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Hungarian Grand Prix is too close to call

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Sarah Holt | 18:17 UK time, Friday, 29 July 2011

At the Hungaroring

Fresh from the thrills of Germany's rollercoaster race, Formula 1's main protagonists are all steeling themselves for another intense fight for victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Just over half a second split the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso's Ferrari and the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel during Friday practice at the Hungaroring.

Taking into account the fact that the rival teams all run different programmes during Friday's bedding-in sessions - and champions Red Bull rarely reveal their true pace - it was incredibly close.

Button, who was 0.3 seconds shy of team-mate Hamilton's leading time, predicted the race weekend ahead would definitely follow the same pattern.

"Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren are all looking very strong," said Button. "I wish we had a bit more of an advantage."

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Alonso, a serious driver not necessarily famed for his positive outlook, gleefully branded it "good news" that "more than one or two cars can fight for victory".

In contrast, Red Bull's championship leader Vettel, who has a healthy 77-point lead to protect, displayed rare signs of anxiety saying: "We need to raise our game if we want to be at the front."

Red Bull blitzed last year's Hungarian race, with Webber taking the victory as Vettel finished third after he was penalised for breaking the rules when driving behind the safety-car.

The pair were in more cautious mood on Friday but, intriguingly, both Vettel and Webber showed consistent pace during their longer stints in the afternoon, which suggests they are able to eke steady performance out of their tyres.

Alonso stayed out on track for a maximum 10-lap run but also steadily ticked over similar lap times. In comparison, 13-lap stints for both Hamilton and Button were blotted by fluctuating times, although the pace of Hamilton, in particular, was especially impressive if you removed the anomalous laps.

With the soft and super-soft Pirelli tyres available this weekend, all the leading drivers agreed tyre management would be a decisive factor on the circuit's low-grip surface.

The unusually grey skies above the Hungaroring could have a significant effect on tyre performance, especially when it comes to getting them up to optimum temperature during qualifying.

Chilly conditions at the Nurburgring helped Hamilton beat his rivals to the flag, and while it is nowhere near as cold in Hungary, it is also some way from the hot and sunny conditions that prevailed last year.

Hamilton conceded the cooler climate had helped him set the pace on Friday but even if the sunny skies return McLaren are confident they have now solved the problems with their tyre management in hot conditions that hampered them in Valencia.

Separating the leading drivers in Hungary could well come down to their mental attitude going into the race weekend.

Those close to Hamilton said he simply looked "on it" all weekend in Germany, leading some to tell him he would win the race even when the 2008 champion was pouring water on his chances after practice.

Hamilton looks to be in a similarly upbeat frame of mind in Hungary and has been looking relaxed in the company of his brother Nicolas, while Button has also been sporting his trademark smile after two difficult races.

Aside from the distractions of celebrating his 30th birthday with an impromptu appearance from F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, Alonso was adamant he could squeeze more out of his Ferrari.

But there is one man on a definite mission in Hungary as Vettel is zoned in on his first win in three races. He insisted: "Here we want to be on top again."

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle summed up the champion team's chances, saying: "The tide is turning against Red Bull. If they are going to arrest that this is the perfect place to do it - but the early signs are that they've got their hands full."


The fight for pole in Hungary was just as close as those involved in the battle predicted it would be, with just half a second separating the top five drivers.

After ending a three-race wait for a pole, it gave Vettel another chance to come out with his trademark line over the car radio: "Yes, yes, this is what I'm talking about."

But his hunt for a seventh win of the season at the Hungaroring might not be as straightforward.

Alonso, who starts in fifth, predicts Ferrari will be even more competitive than they were at the last race in Germany and he also backed his old rival and team-mate, McLaren's Hamilton, to have better race pace than Vettel's Red Bull.

Hamilton himself declared himself, "massively happy to be in the fight" even if he did just miss out on his first pole position in more than a year.

Webber, who started in sixth as a result of issues with his DRS overtaking device on his hot lap, described Red Bull's race pace as encouraging but stopped short of saying it was more than a match for the resurgence McLaren and Ferraris.

Red Bull know they are in for a tight battle on Sunday but they are confident they are up to the challenge.


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  • Comment number 1.

    i know it's only friday, but on a circuit that's known as 'redbull track', it doesn't seem redbull is much ahead if any at all, maybe they are hiding their true pace? but why? i'm sure they want to find out how competitive they are against the rest just as much as we do, unless they know that are a million miles ahead and they're super confident, i somehow doubt that...

    i for one hope come saturday and sunday, ferrari or mclaren can grab pole and win. redbull has been vulnerable for a few races now, should they fail to win this weekend again, the second half of the season should be a cracker

  • Comment number 2.

    Well, we better enjoy our viewing of F1 now coz next year you'll be paying for it twice. On a level playing field the cream will rise to the surface. Signs are the McLaren drivers are finding their footing now and the 2nd half of the season will be quite exciting.

    But why was these allowed to go on from the start? That little Bernie has alot to answer for, and as if that wasn't enough, he's now decided the BBC cannot show all the races next year, the greedy beggar !!

  • Comment number 3.

    "Well, we better enjoy our viewing of F1 now coz next year you'll be paying for it twice. "

    Nope - sadly this is my last season watching F1. I've always refused to give money to Murdoch by buying his papers or TV and I'd rather go without F1 than start now.

    Who wants to watch highlights when you already know the result?

  • Comment number 4.

    See you later then^

    Can't be massively interested in F1 if you're going to ditch it over this. 10 races will be shown on the BBC, for the other 10 you can watch them in a pub.

