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New F1 season could prove unpredictable

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Andrew Benson | 09:47 UK time, Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Formula 1 teams arrived in Melbourne's Albert Park to be greeted by grey skies, intermittent rain and blustery wind. But not even the weather could dampen the palpable excitement and nervous tension.

The start of the new season is just a few hours away and everyone from world champions Red Bull to lowly HRT is desperate to find the answer to the question they have been asking all winter. Where will they be come Saturday and Sunday afternoons?

The F1 teams like to keep outsiders guessing before the first race by saying they don't know where they are in terms of competitiveness, but usually this is little more than kidology.

Such is their capacity to analyse data with massive super-computers that usually they have a very good idea of their position in relation to their rivals, despite the well-known difficulty of predicting form from pre-season testing.

But this year seems different; they genuinely don't seem to know - so the usual anticipation ahead of the first race of the season is magnified.

Lewis Hamilton said that judging by the data that mattered from winter testing he felt McLaren were "in the top three or four".

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has also bigged up his team's chances for the 2012 season. Photo: Getty

Meanwhile, a senior engineer from one of the teams who will be contesting what is expected to be a congested midfield battle told me he was pretty sure Red Bull and McLaren were out front but he didn't know "whether we will be third or seventh".

Some people's anticipation is more nervous than others', though.

For teams such as Mercedes and Lotus, there is a genuine sense that they have done a good job and moved forward over the winter.

In fact there is a growing sense in the paddock that Mercedes may even be able to give McLaren and Red Bull a run for their money, something team principal Ross Brawn was quick to dismiss as "unlikely".

For others, the desire to discover the true pace of their car is tinged as much with trepidation as anticipation.

Ferrari have had what Fernando Alonso described here on Thursday as a "tough" winter, struggling with "quite a complex car in terms of set-up and understanding it".

Alonso was doing his best to talk up the team's chances, saying: "Maybe we didn't reach our targets but it doesn't mean that we are slower than the other cars. That we will not know until Saturday."

Others are keen to play down the importance of this first race of the season.

Vettel said that Australia this weekend and Malaysia next would do no more than demonstrate a "trend" for performance over the season.

And Brawn said he "preferred to look at the first four races and the range of circuits we have and see how that looks".

But the statistics belie that point of view.

Albert Park might be a unique street circuit, with a dusty, low-grip surface, and the teams may only just be beginning to work with their new cars. But actually it has proven to be a rather good arbiter of the season to come - five of the last six winners of the Australian Grand Prix have gone on to become world champion that year.

Other themes are also emerging this weekend that will have importance to one degree or another as the season develops.

F1 wouldn't be F1 without a good technical conspiracy and this year looks like being no different.

Already during pre-season testing there have been eyebrows raised at the way some teams are trying to exploit exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect.

This practice was supposed to have been ended by rule changes that have restricted the positioning and angle of the exhaust pipes and put much stricter limits on engine mapping - both an attempt to rid the sport of so-called exhaust-blown diffusers that became such important tools over the previous two seasons.

But this weekend another potential controversy has emerged over the rear wings on several cars, particularly the Mercedes, Red Bull and the Ferrari.

These new devices - that some believe to be on the fringes of legality - seem designed to exploit the DRS overtaking aid in ways not originally intended.

The DRS was designed as a tool to make overtaking less difficult - if a driver is within a one-second margin of a car he is trying to overtake, he can use the DRS in a specified zone on the track to give him a straight-line speed boost.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, meanwhile, have what appear to be extra slots on the rear wing that can work in conjunction with the DRS to either increase straight-line speed even further, or allow the teams to run extra downforce with no drag penalty.

The most noticeable feature of the 2012 cars, though, remains the noses - and specifically the ugly 'platypus' step on all but the McLaren and Marussia.

This is a result of a rule that has lowered the nose tips of the cars to increase driver safety, but not lowered the top of the chassis.

The result is a grid full of ridiculous and ugly-looking cars, and very few are troubling to hide their frustration at the situation.

"It is unfortunate," Brawn said, "and the teams should look at themselves and blame themselves.

"[Governing body] the FIA tried to do what they could and a number of teams wouldn't agree to the changes because they said they wanted to carry over their chassis, which we all know is a load of nonsense because nobody has carried over their chassis.

"We've ended up with a very odd feature on the cars which is not very endearing and I'm sure will get fixed for 2013."

The noses, of course, will soon be forgotten if the season is close and competitive. And that will only begin to become clear as this weekend unfolds.


Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    The 2012 F1 season is definately the hardest one to predict for years, there are a lot of unknown quantities this season like what the pace of the Mercedes might be and whether the Mclaren can pose a real threat to the Red Bull this season. But it is also definatly one of the most hyped and exciting season's EVER in F1, we really are in the middle of a golden era of the sport so sit back relax and enjoy.

    Vote here for who you think will win the drivers title

    http://f1predictions.net/polls/results/index.php?pollnum=17

  • Comment number 2.

    This is certainly one of the more intriguing starts to a Formula 1 season, not only from the point of view of the technical aspects of the cars but also the grid. I agree with DC’s assessment that Raikkonen’s return adds a welcome dimension and my money’s on him being up there in Alonzo’s mirrors from the off.

    For me, Mercedes represent the real dark horse. Something tells me the car is far superior compared to last years effort and as much as I’d relish Schumacher’s return to form, I think the reality is that Rosberg will continue where he left off last season as Merc’s number one.

    Enthralling stuff though!

  • Comment number 3.

    Too much hype last year and even more this year. In fact, a lot of last season was boring. I believe Red Bull will still be the team to beat, which adds to the dull-ness. Tell you what, stop taking sleeping pills and join the live races on the BBC over the coming year: China (no crowd) Monaco (Not that exciting is it) Europe (yawn) Singapore (Limited overtaking) Abu Dhabi (zzzzzzzzz). And for you Sky fans, enjoy India (no one cares bernnie) and Bahrain (don't worry about the Bahrain people sfeelings a?)

