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Twenty years of Schumacher

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Andrew Benson | 22:03 UK time, Thursday, 25 August 2011

At Spa-Francorchamps

For the first time since he started his comeback at the beginning of last season, Michael Schumacher was the centre of attention as the Formula 1 circus rolled into the spectacular Spa-Francorchamps circuit ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.

Twenty years ago this weekend, the man who would go on to become the most successful racing driver of all time made his debut here for the Jordan team, which was also in its first season in the sport.

It did not take long for him to catch the eye - a stunning qualifying performance put him seventh on the grid, several places ahead of his vastly experienced team-mate Andrea de Cesaris. And although he retired after a few hundred yards with a broken driveshaft, Schumacher had made his mark.

By the time of the next race, Benetton had stolen him from under Eddie Jordan's nose - and the legend that culminated in seven world titles and 91 race victories began.

Although it is - as Red Bull's Mark Webber pointed out - only Schumacher's 17th season in F1, on account of the three he missed during his 'retirement', this weekend has partly been set aside to honour his achievements.

His Mercedes team are planning an event on Saturday, while Ferrari, with whom he won five of his seven titles, have promised "a little something to mark the occasion".

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However you count the years, Schumacher's achievement came into sharp perspective when his rivals were asked whether they remembered his debut.

Most of them were too young to have any recollection of it at all, picking a later point in his career as the time they first became aware of him.

Most, though, were more than happy to pay tribute to his remarkable achievements, with the most glowing reference coming from Fernando Alonso, the man who ended Schumacher's run of five consecutive titles in 2005 and then won a memorable mano-a-mano duel between them the following season.

"Michael, I have great respect for him," Alonso said. "He is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in the history of our sport. There are numbers there it will be impossible to repeat for any one of us.

"It has been a great pleasure to drive with him all these years. I will always remember all the battles with him and for me it was a privilege to drive against Michael Schumacher. It will be something I always remember. Then he decided to stop and come back.

"I'm sure he missed the adrenaline and the F1 show. Now he is in the second part of his career, the car is not competitive, but he is still enjoying [it].

"There are some criticisms about his return and results now, but I don't agree with those.Michael three years ago was watching F1 at home. Now he is doing seventh or ninth but I'm sure he is happy every morning because he is doing what he wants to do."

When Alonso was racing Schumacher before his comeback, the German was the benchmark, so beating him gave the Spaniard's titles the ultimate stamp of credibility.

There are no questions about Alonso's greatness now, standing as he does alongside Lewis Hamilton as the new benchmark against which all drivers are measured.

For Schumacher, though, these are very different times, and the last 18 months or so have been punctuated by ongoing questions about the merit and wisdom of his return.

Last year, he was by and large pasted by team-mate Nico Rosberg - a man who for all his undoubted potential has yet to win a race. This season there have been signs of progress - while the younger German still comfortably has Schumacher's measure in qualifying, the veteran has looked more competitive in the races

It is clear, though, that Schumacher is not the driver he was.

Where once he appeared to dance at will on a limit beyond almost all his rivals, he now appears too often to be searching for that rarefied high wire, usually without success.

But the man who was famous for his willingness to do almost anything to win says he is satisfied with his current lot, scraping around for lower-ranking points as Mercedes battle to catch the top teams, while still insisting he wants to repay the German manufacturer for funding his debut and "return race wins and championships back to them".

His anniversary has given him a chance to reflect on a career that is still remembered for its many controversies as much as it is for his great success.

And in an interview with BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie, which will be broadcast as part of the race build-up on BBC One on Sunday, he went as far as to admit he had regrets about some of the incidents that in so many minds went beyond the boundaries of respectability.

"Certainly I would do things differently," he said. "After 20 years in F1, you have a few regrets but, quite honestly, if I think it was 20 years, the few spots I have, you have to make mistakes to learn from them - and I think I do learn."

Asked if any of his mistakes stood out, he picked this race in 1998, when he lost a certain victory in the wet after crashing into the back of David Coulthard's McLaren. Once he had made it back to the pits, convinced the Scot had slowed deliberately to take him out, Schumacher charged off to the McLaren garage and had to be restrained from physically assaulting him.

"Maybe I should regret to go for an attack to David after he spoiled my race in 1998," he says. "We had this mysterious misunderstanding, I had a certain reaction, I think it was the first and only time I have been like this, I am normally a very balanced person."

It is perhaps revealing that of all the many incidents in his career, he should choose one for which he was not at fault, rather than his two title-deciding collisions with Williams drivers Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve in 1994 and 1997, or his decision to 'park' his car in Monaco qualifying to prevent Alonso beating him to pole position.

He still refuses to answer questions about the last incident and is resigned to the fact he will always - at least outside Germany - be a man who is more admired than loved.

"Everybody forms his own opinion about any person," he says. "I think I just want to be treated fair, that's the only think I look for. Who likes me or loves me, I'm happy about. Who doesn't, I understand, because you can't be loved by everyone."

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Will this be the last time we are allowed to watch Spa in full on the BBC?? or will it be shown in full next season??

  • Comment number 3.