    I find it interesting how you think you'd be giving money to Murdoch. In return for your money, you get a product you know. A pretty decent one if you're interested in sports.

  • Comment number 5.

    @ No 3.

    I agree. i cannot afford to pay £500 for 10 races a year, at £50 per race. who wants to watch half a season of f1 ? the bbc is making this into a big victory for f1 and the fans. who cares if f1 stays on bbc or not.. if they cared about it so much they would have put up a stern fight. i dont care if the f1 stays on bbc or not if they dont show the whole season . and i agree.. whats the point of watching highlights when you already know the result of every single battle on the track .
    Only 10 more races to enjoy for me i guess.

  • Comment number 6.

    @no 4.

    exactly how many pubs do you know that are willing to show F1 on a sunday afternoon at 1 pm over football ?

  • Comment number 7.

    @5, technically it will be £649.50 to watch all the live practice, quali and race sessions. £504 for Sky HD (£381 basic sports pack + £123 for the HD upgrade + £145.50 licence fee). Yes, we will still have to stump up the £££ for the licence fee too, doh!!!, maybe we should all enact some 'essential cuts' to our budgets.

  • Comment number 8.

    In a day of silly decisions does any BBC blog really deserve sensible answers?

  • Comment number 9.

    Yes it is looking like it could me nip and tuck on Sunday, lets hope Button & Massa can assist in putting the Bulls back....

    Anyway......... like everyone else.......... not happy!

  • Comment number 10.

    Anyone remember that classic episode of The Simpsons when Marge ruined Itchy and Scratchy for all the kids who then left their tv screens to play outside accompanied by Beethoven's 6th symphony? Itchy and Scratchy lost it's viewers and reverted back to it's old self.

    Well that is what f1 will become next year.

  • Comment number 11.

    I like most others who have posted today do not care anymore about such reviews to what is most usually, an excellent section of the coverage of the race weekend (I want to convey my sincerest congratulations to you personally on a job well done since you started your F1 assignments! this is (usually) highly enlightening!!)

    BBC's coverage will now be tainted (not due to those working hard at each race, but by those desk-decision makers who I feel may not fully understand what sport can achieve!).

    I for one am sad to say that my heart has died today, I will no longer want to watch anything from a corporation who, irrelevant of cost cuts (just numbers really) has given up, I hope you will pass on a message especially to the F1 Management and F1 teams on behalf of all the true fans and to those who feel that money (just numbers again) are more important than other values.

    Goodbye F1 in Britain from the true fans!

  • Comment number 12.


    Apologies for my post script, but..

    Could you please ask Mr Horner, Mr Whitmarsh or Mr. E. how they would feel if either had purchased a can of a refreshment at full price only to find half of it missing or that half came in another form (i.e. gas) which they had to pay additionally for...

    Would they feel that they had got what they wanted?

    I am sorry for the metaphorical speak but I feel it would be best for all involved in the sport and those involved in the published decision to answer the real question!

    P.S. Would like another win for a non 2010 championship winning constructor, tightening the championship a little more for those who care to watch!

  • Comment number 13.

    One of the saddest things is that this executive decision has tainted and undermined all coverage by the BBC of F1 this year and last. I've been mulling it over, and i can't get away from the fact that no matter what way you look at it, fans are being screwed over.

    @No.4 whether you get a good product or not, there is a Concorde agreement GUARANTEEING coverage of f1 on free to air tv till 2014. This has been disregarded for a bit of cash. Also, the principle of Murdoch getting their way again really turns my stomach, they just can't leave something be.

    The most important stat for me is that over 10 million people watch formula one currently on bbc1, compared to 10.3 million people are subscribed to sky, NOT SKY SPORTS, just sky. From next year, viewing figures won't even get close to what they have been, and the coverage is bound to drop unless sky buy the bbc team, which in turn would another reason for people not to watch the bbc coverage.

    This whole situation is saddening, i feel the end of an era for f1.

    Out of interest, surely Sky contravene some Monopolies Commission Rules, or is there no conflict of interest, with Murdoch owning sky, fox, and newspapers in both UK and US. They essentially now sell news of what they are broadcasting?

  • Comment number 14.

    Ok, first of all I had to make a profile to comment this as I've never commented before, which shows my dissatisfaction with the BBC and SKY over this new TV deal.

    As my name suggests, I'm from Australia and let me tell you: The BBC's coverage as well as ITV in the past has been an absolute blessing for me here as it has remained on free-to-air tv. Like many people above me, I will not nor cannot afford to pay for pay-tv to watch half a season of f1. Many of you will question my dedication to the sport. I'm 19 now, Been watching f1 since I was 8.

    I watch every single race albeit delayed sometimes here in Australia due to our own football games on the tv but sadly should this deal go through for next season, I'm deeply concerned that I'll never see another f1 race again for many years. F1 barely makes it onto tv here in Australia anyway, moving onto sky (which we dont even get here) will make it impossible for me to watch it live I'm afraid.

    Like many others, the BBC's coverage is great, but being in Australia, your radio services, highlights and livestreaming is "Not available in your area" or is "Available to UK users only".

    This makes me very sad as of recent years I've watched many great grand prix and it will be a shame to see the sport I'm so addicted to dissapear off of my TV.

  • Comment number 15.


    Agree with you totally.
    Plus there's another point. Sky are not showing adverts during the race. So, as I saw on BBC 6.00 oclock news, there's some question as to how exactly they're going to pay for F1.