    I really feel the sport is going the wrong way, and I have been watching from the early 80's. Too much money, drivers paying for seats, and new boring tracks. Any sport that comes up with the idea to wet the track in order to get a good race is in trouble.

    Still, at least I can have a lie in on Sunday because I won't be watching.

  • Comment number 4.

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

  • Comment number 5.

    Another poor blog, why are you saying its RB and Ferrari with the suspect RW? its Mercedes who came up with the idea :S

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

    I think a lot of teams will have progressed. If they are all close at the beginning you can see McLaren and Ferrari winning out as they can make fantastic development strides. Red Bull are an unknown is this sort of race.
    I can also see Force India and Lotus having podiums. I can see Caterham finishing in the points as well.

  • Comment number 8.

    Surely Webber is due a decent race at his home GP? What's his best current finish, 5th place?

    After the winter tests it does look like it's going to be very close between the top team, but would anyone be suprised if Vettel came home in first place after grabbing pole? Doubt it.

    I still think that the only way teams like Lotus (Renault) and Force India are going to scoring the 'bigger' points than 9th and 10th places are racing incidents for any on the top 4. I still can't see them beating them on raw pace alone.

  • Comment number 9.

    To be perfectly honest I couldn't care two hoots about how these cars look. So what if they're ugly? If sticking a huge green walrus on the bonnet made them faster I would say go for it.

  • Comment number 10.

    Will the F1 coverage be available on the iPlayer this season? All I can find on there is a promise of the qualifying highlights. Also, are there going to be shorter highlights of any races, or are we just getting a re-run of the longer highlights? The timing of the re-run isn't great - how many people can stay up until 1am when they have work the following day?

    I'm looking forward to the coming season but it is hard to get too excited when you don't know what you will be able to watch!

  • Comment number 11.

    @9 Best looking car of all time, 1996 Ferrari.

  • Comment number 12.

    Andrew,

    You sure Ferrari and Red Bull have the DRS f duct??

    All other reports say it is a Mercedes device with Ross Brawn even stating he was pretty sure no other teams were running it. If that is in fact the case this blog post is extremely poor.

  • Comment number 13.

    Andrew, will the bbc be showing highlights from practice online still?
    Looks like its going to be a great year!

  • Comment number 14.

    Most encouraging part of pre-season? Caterham giving reasons to believe that they could score points this season.

    Most depressing part of pre-season? HRT and Marussia showing that they have made no progress at all in three years. Could this be their last season in F1?

    The times were hard to read. There seems to be a general agreement that Red Bull and McLaren are the fastest, but they were rarely topping the time sheets and we saw few really fast laps from them. In previous seasons we have seen the McLaren drivers putting in a few laps on low fuel and at the limit to go for a chart-topping time, but that didn't really happen this winter and on one day Caterham were matching both Red Bull and McLaren. More kidology than usual, I suspect this time.

  • Comment number 15.

    Andrew is the bbc f1 opening credits the same as they are on the inside f1, because they look immense (a lot better than sky).

    This hopefully will a great season and that it wont be like a Vettel dominant 2011. Please don't be - do a season like 2010.

    Bring on 2012 and come on MCLaren

  • Comment number 16.

    Hopefully red bull will have to fight for wins this season and I hope kimmi can spring a surprise on everyone.........one things for sure though, I will be watching every race on sky and can not wait. No more jake with his hands in his pockets or fiddling with his phone while interviewing someone, that man needs to learn some respect and I am certainly sure I will not miss eddie. Sky looks good with the technology they are offering. Even if the bbc was showing all races I would still watch the sky coverage as you will have more options in watching the race. Roll on australia F1 is back tonight at 1am sky F1 HD

  • Comment number 17.

    Looks set to be an exciting year!

    Shame us devoted fans won't be able to watch it thanks to the BBC and Bernie selling out....

  • Comment number 18.

    @16

    Why do you feel it necessary to try to sell Sky coverage on the BBC blog??? Fair enough if you were on some sort of commission but otherwise why?? Why not just post them comments on Sky's blogs? I am sure they would welcome the praise.

    I think BBC's team is way stronger than Sky's but I ain't gonna write that on a Sky blog because it is un-polite to Sky and inconsiderate to people like you who pay at least £360 a year for their coverage.

    You take a swipe at Jake Humphrey, it's a hard job he does and he ain't perfect but there are reasons he has 600,000 twitter followers compared to Sky's fellow F1 anchor man's 6,000 and their are reasons Sky approached Jake for the anchor job first.

    As for Eddie he is even further from perfect!! but who has Sky got with his connections or will put drivers and team principals on the spot like he does?

  • Comment number 19.

    I think Vettel will win again but I'm still struggling to get excited about this season with the races being on SKY.

    The failure to consult viewers over the decision and the way in which the BBC tries to behave as if nothing is wrong still angers me.

    Sorry BBC but if the Australian Grand Prix is not shown live in full on free to air TV in Britain this weekend then on Monday I will be cancelling my TV licence and I encourage everyone else who feels the BBC has ignored them over the Sky deal to cancel their licences on Monday too.

    I will not support the Murdoch empire and the BBC should not have gone to SKY (an organisation whose owners were one of the major lobbyists in getting BBC funding cut) and offered them their best sports program.

  • Comment number 20.

    @18.mr-big

    "As for Eddie he is even further from perfect!! but who has Sky got with his connections."

    Sky are pushing an idiot called Fenners as their Jordan equivalent, and anyone who saw their opening flagship show (only 170,000, 120,000 less than Sky had predicted), will know he's better suited to cbeebies.

  • Comment number 21.

    Two things about this season that is predictable, we won't be watching it live without selling our souls to the devil, and the BBC won't answer our questions.