    Michael Schumacher's achievement's are many and i do believe that he has the determination to win again! Its a shame that as a UK F1 fan i will no longer be able to watch half the races. COME ON BBC GIVE US ANSWERS.
    Why did you block channel 4's bid?
    Why did you do the dirty with SKY?
    Why did you not honour the existing contract?
    Where is Barbera and Ben?
    Why are you not defending the deal that you are DELIGHTED with?
    Are we to get full race re-runs or highlights?
    I will keep posting until the BBC gets it head out the sand and faces the elephant in the room!

  • Comment number 4.

    Can't help but support jazzotang here.

  • Comment number 5.

    Was looking forward to seeing what Michael could do with next years Mercedes, but as the BBC has given away half of the live action I wont bother. If only channel 4 had got the rights (you can see there bid document here: http://www.graphicalhouse.co.uk/#/projects/channel-4) then we would have been able to watch all the races live and actually follow a championship fully from race to race. Even with adverts it would have been 100% better than this farce.

  • Comment number 6.

    was he at fault for the 1994 crash? was he not cleared of any wrong doing back then and hence received no punishment?

  • Comment number 7.

    Twenty years ago you were showing this sport i believe, when Schumacher potentially gets to 20 seasons competing in the sport doubt FTA tele will have much control over what is shown anymore.
    Shameful.

  • Comment number 8.

    Let's pretend like nothing's changed. It's bad enough not having the full season on free to air tv from next season but then you try and avoid the as Jazzotang puts it 'the elephant in the room'. How insulting.

  • Comment number 9.

    Andrew, you commented on twitter that "It's probably not escaped your attention that this weekend is 20 years since Michael Schumacher's debut".
    Well it has probably not escaped your attention that there are millions of F1 fans who have not received an official response from the head of F1 and BBC Sport to the thousands of comments and complaints you have received regarding the shameful sell out to Sky. All the questions asked in post #3 should of been answered a few weeks ago but all you do is continue to hope that this shambolic decision is forgotten about.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks for a good article. I have consistently enjoyed reading your entries Andrew.

    However there is still one issue that is important and the longer the BBC ignore it, the more frustrating it is. The response that people have got to complaining is not good enough and smoebody at the BBC needs to respond to these comments. I was hoping I would be calmer about this deal by now and enjoy the F1 coverage of one of the best races of the seasons, however I simply can't knowing what is happening next season.

  • Comment number 11.

    I couldn't agree more with any of the above ...

    Just gives us some answers
    Show some backbone

    Then i might show some you my wallet cause right now that liscense fee is as likly to be paid as Bernie is to ever admitting he made a mistake

  • Comment number 12.

    I was once a big supporter of Andrew Benson's columns, and have backed his views down here in the rant section numerous times. However, I'm growing increasingly nauseated by his sycophancy towards Lewis Hamilton. He's alongside Fernando Alonso as the "new benchmark against which all drivers are measured"? Oh, c'mon, Andrew!

    Hamilton's had nothing but criticism all season from fellow drivers, former champions, pundits and others. Not only has he gone from blunder to blunder on-track, but off it also. His foot's been in his mouth as much as it's been on the McLaren's gas pedal.

    He openly disrespects his team and takes his seat for granted - a seat hundreds of worthy drivers would kill to be in.

    Is this the "benchmark", Andrew?

    It's time for Hamilton to lose the attitude and stop believing his own hype, gushed out by the British press. So much for BBC international being impartial!

  • Comment number 13.

    Strange how Bruno Senna is brought in because of the seven million pounds in sponsorship he brings with him, I think the teams are pre-empting the loss in revenue this deal will inevitably cause...so its not the best driver now its the best income they can bring?

    ASB?

    Shame on you Auntie!!!

  • Comment number 14.

    Anthony Davidson collar bone is fine its the BBC backbone which is lacking!!

  • Comment number 15.

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

    Sign the the petition if you haven't already.

  • Comment number 16.

    I cannot stand the Mid Season break
    Thank Goodness F1 is back it has been so boring on the mid-season break, it will be excellent to celebrate the 20th year of the Michael Schumacher and at a race track that is truly wonderful, on of the classics, a preserve of old Formula 1, this will be a trully great memory to cherish.

    The mid season break gave a clear taster of what will transpire next year. Weeks of no F1 on a Sunday, races where history will be made but I cannot witness it as it happens and thanks to the BBC, the tradition of a seasons free to view live F1, has gone.

    I wish Schumacher well on his swan song and so to the BBC.

  • Comment number 17.

    It looks like people could not care less about your blog and would prefer to comment on sky gaining the broadcasting rights. The article by Ben (whatever his name is) is frankly pathetic. I don’t see how you were pleased with the final decision. Why don’t you tell us what you really think or are you actually happy with the final decision?

    I’ve enjoyed Schumacher’s comeback, one or close dodgy moments, the Barrichello incident at Hungary last year is one example but he has done a decent job in my mind and will race for another year. Unlucky not to get a podium in Canada this year, probably the only time I was supporting him.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think it is cringeworthy watching the four BBC presenters avoid the whole TV rights situation and big up the great job they will continue to do while having half the year off. However, I will watch every race this year and make the most of it.

  • Comment number 19.

  • Comment number 20.

    Sorry didn't realise #15 had got in there already

  • Comment number 21.

    This is ridiculous... I have read the first 10 comments, and only one of them refers to the actual blog...