    I wont watch F1 any more. I cant. I cant have a dish. The practise sessions, qualy, the race... all gone. As for highlights & the occasional race on the beeb? Please tell me you're joking. That's an insult to my intelligence.

  • Comment number 16.

    This is clearly going to be a closely contested race, but perhaps we are going to see a McLaren on pole rather than a Red Bull. All the top teams have good race pace, but tyre management will be key. I hope this is how things will continue in the second half of the championship leading up to a close and exciting finale.

    Upon reflection I think Bernie may have pulled off a positive deal for F1 as in the current financial climate I don't think the BBC could continue to afford F1 on its own. While I'm glad the BBC will continue to show all the races throughout the season perhaps the fact that half of them will not be live is perhaps the best compromise that could be reached. I would not be in favour a SKY only deal and definately would not subscribe to that. Overall then perhaps this will result in wider coverage globally for F1 which will keep the sponsors happy.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yawn, seriously you lot, stop your whining. Oh I will have to pay a tv licence (which you already do), i don't want to pay Rupert Murdoch, seriously give it a rest.

    Sky has been the greatest addition to the armchair sports fan since the television. Their coverage of sport is unrivalled and all the moaning reminds me of the BBC faithfuls getting the hump because it moved to ITV. They didn't even give it a chance.

    For those that won't watch highlights, you were probably the same ones who moaned when Match of the Day moved to ITV. I have an idea for the highlight moaners, go to the pub to watch live or listen to it on BBC or... how about just not finding out the result before you watch the highlights.

    Sky sports, healthy addition to F1 as the BBC continue to cut costs on sports coverage. TV licence for the BBC is the real crime

  • Comment number 18.

    Why has Bernie told Martin Whitmarsh that all races will be shown on the BBC in full, (with half of them deferred), yet the BBC is telling us that half of them will only be shown in highlights?

    Does the BBC not know what it has signed up for, or is Bernie lying to Team bosses to try and keep a lid on this shambles?

    In case statisticbloke @#17 hadn't noticed, the race had ceased to be the story this weekend, (more is the pity).

  • Comment number 19.

    @statisticity ok dont quiet agree with greatest addition.... a remote would probably take that honor...

    no pub will show the F1 its too long winded. you have landlords moaning about the one pint a match people now imagine what they will be like for two and a half hours in the pub...

    the other point is that sky's coverage is drab dull materialistic rubbish. with football they are constantly talking about money and that will be even worse in F1.

    this is the best deal for the BBC i get that but if the BBC has a duty to educate as well as entertain surely this represents value for money? what else gets you 4 million viewers every sunday? songs of praise?

    with shows like strictly getting 8 million for the final and averaging a million or two for the rest of the series is that value for money ?

    Wimbledon topped out at 5 million viewers. is that value for money when nothing else is actually shown on the bbc for two weeks while its on ?

  • Comment number 20.

    @6, Leave Fernando Alone.

    There'll be very few clashes actually, because the European F1 season (which is the only time the race starts at 1 except Abu Dhabi and Singapore) has little overlap with the football season. And in the European Championship next year the games will either kick off at around 3pm or at around 7pm - the time difference might mix things up though. But with the mid-season break and only 10 of the races being on Sky and the fact that the pubs would probably go for a Grand Prix over say, Switzerland v Denmark - or at least only switch to that match once the race is over.

    The problem won't be clashing with football, it'll be that the pubs won't be open in time to show the races of China, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Korea because they start so early in the morning.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ no4 - Which pub in England shows live Formula 1 in a pub on a Sunday ??? Get real.

    The BBC is not worth the licence fee at all. The few sports that remain I have no interest in whatsoever. I'm not a golf fan, I hate horse racing, I hate rugby, cricket bores me. I like tennis, Moto GP, football and Formula 1 enough to watch them religiously on TV. I don't like these dull boring middle class drama that the BBC claim to be "so good at producing" and any TV shows that I might have a slight interest in watching the BBC show at unsociable hours !!

    I have Sky TV because terrestial TV is so shocking, I don't watch reality TV programs either. I have a basic subscription to Sky and I am not about to increase that by £20 per month to include the sports channels.

    Without Formula 1's full coverage the BBC do not deserve my licence fee at all !

  • Comment number 22.

    Firstly the BBC as a public service broadcaster should not have to pay for rights to F1, England test Cricket, Home Nations Rugby internationals, Home Nations international Football, Wimbledon, The Olympic games, The Grand National, The Derby. The fact that have to is appalling.

    The Murdochs lobbied for cuts in BBC funding in order to then be able to buy up the best bits of the BBC e.g. F1. The government agreed as they got support from the Murdoch press during the election.

    Lots of us will not pay for a Murdoch owned product because of their interference in British politics. It has nothing to do with not being F1 fans, it has a lot to do with principles.

    It is time as F1 fans we did our own lobbying to stop this from happening. If we act now then we can stop it as it is in breach of the Concorde agreement.

    1. Write to the BBC to inform them that you will sell your TV and stop paying for a licence if this deal goes ahead.

    2. Tweet @jakehumphreyf1 , Tweet @MBrundleF1 and ask them to support the British F1 fans who have helped them get to where they are today by walking out live on TV on Sunday 20 minutes before the race starts. The BBC F1 team has done a brilliant job and they don't deserve this deal which was done behind everyones backs. Keep tweeting those accounts whilst the team are live on air so that it is the only message that they are able to read.

