Category: 2012

Scrutineering Special: BBC F1

Following on from the Sky Sports F1 Scrutineering Special here is your chance to now share your views on the UK’s other Formula One Broadcaster. They took over from ITV back in 2009, and now share coverage with Sky Sports F1. BBC F1 broadcast ten races live with the rest covered by extensive highlights packages and shows. But what have you thought of their coverage in 2012?

  • What have you thought of the BBC F1 coverage in general?
  • What has been your favourite feature?
  • What have you not enjoyed about the coverage?
  • What do you think about the team who front the coverage?
  • Where have they got it spot on?
  • Where have they gone wrong?
  • What would you like to see in coverage next year?
  • If you had access to Sky but continued to watch BBC coverage, what is it that made you stick?

Of course Jake Humphrey will be moving onto pastures new in 2013, so Suzi Perry will be replacing him as the coverage’s anchor. How do you think she will get on and do you agree with the decision?

You can get involved by tweeting me your thoughts @hannahhou/@thehduct or getting involved via The H Duct Facebook Page. You can also email your thoughts to You don’t have to stick to the above questions, they are just a starting point – you can share any view, positive or negative, you have about BBC F1’s 2012 coverage. Your views will be added to a Scrutineering Special about BBC F1! Happy sharing!

PS. You can check out the 2013 Sky and BBC guide here to see what’s what.
PPS. If you haven’t read any Scrutineering posts you can head this way!


Scrutineering: Sky Sports F1

With car launches at the end of this month, and winter testing just four weeks away, the 2013 Formula One season is already nearly upon us – here is how it is shaping up so far! While so many other things are changing in the sport, there will be at least one constant and that is that Sky Sports F1 will once again exclusively be broadcasting all races live. After securing the services of top pundits and commentators in 2012, such as Martin Brundle, Ted Kravitz, and Damon Hill, Sky Sports F1 will return for 2013 with the same line-up. But how did they get on in their first year?

‘Overall it was very good’

On Twitter I asked what people had thought of Sky Sports F1’s first season of coverage, and the feedback was generally positive. After their shaky start in Australia, where pre Free Practice coverage was far too long and was interrupted by ad breaks and interviews, it has been onwards and upwards for the broadcasters. Having to essentially take over from BBC F1, who do still broadcast the Formula One, but had been the sole broadcaster in the UK, was not any mean feat. BBC had been much acclaimed and their coverage is loved by many so Sky Sports F1 had a tough act to follow.

The Team

After the deal was announced way back at the Hungarian GP in 2011, there was much speculation about who would move to Sky from BBC, and would they bring in any new presenters.

Main anchor Simon Lazenby has been with Sky Sports since 1998 and has covered cricket and rugby, along with fronting Sky Sports News. His reviews from fans were mixed – some dubbed him ‘fake Jake’ (in reference to BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey), others claimed he was lazy and did not seem to be interested in F1, and people even said he frowned too much. It wasn’t all negative, however, as others found him interested and engaging, and said they enjoyed watching him more than they had Jake.

Georgie Thompson, another seasoned Sky Sports presenter, joined Simon Lazenby on presenting duties, taking the reigns during Free Practice on a Saturday while also fronting The F1 Show with Ted Kravitz (more later). She often accompanied Anthony Davidson in analysing coverage via the SkyPad, however, she did not overly impress some fans. She was described as being ‘useless’, ‘pointless’ and ‘boring’, and fans added that she brought nothing to the show.

Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill, and Allan McNish were brought in an expert pundits to work alongside Simon Lazenby. Fans thought they were a great addition to the line-up, and only wish that Allan McNish had been used more. Others felt that they needed to relax more and that they did not seem to be enjoying the atmosphere, and rather the coverage at times seemed too corporate.

In the pit-lane Ted Kravitz and Natalie Pinkham were on hand to keep viewers up-to-date with what was going on. Both moved from the BBC to Sky for the 2012 season. Fans enjoyed Ted’s Notebook while others particularly singled him out as being a ‘plus point’ of the coverage and said his insight was ‘great’.

Up in commentary David Croft was joined by Anthony Davidson for practice and Martin Brundle for qualifying and the race. Fans said at times Crofty became TOO excitable. Martin Brundle was also singled out as a ‘plus point’ while others said he was great. Fans enjoyed Anthony Davidson’s insights and analysis.

The same team will return for 2013.

The Coverage

Viewers said they felt that Sky Sports F1 lacked the “zing” that BBC have, however this could be expected as it has been their first year of broadcasting. They felt that the coverage improved as the season progressed and they started to find their way. Some fans enjoyed the technical features, while others suggested that the coverage appeared very biased at times towards particular teams, but this always seems to be the case with broadcasting of Formula One.