    This is blog is meant to be about the most successful Formula 1 driver in the history of the sport... He may not be as great as Senna, but what he has achieved and what he has done for the sport is unrivalled by any other driver... No-one else will reach 91 victories in the manner that he has, no-one will eclipse his 5 title streak...

    If you want to moan about the BBC/SKY Coverage deal, go moan about it on a blog that actually talks about the situation instead of wasting comments on a blog dedicated to a Formula 1 legend!

  • Comment number 22.

    F1 fans, the BBC has done this to motoGP fans already. Insisting on an exclusive deal with dorna to keep the (superior) british eurosport coverage off our screens, and then burying the races on red button channels, summarily ditching qualifying, 125cc and 250/moto2 every time the tennis is on. All it goes to show is that the BBC management are very interested in making sure it has the prestige of high-profile sport is associated with it's brand and with no-one else's - but has very little commitment to actually providing the fans with the coverage they deserve. As soon as they've locked out anyone who might do a better job than they're willing to, then their interest in the event itself quickly disappears.

  • Comment number 23.

    #21,

    everyone would be writing on that blog, but the BBC closed it so hence all the comments are over-spilling to whichever the latest blog is

  • Comment number 24.

    @ Tommmmmm

    Do you have Sky?

    and

    The BBC do NOT have a blog dedicated to the BBC/SKY coverage deal (they did but its not closed). F1 fans are more bothered by the poor response from the BBC about the coverage deal. The comments on this blog have more value then they would if they were posted on another blog on another website. So we post here.

  • Comment number 25.

    @24

    Should be (they did but is NOW closed).

  • Comment number 26.

    Quite a good blog about Schumi, shame I could only read half the blog. Shame the BBC have got into bed with Murky Murdoch.

    P.S. Which driver will e the first to have his phone hacked? :-)

  • Comment number 27.

    In reply to post 21, i do apologise for hijacking this blog and i agree Schumacher’s achievement's are amazing! I would love to be complaining on the correct blog, but the BBC closed it after 8500 comments as it was not topical! So im afraid until the BBC either reopens that blog or answers the questions the off topic blogging will continue!

  • Comment number 28.

    Tomm you are missing the point the BBC has closed and censored all and any blogs which asks for the simple questions top be answered, the Chinese government are now asking the BBC for advice on censorship....

  • Comment number 29.

    This season was the first one I'd started to properly get into F1 - watching the practice sessions, qualifying, and the race, from start to finish.

    Now I couldn't care less... I haven't watched any Spa qualifying, read any interviews (including this one), or really gotten excited about any of it all. All thanks to the BBC.

  • Comment number 30.

    @29 completely agree, missed the Hungarian qualifying and felt extremely hollow during the race and forum, can't see myself being motivated again for Spa, sad really.

  • Comment number 31.

    @29 I think this is now many fans are feeling.....shame

  • Comment number 32.

    @ 23, 24, 27, 28

    Yes I have Sky, so the deal does not affect me much, and I do understand that the blog was taken down when some people feel they need to comment on the siuation... That is all due to the 'Nanny state', but that is an arguement which needs to be saved for a different blog...

    However, there are other websites which can have a blog specifically created for talking about the TV rights deal... Or if people feel actions need to be taken, then viewers can all send the BBC letters, emails, etc... This would still get their point across. Then blogs like this can have comments that actually relate to the blogs...

    I'm happy to talk about the TV rights deal all day, but this blog deserves comments which acknowledge the incredible career of a hugely talented Formula 1 driver.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    @32 You obviously need to do some reading on the way the BBC have dealt with the emails and complaints, using other websites which there are plenty doesn't keep the focus on the BBC to address are points.

    When the BBC open up a proper form of forum/conversation and stop putting their head in the sand then we will happily use it...until then I,m sorry but this is to important to just walk away from and your point about "Yes I have Sky, so the deal does not affect me much" quite frankly is offensive to the vast majority of F1 fans who cannot afford Sky.

    The I'm alright Jack attitude does help people who aren't..

  • Comment number 35.

    @32 Tommm

    I can't see what the problem is to be honest because nobody is stopping anyone from commenting on the blog subject and even those posting about the awful deal may also express feelings on the subject as well.

    Due to the BBC burying any negative comment (look at the F1 main page for example or watch/listen to FP1), the only way for the message to be got across is by alerting BBC fans on these otherwise unrelated blogs.

  • Comment number 36.

    This blog is dedicated to Michael and his 20 years in F1, surprised to see how little comment on here are about that..

    I am a major Schumacher fan and have watched him all those 20 years. He has been the villian, the hero, the idol and the icon.. Love him or loath him, the man has achieved so much in his career and his records in the sport are numerous.

    For my own part, I am the proud owner of a scaled model of his 2004 F1 Ferrari which takes pride and place in my home (and I have also named my son after him). I would say Good luck for the next 20 years but I think that is pushing it to much. Love having him back in the sport, love his relaxed attitude and love that he has a lot of respect in F1 from drivers, engineers and reports alike!!

    Would love to see you win a race Michael and thank you for the last 20 years xxxxx

  • Comment number 37.

    Hello Tommm

    Sorry to hi-jack your blog, but you fail to understand that the best place to comment about the BBC is on the BBC Website. This used to have somewhere for the coverage of the very poor BBC/Sky deal. This was closed by the BBC.