    3. Write to the team principles of each of the F1 teams telling them that you will not support their team if F1 races are not broadcast live and in full on free to air television. Also inform them the you will write to their sponsors to tell them that you will not buy their products whilst they sponsor an F1 team whilst Sky has TV rights to the sport.

    4. Write to the sponsors to tell them that you will not buy their products whilst they sponsor an F1 team whilst Sky has TV rights to the sport.

    5. Write the the engine manufacturers and tell them that you will not buy a car powered by their engines whilst Sky has TV rights to F1

    6. Contact the drivers via any means you can find e.g. twitter, their web blogs, by letter to tell them that you will not watch F1 and therefore will not support them whilst Sky has the rights to F1

    7. Write to Bernie Ecclestone to tell him that you will not watch any of the races, even the ones on the BBC if this deal goes ahead.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well, all BBC commentators trying to pretend that nothing is wrong. Why are the fan's comments being ignored so blatantly.

    Someone needs to come online/tv and explain to us full how this outrageous decision on the future of F1 was allowed to happen without any input from fans beforehand.

    What is the sport without the fans??

  • Comment number 24.

    RIP Televised Formula 1. Sky killed off televised boxing by trying to make people pay to watch it and has already tried to have its own Formula one channel which failed miserably because no one wanted to pay a subscription to watch it. You will now see a decline in the viewing figures as no one wants to pay twice to watch Fomula 1. Anyone that does will not watch it on BBC. I would have preffered ITV to have it back.

  • Comment number 25.


    Thanks for all your comments so far. A lot of you have chosen to use this blog to express your views on the subject of the new UK rights deal for Formula 1. This blog isn't intended to be the forum for that but if you'd like to comment on that there's already have a blog about that subject, written by our head of F1, and you can find it here:

    We would be really grateful if you could keep your comments on the subject of the BBC/Sky deal to that, and I'd like to know what you think what will happen this weekend on track here.

    Thank you

  • Comment number 26.

    What's going on with Bernie saying on an interview on the BBC website that at the moment the deal involved the BBC showing full race re-run at a scheduled slot after Sky has broadcast live and then commenting that he was "trying to sort this out" in terms of only allowing the BBC (or only restricting) the BBC to race highlights.

    I think most fans would accept a full race re-run at a primetime 6:00 slot or even on BBC Three (may as well put something decent on that channel) rather than just race highlights.

  • Comment number 27.

    Sad to say selling F1 to Murdoch was inevitable. UK democracy was sold to that corporation back in the 80's (thanks Mrs T) and government policy since has first to be approved with 'backdoor' Murdoch's blessings. Only corporate power has any sway in anything that happens in the UK today - the NHS has just been sold for goodness sake, what chance free to air F1!

    The Beeb to their credit has been a standout against corptocracy no wonder then that it was among the first target for cuts. Needless to say I don't and will never own anything produced by Mr Murdoch and despair for the slow death of the BBC and with it even more of our democracy.

    Back to the race, hoping for a thrilling second half of the season with 3 top teams in wheel to wheel racing.

  • Comment number 28.

    Heya Sarah, thanks for your response linking to the other blog. Was trying to find it so I could post my opinion; is there a reason all the links to it from the BBC Formula 1 website have vanished?

    It was previously linked on both the Sports home page and the Formula 1 home page. Did the 4000 negative comments influence the decision to hide it in any way?

  • Comment number 29.

    I love the way Sarah's comment about not using this to talk about the (awful, but sadly probably necessary because of the cuts) Sky deal has been roundly ignored. Anyway, great column Sarah, definately one of your better ones.
    It looks like Ferrari have been able to sort out their problems with getting temperature into their tyres, and I honestly think Alonso is one of the likeliest drivers to bring the challenge to Vettel as the season goes on. And someone definately will mount a challenge - Red Bull's car has nowhere near the level of advantage it had at the start of the season. While Vettel is a great qualifying driver, as we saw in Germany he's a rubbish overtaker and prone to mistakes when he's not leading out in front

  • Comment number 30.

    Also, to follow on from Sarah's point, anyone who wants to share their opinion on this would be best served going to the official BBC complaints page rather than posting here. The BBC actually have a fairly well monitored complaints process, whereas words here aren't really followed at all.

  • Comment number 31.

    As the BBC has "courageously" decided to close the blog on why they have decided to sell out to Rupert Murdoch I have decided to post my comments here. Couldn't take the heat eh?

    Poor decision, I'll be cancelling my TV licence from the end of November as I don't watch much other than F1 anyway.

  • Comment number 32.

    Please put the Ben gallop blog on the f1 homepage. This is the reason this blog is being used by disgruntled F1 fans.

  • Comment number 33.

    At 23:10 29th Jul 2011, Leave Fernando Alone wrote:

    @no 4.

    exactly how many pubs do you know that are willing to show F1 on a sunday afternoon at 1 pm over football ?


    They're being shown on Sky, who also show the football. Firstly, the majority of the early morning (before the pubs open admittedly) and evening races will be on Sky - so no clash, and when they do show a 1/2 pm one, they'll make sure it won't clash with football, by not selecting a 1.30 fixture that day and having more on Saturday and Monday. Sky will be prioritising F1 to go alongside Football, not to clash with it.

  • Comment number 34.

    Sarah I will continue to use your blogs and all other F1 blogs to voice my opposition to the deal with SKY until the decision is reversed.

    I would expect other F1 fans to do the same and I expect you to back the F1 fans who have supported you by refusing to do any F1 related work for the BBC until this deal is reversed.

