In the past I’ve been less than complimentary about ITV’s coverage of F1, and while quite a few arguments still hold, there are a few areas which have seen improvement this year.

On the plus side, and in a totally unexpected move, they have moved into the online area by allowing viewers access to not only online coverage of qualifying and the race, but also practice sessions as well - which is a very welcome move and for that I think they deserve a pat on the back.

Personnel-wise, I think the programmes are still lacking quality.  I’m warming to Steve Ryder, I was unsure at first but I think he has been a welcome addition to the team - even if he does talk about Lewis a bit too much!  He must despair sometimes at being onscreen with Mark Blundell though, it defies logic that he is still employed as a TV pundit.

DC’s interview this weekend aside, I still hate it when they cut from the race to feature a driver interview by Louise Goodman instead.  Mostly these are less than insightful and go on for too long when a simple 30-second clip replayed later would suffice.  I’m a bit torn though, as obviously we wouldn’t have heard Coulthard’s threats to Massa had it not been for the fact he said them live!  On balance though, I’d rather hear about things like that at the end of the race - it must be the only sport where this happens anyway.  If a football player or rugby player is taken off injured at some point, the BBC or Sky don’t interview him in the dressing room straight away so I don’t see the need in F1 either.

Martin Brundle is still far and away ITV’s best asset.  Most commentators and “TV experts” are biased in the extreme - see Mark Blundell when asked what he hoped for the season ahead, and instead of saying he hoped to see a good close fight for the title with plenty of action, overtaking and incidents all decided on track, he simply said he hoped Lewis would go one better and win the title this year - but Brundle seems to be the only one able to stay neutral.  Given that he is DC’s manager, it would have been easy for him to side with his client, but instead he argued that it wasn’t entirely Massa’s fault.  He is the also only member of ITV’s F1 team that I can imagine ever saying anything against Lewis Hamilton which I think speaks volumes not only about Brundle, but also about everyone else.

Followers of F1 are highly likely to tune into the entire broadcast of both qualifying and the race, so why is it that so much of ITV’s build-up to both shows contains the same features?  Someone watching the qualifying programme in it’s entirety has nothing to entice them to watch the pre-race buil-up as well because it’s a safe bet that a fair chunk of the programme will be a repeat of what they have already seen.  This needs to be sorted out - admittedly there is only so much you can say, but with regulation changes etc surely they could have cobbled together something!

All in all, Australia wasn’t a bad start to ITV’s year but I’ve still got a feeling that if Brundle left them then they would be in a terrible state with little left to encourage people to tune in.  Similarly, if F1 coverage was available elsewhere via satellite etc, then I’m not sure there’s much at ITV that would make me stay loyal to them and not make the switch.

It’s terrible that the only reason people watch F1 on ITV is because it’s their only choice!