    The BBC have ignored F1 Fans requests, complaints, and blogs.

    The BBC hold little regard for the licence paying public, and appear to have an “I’m alright so you can just lump it attitude”, which also seems to be the same attitude of the people who already have Sky.

    A lot of people for what ever reason, political, money or lack of availability don’t. The Concord Agreement was in place to protect FTA F1. This was circumvented by the BBC to jump into bed with Sky and keep their own interests in F1 and prevent other FTA broadcasters bidding.

    The BBC will not comment on any of this and has sold the F1 FTA Fans down the river.

    The attitude which the BBC has shown throughout this whole episode has been disgusting and not fitting to a public broadcaster, more in keeping with a certain Australian empire that is trying to take over the world.

    I do hope you enjoy next years F1 because for me and many others my support for this sport has been totally sullied and I really want nothing to do with the BBC and Sky, may they both rot in peace.

    BBC 10,000+ comments!!!
    ZERO Reply!!!
    Shameful

    Nice to see The Great Wall of Silence is still very high. Hello Ben are you still just out of view on the other side?


    BTCC I think, much better, a great whole day of viewing and FTA.

  • Comment number 38.

    Sorry Andrew, but until someone from the BBC acknowledges all the anger and disatisfaction of the fans, about the sell-out, no-one is really interested in the contents of this type of blog any more. They wil just use it as a vehicle to continue venting their anger, like me.
    Where are the genuine commentators/presenters with integrity, who are not afraid to say what they really think about the BBC reneging on their contract with Formula 1?
    Let’s have some proper debate between the fans and the BBC blog initiators.
    Prove to the fans you are listening and care about the concerns they have.
    Is this too much to ask? Show the public you are an organisation that can be trusted once more!
    RESPOND to the comments!

  • Comment number 39.

    You have gone down in my estimations Andrew. Are you going to be out of a job from next season? Are you refusing to mention that elephant squashed up behind you becuase you are hoping to cuddle up with Murdoch and cronies from next season too?

    Shame on you BBC. Shame on you Babara Slater. Shame on you Ben Gallop.

    I will be watching F1 on german channel RTL for FREE(!!!) from next season with a bit of five live commnetry thrown in. Move my Freesat dish a few degrees to the left or pay for a sky subscription?......mmmmmmmmm let me think about that for a second.....

  • Comment number 40.

    Well put jazzotang. Answers please BBC because we're angry and we're not going to go away.

    If people think the amount of complaining comments are bad at the moment, just think how many there will be next season on the Sky weekends since we will no longer have our usual pass-time!

  • Comment number 41.

    If you are against the bbc loosing half the races from next year, please sign this government petition:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

  • Comment number 42.

    Re "the elephant in the room"

    It's big and unpredictable, we're all happy to feed and water it for a long time to come. When nature takes it's course, what are you gonna do with the resulting 'mess'? Just a thought...

  • Comment number 43.

    @32 Tommm

    I wouldn't worry, there will be so many comments on here in about 48 hours time to do with the 'off topic' BBC/Sky deal that they'll shut this one down too.

    Unfortunately, the current significance of said deal eclipses the celebration of Schumi's 20 (17) years, which is sad.

  • Comment number 44.

    Im amazed this blog was actually allowed, surely the BBC didnt think the noise had died down did they?

    @34 - Totaly agree, this is the most relevant place for this discussion and anyone that isnt bothered by the whole subject clearly doesnt understand the implications this decision will have on the sport as a whole.

    When will the BBC realise and accept that they have made a mistake! Top Gear alone does not worthy the licence fee im afraid, even with F1 you were pushing it.

  • Comment number 45.

    @43 zeppo_1989

    Couldn't agree with you more on eclipsing Michael's celebration and also everything else relating to F1 at the moment. My enjoyment of F1 since Hungary has certainly been overshadowed and that is more to do with what the BBC has done and how the response has been handled in such a contemptuous manner rather than the actual announcement.

  • Comment number 46.

    Normally at this time of year I am buzzing with excitement, as F1 has returned after the summer break, which seemed like an age.

    Not just that, but the 2nd half of the season kicks off at the greatest circuit of all, and other classics such as Monza and Suzuka await.

    However, I can no longer get as 'involved' as before as I know the clock is ticking, that barren 3 weeks will next year become the norm, and that for me is already affecting my enjoyment of the 2nd half of this season.

    Still we still have BBC3/4, a sparkling £900m new building up North, and lots of radio stations nobody cares about in the slightest.

    But at least the BBC are willing to discuss the matter and listen to reason as to how we want our money spent.........or maybe not.

    Sad times.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think the Via Michael Schumacher at Maranello shows that it's not just in Germany that he's loved...

    In fact, I think it's fairer to say that it's mainly in the UK that he's been vilified.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well said jazzotang.

    Come on BBC, remember who keeps you employed and give us some answers.

  • Comment number 49.

    Come on BBC get off your fat lazy a***s and give us the answers we deserve.

  • Comment number 50.

    The love affair has blown hot and cold, but Formula 1 has had me in its spell for most of my life. After 17 years covering the sport, during which time I have reported from more than 100 grands prix my employer have stuck two fingers up to their viewers.

  • Comment number 51.

    @32
    Have you been in hibernation? Blogs, complaints, letters, emails etc etc etc... have been posted to the BBC, FOTA, MPs, C4 etc etc etc...

