest.. top work!

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for the highlights, great stuff.

    I'll assume these won't be on Freeview?, (which is fair enough as i know you can't manage this everytime)

    I always hated Malaysia, but now that i've seen what Herman Tilke has produced since he created this one, i don't mind it as much, though its not a patch on any of the older circuits (except Hungary).

    Regarding the Commentary issue, I see the deleting of JA's voice as a real benefit of paying my licence fee. I'm sure he's a nice bloke and i liked him as a pit lane reporter, but as the main commentator he was way over the top and at times made the coverage difficult to watch for me.

  • Comment number 14.

    Andrew, will you be doing actual Chinese GP's for the Chinese classic GP feature? Because it seems a bit pointless, given that the choices would be the same as last year, plus the 2009 race.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    2005 doesn't seem to work.

    Also - when will these be available on Freeview?

  • Comment number 17.

    To comment 9, and the rest who dislike the short highlights...

    I cannot remember when FOM started offering the world feed, but it was around the mid 2000's. I remember Murray saying during a British GP that he can talk to the director, and tell him where to point the camera. So the BBC won't have access to the FOM feed from that.

    Secondly, James Allen is not paid by the BBC. Therefore, unless they wish to pay him, they cannot use his voice.

    Finally, There is a lot of work that would be needed to cut 45 min highlights for all the races, and add new commentary over them. It simply is not cost effective. ITV highlights are the property of ITV.

    I'm glad we even get the choice to see some of these classic races again.

  • Comment number 18.

    This just reminds me how refreshing it is not to have such a dominant driver/car manufacturer romping away to victory every race. As it says in the commentary for the 2001 race, with Michael Schumacher winning this one, that made it 6 consecutive race wins from 6 consecutive pole positions
    Errr, barring mechanical failures we would have probably had 2 poles and 2 wins from Vettel this season so far. The RBR is clearly the fastest car in clean air (both qualifying and in the race), whether it is still at the end of a GP remains to be seen but I suspect so.

  • Comment number 19.

    Phil Curry, the world feed was the feed that ITV had. Clearly the BBC have the rights to it now, as they showed it!! You are confusing the world feed with the FOM feed, which until 2002 was only available to subscription viewers. The BBC are allowed to use James Allen without paying him a penny - if you don't believe me watch the Classic GP of the 2000 Malaysian GP in Andrew Benson's blog last year, which is still accessible.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hackerjack - The key thing there is that he didn't finish the race, therefore he didn't win....

  • Comment number 21.

    When will these races be broadcast on freeview?

  • Comment number 22.

    Thanks Andrew for showing the 2001 Malaysian grand prix. It brought back lovely memory of Michael and Ferrari at there best.

  • Comment number 23.

    Good job, with one exception - your neglected to include the radio between Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa in the 2009 highlights. How can you leave out a classic moment like, 'Felipe baby, stay cool!'. That was better than the racing in my opinion.

  • Comment number 24.

    I hope its blistering hot, it will be boring but the winner will only be Jenson!! For F1 i hope its just rains off and on so we can look forward to a great spectacle but i'd take a boring race for another Jenson win.

  • Comment number 25.

    For China, it would be a good idea to do Argentinian GP highlights, as Argentina was an early season race when it left the calendar (in 1998).

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think felipe will need the white visor if it rains, just hope he stays cool!

    I totally agree with F1archives_dot_com in regards to Crofty and Brundle for Race and Quali commentary. Don't get me wrong Johnathan does a very good job I would just like to hear croft and brundle togeather for once.

    Would also like to say how much I enjoyed for F1 forum after the auz grand prix.

    2001 Malaysian grand prix was a cracker. Shame the Beeb doesn't have bernies digital coverage from that race. One moment comes to mind where Michael (schumacher) comes on the team radio after the race and talks about the long pitstop saying "I should of had a cup of coffee whilst I was waiting" classic!

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi from Bangkok, flying down to KL on Thursday for the race, let's hope it's a good one, even if that does mean we get soaked in the downpours (I was at Magny Cours in 1998, it poured with rain, Frentzen caught every one out, great race!)
    It's great to be able to see any highlights of any races from years gone by, especially if we don't have to endure James Allen's commentary (be honest, he was woeful...F1 for Sun readers!)
    If (when) it rains for the race, let's hope Jenson can conjure something up again like he did in Melbourne (any race where the obviously fastest car doesn't win is usually something worth watching, and McLaren don't have the fastest car at the moment, do they?)
    Let's hope it's a classic.....

  • Comment number 29.

    Hello Andrew,

    This is a fanatastic feature which doesn't get as much praise as it should. I have a couple of questions.

    For this race, why can't you show the BBC Three highlights programme of the 2009 race considering the other races are only short highlights? I'm not moaning, just asking why this hasn't been considered.

