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My Bahrain Grand Prix predictions

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Jonathan Legard | 18:01 UK time, Friday, 24 April 2009

The second practice times for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix reveal just how tight the 2009 Formula 1 season is.

The 20 cars are covered by just one-and-a-half seconds - and the top 13 of those are covered by barely three quarters of a second. That's extraordinary, especially if you think that just four or five years ago you regularly saw six seconds covering the field.

It is all proof of what a phenomenal job the mechanics and engineers at every team have done in interpreting the new regulations for this season, which have made the competition as tight as possible.

It also means the task of predicting the top eight race finishers in Bahrain difficult. That said, here are my selections:

1. Jenson Button (Brawn Grand Prix)
2. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn Grand Prix)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
6. Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
7. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
8. Fernando Alonso (Renault)

I'll stick, as I have done throughout the season so far, with the Brawn GP duo as I still think they are the best in the field and I'm going for a one-two with this season's two-race winner Jenson Button leading home Rubens Barrichello as he did in the season-opener in Australia.

If the Chinese Grand Prix had been dry I think the Brawns would have been away. If the team had been more adventurous with their strategy in qualifying then I think that would have helped their cause too.

Nonetheless, there is no doubt the Brawns are on a roll and a dry race in Bahrain should work in their favour. Button has talked about the balance of the car feeling much better here than it did in China, and that is another encouraging sign for the Englishman.

Jenson Button in Bahrain

The Red Bulls may be kings of the road in the wet, as they proved with their one-two in China, but I predict they will still be in flying form in dry conditions this weekend.

There really is little choose between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber but after his victory in China I think Vettel has the edge. I predict the German will just out-perform Webber again in Bahrain and that is why I have him in third ahead of the Australian.

There is much more encouraging news from the McLaren camp and I think they are improving all the time. In Shanghai, Kovalainen finished fifth just ahead of his team-mate Hamilton but this time I am predicting the world champion to finish fifth with Kovalainen seventh.

McLaren don't have any updates to their car this weekend but they didn't get the chance to run in the dry in Shanghai and now the conditions are good I think they will show some form.

In China, I predicted Trulli would take his first points at the Shanghai track and that blew up in my face as he retired - but the Italian does have a decent record in Bahrain; he has scored points in four of the five races to be held here and finished second in 2005, so I think he will finish strongly on Sunday.

You will have also noticed by now that I never write off Alonso. Renault are not quite on the case yet and are still eight tenths of a second off the pace but I expect the double world champion to still be in with a shout of a point at least.

There has been some talk of sandstorms on Sunday in Bahrain and that will add something different to the race, to say the least. There are question marks about how abrasive sand being blown across the track will affect the tyres but, as we've seen so far this season, there's nothing like some drastic weather to turn racing on its head.

Once again we await Sunday's race with interest.


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  • 1. At 7:04pm on 24 Apr 2009, andythetoonfan wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 7:46pm on 24 Apr 2009, proud2Byellow wrote:

    doing well in china?? what race were u watching? he was progressively dropping down the grid and him going so slowly was more than likely the reason for the collision!

    button to win this weekend with vettel and glock joining him on the podium. also expect to see bmw back in the points after looking good in practice

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  • 3. At 7:53pm on 24 Apr 2009, I Am Deluded - Hughton Is A Geordie wrote:

    1. Webber
    2. Button
    3. Kubica
    4. Vettel
    5. Barrichello
    6. Heidfeld
    7. Hamilton
    8. Alonso

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  • 4. At 8:24pm on 24 Apr 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Interesting predictions. I agree with you that the Brawn's are still the car to beat, but the others are catching up fast.

    My predictions are:

    1. Button
    2. Webber
    3. Barrichello
    4. Vettel
    5. Trulli
    6. Hamilton
    7. Massa
    8. Glock

    I think (and hope) Ferrari get off the mark here in Bahrain.

    All the best for the weekend Jonathan.

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  • 5. At 8:28pm on 24 Apr 2009, mdgunner wrote:

    1. Glock
    2. Button
    3. Vettel
    4. Trulli
    5. Barrichello
    6. Hamilton
    7. Alonso
    8. Rosberg

    Fingers crossed for Kimi but can't see it happening! Fingers crossed for a huge sand storm to mix things up with 4 laps to go!