  • Comment number 35.

    @25 Sarah Holt

    Sorry Sarah, interesting blog and all but you've been shot in the back by the poorly run excuse for a public company you work for and therefore there will not be many post about your article today.

    On that point, I feel that RB have been sandbagging a little this weekend and we should see Vettel back at the front again come Sunday.

  • Comment number 36.

    Where's the other blog from the editor concerning the new terrible television deal? That's far more important and should be on the front page.

  • Comment number 37.

    @33 Gavelaa

    "Sky will be prioritising F1 to go alongside Football, not to clash with it"

    Do you really beleive that? Sky makes way too much money out of football to let some insignificant car races interfere with it.

  • Comment number 38.

    The BBC have not made this move to make people all spend money. Its the only way they could stop it all being on sky and if they had shelled out for the entire season then i expect most of you would be complaining about all the other aspects of the website/coverage's which are lost as the budget isnt infinite.

    Also why is it imperative for HD coverage???? Aren't you watching the sporting action/drama/excitment not the scenery and *artistic/annoying camera shots they now put in?

    (i dont have sky but do have HD)

  • Comment number 39.

    Where's the almost 4,000 comments on the "New Deal for F1" story gone? Don't the BBC like the fact that THOUSANDS of people have commented unfavourably?

  • Comment number 40.

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

  • Comment number 41.

    after years of adverts every 7 minutes when itv had the f1 rights , when bbc took over a big cheer rang out , now sky will ruin it all again for those that can afford to watch on sky sports. the bbc have managed to turn this into an elitist viewers sport and taken it away from those on a limited income/pension. as a participant and viewer for more years than i care to remember , i am now reduced to watching the crumbs that sky dont want . thanks bbc .

  • Comment number 42.

    Well do you all know if you got broadband you can all get live streaming of any sport you like even will get F1 for free lol

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Sarah,
    Love your blogs, love the coverage, obviously we need to keep some kind of pressure on to see if it's at all possible to save the great work you've all done from the bumbling fools at the top, it is also unbelievable that they've taken the "editors" blog down, so I also feel compelled to add the complaints form, just in case.....

  • Comment number 44.

    Outraged that BBC will only be doing 10 races next season, Massive F1 fan and BBC have done a great job playing a massive part in getting people watchin F1, 145 pound for a standard tv license is enough for 1 year no way im paying 50 pound a month for SKY. I think it will result in Formula 1 losing viewers. 600 pound ish for sky for a year is the equivilant of a PLATINUM 3 day ticket for silverstone GP !!!!

  • Comment number 45.

    @38 Mard

    30 million saving over the course of the season is not an infinite amount of money, especially compared to the 100 million plus the BS broadcasting corporation wastes on channels that only run for less half the day and show only repeats of things nobody wanted to watch in the first place.

  • Comment number 46.

    LET's be honest the race isn't the story any more. That's a great shame but the BBC have only themselves to blame.

  • Comment number 47.

    Hi all

    I am the editor of the F1 blogs, as well as the wider BBC online F1 coverage, as some of you may know.

    I have come on here firstly to thank you for your comments, but also to ask you to please keep them on topic.

    We know that the new UK TV rights deal has aroused strong emotions, and we completely understand why. That is why our head of F1 Ben Gallop wrote a blog on Friday to explain why in the BBC’s view the new arrangements had to happen. It will be open throughout the weekend for your comments – of which there are already nearly 5,000 – and you will find it here:

    Sarah’s blog here is not about this subject, and nor will be any others that are published this weekend. So we would ask you to ensure your comments on these other blogs are relevant to the subject matter.

    We do have house rules on our blogs. You will find them here: One of them says that we reserve the right to fail comments that are off topic, and we would respectfully ask you to bear that in mind.

    We hope you enjoy the coverage for the rest of the weekend.

    Thanks very much,


  • Comment number 48.

    i shall continue to go off topic until the bbc do something about your coverage for next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    @47 Andrew Benson

    Sorry Andrew but as above when Sarah tried to pull this blog back onto subject. Until the BBC starts to consider its subscribers feelings then I beleive all F1 blogs will be off topic. Yes I did mean to use the word subscribers as that is what the TV licence effectively is. I for one agree wiht bestchelseasteven that until the BBC reverses this terrible decision I shall continue to hijack not only this but any other blogs I happen upon.

  • Comment number 50.

    47.At 13:16 30th Jul 2011, Andrew Benson wrote:
    Hi all

    I am the editor of the F1 blogs, as well as the wider BBC online F1 coverage, as some of you may know.

    I have come on here firstly to thank you for your comments, but also to ask you to please keep them on topic.

    We know that the new UK TV rights deal has aroused strong emotions, and we completely understand why. That is why our head of F1 Ben Gallop wrote a blog on Friday to explain why in the BBC’s view the new arrangements had to happen. It will be open throughout the weekend for your comments – of which there are already nearly 5,000 – and you will find it here:

    I can understand completely why you do not wish this blog to be hijacked. I do have some questions though:

    Why does it only state that it will be open just for the weekend? Are we not able to express our unhappiness on that blog after then???

    Also why has it gone from the main site?

    An interesting blog though Sarah, it is a shame that the race is on the back burner in everyones view, although completely understandable

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    Andrew Benson, I think many of the comments will be off topic but can you really blame the fans?
    The original blog post link was removed from the main page, almost trying to hide it.
    The BBC is completely ignoring this thousands of fans on this issue.

