Last time, in Indianapolis, only the TV direction was particularly awful, but this time in France both the direction and the commentary were absolutely terrible. James Allen, did you leave your brain at home and then have to borrow one from the local butterfly farm?
For instance, at the end of the final qualifying session, we saw the Ferrari of Massa and the McLaren of Hamilton emerge from the pits – usually referred to as an out lap – but we immediately had Allen talking about the lap as if it were a hot lap… normally it is the second lap (the first flying lap) that is the hot lap. But maybe Nevers Magny Cours is a different circuit. After all, Ayrton Senna once qualified on pole here by spinning at the last corner so that he crossed the line travelling backwards.
That wasn’t the only mistake though. Maybe Allen thinks to be as liked as Murray Walker he needs to make a lot of silly mistakes during his commentary, but sorry James, you are not in the same league as Murray. Murray’s mistakes made him sound more likeable; yours make you sound more and more like an idiot.
The TV Director was atrocious. Button had just done his slow out lap, and had started accelerating for his hot lap – and the director switched to some mechanics standing around in the pit lane. At the end of the session, Martin Brundle (who in my opinion is far and away a better commentator than James Allen and really should replace him) was getting quite agitated by the fact that a pack of cars were still just about to cross the line and give us the final positions which we were all tensely waiting for – and the bloody idiot director switched to showing us the Ferrari cars parading slowly around on their in laps after they had crossed the line and recorded their times.
Then he switched to showing us the Ferrari pit wall team looking at their monitors and Michael Schummacher ineptly trying to disentangle himself from his communication cables. The cars on the track were still racing! So the director then switched to a picture of the backs of some Ferrari mechanics standing by the railings in the Park Fermee area, waiting for the parading front row cars to return – but the other cars were still out on the track racing for a time!
Qualifying sessions this year have been normally much more exciting than in previous years, but you do need a director who understands the sport at least. One of the main advantages for TV is that there are two breaks in the hour when no racing actually takes place – these have been designed in specifically for ad breaks. But, in Qualifying 1 we had Wurz on his hot lap, about 15 seconds away from completing it – and they broke for an ad break! Huh?
Steve Rider is a big improvement over Jim Rosenthal, but someone please tell him how disconcerting it is for him to give the impression of watching a game of tennis when he is talking with someone else on screen at the same time: he ends up looking like Noddy! Just concentrate on teh other person or commentator please, Steve, you’re supposed to be a professional for heaven’s sake (of course, this might be the director’s or the producer’s fault for asking you to eyeball the camera more of course, but this just doesn’t work on British TV, even if it is standard US practice, but I’d hardly hold US TV up as an example of what looks either professional or watchable).
Please, ITV, fix these problems before the race tomorrow. Bring back the director you used for the races up to Canada! The current one is useless. And for next year, please promote Martin Brundle and sack James Allen: James just can’t cut the mustard.