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  • 6. At 8:57pm on 24 Apr 2009, SACFC wrote:

    1. Button
    2. Webber
    3. Vettel
    4. Barrichello
    5. Trulli
    6. Hamilton
    7. Alonso
    8. Glock

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  • 7. At 9:55pm on 24 Apr 2009, andythetoonfan wrote:

    In Response to post 2 wasnt he in the top 6 or somewhere near the top of the grid or did i get totally mixed up with someone else?

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  • 8. At 10:12pm on 24 Apr 2009, Ryan86 wrote:

    Trulli did well in qualifying - 3rd fastest behind the Brawn's fuel corrected, however he was getting overtaken every other lap during the race and Kubica is said to have been caught out by how soon he braked for the final corner. However since it probably won't rain this weekend, he might be in luck and indeed in a "Pick 8" competition that I'm taking part in, I have Trulli down to win this weekend, due to both the competitiveness of the Toyota, plus what might have been gained in pre-season testing.

    That being said isn't great that we can go into a weekend with large numbers of drivers and teams possibly and probably competitive.

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  • 9. At 10:34pm on 24 Apr 2009, HammerheadGB wrote:

    My thoughts:
    1. Button
    2. Barrichello (pretty boring yes, but I think Brawn will have their edge back in dry conditions)
    3. Rosberg (Williams due some luck)
    4. Alonso (Renault have found something, I feel, and Alonso is the man to pull the best result out of the bag, much like Hamilton)
    5. Webber (will probably return to having scrappy races I'm afraid, he doesn't hold the tag of unluckiest man in F1 for nothing)
    6. Glock
    7. Massa (Ferrari, on the contrary, cannot suffer such bad fortune forever and Massa had been going well in both Australia and China before the mechanical failures scuppered point-scoring opportunities)
    8. Nakajima (will put together a decent race and get onto the scoreboard!)

    Red Bull's reliability is still not 100% and I think one of the cars will suffer this weekend because of it; Vettel to retire.

    Hamilton I feel has done very well to get into point-scoring finishes at the three races so far, but I don't think it'll carry on forever, bad luck will strike him too at some point, so I predict no score for him this weekend either.

    Raikkonen to remain anonymous - a real shame because pre-season I felt the new rules would really bring out the best in the Iceman.

    I really don't know about Trulli. He looked like a fish out of water last week in China, sliding backwards most of the time. I'm just starting to wonder if he's gone past his best now.

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  • 10. At 10:58pm on 24 Apr 2009, gregityke wrote:

    No brainer really
    1. Hamilton
    2. Button
    3. Vettel
    4. Barrichello
    5. Trulli
    6. Webber
    7. Raikkonen (scuse spelling)!!
    8. Glock
    Massa and Kovalinen to both crash out, Come on Lewis!!!

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  • 11. At 00:48am on 25 Apr 2009, Acetaline wrote:

    Fancy a tight one this weekend;

    1. Button
    (Brawn in the dry look good. With a slightly slower track than Shanghai the diffuser downforce is critical, think Button will have a few tenths in genuine race pace on the RBRs)
    2. Vettel
    (Still fancy the Red Bulls on any fast-ish circuit, which Bahrain is, maturing rapidly)
    3. Webber (Ditto above, could be either way around)
    4. Barrichello
    (Not convinced about Barrichello's cutting edge this season, car will carry him to 4th)
    5. Hamilton
    (Mclaren getting aero together, and if he decides to keep it on the tarmac this week might be at the head of the chase pack)
    6. Alonso
    (Still to see what the new aero will do in the dry, might do better than 6th or could be out of the points equally easily)
    7. Trulli
    (Toyotas have been unlucky with conditions and circumstance, in the dry they ran from the pit lane to 3rd in Melbourne)
    8. Glock
    (Ditto, interchangeable with Trulli)
    9. Kovalainen
    (Still needs some time between the wheel to get on terms with Hamilton, Shanghai will have helped confidence)
    10. Rosberg/Heidfeld etc.

    Sutil might get a crack at points, decent second practice with the new diffuser, good outside bet especially if the weather becomes inclement.