  • Comment number 53.

    never realy got into the actual qualifying because the new tv deals just made it sour

  • Comment number 54.

    I love how in the qualifying show the BBC constantly made small digs at the recent Sky deal. The outro music: 'it's never over until it's over'. Brundle saying he'll be 'at the job centre behind the drivers'. Saying the word BBC very prominently. I like it. A lot.

    Qualifying was excellent. Pleased Jenson has finally got a qualifying sorted. Should be an excellent race.

  • Comment number 55.

    So much for freedom of speach......
    Not one mention of the largest story of the year in BBC f1 coverage for pole postion
    After at least 3500 hits before the plug was pulled
    shame on all of you

  • Comment number 56.


    I appreciate your position, but at the end of the day we are paying customers, and we are (all, it seems) absolutely livid at this decision.

    You are just going to have to put up with off topic posts until we get a reasonable response to our concerns. Ben Gallop's blog basically tells us to get over it and enjoy this year instead - do you really think that's the kind of tone we need to hear?

    According to Bernie in his interview with David Croft, the BBC can show the full race (of any not shown live), some hours after the event. Why then are we being told that there will be a highlights package instead? So that you can fit it into an hour-long slot? Not good enough.

    Thanks for nothing,


  • Comment number 57.

    Keep in mind that the BBCF1 team were probably instructed to keep the discussion away from the obvious weekend's news.

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    Anyway, back on topic, thrilling set up for tomorrow. Top 3 teams all very close. I hope the others keep some serious pressure on Vettel, who WILL try and bomb it tomorrow off the start. If he falls back though, he'll find life difficult.

  • Comment number 61.

    @60 Lord_Lancashire

    Not sure if you've noticed, but nobody cares about this weekend's race. In fact I may not even watch it (for the first time since 1986) as I am so annoyed about how the BBC is wasting my licence fee.

  • Comment number 62.

    @61 FatFreddysCat

    The only point on my my mind this weekend and the rest of the season is the fact that i will have to pay £500 a year to enjoy the sport i love so much. i think everyone is in the same boat as me. so... ya not many poeple care about the racing this weekend.


  • Comment number 63.

    Andrew, who at the top of the BBC chain was negotiating with Bernie? You, Ben someone else? Can you let us know if this was an f1 man or some corporate lackey? It'd be nice to know who sold out, my initial impression is that it was someone who knew nothing about the sport and just saw the numbers when sitting down with Bernie

  • Comment number 64.

    Well Andrew seen as you and the bbc have hidden Ben's article, its nowhere to be seen on the f1 page, i will comment on the awful deal you've agreed too. And also the last time i looked this was an f1 blog, so talking about the f1 tv deal isn't particularly off topic now is it??
    on the matter of the 'deal', what a load of rubbish. Ok so i understand the bbc needs to save money but you don't just effectively cut a programme whose viewing figures are at a 10 year high and still rising, and which recently won a bafta. Why not cut some of the reality drivel that swamps the extra channels such as bbc3? no, that would just be too sensible.
    So thanks very much bbc!

  • Comment number 65.

    I think the easiest way for people to keep their comments relevant to this specific topic is to put the link for the bbc/sky deal on the homepage of bbc sport as it is clearly the most talked about/commented article at the moment. Failing that, on the homepage of bbc sport f1.

    What do you expect when now it is almost impossible to find the blog where we can post our feelings? It seems to confirm that the BBC don't really pay attention to our feelings as now we can't post them.

    Also, you yourself realize the BBC has angered people on an unprecedented scale and people want the BBC to hear their opinions, and their response is to remove the blog. That will just anger people even more.

    However, the main, admittedly off topic, point i want to make is that the license fee, in my opinion, can no longer be justified as compulsory. It is clear that we, the viewers, have limited, if not no input on which programmes are broadcast. On a Sunday, f1 had an overwhelming majority in the audience tv market share, something like 47% of all those on a Sunday watched your brilliant show. This is a clear message, that the viewers enjoy this show and want to watch this, however, to no avail. NO doubt, re-runs of of Cash in the Attic or Bargain Hunt or something will replace it.

    But i do seriously ask, as we seemingly have no input on what is broadcast, why do we have to pay the license fee?

  • Comment number 66.

    Great blog Sarah, and the BBC has really upped the ante in terms of presentation and delivering a fantastic race weekend experience to the fans. Sincere congratulations.

    However, Andrew Benson is missing the point in his attempt to quieten the dissent (which is pretty mean-spirited; please remember who pays your wages). This deal feels like suddenly finding yourself locked out of a club you've belonged to your entire life. Like many fans I am an ardent viewer of practices, qualifying and the races themselves, and like many fans log on daily to keep abreast of the ins and outs of the gossip, the technology and the broader narrative of the sport we love. It's this narrative we're being robbed of, along with the exciting, visceral thrill of watching the races live. Without the flow of information, the full, LIVE races themselves and the comments of the presenters and team at the track then this narrative becomes disjointed and unengaging.

    Highlights are not exciting whatever the BBC says, and they won't let us engage with the narrative the way the excellent coverage does at the moment. The sport will become less attractive because what's the point of watching half of the story? Like many, we can't afford to pay a lot of money to remain fans of the sport I've spent my life following. I could get a season ticket at a football ground for the cost of viewing F1 next year in full, and as the BBC has to save money, what do you think the rest of us are doing.