    Still disgusted with the BBC's sell out.

  • Comment number 22.

    Are the grand prix that the BBC aren't showing live available live on the web? It's not obvious from the BBC website - it says that the races will be available, but not whether that's a live feed or at the same time as the highlights are being shown.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ Czar-Orac

    Ya, I seen that guy, cringe-worthy!! Don't see him lasting long on their coverage as no one will give that idiot an interview once word gets around.

    The thing about EJ, for all his faults I think he is by far the best at interrogating someone and really putting them on the spot. A lot of interviewers will shy away from stuff after a BS response from say a team principal which happens a lot but he will keep digging.

    Ya I heard they got 170k but wasn't sure it was right, that's incredibly poor when you consider most who signed up for the F1 coverage would have been watching the opening program.

    Think the key whether British sponsors walk and put his TV deal in jeopardy is the BBC highlights figures as it is obvious Sky figures are nowhere. Also if Sky figures are a lot lower than their own estimates it jeopardises their business model and they might look at cutting their looses and looking for a way out early like BBC and ITV before them.

  • Comment number 24.

    @23.mr-big

    From its 20 ish repeat showings on 4 different Sky channels, it has accumulated circa 625,000 viewings (not unique viewers), admittedly the BBC pre show doesn't get the viewers the race does, but still that's low considering they were pitching to sponsors and advertisers an average audience of 290,000 for the prime show.

    The 'worm tracker' shows people switching over during Fenners, and during the Thompson Button interview ... maybe the show was just too long at 2 hours to pull a high enough audience, even I found it tedious at points, let's face it the vast majority of viewers just want the race.

  • Comment number 25.

    @19 bob, when you cancel your licence this weekend I'm wondering what you are going to say to the enforcement officers that knock on your door in the coming weeks?

  • Comment number 26.

    I have been watching F1 since I was a lad, now late 50's, I realised after Schummi that it had lost the spark, alas Brawn GP gave it a new lease of life then sold out! And that is it, all sold out, the sport has long since gone the way that soccer has, all money, all Bernie and the BBC has wasted our licence fees when they should have told grabber Ecclestone to get stuffed! motoGP for me, real motor sport!

  • Comment number 27.

    The BBC knows there is an elephant in the room, but they hope and think the licence payers are stupid as always! Sky has stiffed the BBC's overpaid execs, and the F1 fans who take the Sky route mean F1 will never be 100% on Beeb ever again. Nice one Bernie, lined your pockets niceley, stuff the fans as usual hey?

  • Comment number 28.

    @25 he said he was going to cancel his licence. He didn't say he'd be watching TV without a licence.

    I cancelled my licence as soon as BBC announced this shambolic sell out. You don't need a licence to watch catch-up services like iPlayer, providing you are not watching live feeds.

    We are still waiting for someone to offer a sensible explanation for this outrageous display of contempt for the sport, licence payers and fans.

  • Comment number 29.

    Fenners - top man!

  • Comment number 30.

    It's hard to get excited after the BBC sold out to sky. I get quite annoyed when the BBC are advertising F1 on radio 5 as if nothing has happened. To be quite honest, I wish the BBC didn't have any F1 and had given another free to air broadcaster a chance.

    The BBC should have saved money by doing the commentary from a studio in the UK and not going to the GP's at all. But using money wisely is certainly not the BBC's forte.

  • Comment number 31.

    2012 season begins with a record 6 world champions on the grid, but there could even be 7 world champions starting the final race of the season. For me, the driver most likely to make this happen is Rosberg.

  • Comment number 32.

    Seems like there's still a lot of anger about F1 predominately moving to subscription television. Still nevermind, maybe that nice e-petition will get 100,000 signatures and parliament will force a rethink over the deal.

    Nah. I just looked. Only 41,829 so far.

    I think I hear the fat lady clearing her throat...

  • Comment number 33.

    Still the Beeb fail to explain their coverage plans to the people who are sticking with them...
    Just want to know whether practice will be added to iPlayer like it has in the past and also if the full races that the BBC are not showing live are going to be available in full online or if it's going to be the cut version?

  • Comment number 34.

    So why bring in Fenners? I think BBC know that all the proper fans of F1 will pay to watch it. Leaving only the johnny come lately's on the BBC, so they aren't going to know much about pull rod vs push rod rear suspension etc. I can expect even more patronising talk such as 'So Eddie, tell us what this is?' 'Well Jake, and for the viewers at home, its called a wheel'

    I don't see how Sky Sports F1 HD will sustain itself. Considering theres 20 races over 8 or 9 months, 2 hours on a saturday and 3 hours on a sunday. Im sure after the year there will be more changes.

    All that aside. This year does sound better. Except all the teams have progressed, so really no one has. Still very intrigued by Ferrari. They were talking themselves down ever since day1 of testing, and now they are bogging themselves up. Is it for Alonso and psychological power? Or is it genuinely true? Perhaps in the week since the last test, someone at Maranello has just realised they put a wing on back to front.

  • Comment number 35.

    So the 2012 F1 season upon us and the British F1 fans who either can not afford the Evil one's Sky package
    or just refuse to give their hard earned money to the devil are still waiting to hear what they are going to get
    from the BBC in terms of F1 coverage.

    BBC you have handled this matter in the worst possible way and you continue to bury your heads in the sand
    and hope that we go away and pay our licence fee with no fuse and no expectation of value for money.

    Breaking News for the BBC, We are still here and still not happy.

    No To Sky, No to Highlights, Yes to FTA live coverage of all races.

  • Comment number 36.

    There is only one way I can possibly see the live F1 Sky coverage this weekend (or any other weekend). Can anybody tell me if there are any pubs in Truro, Cornwall, that will be showing it? Live? At 1.30 a.m.?
    What about ANY of the live races on Sky this year?
    Come on, it's a perfectly straightforward and easy question............
    Oh, and don't 'think' or 'imagine' in your replies. I really want to know.