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  • 12. At 01:55am on 25 Apr 2009, Fureddi [CAFC] wrote:

    Hmm. I am not much of a fan of your commentary work, I'm afraid, but everyone has that opinion, and personally although DC makes a good pundit, I feel he's better suited to working along side Martin Brundle. However, I do respect you have some insight into the F1 curcuit, and certianly some knowledge.

    Personally, i think the Bahrain GP will shock a few of the early front runners, it's a notrious place to race, condition wise, much like Sepang and Shanghai before it.

    1. Button
    2. Vettel
    3. Sutil (I think he raced rather well in China, and like before he had a moment of severe bad luck in appalling conditions.)
    4. Trulli
    5. Hamilton
    6. Rosberg
    7. Nakajima
    8. Buemi, who has impressed me as much as Hamilton blew the record books away on his rookie season.

    Ferrari, Alonso, Koverlain won't be far behind, but I think Webber and Barchellio will scrap all race, and have an incident. I also thing the BMW's have actually taken a step backwards since their strong start in Melbourne.

    But, who knows, this season has been anything but predictable so far, let's hope it continues.

    And I end with a quote from your collage during the Malaysian race.

    "He's got more understeer then a Cross-Channel Ferry." Certainly tickled me as I come from Dover. :)

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  • 13. At 07:33am on 25 Apr 2009, Reeeesy6 wrote:

    After being at practise yesterday & going to the 3 days, i cant see ferrari picking up points here. Lewis looked fast in first practise but Jenson was soo smooth. The Red Bull's were quick. Watch out for Buemi..He lives here so might give him a bit of encouragement.
    So my predictions are.
    1: Button
    2: Hamilton
    3: Trulli
    4: Webber
    5: Glock
    6: Vettel
    7: Rosberg
    8: Buemi
    Raikkonen, Alonso & Heidfeld to retire

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  • 14. At 08:40am on 25 Apr 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    1. Barrichello
    2. Button
    3. Alonso
    4. Vettel
    5. Hamilton
    6. Webber
    7. Buemi
    8. Trulli

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  • 15. At 11:10am on 25 Apr 2009, Cotswoldrambler wrote:

    Perhaps you should try asking for 2 lists.
    One as a wishlist - however unlikely and as can be seen in some of these juvenile attempts at "prediction".
    Then another as an honest estimate of likelihood.

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  • 16. At 11:42am on 25 Apr 2009, George ODonnell wrote:

    My predictions are as follows:
    1. Jarno Trulli
    2. Jenson Button
    3. Fernando Alonso
    4. Timo Glock
    5. Sebastian Vettel
    6. Rubens Barichello
    7. Nico Rosberg
    8. Mark Webber

    Also a shout out to the Crowned Prince of Bahrain - he seems like such a friendly gentleman, maybe he deserves a drive in F1!

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  • 17. At 1:05pm on 25 Apr 2009, andythetoonfan wrote:

    well im glad Jarno got pole as its not very often i get predictions right and maybe i might finally get one right if Jarno can win

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  • 18. At 2:00pm on 25 Apr 2009, ForzaFernando wrote:

    Buoyed by my fairly accurate predictions from last weekend, I have no hesitation about going against the grain once more.

    1. Glock
    2. Vettel
    3. Trulli
    4. Button
    5. Barrichello
    6. Hamilton
    7. Alonso
    8. Massa

    I see that the Toyota is the fastest car this weekend (easy to say after quali) and I firmly believe that Glock is the better performer on Sundays.

    Vettel's superior ability to adapt as well as his composure and confidence will lead to him mugging Trulli when the duo use their soft tyres.

    Brawn will be strong, but I've not fancied them for the win all weekend. Button's smoother style will give him an advantage over Rubens as the drivers switch to the softs. He'll preserve his rubber just a couple of laps longer.

    Hamilton may not be too far from the Brawn's. The McLaren is improving and Hamilton has been driving beautifully. The suitability of the Sakhir circuit to the using of KERS will propel Hamilton a couple of places further ahead of where the car (in current spec) actually will be on most circuits.

    Alonso, always lingers and always extracts something. Never write him out of a point or two or three!