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

  • Comment number 52.

    The BBC have done a terrible PR job but the answers are out there if you look. It's about money. Licence fee freeze + inflation = savings have to be made. BBC F1 faced total cancellelation, the Sky deal saved at least some races for free to air. The FIA contract is paid year by year, if a boardcaster defualts its null and void.

    OK the BBC should be explaining this, not me, but it could be a lot worse.

  • Comment number 53.

    Michael Schumacher's comment "I think I just want to be treated fair, that's the only think I look for...." ring very true with the current situation BBC editors would you care to comment?

  • Comment number 54.

    Despite the annoying nature of the BBC / Sky deal, people seem to have overlooked that this was a distinctly average Blog about one of the greatest drivers that has ever been involved in the sport. There was no real insight here or anything that hasn't been said before. MS has admitted before that the 1998 incident was a regret for him, I believe in a BBC show, and has always remained tight-lipped on the others, so why would he all of a sudden come out and say something new.

    While Webber was right to point out the fact that it has only been 17 years of him driving, I think he's missing the point. 20 years since his debut and still being on the grid is an amazing achievement. Sour grapes from Webber methinks.

    Love him or hate him (i'm in the former category), you can't deny that he was a great with more moments of genius than villainy in his long career, and the BBC could have done a better job of acknowledging his achievement.

  • Comment number 55.

    @52 TallBlondJohn

    "the Sky deal saved at least some races for free to air"

    Just to correct you there - the Sky deal did not save some for FTA (Concord Agreement). The reality is the deal 'opens the door' for losing all FTA in the future.

  • Comment number 56.

    I didn't mean sour grapes from Webber.... forgot to delete that!

  • Comment number 57.

    @52 i think the PR job may have worked on you, if the BBC f1 was tottally cancelled, it would have gone to another free to air channel, its part of the concorde agreement, and is basically how f1's business model works, it would not suddenly be off the air altogether, or completely on sky. It could not actually be worse than it is.

  • Comment number 58.

    So this blog is about Schumacher then, OK well here’s a memory about Schumacher. A few years ago when ITV were on an advert break at the moment when Hakkinen’s puncture handed Schumi the driver’s title, I thought that was as bad as it could get for my TV enjoyment of F1. Then came the gutless decision to end free-to-air for F1 from the BBCBC (that’s “Bean Counters” at the end).

    Andrew, I feel sorry for you because the gutless bean counters clearly followed up with an order to all staff not to talk about it… because after all the viewing public are too stupid and fickle to stay angry for long aren’t they?

    But what do the bean counters care – I’m legally obliged to pay my license. (I’m still waiting to hear how much the partial refund on my license will be, by the way). The Beeb has cut their costs so not to worry that viewers’ TV costs will massively increase by having to buy Sky… provided that they’re comfortable with what they’ve just been hearing and watching about phone hacking, of course.

    You have a thankless task Andrew. You can get as nostalgic, controversial and excited as you like in your blogs for the rest of the year – none of it will take away the sour taste in millions of F1 fans’ mouths, and ignoring the elephant in the room will make the sour taste so much worse each time you do it. We’re not blaming you personally Andrew, but the bean counters have put very high parapets around their ivory towers so it’s just you in the firing line. How convenient for them. Do pass on my regards if/when they next lower themselves to mix with the staff, but if you do then be prepared to have to explain to them who Mika Hakkinen & Michael Schumacher are.

  • Comment number 59.

    Nice comment KBO.

  • Comment number 60.

    #58 Good comments

  • Comment number 61.

    We ditched Sky years ago. We only ever watched WSBK and the Discovery Channel, and it wasn't worth it. The BBC/Sky deal will not - that,s "NOT" - entice me back to Sky. Ever. I think ITV's coverage was better, but the race without the ads is great. I love Martin and David's commentaries, the grid-walk, and so on. But will look for an alternative feed next year I think. I'm not convinced it was 100% the Beeb's fault though - Bernie probably shafted them good and proper. He's a bit poor and needs the pennies, after all.

  • Comment number 62.

    @KBO - Do you remember the ITV coverage of the Alonso-Schumacher battle that raged for lap after lap, seriously edge-of-your-seat stuff with Alonso holding Micheal off, then 3 laps from the flag they went to an ad break! Remember the outcry from the fans? I seem to recall there was a bit of an inquest and they changed their ad break timing. Lessons could be learned by the Beeb here.....

  • Comment number 63.

    THE BBC ARE NOT GOING TO COMMENT OR DISCUSS FURTHER AS THEY CANNOT IN ANY LANGUAGE FINANCAL OR OTHER MAKE THIS SOUND A GOOD DEAL FOR ANYONE OTHER THAN SKY

    I WISH THEY HAD JUST NOT RENEWED THE CONTRACT
    WE ALL KNOW THIS WONT WORK


    on a positive note great to see Schummi up there today

  • Comment number 64.

    You lot make me embarrassed to be a Formula 1 fan. How many sports are there which have the entire season broadcast free to air with no ad support? Not many - and certainly none with the high costs of F1.

    I can understand that people are upset about the change and I expect that even going back to ITV would be preferable to most but we need to grow up and get real. The deals been done and that's it. No number of tantrums or amount of childish comments will change that.

