So, that’s the first race of the Formula 1 season over, then.
This season looks like it’s going to be intriguing. The Red Bull domination appears to be over. While they’re still very strong, they have an equal and worthy competitor in McLaren.If Kimi Raikonnen can sort out his qualifying strategy and Mercedes can sort out their reliability issues, we could be on the edge of our seats for the next 8 and a half months.
Jenson was so smooth today – he made the whole thing look easy. I certainly would not be complaining if he took his second World Championship this year. His team mate, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have grown up that much. He was clearly grumping on the podium as he finished third. Ok, so nobody likes losing, but there was no reason for him to look so sullen.
This, of course, was the debut for the new Sky F1 coverage which has split apart the perfect, cosy BBC1 family which has provided such fabulous coverage the last three years. On one hand, Martin Brundle, David Croft, Ant Davidson, Natalie Pinkham and Ted Kravitz had all gone to Sky while Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard, Eddie Jordan & Lee McKenzie have stayed with the BBC. Honestly, I did feel a bit like a child spending parts of the weekend with separated parents.
Sky is all very slick & professional but it needs more heart & passion. I was wondering whether there would be a commentary box big enough to fit in the egos of Crofty & Brundle but it worked quite well. A couple of incidents where one put the other right with an air of satisfaction, but it was very good. Brundle was unbridled and fabulous as ever. On the other hand, Ben Edwards and David Coulthard had the excitement & passion but sometimes lacked a bit in nailing what was going on. New BBC tech expert Gary Anderson got the significance of Sebastian Vettel’s pit stop as the safety car came out, as did Crofty & Brundle on Sky but Edwards & Coulthard were flailing a bit. They were also not very good at deciphering team radio messages which the Sky pair got easily. And, boy, can Ben Edwards shout? I’m all for passion but his voice has a frequency that my ear drums don’t like. He needs to tone it down a bit.
My big surprise was that Jake, EJ & DC were actually there and doing a grid walk even though the BBC is only doing highlights this weekend. The potential for mischief when Brundle is doing his Sky grid walk is clear & must be allowed to come to fruition. It’s interesting that they got Mark Webber on the grid and Brundle didn’t.
Where the BBC boys really kicked Sky’s backside, though, was in the post race analysis. It was much better. Damon Hill, bless him, is boring as hell while EJ combines knowledge with awkwardness and mischief like only he can. They got more into 20 minutes than the Sky lot got into 45.
Sky’s presenter, Simon Lazenby, wore a much paler pink shirt than Jake Humphrey’s. And so fashion imitates life. He has none of Jake’s warmth & connection with the viewer.
Don’t get me wrong, Sky’s coverage is good but mainly because it’s copying the high standard set by the BBC. It’s a bit more blokey, too. I had to laugh when Brundle interviewed a grid girl & talked about he always said hello to his grid girl as a sign of respect. Actually, respect might be not having them at all.
However, the Sky item where Brundle got to drive a Ferrari was heartwarming & schmaltzy enough to make any fans of the prancing horse faint with joy. And the insight into Caterham’s operation was lovely. They are looking after Heikki Kovalainen who has had the horrors of Flavio Briatore as a boss & Lewis Hamilton as a team mate. Cruel and unusual punishment by anyone’s standards. He seems appy at Cateram and for that alone, i love them. Actually, the Caterham’s feature had something of the West Wing about it.
There was a weird movie once called Vanilla Sky with Penelope Cruz which was bizarre and nothing like the Sky coverage. If I were prone to food metaphors, though, I’d say that Sky were very plain & vanilla, while the BBC were a flavoursome, rich, spiced plum compote. There’s nothing wrong with Sky, but lots more tantalising with the BBC.
My stand out moment of the whole weekend was that priceless radio transmission from Kimi Raikonnen asking why he was getting blue flags waved at him. There was just a slight note of amused exasperation in his engineer’s voice as he told him that they weren’t being waved at him. It still makes me giggle, even hours later. It is such a delight to have that unique character, who just refuses to conform, back in an F1 car.
End result is – I can’t wait for next weekend in Malaysia.