    So Andrew, this issue is now part of the narrative of the sport, just as much as Sarah's blog. I'm sure you, Ben and Sarah won't be missing any live races, so spare a thought for those of us that will be. Because sport matters, especially in these difficult times of hardship and so much bad news from the world we live in. Sport reminds us of those higher goals and achievements that we all, as fans, hold dear.

    Look on the bright side, soon us poor passionate fans, us F1-loving proles will be out of your hair and even though our lives will be that bit duller and we'll be less inspired, I'm sure all those moneyed types with the disposable income will be far better company; heck, they might even get into the sport in the end with any luck! And at least Bernie's happy - that's what matters.

  • Comment number 67.

    staying "on subject" I found the quallifying a lot less exciting than I should have because I wont be seeing it next year. And to agree that it is hard not to comment here, when the relevant blog has gone awol.

  • Comment number 68.


    If you wish us to confine our comments to the correct blog why are you doing your cowardly best to hide that blog from the public's eye?

  • Comment number 69.

    just to commend 66 about sport being something we look to in these desperate times,rather than endless junk . And I wont support sky, even by finding a pub I can sit in with my family on saturday & Sunday without buying.

  • Comment number 70.

    Good qualifying today, great blog as usual sarah.

    Pitty the most important story regarding the future of F1 for British viewers was not mentioned once in the coverage. I have aired my views on the 'buried and hard to find' Ben Gallop blog. Emailed FOTA as well as they are surely the only hope now.

  • Comment number 71.

    If all the people complain in the same place it makes it much easier to ignore them doesn't it?

    What happened in quali today is totally spolied by BBC selling out. It's that simple.

  • Comment number 72.

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

  • Comment number 73.

    Absolutely delighted that Vettel got pole in what is THE THIRD FASTEST CAR ON THE GRID. Despite all the rubbish the "world class" bbc f1 team are talking and the "knowledgeable" British fans like to believe. Webber same car with no errors 8 tenths back slower than Massa, and instead of slagging him off like just about everyone else EJ is praising the beeb's darling for his "honesty". Great coverage, thank god it's moving to Sky and let's hope these clowns stay behind. And best of all, Vettel doesn't need to win tomorrow and probably won't why should he in an inferior car, just needs to be up there.

    And Lewis on the fastest car by a good few tenths all weekend fails to deliver with a typically poor last lap. Vettel's laps are clean and precise and a delight to watch, Lewis's usually scruffy and a mess, but don't we just love him for it eh -not? Button of all people (whose seat would normally be under serious question ie. dead man walking) nearly matching Lewis says it all about the latter's performance, and the expectant analysts have all gone hush hush.

    This season the Red Bull hasn't been the fastest car on a Sunday SINCE BARCELONA 6 out of 10 races, exactly what you would expect with the respective budgets of the teams, even in their favourite track they haven't got an advantage, and yet Lewis is 80-odd points behind Vettel largely because of the points lost in Monaco Canada and Silverstone qualy, all 3 of which he and the car should have won.

    To sum it up Lewis is a poor man's Vettel.

  • Comment number 74.

    I realy enjoy watching F1 on the Beeb, I stopped watching on ITV after a while as the coverage disapointed (adverts etc), and used to have a Sky subscription when they last had the rights, but thankfully they cocked it up and couldn't get the viewing figures they needed.

    I have since cancelled my Sky subscription completely as the cost was getting outrageous for the programmes I watch, I will not take out a subscription to them again, even if I win the lottery as recent events show them to be a very manipulative organisation run by megolamaniacs who care not one jot for the laws of the land.

    I therefore will not be able to watch the full race season, and as there is absolutely no point watching highlights when the result is already known, It follows that I shall not watch any of the coverage from next season, hopefully this means reduced income for all involved in F1 as well as lost money for Mr Murdoch.

    I am sure if enough viewers decide not to watch, the sponsors will have a greater say and perhaps a more sensible viewing contract will be arranged.

    Off topic I know, and qually was good today, but it is my BBC after all.


  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

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

  • Comment number 77.

    Again Vettel on pole.
    Beware viewers. Six Nations, Grand National, Olympics, The Open, Boat Race, Derby will be under threat. Or it will go to Sky

  • Comment number 78.

    Guys keep moaning I absolutely adore it.

    At the end of the day this is your knowledge & intelligence, this is the coverage you deserve ie. nothing.

    It's the same with the NI thing, I mean all of you are moaning about them but they are exactly what the nation deserves as it's you the vast majority of the British public who are buying their trashy papers that fit your intellect in your corner shop every morning.

    I mean look at Autosport most "serious" shall we say UK motorsport publication (which btw the bbc f1 team are very discreetly ADVERTISING in the sessions, Mark Hughes head of production & Andrew Benson who are they working for I wonder?) and its latest cover is "LEWIS THE PASSMASTER SHOWS THEM HOW IT'S DONE". It's just NOTW motorsport edition.

    So good riddance. With the billions of "illegal" license fees I -I meaning every other channel- could comfortably put together that level of production -putting clowns sorry actors riding around on a bike jet-skiing & selling icecreams, but around the world those stealing your signal are laughing their heads off with your panel and their so-called "expert" analysis.

  • Comment number 79.

    Contrary to what some believe, the McLaren's have been the faster cars for much of this season. They've simply failed to capitalize on their superior performance thus far.

  • Comment number 80.

    Let me just point out that BBC TV is not free. You pay for it via your TV license whether you want to or not.

  • Comment number 81.

    We will complain about this TV deal where we want to thank you very much. As much as your trying to brush our complaints under the carpet you can not silent us all.