  • Comment number 37.

    The bbc were far too cowardly to see out their contract & hell bent on stopping another FTA TV form sharing and/or bidding to take over the contract to televise F1. They the bbc are the main wrong doers here, followed closely by $KY and all Companies/Politicians who are all sucking up to Murdoch.
    Mark Thompson is falling on his sword and going, no doubt getting a Golden Hand Shake to boot)? The deal is most probably illegal see this link:
    http://www.petition.co.uk/investigation-into-the-legality-of-the-recent-bbcsky-f1-deal/
    $KY will not be having adverts during the race or putting up the price sometime after the first year, just like they were not going to re-launch their News of the World as the Sun on Sunday. They are still being economical with the truth as always. 'Trust me I am a Doctor' & 'Would I lie to You?' Please see this link:
    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/57
    I will not be paying any money, (although I can afford to buy $KY), to B$kyB and/or News International/News Corp, now in this life or the next.
    The bbc certainly do have a ‘Voice’, (even going through great lengths to censor any comments not to their liking); but alas not one that tries to answer the 'Subsets', commonly known as the Licence Fee Payers, who have got the best deal that they have ever known. The bbc really fought tooth & nail to get this new contract & deal signed under the table.
    As for David Croft, (Crofty), like Brundle, are now Poacher’s turned gamekeeper. You were great on R5 Live, (as was Bludell with F1 on the bbc), now you are both sleeping with the enemy.
    As for As for Babs Slater, Ben Gallopaway, Mark Thompson Subset, Neil Land and the rest of the clan and their, ‘Best deal for F1 Fans & Licence Fee Payers’, or should we now call ourselves Licence Fee Subsets? What do you really know?
    As for your comments ‘Crofty Meal for Two Days’: “Yeah, if you haven’t got Sky, then you won’t see all the races live and I can understand people being upset by that. You will always have all the highlights on the BBC as well, they’re not totally deprived. It’s not like they are going without a meal for two days.
    What planet did you just come from? What an insult, are you for real. I really liked you before but now you are just a…………….
    Well I am afraid that you have got it wrong, but that is in my opinion and if the bbc/$KY have anything to do with it, then these comments will be censored.
    PS: I am one of few who could afford $KY, but I will not pay a penny to any Company owned by Murdoch; in this life or in the next. I at least have a conscious and can sleep at night, over this Phone Hacking Scandal, even if Crofty Two Meals cannot.
    No to F1 on $KY and yes to F1 on FTA.

  • Comment number 38.

    BBC v SKY! Will you lot cease and desist? Every single F1 article on this site degenerates into a diatribe by degenerates on the subject of television rights. For heaven's sake, in theory everyone with a television in the UK pays a licence fee and a huge percentage of those couldn't give a fig for F1. Give over your mithering.

    I particularly love those who, in a fit of pique, state that they are going to cancel or not renew their television licence. I don't live in G.B. or N.I. so looking in as an outsider makes my fellow countrymen look like a collection of spoilt brats. Is there a collective noun for such? Perhaps a nursery of brats?

    Maybe, just maybe, it's time some of you got off the couch and attended some of your local motor racing venues (although you'd have to pay for that wouldn't you?) as it's usually just as, if not more, interesting than televised events.

    I apologise for diving into this pond of hypocrisy as I had promised myself that I would do no such thing. Ah, the frailty of the human soul.

    Now, give over and get back to the subject at hand.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wow it looks like we have an Excess Dujonno WUM Wum Wum Wuminator? Arrrr is'nt he cute. I bet he will Marry me? I love him already....Sorry Excess move over ther's a new Wum in Town. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn! Sigh!

  • Comment number 40.

    Thanks for ruining one of the only things I look forward to each year. And thanks for the rubbish new F1 website too... Can't find the info you used to.

    Thanks for removing Classic Grands Prix like you used to have and replacing it with a poor version of Sky's 'Legends' series.

    Glad the BBC sees fit to send everyone over there still for a programme that could be done on site since it's a poor relation to it's former self.

    Most of all, I hope your viewing figures are shocking enough to get rid of F1 altogether. I'd rather that than put up with this ridiculous half-hearted affair. What was the point?

  • Comment number 41.

    They also happily paid for this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/2012/03/anyone-who-has-moved-house.shtml

    Rather than programmes. So out of touch.

  • Comment number 42.

    Oh come on everyone. I have watched on the two main channels since the late 80's. F1 is my passion. I have a mortgage a baby and crazy bills to pay every month and I'm on rubbish money. I have dropped to a cheap mobile 15 a month from 40 and got a cheaper house insurance deal. There you go 35 quid for sky hd. If you need it you'll make it happen. Let's face it the BBC have always been flakey at best.

  • Comment number 43.

    Looking forward to watching the first practice session, it'll be worth being a little tired in work tomorrow.

    I think that Bob bloke is actually a parrot, a spineless one at that, he just says the same thing time and time and time and time and time again without actually doing what he constantly 'threatens' to do.

    For those who want to watch the sport and can't i do feel sorry for them, those that constantly bang on about the bbc v sky debate, couldn't care less about them, get over it, NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE.

    Roll on the first practice session and the rest of the season.

  • Comment number 44.

    Why do F1 fans believe they have a god given right to free coverage???? Nearly all other sports have gravitated to the PPV model and ALL have improved thanks to the extra income! You can whine and gnash your teeth till your blue in the face, but no one cares, if you aren't willing/able to afford the coverage.......tough, life's a bitch. Watch the highlights/stream but don't try to convince others that this is the best option!

  • Comment number 45.

    Well said 44.
    If sky do as good a job with F1 as they have done with the cricket coverage, it'll be a hit.

  • Comment number 46.