    When the BBC deal was announced it was a dream come true but even then, it felt a little unfair to majority of BBC viewers who aren't particular F1 fans that so much money must be spent on a single show.

    Unfortunately this dream wasn't sustainable and if we're going to blame anyone it should be Bernie and CVC for their profiteering behaviour, not the BBC and certainly not people like Andrew and Jake who do a great job covering the sport for us. I would be most upset if the presenters spent their time (and inches) discussing a deal which has already be done instead of covering the sport we all (apparently) love.

    Right, rant over. Back to Schumacher - can't stand the man myself but he is (was?) pretty good at this driving lark.

  • Comment number 65.

    Some people need to wise-up a little. F1 is a niche market and largely watched by white, middle class males aged from 18 to 40. BBC needed to cut costs so scaling back its F1 coverage would seem a logical choice. It was hardly going to cut Wimbedon.

    PS I hope MSC goes well at Spa. The guy's a legend and should be celebrated. Instead, he is too often slammed by the sheep-like media.

  • Comment number 66.

    Couldn't agree more with the vitriol on display here, what a monumental mess the BBC has made of this. Shameful. Can't really add anything to what's already been said in that respect.

    One guy who seems to have escaped criticism through all of this is our man Bernie, which surprises me. Looking at the big picture, wasn't the fee struck with the BBC a bit on the ridiculous side, especially given these recessionary times?

    Was it really sustainable, given the deal was up after next year anyway (ie was it always bound to end up at Sky?) I'm sure the big teams can't be happy the way this has played out, as reduced viewing figures cannot be good for attracting sponsorship money. Seems a bit short-sighted to me.

  • Comment number 67.

    I dont know what we are all moaning about, its not like the BBC are going to waste some money on an dedicated Olympics radio station or something equally stupid.

  • Comment number 68.

    @ eflower3

    Formula 1 fan sir, you are not, no fan would want to have their sports viewing numbers slashed. I feel sorry for you.

  • Comment number 69.

    Now that the BBC F1 team is active after the 3 week break, have we had any answers from the mon the disgusting F1 deal?

    I'm sure if the same happend in Germany Schumacher would be the first to stand up against it. Shame our boys aren't made of sterner stuff.

  • Comment number 70.

    Looks like Auntie has already sorted Jake out with a new job....

    http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23abitdifferentothepitlane

  • Comment number 71.

    I am at a bit of a loss to understand all that has been said by the reduced coverage on BBC tv. Since Murray retired, I stopped watching F1 on tv and listened to it on Five Live - would not go back to tv - Five Live is best, by far.

  • Comment number 72.

    While undoubtably Schumacher has lost some of abilities I thought the comment from Alonso should have been given more weight i.e. his Mercedes is uncompetitive.

    The recent farce of the FIA trying to control races through tyres supplied and banning any in season testing has done Schumacher few favours. Those seven championships were won as much through his role in testing and development as on race day. I am sure some of the other drivers would prefer more of that today rather than turning up for the race weekends and being obliged to do PR work for most tof the time in between.

  • Comment number 73.

    I want to discuss F1 racing, not TV rights....

    Come on mods. Do your job!
    Please get rid of this repetive complaining. Enough is enough. Everyone has got the point now.

  • Comment number 74.

    As the blog suggests, I admire Schumacher, but don't love him.
    Can never forgive him for the Damon Hill incidents. Though I guess it did make it a bit more exciting...
    Pity it turned into a bit of a procession in the following years when he won so many times. But you have to admire what he achieved in that period.

  • Comment number 75.

    Henryvii, I'm afraid not. It is only fair we are able to complain about this pathetic decision.

    I pay for my licence fee & can't think what I'll actually be using it for now! The only BBC output I tune in for is the F1, Chris Evans Breakfast show. As for the rest of FTA...erm...not sure to be honest! Channel 4 had the cricket robbed from them & now the BBC won't comment on the shameful F1 deal! It's pathetic! We deserve a full response as viewers & licence payers.

  • Comment number 76.

    I think a lot have people have over-looked one benefit of the TV deal...

    With the cost cutting measures taken by the BBC they had a choice to make- cut programs or cut hundreds of jobs. As many companies would probably choose the latter, which puts even more people out of a job (although to be fair BBC may have to do this at some point ,if they havent on a smaller scale already) BBC have decided to cut a popular show instead. I understand the frustrations of the F1 fans that won't be able to watch every race live next year (luckily I have Sky, but I don't by any means wish to gloat here), try to think that if it was the other way around, people would have been sacrificing their jobs and income for their families for you to watch a TV program.

    Before you ask, no I don't work for the BBC, and no I'm not a politician.

    Go Schumi! And it's a shame Raikkonen isnt around any more to kick butt at Belgium.

  • Comment number 77.

    So, Schuey wears a 21 carat-gold helmet this weekend, and most of us will not enjoy the next 20 years of racing because we're not rich enough. Sums it all up really. This deal has really taken the wind out my sails for F1, despite being a lifelong fan. What's the point in engaging in a sport you can't follow live?

  • Comment number 78.

    Hi Henryvii,

    If you would like to discuss F1 why not try one of the blogs that have been set up to discuss the F1 TV rights?

    Oh, sorry you can’t these have all been shut.

