Monday, October 11, 2010

Japanese GP

Formula 1 is a very structured sport. Everything is planned in advance to the minute starting from what the FIA and FOM requires of the drivers and teams down to what the sponsors requires of the drivers and teams. All the various side-show events are prepared and planned, and everything normally goes very smoothly.

Well, on Saturday, all of that changed. The rain clouds above Suzuka chucked so much torrential downpour down onto the track that the FIA had to delay and postpone the Qualifying sessions until it was so dark that the session was called off. I don't remember seeing anything like this for some time now. Eventually it was decided that Quali will take place on Sunday morning shortly before the race.

Something like 5 cars were out before the race got anywhere at the start. Then it all calmed down a bit as the race started to settle after a rather strange weekend for everyone. Kobayashi had some really amazing "banzai" manoeuvres through the hairpin to overtake the likes of Barrichello and Heidfeld, in front of his home crowd. Nico Rosberg had a sudden scary moment as his right rear tyre seemed to have failed sending him out of control into the barriers while leading team mater Schumi.

Anyways, the race wasn't too boring in the end, but once again the Red Bulls took the top spots. I'm really not a big fan of them, but they are really doing well so "good for them".

What I did find annoying is that on the BBC broadcast, first there was a lull of no sound just before Rosberg's accident. Then just before the accident, they switched broadcast, I think, to Radio 5 Live. This was really funny as one of the commentators, while commenting on Kobayashi's various brave overtaking moves, quoted the hugely famous internet phenomenon of Leeroy Jenkins. So it wasn't so bad, at least the commentary changed to something quite funny and very much more up-to-date than what it is normally.

However, something really got me riled up. The BBC decided to send Jake Humphrey off to Delhi to broadcast the Commonwealth Games ahead of the Grand Prix leaving a gap in the anchor role to stand alongside Coulthard and Eddie Jordan. They decided to bring pit lane reporter Lee McKenzie into the midst as anchor for this race.

It was a massive disaster. She was not sufficiently prepared and sounded horribly amateurish. At some point during the post-race segment, she introduced Martin Whimarsh from McLaren as "Martin Whitaker". During the same segment, while reporting the Constructors Championships' current tally (which was on the screen), she exclaimed over the air to her colleagues to check if she reported the correct scores. Shortly afterwards, she had to recant following a calculation error on her side of the difference between the top two teams at the moment.

I'm sorry, I never thought Lee was really very good in the pit lane when BBC took over. I always, and still, think Louise Goodman was much better. In the beginning I also didn't like Jake very much at all either, but that has changed because he is doing what all good commentators in F1 does - he prepares himself. He does his homework and jots things down (albeit on his iPad - showoff!) and ensures that he doesn't say anything more than what he knows or has to say.

Here's the key point then...

On TV, if you don't know something for sure, if you cannot be 100% confident it is correct, rather not say it at all. Give it a few extra seconds to confirm before going on air. It shows you to be unprepared and unprofessional if you get something wrong and you can immediately lose credibility.

Image source: Krypton Zone (c) 2010 Entertainment

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