    Too bad Mr. Krabs didn't choose today to lie instead wasting space with his post. I for one am looking forward to this season, particularly to see if Raikkonen is as fast as before and if Lewis has banished last years demons.

  • Comment number 47.

    44 & 45

    Go & post that on Sky then. What are doing hanging around here?

  • Comment number 48.

    @47 Schumi to beat Kimi though?

  • Comment number 49.

    F1. A sport for the Bourgeoisie.
    Due to the BBC, F1 will die slowly. Thank you

  • Comment number 50.

    @48 Oh gosh, really? But...

  • Comment number 51.

    Hey everyone can't we all learn to bury the hatchet and leave our disagreements about the BBC v Sky to one side to talk about a much greater problem, the continued lack of quality of the blog one which we're all supposed to be commenting. As far as I am aware not one single commentator, technical director or anyone else connected to F1 or even any of the many people who belong to forums such as F1 technical, have mentioned that RB or Ferrari are currently using a DRS linked blown rear wing. So yet again well done Mr Benson another vacuous uninformative blog that showcases nothing else other than the fact that you really don't have any more depth of knowledge of F1 than oh I don't know Jake Humphries perhaps?

  • Comment number 52.

    47, we all pay a licence fee so are entitled to use the bbc's website, just watched practice this morning, stunning hd, quality presentation, no adverts, excellent coverage

  • Comment number 53.

    Post 44 - 46. As a licence payer (I don't mind paying) I have the right to post my views on this site. Thee BBC have not explained thier actions to us in a full and meaningful way. They had TWO MORE YEARS to go on the contract and should of let it run. Then if they had lost it to C4, ITV or even sky then so be it. If Sky had got it I still would not of subscibed because I do not believe in the long run pay tv helps the sport. Football is money mad, average and poor players getting 80 - 90 thousand pound a week, clubs in debt and crazy tickets prices. Cricket has a real problem with young people coming up through the ranks, limited TV coverage dosn't help. Oh and how many people were in the crowd in Dubai for the cricket? Boxing is a joke. How many people know the current batch of British boxers? Look at the class way the last boxing event finished, great advert for the UK. Remember A1 racing? Was that on sky? The BBC coverage of F1 WAS excellent and the ratings were great to, they should of got rid of Wimbledon. You can't treat F1 like it's football, match of the day style highlights don't work. F1 is about the feeling that runs through the year, the wait for the next LIVE race. No pubs are going to be showing the races.....why would they. 'Lets go up the pub to watch the Hungry GP!' That's only going to happen if the landlord wanted empty the place to close early.

    It is important that we the fans make our point known to the BBC and this blog is the best place. For all you that love giving money away use a sky blog, you can pat each other on the back about how great your HD is, how big your tellys are and watch repeat after repeat on the sky F1 channel.

  • Comment number 54.

    @50, was meant to be at the post before you.

    @53
    It's been a while since i've read such tosh, well, at least since 'Bob's' last post.
    Why is it so hard to accept that the BBC simply can't afford the full rights to F1, beyond that there is no explanation needed, they for whatever reason can't afford it, it's simple. You can blame Bernie for once again trying to make an even bigger 'buck' than he did the previous year, and equally you can blame the BBC for spending vast amounts of the license payers fee on shows that you would physically need to pay people to watch. They can't afford it, they haven't got it. Rant and rave all you want, fill this blog with the exact same comments that have been repeated endlessly over the last few months, it's not going to change a thing.

    Your comments about football, are typical of someone who isn't a fan, or who is but doesn't get to watch thier own team play enough. Seeing as fans of lower league clubs will very very rarely ever get to see their club play on TV, do you think they cry and whinge about the PL getting more coverage as it rightfully should? TV money has changed the face of British football, a one off televised cup tie for a lower league team against one of the big boys can set them up financial for the next few years, all because of TV money.

    Your comments about cricket on the other hand are just ridiculous, limited coverage? Not enough young players coming through the ranks? I presume the last time you watched a game of cricket was 2005? During the cricket season, there is rarely a day goes by when there isn't at least one form of the game being shown, quite often two at least with the option of watching further games. With the 'not enough young players' coming through, I take it you didn't watch the ODI series against Pakistan? Of course you didn't so you don't know what you're talking about, we blooded 3 - 5 new 'young players' during that series, which you'd have been aware of, HAD YOU WATCHED IT. Butler, Dernbach, Bairstow, are they not young players, or maybe you want a foetus taking to the field in an england shirt.

    The less said about boxing the better, it's a minority sport at best, with quite often the hype building up to the fight usually being better than the action in the ring.

    Formula 1, won't 'die' because of sky, anyone claiming it will, quite frankly needs their head checking out. If you lose interest in the sport, so be it, but don't criticise the 'real' fans who have

  • Comment number 55.

    @37.ButNowWhat

    If you think the phone hacking scandal was bad, just wait to see if the BBC's Panorama can transmit the satellite encryption hacking scandal programme in full, then everyone will know why ITV digital failed ;)

  • Comment number 56.

    Well Sky's first attempt at showing F1 was a bit of a disaster, cutting away to presenters during the action, cutting away to adverts as cars were getting into trouble on track, cutting away from team radio, I want to see track action ... Isn't that what the premium is paid for?

    I'd also like to know why Sky is nearly a minute behind the world feed.

  • Comment number 57.

    Post 54.
    Cricket is a minority sport in the UK. In India it's life, that why they couldn't give a stuff about F1. Your rant about cricket, a sport that is about as interesting as a banana skin is daft. It is a fact that cricket is not popular with today's youth and less people are playing it. Boxing was not a minority sport, but because of greed and pay per view it now is. You have no idea about my football feelings. I grew up in London and followed Arsenal. I used to go to games but now live away from there and have other things in my life that mean more to me. But I guess by your logic because I follow a prem club I am not a real fan a? I will not pay the ticket prices as they cost to much. The trouble with sport now that is becoming all about the bottom line: money. I can blame Bernie because he controls the rights. How much money do these people need? Why would you give them more??