    Also, I notice the race will swap channels on Sunday. I couldn't care less but there will be those who will moan because it's in their genes. I know the Pope is on but why can't the whole race just be shown on BBC Two?

    Many thanks in advance.

  • Comment number 30.

    GFasulo, I'd agree, especially as for the races before 1997 when BBC had the rights, we've been given the full highlights programme for that particular race.

  • Comment number 31.

    I love the classic Grands Prix feature, but I'm worried it won't be shown on Freeview this time. My EPG doesn't list it, but it does list over 36 hours of the first minute of the first episode of the new series of Dr Who being repeated over and over again, which I suppose is better value for the licence fee. Could you just explain WHY it's more cost-effective for the ITV commentary to be dubbed over by Jonathan Legard than to use the original?

    I understand the BBC won't change it's policy, and I understand Andrew is probably trying really hard (and I genuinely mean that) to give us what we want, but as we pay for the BBC, I'd just like to understand the reasons, even if I don't have a say in them.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi all,

    The classic races are now available on satellite and cable, but unfortunately are not scheduled to be broadcast on Freeview.

    Should this change before the weekend, I'll let you know via this blog.

    Sorry, I know this will be a disappointment to many of you.

  • Comment number 33.

    Referring to my earlier post, it seems that the reason for the dubbed commentary is not financially based. Therefor it is pure and simply pettiness.
    Dont get me wrong, I was never a fan of J.Allen, I found him pretty irritating, but Legard cannot compete in irritating commentary-where did you find him?!
    Thats not the main issue, though. Why can there not be more than 7 minutes or so of highlights shown? I appreciate the idea of showing highlights, which is great, but I can't see any point to condensing them so much. Surely with the amount of programmes bbc shows, and the amount of money they take from us in licence fees, they could stretch to showing a little bit more of the races? Either that, or save some cash and show nothing at all.

  • Comment number 34.

    What about the 1999 GP? That too was worth a mention I guess.

  • Comment number 35.

    For Spain, can we have a rerun on the voting for 91 and 96? The Spanish Grands Prix have been far from classics, and it would be good to get to see either in full.

    I fear that if each race we exclude all previous entries we're going to rob ourselves of the races which narrowly lost last year.

  • Comment number 36.

    Once again many thanks to the BBC for this service. It's a shame all the Malaysian GP's are so recent of course, but that blame can hardly be laid at your door.

    I think I'll give these a miss though, I really cannot bear to see those red cars cross the line first.

  • Comment number 37.

    I want to give my opinion in the debate about using ITV commentary [essentially removing James Allen]. However comment 9 from Peter Williams puts it perfectly, so I would like to echo his comments word for word.

    Andrew you wrote 'I know some of you don't like this approach, but I'm afraid there is no prospect of it changing.' May I politely ask who has determined this policy and why there is no prospect of changing it.

    However may I conclude by saying how much I appreciate the effort of yourself and the BBC in providing F1 coverage. It is fantastic to have clips of previous races to view, even though we disagree about the presentation of some of the clips.

  • Comment number 38.

    I am glad to see that there are so many comments that are against the stupid move that the beeb has taken regarding commentary. I was unaware that you actually have the right to use james allen, so why not, the highlights packages would work. these stupid blending things are awfull and not wort listening to. Stupid policy by the bbc, so what James Allen doesnt work for you he was good at his jab and deserves to be a part of the highlights package. I do hope this is rectified in the future, espcially with so many people for the change.

  • Comment number 39.

    Given all the work and cost that goes into producing these highlights packages, including redoing the commentaries, it seems crazy not to show the programme on Freeview (or provide EPG info as happened last time).
    I just hope that the satellite and cable providers are being charged appropriately so that us licence fee payers do not have to pay for it.
    PS. For 301 schedulers - I am thinking of complaining to Ofcom about the brainwashing techniques currently been employed by showing unending loops on the red button!

  • Comment number 40.

    I dont mind the report ones...just use Brundle or Crofty or Ant...but as the BBC are completly ignoring the populatiry of Legard...i dont have much hope.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with JD, these highlights packages are great to have and I love watching them. We try to have them on in the background at work but it seems to becoming less and less as we watch it through freeview. I accept there is bandwidth issues but when you go on to 301 and see nothing or pointless loops of rubbish you do wonder why. The BBC has done a great job with their coverage of F1 but I think this leaves a sour taste as it always make me think of the saying 'If somethings worth doing.......' This is not done properly if it was then they would make sure that on the Thursday of a race weekend, or Friday between practice sessions, that 301 on freeview is clear for this to be shown. Come on BBC do not let this bring down the rest of your quality F1 coverage!

  • Comment number 42.