    If this matter goes un-checked there is every chance that F1 will be solely on Sky TV in the future with no FTA Broadcast, with the BBC cutting spending why carry on with something that Sky already covers?

    There is no other outlet for this issue. F1 Fans are trying to stand up for F1 staying FTA.

    The BBC carries on ignoring the very large elephant creeping up behind it. The answer that it was just coast cutting does not hold water. Dealing with another FTA broadcaster would have been the best option for the F1 fans if the BBC needed to cut money not circumvent the Concorde agreement and stuff the viewers.

  • Comment number 79.

    Sigh, can only add to the message of pretty much every F1 fan on every single forum that they are provided with. Ignoring the issue isn't making it go away. I'm bored of the whole thing but its a matter of principle and so I'll continue to ask for answers on and justification of the deal. The least the BBC could do after choosing to side with murdoch and sky over other options is provide these. Appreciate the position the corporation has been put in with the licence fee slash but the way its treated the fans of F1, who all pay the licence fee, is pretty reprehensible.

    Sad thing is its ruining the online coverage this year, we should be talking about Michael Schumacher but theres more important matters that the BBC should discussing. Apologies to Andrew that he has to put up with this.

  • Comment number 80.

    Yes, come on people. Keep up the pressure on the BBC, let's make them sweat. And please, even if you can afford SKY, I urge everyone to boycott it completely and not line the pockets of the Murdochs any more than they are already lined

    People power, it's the best kind of power and it can yield results

  • Comment number 81.

    @64 other sports going over to sky has nothing to do with f1, if people are upset about losing other sports then they should try campaining about it in the relevant manner. F1's business model is based around sponsorship, and the sponsors want maximum exposure. They arent suddenly going to change that business model overnight, in some country's f1 has moved away from pay per view as it isnt working, so the comparison to other sports just isnt relevant. CVC want maximum return for the investment so its hard to blame them when they are getting more money out of this, but bernie has come out and said this was the only option presented to him as the bbc had the contract, and couldnt deal with channel 4 as a result, even though he has stated he would have gone with them if he could, it is pretty clear despite him saying it was "super" that he will not be seeing this as the ideal solution, even though it does net him some more money. This is a situation the bbc have created in order to cling onto some amount of f1, no matter how much it screws over the viewers in the process. And so the complaints are justified in my opinion.

    @76 the flaw with that point of view is we would have chosen the bbc dropping f1 altogther over what they have done, that would have no doubt saved even more jobs at the bbc . Ultimatly people will still lose their jobs with this decision, for a start the reduced bbc coverage will probably require less people, add in that much of the work will be shared with sky, so again less jobs for bbc people.

  • Comment number 82.

    For those who were on holiday last weeks. We have complaint to the BBC and received after the first stock answer, this 9-page answer:
    http://pietboon.wordpress.com/bbc-response-after-stage-2-of-bbcsky-complaints-procedure/

    If you do not agree with that answer, please appeal to the BBC Trust, stating the grounds on which you appeal. You can appeal using this email address:
    TrustEditorial@BBC.co.UK

    Grounds might be "Fair Trading" with regards to the blocking of the Channel 4 bid. You can also appeal that this is not "good for licence fee payers"

  • Comment number 83.

    I have Sky Sports, and am still disappointed with the outcome to this deal as I know the Sky coverage won't be anywhere near as good as the BBC has been, and also punctuated by adverts (the 20-second ITV adverts of a few years ago where extremely annoying and always seemed to mean missing vital action)

  • Comment number 84.

    Has anyone noticed how few user comments there are on the live text for practice today? I wonder why that might be?....mmmmmmmmmmm........

  • Comment number 85.

    If Hamilton is the "new" benchmark of F1 then the sport has fallen quite a way. Hill was nearly 17 years ago, not ones to hold grudges though are you?

  • Comment number 86.

    Post 65 - dougd22

    That was a quite breath-taking post. Exactly how many extra billion worldwide viewers does F1 need to claim before it shakes off your “niche” tag? Even if I accepted your categorisation of F1 (which I don't) why does something suddenly become justified because it 'only' hits the white, male, middle class, middle age “niche”? But hitting a “niche” of another ethnic/age group would not be OK? And before you ask, no I am not in your “niche” group, and neither is my elderly F1-mad dad who cannot afford Sky on his pension. If you were suddenly facing a bill for at least an extra 500 quid a year for something you really enjoyed then I wonder how wised-up you would be feeling.

    P.S. Just an after thought though - if any of the Bernie-haters want to try to shock the old man into retirement then maybe dougd22 has given you a moment of inspiration. Try going up to the ringmeister and telling him that F1 is just a niche and see what the shock does to him.

  • Comment number 87.

    First to the blog story. It may have been a procession at times but we witnessed one of the greatest sportsmen at his peak which is something to be relished in the same way as watching Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Steffi Graff and Stephen Hendry win so many tournaments.

    Agree with the other bloggers about the TV rights. I don't blame bernie, I blame the BBC who had a contract and then changed it and at such short notice. If sky change a contract you can protest by cancelling your subscription. Pity you can't cancel your TV licence.

    One more shameful thing for BBC F1 coverage. The webpage has been pityful for the last 3 weeks. Has there really been no F1 news, no gossip and no features AT ALL??