    Ferrari look a little better in Bahrain. Massa should have picked-up a good haul in China. He's getting his mojo back! But I still don't see the Ferrari quick enough to better 7th or 8th.

    I wouldn't rule out a stirring fight through the field by Webber. He'll be determined to prove his worth having been well and truly turned over by his young German team-mate! He may just edge 7th or 8th.

    Hope it is a good race! Who knows what will happen if the sand blows in?

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  • 19. At 2:08pm on 25 Apr 2009, rocketcar9 wrote:

    Was intresting to read your blog, but tbh you have nothing on james allen, i look forward to reading his on itv f1. Please could you stop talking fast and loud when qually ends or when somthing happens, i cant understand it,ITS NOT RADIO! I only havent switched to five live comentry because of martin brundle. I know i am not alone in saying this.

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  • 20. At 4:16pm on 25 Apr 2009, goldMarkL1 wrote:

    In response to #1, #12 and #19.

    Can we please stop these witch hunts against the BBC team. Jonathan is only on his fourth race and is still getting back into the groove following 5 years away from F1. He is vastly better now than what he was like in Australia. The partnership with Martin is also beginning to gel.

    Those calling for James Allen to be brought back have very short memories. Keep up the good work Jonathan.

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  • 21. At 5:03pm on 25 Apr 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Here here goldMarkL1. People should stop moaning for moaning sake.

    Keep positive Jonathan. Don't listen to the moaners. You're doing well.

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  • 22. At 5:44pm on 25 Apr 2009, AndygGreen wrote:

    Have to agree with post #1. "predictions" that are as boring as your commentary.
    #20 and #21 - sorry, disagree and i've written to the BBC three times to complain about Jonathan. Everyone is entitled to their opinion - just mine is always right ;)

    Dont forget that this is a race that Massa has won twice and alonso has won twice. Ferrari are definately off the radar so far this year and personally I don't think we can see Alonso pull off a third win here this year because of Toyota and Brawn. However I definatley don't think we'll see a Trulli win here, he was going backwards last race and is not on form. Vettel and Webber, i'm sorry to say only performed well last race due to the rain and the safety car start. Without that it would have been another story.

    If Hamilton can find some speed in the middle sector he could well be on for a win, as he's got very fast 1st sector times.

    1) Button
    2) Hamilton
    3) Alonso

    I also think both Ferrari's will retire early on..

    Here's hoping... I'll be listening to 5 live commentary tomorrow anyway...

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  • 23. At 5:58pm on 25 Apr 2009, LacunaKoan wrote:

    Some of you guys are unbelievable rude and insensitive towards Jonathan. I'd like to see you do better. It's a tough job (especially the first few chaotic races) and the whole team are improving race by race. And the chemistry between Jonathan and Martin Brundle is definately improving. It just takes a bit of time. Have some faith!

    For the record I think Button will win tomorrow and Hamilton will get on the podium. I dont think Trulli has the race pace to win it but I think one of the Toyotas will get on the podium as well. Unless we get a sandstorm of course...

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  • 24. At 6:54pm on 25 Apr 2009, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Nobody predicting Vettel to win?

    Surely the guy i sfront runeer for the championship.

    1. Vettel
    2. Button.
    3. Truilli
    4. Barichello
    5. Glock
    6. Hamilton
    7. Rosberg
    8. Massa

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  • 25. At 7:06pm on 25 Apr 2009, AndygGreen wrote:

    #23 - we're all entitled to an opinion and here is the place to report it. I see no improvement with the chemistry between Jonanthan and Martin.

    #24 - sorry, i can't see vettel being up there unless it's a wet race. The red bulls just don't see to have the speed in the dry.

    Hope i'm wrong, would be good to see Vettel win actually the world championship, but I don't think that will happen... yet ...

    Have to say that i can't see ferrari in 8 either i'm afraid, the cars are just not reliable enough and without KERS on a circuit that favours KERS, I can't see it happen. If Ferrari can get KERS reliability sorted then we could see a change in the leadership in the second half of the season.

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  • 26. At 8:22pm on 25 Apr 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    Legard, you are giving Brundle a run for his money. I'd say Button will make the podium.

    I'd say either:

    Glock's and Buttons race pace will win over and Vettel beating Trulli through pit stops. The bottom of the grid will remain relatively unchanged.