  • Comment number 82.

    Nice U-turn, Andrew didn't like the fact we were posting on other blogs so put the link back onto the F1 homepage. Not going to work though as I'll keep posting where I like.

    @nibs, not sure what your points are and just like to point out I have never nor would I ever buy any of the trash that NI produces.

  • Comment number 83.

    What is all the fuss? I think it is over blown. We get 10 races live. The ones we won't will be shown very soon after, probably to be shown at 9am rather than 3am when we are all asleep anyway. A little discipline in avoiding the result, and hey presto, you will not know the difference, especially if the highlights are full and unedited.

    Basically, if people buy a subscription, good luck to them. If not, then so what, you can still see it.

    The nonsense that it cost the license fee to watch is nonsense. The cost covers the WHOLE of the BBC, not just F1. The talk of switching off, the end of an era, etc etc is typical British moaning. Essentially, the Brits want something for nothing. If their children behaved like this, they would be sending them to the time out room until Mr Grumpy leaves the building. Wa wa wa.

    There is a great race tomorrow. Vettel gets taken out by LH. Button wins, Alonso 2nd, Webber 3rd.

  • Comment number 84.

    It took a perfect lap for Vettel to take pole ahead of the faster McLaren's. Unless he can rack up 70 perfect laps tomorrow, he won't win. On the other hand, a third place finish and 15 more points moves him that much closer to the championship.

  • Comment number 85.

    Got to say Andrew, seeing as there is an element that will protest, then that email was a red rag to a bull.

  • Comment number 86.

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

  • Comment number 87.

    Twirlip - Absolutely. All the effort for the win, just to see the lead come down by a few points. It is pretty much as important to stop Seb scoring as it is going for the win. This could be like JB's winning year. When you have such a lead, the strategy to take the car home during a 20 race season is indeed much different, and less spectacular.

  • Comment number 88.

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

  • Comment number 89.

    In the first three races of the season a McLaren finished 2nd, 2nd, and 1st. So there's been pace there right from the start. The problem has been lack of consistency by the individual McL drivers. Hamilton has two wins and two second places - but he also has a DNF, a sixth, and and an eighth place finish.

    By contrast Vettel has usually finished first or second, and Webber third or fourth. Webber has almost the same points total as Hamilton, though he's amassed them by consistently finished third or fourth. Hamilton has been more "boom or bust", he either does quite well in each race or rather badly.

  • Comment number 90.

    Because some people might still have morals in this country and feel it not necessary to line News International (38% shareholders) of BSKYB. Just because I like cheap quality goods, doesn't mean I'm going to buy them off the dodgy dude down the street

  • Comment number 91.

    Sorry Sarah (and Andrew) but you've unfortunately been given the shovels after the cart has shed it's load so you have to expect some of this stuff. Just know how betrayed we are at the hands of the BBC.

    On topic though, please can someone prod Mr Coulthard a little:

    Kettle. Ve-ttel
    Kettle. Ve-ttel
    Kettle. Ve-ttel
    Kettle. Ve-ttel (Fettle if you are German)

  • Comment number 92.

    ("However, the main, admittedly off topic, point i want to make is that the license fee, in my opinion, can no longer be justified as compulsory. It is clear that we, the viewers, have limited, if not no input on which programmes are broadcast")

    Couldn't agree more; finally it must be time for the licence fee to go. In today's world of BBC/SKY cross-promotion it clearly has no justification.

  • Comment number 93.

    I watched quali today and just could not get into it.

    This sky deal hurts.

    Thought Eddie was not himself - i am sure after all the hard work the team has put in to make F1 what is today, you guys feel hurt also.

    It was great when it lasted - farewell to F1 for a while.

    Remember F1 fans nobody is forcing you to get SKY - we may have to suffer for a while but without the the fans F1 will dwindle away - the teams know this. So avoid SKY and see what happens - we need to fight this by keeping our money in our pockets (Bernie will understand this!)

  • Comment number 94.

    I notice they have taken the comment blog about the rights deal off the website, probably because of the amount of people getting onto them about the supposed deal. Make the most of this weekend, we probably wont get to see another Hungarian grand prix as we cannot watch British drivers race in the greatest branch of Motorsport - but we can listen to the Asian network all day long...........................

  • Comment number 95.

    I think this will be a very exciting race as Hamilton will definitely challenge Vettel. If there is no reliability issues I have a gut feeling it will be Hamilton's day again. Vettel will be buoyed by his pole position but he has a lot of people to defend from and not just his teammate. He will be very nervous having LH racing him to the right hand first corner as LH is on his right. I hope there won't be any collision between the leaders in the first few laps.
    I am still very surprised at the new pace of the McLarens. Surely reverting back to pre-Silverstone must have given then a big boost. Even then I have been impressed by their pace. LH seems ready to challenge the Red Bull. For me the season seem to have picked up now and we should have a cracking race tomorrow.

  • Comment number 96.

    I think Lewis has a great chance of winning tomorrow.

    Having used 1 less set of tyres compared to his competitors in quali he should be able to undercut Vettel in the race.

    You never know with F1 though.

  • Comment number 97.

    Would you buy a used car from Bernie Ecclestone ? Don't think so.

  • Comment number 98.

    The BBC should be ashamed of themselves, instead of telling us all what good a deal they have done. I will never pay to watch F1 on SKY or anyother channel. The coverage at the moment is brilliant, and we, the license payers deserve to be listened to, after all its us that pays for the coverage

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

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


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