ITV Sport logoI’ve had a fair few complaints about ITV’s coverage of F1 since they obtained the contract to cover Grand Prix from the BBC, and it seems I’m not alone - however, the people who complained to them about last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix don’t quite share the same views as myself.

The complaints mainly stem from the fact that the race overran by quite some time which meant the programme had to finish after the podium celebrations, so no interviews with the jubilant Hamilton or his team were broadcast live despite it being his first Grand Prix win. As pointed out on F1 Fanatic though, the maximum length of time a race can last by FIA rules is 2 hours, yet the Canadian Grand Prix lasted only 1 hour 44 minutes so although it may have ran on longer than the average race in Montreal, ITV should really have allowed for a 2 hour race in their scheduling/

It seems a little strange that a commercial station is lagging so far behind a public-funded station in the BBC, as far as digital broadcasting is concerned. The BBC often shows various different sports, or different courts in tennis, or different tables in snooker, all via their BBCi interactive service accessed by pressing the red button.

The extent of ITV’s use of the red button seems to be to encourage people to press it during tedious adverts so that we can view an extended version of the same tedious advert. Hardly innovative.

If ITV had a system similar to the BBC’s then they could have shown the post-race comments and interviews in this way as the BBC did with their football coverage lately.

A lot of people in blogs and on forums hark back to the good old days of BBC coverage. While this was far from perfect, the main advantage was that there were no breaks in coverage at all - ie no adverts.

As Mark Sharman, the Head of ITV News and Sport says “As I recall, they rarely showed qualifying and didn’t give the races the extensive coverage that we are used to now.”

It’s a fair point, on BBC the Grand Prix was normally only part of Grandstand and therefore they often switched straight from horse racing to the circuit just in time for the lights to go out, and to hear Murray Walker wailing “And…they’re….OFFFFFF!!!”.

Broadcasting is different now though, so even if BBC had retained the contract to show F1 they wouldn’t treat it in the way they did before. The most important part for me, and most viewers, is the race - at the moment ITV upset people by interrupting the race for commercial breaks. Imagine if they did that during a football match! They have the contract though so there’s no getting away from it, for now at least.

The “extensive coverage” of the races that Mark Sharman talks about, isn’t really true - due to the advert breaks, they actually show less coverage of the races than the BBC ever did. The extensive coverage is instead focussed around the hour-long buildup to the race - something which I used to like when ITV started broadcasting F1, however now (Martin Brundle’s features aside) this is simply tedious Hamilton-hype.

If there was an alternative way of watching the race then I would certainly give it a try. I quite like Steve Rider as a presenter, but really the only thing I would miss about ITV is Martin Brundle, a sentiment echoed by many of the viewing public I’m sure.