Remember last year’s Canadian Grand Prix? How could you forget Button’s drive from dead-last to first, three corners from the finish in weather officially wetter than The Diamond Jubilee (above)? Well, with the forecast in Montreal as bleak as it is here, and with a slightly less anti-social TV schedule (qualifying is at 18.00 BST Saturday, the race at 19.00BST on Sunday) we’re anticipating a big weekend for the Sunday Afternoon Club. We’ll be around later today and all over the weekend until Monday morning.
Now. We’ve learnt our lesson and don’t plan to predict any winners this time. Time instead, we thought, to take a look at the other great F1 battle of 2012; BBC vs Sky. It’s a timely moment to do so as the BBC’s anchor Jake Humphrey won’t be around this weekend and it will be Lee McKenzie hosting. Yes, her with the soft brogue, the huge headphones and that certain way with hacked-off drivers who’d rather not talk to anyone at that moment in time, thank you.
And we’re rather pleased. We’re big fans of Lee. Like every journalist in F1, Lee is all over Twitter (@LeeMcKenzieF1) and this week, sat down for a Q&A session. A Q&A that made the Sunday Afternoon Club want to chivalrously jump to her defence. There are many out there who seem to think Lee Mack’ is only there for decoration. Not so: McKenzie’s breathed little but petrol all her life. She didn’t have a choice; her old man Bob is the F1 correspondent of the Express. She’s also done a bit of rallying, and not from behind the mic either.
Dare we say, she’s possibly even more qualified than Jake. Not that we doubt Mr Humphrey’s unshakeable cool and charisma (we wouldn’t be allowed to either, our kids would kill us). So it will make for an interesting contrast because here is something we could posit: is the BBC coverage getting a bit… sillier? Jake, DC and Eddie, three blokes increasingly committed to having a laugh around fast cars. Sound familiar?
Eddie Jordan is the original Marmite presenter, but you can’t help but love him. For every dumb thing he says, he’ll have the balls to say something nobody else would: and he was the one to break the Schumacher comeback and Button to McLaren stories. DC? Well, he has certainly learnt the art of TV quickly although he lacks Martin Brundle’s chutzpah when it comes to grid walks and is missing his old sparring partner in the commentary box. And Jake is a total pro, but with every Royal Wedding, Jubilee, European Cup or Olympics he presents, he becomes less our man. We don’t want to lose him.
Which leads us to Sky. Excusing the unforgivable gaffe of hiring Jacques Villeneuve this weekend, the team’s evolution has been spectacular. And smart; the more the BBC has moved towards entertainment, the more Sky has cranked up the hardcore service. We can’t, and won’t go into the politics and economics, personal and otherwise, of pay TV, but we will say we’d be surprised to hear from many people who didn’t think they were getting value for money. Let us know in the handy space below if you disagree, of course…
The sheer amount of information coming at the viewer from Ted Kravitz, from Anthony Davidson (the ‘Gary Neville of F1’), and from the markedly-less-grumpy 2012 model Martin Brundle is mind-boggling. David Croft meanwhile is a lot easier on the ear than Ben Edwards, and Johnny Herbert’s arrival seems to have relaxed Damon Hill. We don’t really get Georgie Thompson’s presence and Natalie Pinkham is no Lee McKenzie yet, but they too add to a sense of thoroughness the BBC can sometimes lack this year. They do have more time on air, of course.
But look, this is just an opinion and this is a club, designed for the dissection of all-things F1, so we want to hear what you have to say. And we want to know if you’re seeing a certain ageing German on top of the podium on Sunday. Because we are…