People enjoyed The F1 Show and F1 Legends but felt the same stuff was repeated too much on the channel. There is only so many times you can watch Paul di Resta in a helicopter over Silverstone. Back to the main coverage and fans had mixed views about the SkyPad. Some loved it, some hated it. Others felt that it could be used better, or just ditched completely as at times there seemed to be too much “faffing around”. Fans felt the race build-up contained too much fluff and filler.

McLaren cartoon Tooned was broadcast on Sky and viewers were glad to see that Martin Brundle’s famous grid-walk remained.

Onwards and Upwards?

After a generally good start to their F1 broadcasting, it seems it is only onwards and upwards for Sky Sports F1 in 2013.


Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts. If you would like to share your views on the BBC F1 coverage get in touch via Twitter, Facebook, or by emailing

Formula One and the Pay Driver

Heikki Kovalainen is just one 2012 driver facing 2013 without a drive. He hasn’t officially been ruled out of the second Caterham seat but there is a chance he might not get the drive. He is a  talented driver who has proved his worth, but his exit could be down to somewhat of a taboo subject in Formula One: the ‘pay driver’.

This isn’t a new thing in Formula One; there have always been drivers who brought a considerable amount of money in order to secure their seats. For example, three times World Champion Niki Lauda had to take out a loan for his first drive. Does that make him any less of a driver? In the current economic climate, we see more and more ‘pay drivers’ entering F1, with floundering teams welcoming an influx of money to help them stay on the grid. However, for one reason or another, the term ‘pay driver’ is bandied about with negative connotations. A prime example of this is with Pastor Maldonado. He is backed by PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil company, and brings something in the region of $45m to the team. He has been criticised for his erratic driving style, getting himself involved in a number of incidents. These are often linked to the fact he is a ‘pay driver’. The reality is, new F1 drivers with less experience make the same kind of rookie errors everyone makes, but their financial backing becomes the issue, not the driving itself. All F1 drivers have achieved some level of success in difficult motorsport classes. All of them have superlicences. It’s not as if someone without talent can just buy their way into an F1 team. Maldonado was GP2 champion in 2010, before he joined Williams for 2011, but that fact is often glazed over.

You also have to look at F1 as a unique skillset. F1 drivers, arguably the best in the world, don’t always perform well in other motorsports. David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher haven’t shone in DTM, Juan Pablo Montoya isn’t setting the world alight in NASCAR, and Kimi Räikkönen’s rallying exploits were more about offs than wins, some would say. The list goes on but these are just some recent examples. Within a season’s crop of drivers there will be a range of talents. Basically a good driver in a good car makes a World Champion. Everyone else is chasing and if you are chasing you’re under pressure, and when you’re under pressure, that is when mistakes can creep in. When Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton were running into each other week after week in 2011, no-one was claiming it was their financial status that was the problem. Romain Grosjean has arguably been the least steady driver in 2012 and his backing, financial or not, hardly gets mentioned. Everyone makes mistakes, but unfortunately “it’s because he is a pay driver” has become overused with drivers who do bring considerable amounts of money, but make mistakes.

Another criticism which the ‘pay driver’ brings is the fact drivers who don’t pay for their seats at times miss out. Take 2012 for example. F1 lost two veterans in the form of Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced F1 driver ever, and Jarno Trulli. Trulli had been confirmed by Caterham but he was somewhat controversially replaced by Vitaly Petrov who brought money. Petrov is also a talented driver though, having raced for Lotus-Renault GP and stood on the podium. Barrichello was let go in favour of Bruno Senna, another driver who comes with backing, something which caused an uproar amongst fans when Barrichello finished 2011 not knowing if he would have a drive, and so did not get a “proper” send-off. And so once again, the ‘pay driver’ becomes the target. On the flip-side, sometimes if these drivers with backing don’t come in, then teams might not have the resources to carry on in the sport. Sergio Perez came to Sauber with backing from Telmex and he has impressed, so much so he has been signed up for McLaren in 2013. Charles Pic has backing and Caterham have picked him up for 2013, with his rumoured Marussia replacement Max Chilton also coming with a financial asset. This is not to say that ‘pay drivers’ are talentless. You just have to look at the likes of Perez and Maldonado, for example to see that, regardless of their at times erratic driving. They have, afterall, only been in F1 – the top level of motorsport – for two seasons.