    F1 will become less popular in the country because of this deal. Many won't follow the BBC because it is dis-jointed, and many like me who can afford sky won't buy into it because having sport is not the be all and end all of life, I don't need 500 channels of average TV and I feel good for not following the people that are more than happy to give more cash to people who already have too much.

    Enjoy your sport, you've earned it.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ Krab's.

    Cricket being a minority sport? I bet average joe on the street could name more cricketers than boxers.

    I haven't got time to read what you've said, some of us are in work.

    But, if you've just said, "many like me who can't afford sky won't buy into it because having sport is not the be all and end all of life" if thats the case, why have you posted numerous times about the sky v bbc debate? And i'm guessing you'll continue to do so. If you really aren't bothered, don't comment on it, or at least stick to the topic of the blog, which sadly due to people like you is always going to be about the TV rights and not the on track action.

    I will continue to enjoy watching F1 live, the same way I do with Premier Football, Champions league football and the cricket. And i'll do all that without a chip on my shoulder.

  • Comment number 59.

    Wow, didn't know I wasn't able to give an opinion....I said I can aford sky but won't. It is important to comment on here. Post 58, you have made my point for me. You said: 'I bet average joe on the street could name more cricketers than boxers'. Most people can't see the boxing anymore and won't pay for it, so it falls into the backround and isn't as popular as it once was.

    The reason why I'm banging on about it is because I am a real F1 fan. I care and I'm not willing to just do what is expected. The whole deal stinks. If you feel I have a chip on my shoulder then that is your opinion, but I feel it is important to express ones thoughts and feelings on this subject.

  • Comment number 60.

    Very difficult season to judge from the start, the Beeb did publish their timing for the F1 programs and there are only 2 real problems - USA GP and Canadian GP programs will be on at 2230 on the sunday.

  • Comment number 61.

    I don't normally post to defend the author of blogs, but some individuals attacking Andrew Benson over the rear-wing comments seem a tad ill-informed. A simple check of technical websites reveals - Both Ferrari and RBR have displayed a multi-grooved 'slot' rear wing which appears to be involved in the DRS. The faring slots displayed by these two teams are not the same thing as the Mercedes solution - which may be connected to their F-Duct FRONT wing and be a tunneled duct solution, or it may be an alternative solution entirely.

    So - okay commentators - hurl insults at Mr Benson if you want, but you should probably check up on the difference between a wing slot and a wing duct before claiming superiority here.

    Ross Brawn has defended his teams solution based on that it has no moveable parts and is part of the perfectly legal use of F-ducts (there is no specific regulation against the use of passive ducts throughout the car except in specific openings or where the driver must mechanically operate them with their body). He's also said specifically, it is internally mounted within the DRS groove but he's not explaining it any further - whereas the Ferrari and RBS wing slots seem to be aimed at forcing air out of the wing in certain modes towards the diffuser or tyres. These are two entirely different things.

    Mercedes, Ferrari and RBR already took very different approaches to the DRS system in 2011. It's fairly obvious that they'd all seek to exploit their advantages of short chord/long chord systems and varying flap angles as well as minimizing their disadvantages.

  • Comment number 62.

    Can't believe Brundle sold out to Sky!!

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm just so so glad the BBC have still got the 5Live coverage as that is what I listen to as a blind person. I'm not sure about James Allen though as the commentator we'll have to wait and see. The teams look alot closer this year but something tells me that RBR and perhaps McLaren are bluffing a bit this year. I think they are going to be close in qualifying and you can't bet against Mr Alonso pulling himself into the top 6. I think Mercedes have perhaps got something up their sleeve never under estimate Ross. So bring it on. I stopped watching it on TV after Murray stopped commentating as a blind person I could follow his style of commentry but I find it difficult to do that with the current commentators. So I resorted to radio which I really like. I'm going to miss crofty though he was good.

  • Comment number 64.

    @62. Pete S

    Sky offered to promote his son's racing career, even on Sky's opening night show they had a piece on his son ... Expect Alex to get a lot of mentions during the season ;)

  • Comment number 65.

    Krabs,

    Do you not appreciate there was a time and a place for voicing your opposition to the TV saga, and that was months ago, when the news of the deal was first revealed. Months have passed and people are still banging on about, and for what? Nothing is going to change now, you know you're wasting your time and energy.

    This current deal with the BBC and Sky 'sharing' the coverage runs until the end of the 2018 season, yes? Are you still going to be voicing your opinion on the same matter in 6 years time?

  • Comment number 66.

    Lots of complainers in here that would be better off in the sky forums it seems. The simple fact is, F1 coverage used to be a lot worse than it is now, anyone who remembers the old grandstand coverage will testify to that. How many races were shown life, in their entirety back then? It was advertised television (ITV) that changed all that.

    The BBC took that format and improved it, paying Bernie a fortune for the privilege. Then the banks threw away money it didn’t have, the world collapsed, and the BBC suddenly didn’t have money to pay Bernie anymore who promptly took his F1 deal to the highest bidder, leaving the beeb with the scraps. Don’t blame Auntie, blame Bernie and rich advertised and subscriber based TV companies.

    I have Sky HD and I’ll be watching on the BBC. I’ll miss Martin for sure, Ted seemed a decent fellow, but we have DC and a solid pit lane crew. Hell, with work and Kids, I wasn’t going to be up for fly away races live anyway.

  • Comment number 67.

    @62 Czar-Orac.

    Why are you making it sound like a bad thing that Brundle Snr wanted to get a bit of exposure for his boy when it's the most natural thing in the world to do? Everyone in this life tries to do the best they can for themselves and those they care about. So that's why Brundle went to the place that gave him what he wanted (publicity for his son's racing career) and also why I and many other people did what we needed to do to get SkyF1HD (it gives us what we want, and it's also legal - unlike the myriad numbers of streams out there on t'internet).

