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Monza F1 GP 2011 – BBC TV coverage

Having just lambasted ITV for their awful TV coverage of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and said that the BBC have the best sports TV coverage, I’m now wishing I hadn’t been quite so profuse in my praise of the Beeb.

I don’t know if it’s because they sold out to Sky in the contracts race for F1 coverage next year or not, but someone appears not to be doing their job very well. In the pit lane we’re all used to being forced to listen to the annoying Eddie Jordan answer questions that have actually been put to the guests they are supposed to be interviewing (small man, big ego). But when the racing actually gets under way, I would rather like to hear the commentary.

When David Coulthard moved from the pit lane to the commentary box, someone forgot to adjust his mike volume. Consequently, whenever he spoke, the background noise always drowned him out. This also happened in Spa too, but for Brundle as well.

Now, my iPhone has an ambient noise compensation program built in so that when I use the mike on the earphones lead to speak on the phone, the audio compensation subtracts the ambient noise signal from the ambient noise + my voice signal so that the person on the other end of the phone can hear me clearly.

Clearly at a sports event you want some ambient noise to get through for atmosphere. But it isn’t an either-or choice – you can blend the two together in a way that allows for the commentary to be clear enough to hear. If not, why bother paying Coulthard for his thoughts, when his thoughts are inaudible in spoken form?

At Monza Qualifying, the background sound was cacaphonous. It was so loud I was actually getting a headache from it, yet I could still only hear one word in two or three from Coulthard, and that was really hard. It’s almost as if the sound mix is 2:1 in favour of the background noise. That’s the sound engineer’s fault. I refuse to believe that my mobile phone has better technology than the BBC (although Apple does pack a lot of clever stuff into their iPhone).

Luckily I’ve got an equalizer on my TV but had to turn the 12.5 KHz bar down to zero, and the 120 Hz up to maximum in order to hear anything of what the commentators were saying. I feel sorry for those people who don’t have such technology available to them. Come on BBC, you can do so much better than this.

As for the qualifying itself, what can you say? Vettel on Pole is getting a bit monotonous – especially when you know he’s the favourite of Dietrich Mateschitz and the strategies he and Webber are on this year are designed to prevent last year’s situation of Webber leading Vettel and not quite having the best reliability, the best strategy, or the best support. McLaren are gaining, but just don’t have the downforce trickery of Red Bull, and they really need to sort that.

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