But what about Kovalainen, and also Kamui Kobayashi for example? In the wake of losing his seat at Sauber, Kobayashi has set up a website where people can donate money in order to raise funding for him. In a statement on his website he revealed that it was too late for 2013 but he would keep the funds raised and put them towards a 2014 drive. Kovalainen stated that he wouldn’t go looking for funds or sponsorship and, as he said, he’s done everything he can results wise, so why should he? This brought some criticism from fans, with some saying he didn’t deserve to be in Formula One if he didn’t want to go searching for sponsors when he needed to. If you were doing a job you loved doing and someone suddenly turned round and said “if you want to stay, you have to pay for it” – would you do it? He’s got to where he is so far on skill. In the build up to the Brazilian GP much was made of tenth place in the championship,  which means millions to one team, with Marussia seemingly having it until Petrov snatched it back. Petrov, Kovalainen, and test driver Giedo van der Garde are all in the running for the second Caterham seat, two come with backing, one does not – but who will get the seat?

It is clear to see that ‘pay drivers’ can be a touchy subject in Formula One, but it is important to remember that, just because a driver comes with money, it does not mean they’re talentless. A driver’s backing is irrelevant in matters of driving style; they are all there on merit. No-one has come from no-where into F1. Of course the money they bring is an important part of the overall deal, but all an F1 team needs money for is to develop a car/driver package that will win races, or at least score as many points as possible. If I had millions, and was able to buy a superlicence and an F1 seat, I would still be a rubbish driver. My money wouldn’t bring the success my team would need. So, what would be the point? It can become an issue when talent loses out to money, but in this current economic climate – needs must.



Scrutineering Special: Sky Sports F1

Scrutineering has been looking at people, teams, and personnel in motorsport for the past few months, incorporating fan views into posts about Felipe MassaGordon SheddenProfessor Sid Watkins, the Sauber F1 Team and Gary Paffett amongst others. And so, to mark the 25th post, here is the first Scrutineering Special!

At the recent FIA Gala in Istanbul, Sky Sports F1 won “Best TV Broadcast Award for Outstanding Coverage” after their first year of broadcasting Formula One. The award had previously been won by BBC in 2011. But, do you agree with Sky Sports F1 winning in 2012? It’s now time to share your views.

  • What have you thought of the Sky Sports F1 coverage in general?
  • What has been your favourite feature?
  • Have you watched much on the dedicated channel, such as F1 Legends?
  • What have you not enjoyed about the coverage?
  • What do you think about the team who front the coverage?
  • Where have they got it spot on?
  • Where have they gone wrong?
  • What would you like to see in coverage next year?

You can get involved by tweeting me your thoughts @hannahhou/@thehduct or getting involved via The H Duct Facebook Page. You can also email your thoughts to You don’t have to stick to the above questions, they are just a starting point – you can share any view, positive or negative, you have about Sky Sport’s F1 first year of broadcasting Formula One. Your views will be added to a Scrutineering Special about Sky Sport’s F1! Happy sharing!

Scrutineering: Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica is a Polish racing driver who raced in Formula One between 2006 and 2010 (inclusive) before a rally accident in the build up to the 2011 season brought an end to that period. He has since returned to a racing car and recently won the Ronde Gomitolo di Lana, a provincial rally held in Italy. Driving a Subaru Impreza he finished a minute ahead of his nearest rival. This week’s Scrutineering will take a look back at Robert Kubica’s racing career and include some fan views and thoughts!

Pre-Formula One

As is commonplace with the majority of Formula One drivers, Robert Kubica started racing in karts. When he got his first kart he was too young to compete in the Polish Karting Championship but when he eventually did he was hugely successful and won six titles in three years.  He also enjoyed success in the Italian Junior Karting Championship, the European Junior Karting Championship, the Junior Monaco Kart Cup, and the International German Karting Championship, meeting the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Paul di Resta along the way.

After karting he took part in Formula Renault, the Formula Three Euro Series where he finished the season 13th due to a delayed start, and Formula Renault 3.5 – a series which he won. He also took part in the Macau GP where he came second on two occasions.

Formula One (2005 – 2010)

After winning the World Series by Renault championship, Kubica was given a test drive role within the Renault F1 Team in 2005. He moved to BMW Sauber for 2006 as a test driver but, after Jacques Villeneuve was unable to continue, Kubica was promoted to a race seat and impressed on his Formula One racing debut. He completed the final six races of the year and picked up six points. He finished on the podium at the Italian GP and became the first Polish driver to stand on the Formula One podium.