  • Comment number 68.

    @39 ButNowWhat.

    "Wow it looks like we have an Excess Dujonno WUM Wum Wum Wuminator? Arrrr is'nt he cute. I bet he will Marry me? I love him already....Sorry Excess move over ther's a new Wum in Town. Yawn! Yawn! Yawn! Sigh!"

    Is that load of complete gibberish your best contribution to this discussion?

  • Comment number 69.

    So, wadaya you doing here, Excess?
    Thought you were a sky guy now.
    Having trumpeted so vociferously the merits of their up & coming superior coverage… have you found that it actually falls short of your needs, and you’re now back here to bleat, quelling the addicting that Sky, despite all it’s money, sadly cannot fore fill?

  • Comment number 70.

    @69 Stee_vee_E.

    I haven't watched any coverage, Sky or otherwise, because there hasn't been any racing yet.

  • Comment number 71.

    Post 65. If something is wrong then you need to say it is, just because a bit of time has passed dosn't mean we have to shut up and accept what has been presented to us. I do hope this season is a good one for the teams, I hope Red Bull do not lead from the front, and I hope that the ratings for sky are poor. I have pleanty of time and energy to engage in debate in regards to this subjet. My protest is not buying sky, it's a shame others didn't stand firm.

    You asked me: 'This current deal with the BBC and Sky 'sharing' the coverage runs until the end of the 2018 season, yes? Are you still going to be voicing your opinion on the same matter in 6 years time?'

    My answer to you is yes......yes I will.

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 70 Excess

    What, no Sky F1 blogs, no interaction with your Sky F1 fan chums? C'mon, you know what I mean, like it is here, only superior, right? Superior coverage - all round.

  • Comment number 73.

    @72 Stee_vee_E.

    I'll let everyone know my thoughts on the Sky product after the weekend. But judging by some of the comments I've seen here and on other forums I believe I have good reasons to be looking forward to their coverage.

    Incidentally I've always maintained there was never anything wrong with the BBCs output when you consider the conditions in which the operate. As a public service organisation the BBC are constrained in ways that Sky are not, principally in terms of income, content and scheduling. The BBC had a very short amount of time each weekend to engage with the majority of casual layman viewers whereas Sky have the ability to move beyond that wide remit and focus on providing more in-depth, detailed and extensive insights into the sport and its background. So that's why I "believe in better."

  • Comment number 74.

    @67.ExcessBaggage

    Because that would open the flood gates for everyone to pimp something.

  • Comment number 75.

    @73 Excess

    Oh, I'm sure you will, as Sky, evidently, does not fore fill your thirst to engage.

    With an hour before & after each race I believe the BBC did have time to provide a more 'in depth' approach to broadcasting F1. Their nervous accountants chose otherwise. Despite the fact we were constantly told ratings were of no consequence.

    But exbags, when your given information, do you honestly want it coated with so much icing? This is, after all, car racing.

    For your thoughts, I await with bated breath ;-)

  • Comment number 76.

    [ButNowWhat]

    No, I'm very far from a wind-up-merchant. By accident of birth I have been following the top levels of motor racing for over fifty years. That's not a boast it's just a simple fact.

    The original reason I joined the BBC fora was to read and, maybe, occasionally contribute to the various discussions. In the case of F1 my anticipation of intelligent chat by genuine motor racing enthusiasts has been shown to be a misjudgement.

    There are decent points expressed by some of the members of, for example, this F1 thread - but it's hard to find them and then filter that information from the continuous barrage of abuse directed at the BBC over the SKY deal. I don't live in the UK and so cannot really comment on the pros and cons of the arrangement. I can, though, express my disappointment with those who infest the BBC site with spurious and often puerile arguments (totally futile of course) about television rights.

    Where I live I cannot receive Premiership football via television without paying for it. That payment will not guarantee me being able to watch my 'own' team play or even a highlight programme such as MOTD. Do I complain and throw tantrums? Of course I do not.

  • Comment number 77.

    REF 76

    Not only do I throw tantrums but I throw as much as I can at Sky.
    It is a rip off .... ex BBC team members with newer graphics....so what?

    Will it be better?
    Any coverage will only be as good as what's produced on track so it's all a gimmick.

    Why pay when you can stream live from your pc?

    Stuff Sky. The more people complain the better.

  • Comment number 78.

    I am in Dire Straits. What shall I do? Shall I pay for $ky or wait for my Wummy to buy it for me or even wait for the er erm Late Low Highlights on the bbc?

    Now look at them Wum’s that’s the way they do it
    They’re all going to watch F1 & pay for their $ky TV
    That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
    $ky HD is not money for nothin, but at least the STREAMS are FREE
    Now if that ain’t workin that’s the way to do it
    Lemme tell ya that the Pub Landlady ain’t dumb
    She’ll watch it for cheap on Astra TV
    Now if that ain’t workin that’s the way to do it
    Use Radio 5 Live and RTL TV

  • Comment number 79.

    Well the first qualifying session was certainly unpredictable. Did not expect to see Grosjean so high up/Red Bull struggling/Ferrari nowhere/Kimi embarrassing. Can't wait for the race.

    @78 ButNowWhat

    Dire Straits? I'd have thought The Beatles were more appropriate. At least "Fool on the hill" just about sums you up.

  • Comment number 80.

    Does anyone remember Mr.Benson's blogs of describing McLaren could be in trouble and Ferrari actually not so bad when all other F1 journalists were of the opposite view?

  • Comment number 81.

    Not as unpredictable as you might think.
    Without watching the coverage of qualy when it will first be broadcast on BBC TV (in about 3 hours), I can tell you that Hamiliton will beat Button to poll thanks to those "very helpful" people on the BBC news web site having just such a headline on their front page.
    BBC TV news anouncing the results before BBC sport broadcasts Qually, or the race, also "helps" make this sport so much less unpredictable.