    Forecast for heavy rain for this weekends race should be awesome but i hope it doesn't finish half way through like last time

  • Comment number 43.

    Just how many times exactly do we need to see the same preview clip of Doctor Who on Freeview? Even in the wee small hours? Any more times and I shall want to exterminate the new Doctor long before the Daleks get to him...

    Surely there must be some space for Classic F1 somewhere? Doctor Who's so popular, people will watch it whether they've seen the preview or not.

    Still, I expect there's nothing the BBC F1 people can do- probably a decision made by their superiors...

  • Comment number 44.

    @ bawjohnson

    I agree re Allen, we hear him in the press conference (since Peter Windsor stopped)'s just silly to pretend he doesn't exist...unless they are going to start getting an actor voicing his questions, like they used to do for Gerry Adams etc!!!

    If this was football and the world feed had someone like Martin Tyler then I could (almost) understand as it would be giving indirect promotion to a rival broadcaster but in case of Allen it isn't, the BBC are the only game in town.

    Oh well at least we still get classic F1 good example to the rest of the BBC Sport to use (where ever possible) more and more of their vast archive.

  • Comment number 45.

    I enjoyed watching the clips, all fairly good races- proof that there was plenty of overtaking in F1 without any need to chop about the wings. Just as there was plenty in Australia despite all the doom-mongers. Why does everybody in F1 get so paranoid and feel the need to change things every few minutes? Could it be because they're too obsessed with casual viewers and critics, rather than true fans...?

    On a different note, just think what Arrows might have achieved if they'd had a bit more cash to develop their car in 01/02. As well as Verstappen (whose first lap in '01 simply beggars belief!) there was also Bernoldi getting stuck in and re-passing Schumacher in '02.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think in future there might be some tactical voting. There's little point in having the 2001 race as the "featured" race since it only gets short highlights anyway, and nothing is gained from this. Since the 2009 race was the only one shown on the BBC, this was the only logical choice, since we would get extended highlights.

    So remember that in future everyone!

  • Comment number 47.

    Now, I am a bit angry about the removal of James Allen and dubbing Jonathan Legard over.
    I think to remind that Andrew siad that cutting 45 minutes of ITV Highlights would be costly...yet they use Legard to dub over the Commentary of a Race shown on ITV!
    Im sure all the 'ONLY BBC employees' rule is childish and I think that Andrew Benson is as frustrated about it.
    Are these the same people who decided to put the weekend's Race over 2 Channels??

  • Comment number 48.

    Once again, no disrespect to the BBC for a service we've never had before, but for China - 6 years - it really isn't worth it. I'd rather have something, anything, from the 80s or before, than something that recent.

    I truly believe there shouldn't be any move to offer highlights of anything from the last ten years, preferably a great deal more.

  • Comment number 49.

    Agreed tombstone, especially when you consider that basically the choices we'll have will be exactly the same as last year's choices.........but with last years race included......making it utterly pointless. Should do something like 5 classic wet races, or 5 classic unexpected wins, or.......well, anything, as long as we don't get the 5 choices of China from last year, plus last years race.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    Andrew, why is FP3 never on the iplayer?

  • Comment number 52.

    Why is the Malaysian GP coverage split over two channels? half way through the race, the coverage switches from BBC1 to BBC2 according to your schedule.

  • Comment number 53.

    Any chance you can let us know who makes the rules? Then we can address questions at them.

    Personally, it's very childish not to use James Allen's voice.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm in agreement with #10.

    This is a nice feature who cares about the commentary.

  • Comment number 55.

    Malaysia '01: Don't really have any memories of this race but watching it back have to give credit to Ferrari's 1-2 given the circumstances.

    China: Well the Beeb had a similar problem with Bahrain and they solved that one by using random races to make up the numbers. Expect them to do the same with China.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi Andrew, as I see that China is coming up and you'll probably want to pick some stuff from old Grand Prix, I have a good place to look - BBCs series Wheelbase.

    I believe they covered almost all F1 races from 1964-1975 era. Surely, other TV station rebroadcasted bunch of Wheelbase episodes not so long ago, and they showed, for example, Sweden 1973. But they surely didn't show all episodes (they only showed Holland 65, Monaco 65 practice, Mexico 68, Monaco 69, Mexico 69, Spain 70, South Africa 70 and mentioned Sweden 73).

    Maybe BBC still have some episodes of Wheelbase in their archives?

    I think it's worth a shot, you might find some excellent races! Hope that my post helps you. :)

    And thanks for the whole idea of Classic GPs, very cool to see those.

  • Comment number 57.

    3rd practise session on BBC iPlayer please!!!!!!
    We have everything else available on iPlayer, even Inside F1, but no 3rd practise session.
    Go on, stick it on there. Not too much to ask... is it?

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 60.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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