Kubica was retained for 2007 and he had an impressive season, ending the year in sixth place. It was a mixed year for Kubica, and a horror crash in Canada saw him forced to sit out the US GP on medical grounds. It was a true testament to the safety of modern day Formula One cars when he emerged from a crash which saw his feet hanging from the front of his broken car, and many fearing the worst, with nothing more than concussion and a sprained ankle. He had eleven points scoring positions during the year, including a fourth place at his return to racing at the French GP.

2008 saw Kubica challenging for the championship and finishing in fourth place, tied on points with Kimi Räikkönen. He appeared on the podium seven times throughout the year, including taking his first ever win, at the Canadian GP which had proved to be so dramatic for him just a year earlier. He remained with BMW Sauber for 2009 but slipped down the standings to 14th with just 17 points and only one podium – a second at Brazil.

For the 2010 season Kubica made a move to the Renault F1 Team to replace his friend, Ferrari bound Fernando Alonso. He partnered Vitaly Petrov and scored the majority of the team’s 163 points, which saw them finish fifth in the championship. Kubica finished the year in eighth place with a further three podiums to add to his tally. He was due to continue his campaign in 2011, but a pre-season rally accident saw his racing career thrown into doubt.

Formula One Statistics

Poles: 1
Wins: 1
Podiums: 11
Points Finishes: 46/76
Fastest laps: 1


After winning his first rally, as mentioned at the start, Kubica has been linked with a move to the World Rally Championship. He still has problems with the mobility of his arm, meaning he is restricted in what he can race, ruling single seaters out. Hopefully he will be able to continue racing, wherever it may be, as he has demonstrated raw speed and skill, which allowed him to fight with the best in Formula One.

What the fans say and like!

  • It is great to hear he is back in action after his crash – a talent like his would be a shame to be wasted
  • Formula One is worse without him
  • His win at the Canadian GP a year after his crash was very fitting
  • He was the first Polish driver in Formula One
  • His 2006 Italian GP podium
  • Would have definitely been a championship contender


In a slight change to Scrutineering, the next edition will be a special so keep an eye out on Twitter @hannahhou/@thehduct and The H Duct Facebook page for ways to get involved!

The H Duct Lap League: Brazil Edition: Champion Revealed!

So, here we have it. The 2012 Formula One season has drawn to a close and we have seen Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull crowned champions once again. But… the champion of the inaugural H Duct Lap League is yet to be revealed! Basically, The H Duct Lap League looks at the amount of laps a driver completes over the course of a race weekend – from Free Practice 1 through to the end of the race – and points are awarded on the basis of who completes most. So, say Vettel completed the most laps over the course of a weekend, he would get 25 points. The points system is exactly the same as the real championship. So, read on to find out who came out on top in Brazil, and who won the league overall! It went down to a head-to-head between Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado…

The Big Movers

Mark Webber was the biggest mover at the end of the league, jumping five places, and in doing so moving into the top ten. He finishes the year in seventh. Michael Schumacher went out on a high, moving up two places to finish the season in eleventh in the Lap League, just eight points off Vettel in tenth. Vettel dropped two places, along with Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa, who finished twelfth and thirteenth respectively. Timo Glock overtook his team-mate, moving up one place, while Daniel Ricciardo moved up one place to finish the year in third overall. Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi both dropped a position each.

In the team league Toro Rosso finished in third, swapping positions with Lotus who dropped to fourth, while Red Bull and Ferrari also swapped between sixth and seventh. There were no other movers in the team league.

Point Scorers

Nico Rosberg 25
Mark Webber 18
Daniel Ricciardo 15
Nico Hulkenberg 12
Michael Schumacher 10
Jean-Eric Vergne 8
Sebastian Vettel 6
Jenson Button 4
Kamui Kobayashi 2
Timo Glock 1

Mercedes 35
Red Bull 24
Toro Rosso 23
Force India 12
McLaren 4
Sauber 2
Marussia 1

Due to Pastor Maldonado’s non score and Nico Rosberg taking maximum points, NICO ROSBERG becomes The H Duct Lap League Champion 2012! Mercedes scoop the double by outscoring Sauber heavily in the final race, making them the team league champions! The H Duct Lap League will continue in 2013, but with some changes… keep an eye on The H Duct for updates!

You can see the full standings here!

Scrutineering: Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing appeared as a team in Formula One in 2005 and the 2012 Brazilian GP saw Sebastian Vettel crowned triple world champion, with the team securing their third constructors’ championship in a row at Abu Dhabi. Their first few years competing were fairly low profile until 2009 when they got right involved in the championship fight. Since then they have only gone onwards and upwards. This week’s Scrutineering takes a look at the multi-world championship winning team, their season and includes some fan views!