    Button's race pace and tyre conservation will win over with Vettel and Glock fighting and Trulli dropping back with again the bottom part of the grid unchanged.


    Vettel's pitstop winning over Button with the Toyota's dropping back and Barrichello moving through. Raikkonen wil drop back and the midfield changing or turning around. Piquet Jr. should do well as he finally shone here but was unlucky in Q2. commiserations to Webber and Congrats to Force India. (See, you don't just need R.Brawn to move you up in the early years)

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  • 27. At 9:05pm on 25 Apr 2009, joebobf1 wrote:

    the toyotas are gonna have to play a safety race because if something even slightly goes wrong vettel will go straight past and this happening could be likely as toyotas (especially Trulli) arent great on race day
    my predictions


    or maybe vettel could take it

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  • 28. At 9:13pm on 25 Apr 2009, hellfinuts wrote:

    I think you have a very difficult job, and I think you do it very well as there are no comfort(ads) breaks. I am a bit fed up with people complaining about trivialities! Good team. Great coverage. Intelligent forums. What else do people want? My forecast?(head not heart) 1 Glock, 2 Vettel, 3 Button, 4 Massa, 5 hamilton, 6 Rosberg,7 Rubens, 8 Trulli. Maybe if the ferraris hold together and Kimi can be bothered? Good luck to all. Heart: Lewis Jenson Mark. Such dreams are what F1 is all about for the fans.

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  • 29. At 10:09pm on 25 Apr 2009, ForzaFernando wrote:

    AndygGreen, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. As long as they agree with you?

    I'm not sure that you know all of the facts about Jonathan Legard and James Allen. I've posted some of them on a few of the BBC blogs, but you've obvioussly missed them.

    1)James Allen worked with Martin Brundle for a lot of years prior to arriving on the ITV scene. The two had a long standing professional relationship! It is unreasonable to expect Jonathan to have a similar rapport with Martin after 3 races.

    2)Jonathan had never done a live TV commentary on any sport prior to Melbourne. I know that DC had never been a pundit and that Jake had never worked in F1, but we are all different, we all take differing amounts of time to adjust to situations and learn in different ways. Anyone who knows about the human brain will be able to confirm this for you!

    3)Many F1 fans found Murray Walker's phrases to be endearing. Jonathan has made some mistakes but nowhere near the number that Murray would often make.

    In addition I have found Jonathan to be unbiased and fair. His predictions might have been a little poor, but that is why bookmakers exist. We all get predictions wrong! I bet his predictions are better than yours!

    I don't like to rant, but what on earth do some people want? We have an unbiased and enthusiastic rookie. Give him time, and appreciate the fact that he doesn't talk incessantly about Lewis Hamilton.

    Good Luck for the weekend Jonathan!!!

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  • 30. At 10:15pm on 25 Apr 2009, ForzaFernando wrote:

    Click on the link and then on "About James".

    This will confirm that James Allen and Martin Brundle had worked together for more than a few years. It's James Allen's own website!

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  • 31. At 10:20pm on 25 Apr 2009, aerof1 wrote:

    Hi Jonathan

    Great commentary if you ask me, not sure what all the fuss is over.

    My prediction:

    1. Button
    2. Vettel
    3. Trulli
    4. Hamilton
    5. Barrichello
    6. Alonso
    7. Kubica
    8. Hiedfeld

    Keep up the good work.

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  • 32. At 04:07am on 26 Apr 2009, Doug wrote:

    why FROM a FROM viewers FROM view FROM do FROM you FROM need FROM to FROM say FROM all the fromming time?
    please stop it, it's annoying and detracts "from" the action.
    you say Button "from" whoever and it sounds like Button is behind, or a time/distance FROM whoever.
    Button leads FOLLOWED BY etc please.

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  • 33. At 09:13am on 26 Apr 2009, FastBBBB wrote:

    It means he's behind Button from Vettel from Glock

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  • 34. At 10:47am on 26 Apr 2009, iricht wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 11:39am on 26 Apr 2009, pmjpmj wrote:

    It's great to see this finally accepting criticisms about Legard,
    Only just a few blog entries ago, any criticisms about Legard were 'referred' by the moderators.

