Canadian Grand Prix: the preview

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…

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Ben Edwards is a much better comentator than Dave, no question. BE is much more enthusiastic than Dave, and Ben also names the drivers correctly. If Sky signed Jonny Legard, I would have a hard time picking favourites though. I use BBC coverage in all of the live races available, but do use Sky for the other 10. Eddie Jordan can go F*** himself, but I love DC and Jake. Martin Brundle has been on TV to long, his personality has got worse since he was lead commentator last year. I see a certain young black McLaren driver on top of the podium, with a man in red and a man in black beside him. Just my opinion of course…

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I am suddenly afraid Hamilton will win the WDC.

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I guess we’ll have to wait ’till Jenson retires and takes up a job at the BBC to replace Ben Edwards

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I miss Legard too!

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ben edwards gets too excited for my liking,so i would probably watch sky if bbc wasnt better and i could afford it tbh

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7th win? There has been 6 races 5 winners because Red Bull cheated therefore Marks/Vettels points are taken off them! So Rosberg twice! And the others… 5!

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I’ve actualy been impressed by Natalie Pinkham on Sky, and perhaps might become as good as Lee when she gets enough experience.

IMO, BBC should have hired Ben in ’09 instead of Legard.

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DWilD- You’re right, Legard’s voice was too “punchy” for me and doesn’t even suit football either (his new job). But i don’t think either Natalie or Georgie seem to have the x factor when it comes to pit lane reporting- they need to watch how Lee does it or even old stuff with Tony Jardine to learn how for example to ask more engaging questions. I’ve watched some of the old races with him asking questions and he seemed to do it just right.

In all honesty, i’m looking forward to Lee presenting for a change, Jake’s alright but for me, he’s trying too hard to be the next Steve Rider and it doesn’t work. He suffers from the same problem Sky’s Simon Lazenby- A little too serious when presenting (excluding the recorded VT’s). He needs to smile more and be relaxed. No criticism for DC or Eddie though- Eddie is just great and David’s steadily improving as a commentator. Ben Edwards is good too, a credible alternative to Legard and i’d say the commentating teams on both sides (Sky and BBC) are matched. BTW, it makes a refreshing change for the BBC to comment on their rival’s TV channel! I wonder if Sky will return the favour and provide a critique on the BBC?

Ok, opinion made, i hope Hamilton will win the race tomorrow! Jenson could use some more points from another win or podium (especially after the problems in practice and his last few races) but if it rains again this year, it’ll be Bruno Senna i’ll be watching with interest. His drive in Malaysia in the rain was much underrated for me and although he’ll never replace Ayrton (he might just prove me wrong someday!), he might just have a little bit of the magic that made his uncle a legend.

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@ACE32R What did BBC say about Sky? I missed that bit. I sometimes also listen to James and Jaime, but James does my head in. So
Ben Edwards>Jonny Legard>Murray Walker>Martin Brundle>David Croft>James Allen.

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