The Beginning (2005)

After purchasing the Jaguar Racing Team and installing Christian Horner as Team Principal, Red Bull Racing made their first appearance in Formula One in 2005. Having previously had an association with Sauber, this was their first foray into the sport as a team and they employed experienced David Coulthard, who was departing McLaren, to partner young drivers Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi, and used Cosworth engines. Coulthard took two fourth places on the way to seventh place in the constructors’ championship. Klien drove the majority of the season alongside Coulthard but was replaced by Liuzzi for four races. At the end of 2005 the team got engineer Adrian Newey on board.

Coulthard’s time (2006 – 2008)

Coulthard continued with the team for 2006, being partnered once again by Klien, who was replaced for the final three races of the year with Robert Doornbos. For 2006 the team ran Ferrari engines, having previously used Cosworth. That year Coulthard scored the team’s first podium, taking it at the Monaco GP where they were supporting the film Superman Returns. This resulted in Coulthard wearing a Superman cape onto the podium, and later Horner jumped into the swimming pool wearing only the cape as a result of him saying he would jump in naked if either of the cars got on the podium. Jumping into the pool has now become somewhat of a Red Bull tradition, albeit it is now generally fully clothed. The team finished in seventh place once again in 2006.

In 2007 Red Bull started their association, which continues today, with Renault by using their engines. Australian Mark Webber was brought in from Williams to partner Coulthard and the pair had varying results, but eventually finished the year in an improved fifth place in the championship. Webber took his first podium for the team at the European round of the championship.

2008 proved to be Coulthard’s last year in Formula One and he took one final podium, this time in Canada, before retiring after Brazil. That proved to be his only points scoring race of the season, with Webber having a better year but finishing no higher than fourth. The team finished the season back down in seventh place.

Enter Vettel (2009 – present)

In 2009 there was a raft of regulation changes which saw usual frontrunners Ferrari and McLaren slip back, and newly formed Brawn GP, who had filled the spot left by Honda, along with Red Bull rose to the top. After Coulthard’s retirement, the team graduated Sebastian Vettel from their sister team Toro Ross. He and Webber were involved in the title fight with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, who drove for Brawn GP, and secured a number of wins between the pair of them. Red Bull’s first win came at the Bahrain GP, which Vettel won, and was backed up by a further three for Vettel and two for Webber. The team ended up second in the championship with 153.5 points.

2010 was when the dominance started. Both drivers were still in the championship hunt going into the final race but it was Vettel who came out victorious, leading the championship when it counted most – at the end. Between Webber and Vettel the team won nine of the season’s 19 races and had 11 further podium finishes. The team won the constructors’ championship with 498 points to McLaren’s 454.

2011 proved to be the most dominating season Red Bull have had with twelve out of nineteen races resulting in victories along with fifteen other podiums. Vettel started on pole position for fifteen of the nineteen races while Webber had three of the other four. It was a dominating season indeed for the team based in Milton Keynes and unsurprisingly they clinched their second constructors’ world championship (along with another drivers’ championship for Vettel) with 650 points to McLaren’s 497.

It wasn’t so straightforward for the team in 2012, however. Their first win came in Bahrain, four races in, with McLaren seemingly dominating the year, while Webber repeated his 2010 feat of winning the Monaco GP (resulting in more pool jumping!). It wasn’t until Singapore, when Vettel won his second race of the year, that a hint of dominance returned as he won the next three consecutively. By the time the inaugural race at the Circuit of The Americas arrived, Red Bull only needed four points to wrap up their third constructors’ championship in a row, which they duly did, with Vettel clinching the drivers’ title after a dramatic Brazilian GP.

Formula One Statistics

Poles: 46
Wins: 34
Podiums: 45
Points: 1846.5
Championships: 3

What the fans say and think!

Here’s how some people summed up Red Bull Racing in just a word:

  • Champions
  • Newey
  • Incredible
  • (the) best
  • (annoyingly) dominant
  • Sebastian (Vettel)
  • Wings
  • MK
  • Winners
  • Forefront

And other fan views, thoughts and things they like:

  • What they have achieved in the past three years is amazing
  • They have the best designer – Adrian Newey
  • They are an innovative team
  • “I like Sebastian”
  • Mark Webber
  • When they wore capes in Monaco and when the pit crew dressed up as clone troopers for Star Wars
  • Their swimming pool antics in Monaco


Next week’s Scrutineering will be taking a closer look at Robert Kubica. Get involved by commenting, tweet me @hannahhouThe H Duct Facebook page, email or share your comments via the Scrutineering page in Features. Share your thoughts on Robert Kubica, his tine in Formula One, his achievements in other racing and your favourite memories by Tuesday 4th December.