    It's a shame as the presenters and commentator combination had just become the best it has been in the last 20 years.

  • Comment number 88.

    "One more shameful thing for BBC F1 coverage. The webpage has been pityful for the last 3 weeks. Has there really been no F1 news, no gossip and no features AT ALL??"


    There has been plenty of F1 news, the BBC agreed to let Sky have the exclusives, so you need to head over to sky.com to read it.

  • Comment number 89.

    As a TV License payer, I fail to see why myself (and countless others) are subjected to poor programming which results in no more than 2 million people watching it, while coverage that generates 12 million (at least) is being cut back because the BBC can't afford to pay it. I love the coverage, and it has been the best since I've been watching F1 for the past 15 years. I want to add weight to jazzotang's comment by pointing out the poor programming (and frankly useless channels such as BBC Radio 4 Extra, 5 Extra, 6, 7, BBC 3, BBC 4, BBC Parliament) are still being funded even though, not even collectively, these channels/shows don't generate the same amount of viewing figures as the F1 coverage does.

  • Comment number 90.

    What is more upsetting is not that BBC will no longer have exclusive rights to live coverage but it is everything else that has come with it. It is the way all the presenters and commentators have been gagged, it is the way the bloggers such as Andrew carry on as if nothing has happened, it is the way the Jake keeps telling us that the BBC's coverage is 'amazing' and that we should be grateful, it is the way any way of protesting is cut of at the first opportunity such as the various blogs which were shut down even when they were getting about one or two comments per minute. It is the way we then have two people crawl out from the woodwork who we have never seen before (yes you Ben and Barbera) and with smiles on their face tell us how this is 'great' news for F1 fans, great news that we will only see half of the season live. It is the way Martin Brundle the best part of the BBC coverage has been treated so poorly. It is the way you ignore the people who make Formula One what it is today. Shame on you!

  • Comment number 91.

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57

    For those unhappy about the shambolic BBC decision, sign the petition here - remember to confirm your signature by going to your emails.

  • Comment number 92.

    I've tried five times to post a comment, and can't. BBC, sort yourself out!

  • Comment number 93.

    I've took out all mention of BBC/SKY and will go with...

    I love Schimacher. Is that acceptable mods? Is three paragraphs about Schumacher too much for the mods to check?

  • Comment number 94.

    I started watching F1 in 1991 aged 9. I have always loved Schumacher and Jordan, and they will forever have my support.

    Schumacher could do things with a car that his peers simply couldn't. His ability to develop a car with his engineers is often forgotten. He took Ferarri, along with Ross and Rory, to a new level. With their technical ability, and schumi's input and development ability, he set records that will be very hard to beat.
    Often people say "Oh but he had the fastest car, it was easy, nobody good raced back then", but who worked with the engineers to develop that car into a tool he could use to dominate the opposition? Why couldn't the opposition also develop their cars to the same extent?

  • Comment number 95.

    He gets a lot of stick for some things he did to win races and championships, and everyone glosses over similar incidents perpetrated by Senna and Prost and many many other drivers. Senna was a legend, we rank him up there as a kind of god, something all drivers aspire to, forgetting all the while that he too had that drive, that agressiveness, that if it was missing, would have meant these guys were just another racer in the field.

  • Comment number 96.

    Hats off to Schumacher, for ME, the finest driver I have ever seen.

    And to comment on BBC and Sky deal, this is a joke. FTA F1 was part of the agreement. Letting sky get their paws on it will forever damage the sport. BBC should hang its head in shame, Once next season come's I'll just stream the races from RTL with 5 Live commentary. BBC TV can run and jump. Think of all the repeats they put on now rather than fill that time with something new and worthwhile? How many radio stations do we actually need?

  • Comment number 97.

    Mr Benson, (when you and the rest of the crew get chance and lift your head out of the sand) the lack of any reply from yourself just goes to show how little respect you have for us the fans and viewing public. Hope you have great viewing figs when you bugger off to sky.

  • Comment number 98.

    @64 eflower3 - You certainly don't sound like a fan. If you took the time to read the posts rather than assuming their content, you'd see that most people are annoyed at the "BBC bosses in their ivory towers", not decent, hard working people such as Andrew and Jake.

    @65 dougd22 - F1 is less niche than owning a full Sky Sports package. Your comments regarding "white, middle class" blah blah blah renders the rest of your comments on here useless. You clearly know nothing about the worlwide popularity of F1. I think you'll find that most of the residents of the F1 hosting cities packing out the circuits year on year are not "white".

    @92 Fractured_Life, I think your comments have magically appeared...

    See 93, 94, 95 and 96.

    We must keep talking about the TV rights deal, so we can continue to talk for years about legends such as the great MSC.

  • Comment number 99.

    don't blame Andrew - he's a journalist and had no say in the decision. not getting involved in the TV Rights debate is sensible.

    The "government" have, IIRC, CUT the amount of the TVL that goes to the BBC. I was under the impression that all my TVL payments should go to the BBC. the government have screwed us over again

  • Comment number 100.

    Have just noticed this while watching some youtube videos, Santander are running a competition where you show your love for F1 in a video or photo and then the 10 with the most votes go to a judging panel.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/formulasantander

    Anyone with a good idea should post it and we could all vote for it, that might raise some attention from sponsors regarding how upset people are over this deal.

 

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