    While this might have been understandable when BBC sport was broadcasting the race live in the early hours, it's unforgivable when Sky has made the live broadcast on PPV and BBC sport is yet to broadcast.

  • Comment number 82.

    It's highly predictable for us though isn't it. First quali session and the BBC give away the result on Radio 2! Ridiculous!

  • Comment number 83.

    The BBC got completely owned today by SKY.

    They need to focus on putting together a balanced fact filled insight into F1 which SKY did today instead of gimmick rip-off of pop videos and working in the all too familiar Hamilton side swipes and Button praising just like last year.
    With limited time to do a highlights show why on earth are they showing old clips of Coulthard winning. The lack of technical content on the new regulations or driving analysis is absolutely shocking.

    The only positive was Ben Edwards who does inject a bit of excitement.

  • Comment number 84.

    The magic is gone...

    ...a bit like a young child believing in Santa only to discover the parents have wrapped up all the prezzies for Christmas...

    ...the highlights were...well...highlights... i felt the whole production went backwards, worse than ITV could ever collectively muster with Rosenthal, Ryder, Blundell and Jardine.

    It's bad...really bad...they need to go back to the drawing board like Ferrari...shocking...

    However, through all the moaning and groaning I will not turn to the enemy and spend stupid money on the Murdoch empire....

    Anyone can give me more info on live streaming on a pc?

    Ta....

  • Comment number 85.

    REF 63

    Eddie...Crofty was great...so too was Brundle.

    The BBC had no foresight to bring Croft and Brundle together to forge a winning commentary partnership for TV and now they've gone for the Murdoch dollar.

    Sky have a great commentary team but it's a pity only a few hundred thousand heartless souls will witness it...

    Sometimes being boring and repeating what others have been bleating about is good....so, NO TO SKY....

  • Comment number 86.

    To those who say that people shouldn'y be complaining about the TV coverage deal. You have to realise just how disgraceful the deal actually is, the BBC were in a position of strength in that they could dictate terms of a deal. Instead of dealing with a free to air channel like C4 or C5 they chose Sky. Secondly they didn't even try to ensure that the races and qualifying that they couldn't show live could at lease be a full re-run of the race all be it at a later time. They refuse to give fans (who are license payers) a decent enough explanation about why the deal was done with sky. For the first time F1 is no longer fully live on any free to air broadcaster and it was down to the BBC and Bernie.

    Fans (including me) are angered about this deal and rightly so, and good on them for posting their opinions.

  • Comment number 87.

    @84 & 85 Carlonso

    I think it's a shame your high-minded morals don't allow you to watch one of your favourite sports live, in HD and Dolby Surround Sound. Your deep unhappiness is obviously not compensated by the few crumbs of comfort that may be derived from holding what you see as the high ground. A perfect example of a pyrrhic victory.

  • Comment number 88.

    @87 Excess

    Excess is right... follow the pied piper.

  • Comment number 89.

    So today is the first day that a lot of casual fans would have found out about the deal to show F1 exclusively live on Sky and leave the BBC with 50% of the dregs. I wonder if this has translated into a huge upsurge in disgruntled viewers beating a path to the e-petitions website to express their anger via our nations wonderful democratic process?

    Let's take a look-see... currently standing at 41,926 signatures.

    Hmmmm. I checked two days ago and it was only 41,829 then. So that's a difference of 97 people. Let's call that an average of 50 per day. So to achieve the required 100,000 number will take 1161.48 days (or a little over 3 years) at this rate. It's not going to happen is it?

  • Comment number 90.

    @71...

    Well in that case, I take it you really don't have anything better to do than to repeat yourself in blog after blog after blog. I give it a few races, before people like you who only talk about the TV deal will be completely ignored.

    I enjoyed watching the qualifying live this morning and i'll enjoy watching the whole race too, I tuned in briefly to watch the BBC coverage and turned off after about 5 mins, the difference between the sky coverage and the beeb's is like the gulf between Manchester United and a sunday league team.

    But enjoy the highlights 'krabs' best you're ever going to get for the next few years...

  • Comment number 91.

    Excess and Eight: Why are you here? Excess approves of nepotism and Eight's just gloating. You're like people who have private doctors but keep banging on about the NHS. Go to Sky and stay there - don't keep picking on Mark Thompson's sub-set.

  • Comment number 92.

    @77 & @ 88 Carlonso:

    Try one of these streams out.

    http://www.firstrowsports.eu/sport/motosport.html

    http://www.stream2watch.me/motor

    http://www.vipbox.tv/sports/formula-1.html

    http://www.hdfooty.com/ - (Channel 1)

    And of course http://www.rtl.de/formel1/livestream/index

    If you want a decent commentary, (far better than $ky’s), then listen to Radio 5 Live whilst watching one of the above.

    @86 Intrepid – Nice one

    For likeminded people there is a great F1 Group on Facebook at:

    www.facebook.com/groups/224225887622487

  • Comment number 93.

    REF 92.

    Nice one cheers... and two fingers at Sky subscription...

    @ExcessBaggage

    You have absolutely no idea what a pyrrhic victory is.
    You have no idea what Formula One is about.
    It is people like you that allow the rot and thieving of major sports from the majority to go private at the hands of megalomaniac media baron.

    This has to stop...not by signing petitions necessarily but the easiest thing that one can do which is not to subscribe.

    No league football, no boxing, no cricket, no Grandstand or any Saturday sports on terrestrial, instead replaced by cookery programmes for the fat and apathetic.

    And now half an F1 season live... it's another BBC swindle protecting their selfish interests at all costs at the expense the license payers, just like Match Of The Day.

    This has to stop....and I applaud all those who keep banging the drum on this blog about the selfish despicable deal the BBC made.

 

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