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  • 36. At 2:52pm on 26 Apr 2009, rick1fm wrote:

    Bahrain - A fairly normal run of the mill, dry race - with only one retirement. Easy to run out of things to say apart from, the order, the times and the pitstops - we can all see that though!!

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  • 37. At 8:56pm on 26 Apr 2009, GFasulo wrote:

    Hi Jonathan,

    It would be nice if, now it's two weeks to the next race, you can have a blog say in a weeks time about how you think the season's progressing so far, and your comments on your commentary so far. It's all very well others voicing their opinion, but what you think is the most important opinion of all.

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  • 38. At 12:43pm on 30 Apr 2009, wagolynn wrote:

    My thought on the commentary:
    False hysteria stands out; it is not the commentator’s job to whip up hysteria F1 is not a religious gathering. Only the viewers waiting for a ‘good’ crash are likely to be taken in. MW did get steamed up but that was his genuine enthusiasm, even so his comments added to the picture by mentioning relevant stuff the viewer could not see. Sorry to use MW but it was the best example to hand.

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  • 39. At 10:26pm on 30 Apr 2009, Carlonso wrote:

    Why oh why are people witch-hunting J Legard?
    Because he's not as good as M Walker? Bla Bla Bla!
    No-one can ever or will ever be like Murray - the man's an INSTITUTION.
    Dicky Davis, Alan Whicker, David Attenborough,Brian Moore,John Motson... you won't ever see these gentlemen be replicated 'cos they're unique - end of.
    Legard will carve his niche in time - he has excellent back up in the likes of Martin Brundle and co.
    What we can criticize is the realization of how bloody awful ITV was. Jim Rosenthal and Steve Rider? This is F1 - not the Badmington Horse Trials.
    They are as useful to motor racing commentating as Anne Frank's drumkit.
    The living cure for insomnia that is Mark Blundell is no longer with us on the screen thank goodness....but James Allen? The man sounded like he was presenting Playschool, constantly on the verge of announcing which window the cars were coming out which one was it this week James ? The square, the round or the arched?
    Leave Legard alone.

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  • 40. At 7:03pm on 01 May 2009, goldMarkL1 wrote:

    I agree with #39. Compared to James Allen, Jonathan Legard is a breath of fresh air. Keep up the good work Jonathan.

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  • 41. At 7:28pm on 01 May 2009, rocketcar9 wrote:

    to #39, Steve Ridder was good, he flowed and that's what you need in an anchor someone who can hold it together, while jake... he's alright and nice to have a younger anchor, but he still stumbles and it doesn't flow that well. James Allen was far better than legard.. first his voice was bearable and you weren't cringing at the tv when the end of qually came because you knew he wasnt going to go mental when ever a car crosses the line (apart from button winning when everyone at home was probably just as excitied) or describe the pictures you were seeing on tv... its not radio!

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  • 42. At 11:01pm on 01 May 2009, Peter wrote:

    *sigh* just another day reading through the pathetic Legard witch-hunting. Do you lot think you lot be able to do a better job? Not even the slightest chance. Those who complain only speak up because of jealousy and their own inadequacies. Would you guys rather have B&Q adverts or some F1 on a Sunday afternoon?? Mmm...I think the latter.

    You're doing a top job Jonathan and it's a pleasure to spend a few hours watching the F1 in your company.

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  • 43. At 00:43am on 02 May 2009, Peter wrote:

    haha, I'm not alone!

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  • 44. At 9:17pm on 06 May 2009, hotslot wrote:

    Hi, I've not read all the comments but find that people are running down Jonathan Legard which I find astonishing!!!

    I thought the he & Martin worked extreamly well together and unlike ITV Martin got much more commentry in.

    My grip is the BBC F1 WEBSITE. It's just one complete MESS. Thank goodness ITV are still running their's.

    PLEASE, PRETTY PLEASE try and re-design the site so it's more USER FRIENDLY.

    One last comment (this'll get you going, if it's not been mentioned before. The CHAIN just does not 'fit' the new graphics (which are Grrrrreat) It was nice hearing the CHAIN back for the first race but it now seems dated and unsuitable for the wonderful graphics.

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